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WRM Elsewhere
Thoughts on Trump

Our own WRM was in London on Thursday for a prescheduled event. The topic, of course, could not be anything other than President-elect Trump’s coming administration. The event was recorded, and you can watch the video here:

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  • Anthony

    Thoughts on Trump in “London”, for me, were a well spent hour and fifteen minutes.

    • Angel Martin

      Agree completely. Good find on that last question.

  • Jim__L

    You can’t communicate with people unless you speak their language 95% of the time.

    Note how he leaves them thoughtful at the end. =)

    • Andrew Allison

      Which is why bi-lingual education sucks!

  • Kevin

    Very thoughtful analysis. One of the best takes on the parameters which will guide Trump’s foreign policy.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    It is probably better to compare Trump to the ideal typical role of the real estate developer than any past presidents; although if one is going to make such a comparison Teddy Roosevelt would be more apropos. And in reverse, Trump is no Valentinian I or Aaron Burr.

    Having dealt with many real estate developers in my career, as well as meeting billionaire developers Eli Broad and Ed Roski and renting a house to an unnamed billionaire, the typical stereotype is that they are “greedy”, “con artists”, “bulldozers”, or conversely, “creative”, “entrepreneur”, “risk takers”, and “visionary”. Sociologists have found the opposite and I would confirm such from my experience: most developers are members of a community and if they are crooks that reputation will ruin them in the marketplace and in the brutal world of municipal politics. Sociologists have found that developers are risk averse, not innovators, rely on connections, must learn how to use politicians to their advantage and please the politician’s constituency, distrust the so-called ‘wisdom of crowds’ and stock markets, know the time value of money because real estate markets are cyclical, rely on written contracts not handshakes or sweetheart deals, and sometimes have to trust their instincts. Trump had to learn to ask as many people as possible about the location of a proposed project (especially cab drivers and women).

    For developers, bombast, bluster and shocking remarks only works at the bargaining table or when supervising construction, not at City Hall or when marketing homes. One particular trait: they behave differently if they are selling or buying. If selling they often start out with a high price and end up agreeing to a much lower price to get the buyer to think they are getting a good deal. This is shown in Trump’s behavior of claiming he is going to build a wall, adopt trade tariffs, deport immigrants, etc. Those are all opening gambits, although Trump’s opponents interpret such literally in order to stigmatize him as “authoritarian” or “Mussolini” or some other aspersion.

    Despite claims that Trump is a bullyizing bragadoccio, in the 1980’s he was described as a calm, rational, modest person who was technical and detail oriented. He was known as an optimist who “believed in New York”.

    Question: How could anyone take seriously and out of context Trump’s words spoken on an unscripted reality TV show meant to generate ratings by saying outlandish things? But such out of context stories are nothing but vicious gossip.

    Good gossip shepherd’s the herd. But kid’s gossip and political gossip can be cruel, about dishing out dirt and ostracizing a person from a group. As ethicist Dennis Prager reminds us, such gossip is against Jewish law. But no ethical person, religious or secular, brought up that Trump’s words spoken on “Access Hollywood” were those of a paid actor and taken out of context. Why? Is this moral, no matter what vulgar words Trump spoke?

    Trump is often wrongly faulted for taking advantage of a poor widow by threatening to use eminent domain to take her house for a parking lot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trump offered Vera Coking four times the market value for a rooming house she owned, but did not live in, on commercial zoned land adjacent to one of his casinos; and life time free occupancy in one of his luxury condos if she voluntarily sold her property. She refused and the city eventually was denied the use of eminent domain anyway. Twenty years later, Coker was forced to sell her property by foreclosure for half of what Trump had offered her; and Trump lost his casino in bankruptcy. If this says anything, it is that Trump is a generous man and follows the Judeo-Christian ethic of not taking advantage of widows.

    Trump is no saint but neither was Robert Moses who built most of the public works in New York as its Parks Director by using corrupt and overbearing means such as bulldozing homes instead of using eminent domain and setting up his own slush funds outside government. Trump has done neither. Trump is no “angry” Andrew Jackson, no Roosevelt who had an affair with his secretary and fought against businessman Wendell Wilkie, and no Ronald Reagan union leader and actor.

  • ljgude

    Well done WRM. Those presidential analogies really convey a lot in a short time if you happen to have a knowledge of the presidents. I would consider Harry Truman, who had a funny combination of street and intellectual smarts because he read history even though he didn’t have a degree. From what I read Trump is not as well read and I think we have to worry that lack of that side of things may cause problems, but as you said Obama and yourself suffer from too much book learning. Me too. Where I see Truman in him is in his earthiness. I can also see his getting angry at a critic of one of his children’s piano recitals as Truman did. Truman took on Joseph Stalin, perhaps not without fear, but he didn’t show it, yet he could be thin skinned in other situations. Anyhow beautifully delivered talk grounded in great knowledge of American politics and finding the non partisan stance that is almost entirely lacking in today’s sadly degenerate academic environment. And yes I mean degenerate, not just declining as Conrad Black observed in passing recently at The National Post.

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