In the midst of all of the drama surrounding the various appointments that are being made by Donald Trump, I realized today that I’d missed a very important part of what is going on.
Donald Trump is well-known as being the first President-Elect who has no political or military experience. So what does a canny businessman do to overcome this huge lack?
Much has been made of the problems of Trump University. But Trump is giving us a business-school master-class regarding a businessman’s non-hostile takeover of a field in which he has little knowledge. He has realized that he has a very short and most precious sliver of time between the election and the inauguration, a couple months, and he is taking full advantage of it.
(Photo shown for illustrative purposes only. Any resemblance to actual individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Void where licensed, prohibited, or taxed)
The answer, I realized today, is that a smart businessman coming into a new industry will personally meet with every major player, friend or foe, and listen to them, and more importantly, learn from them. Under the guise of interviewing potential appointees, Trump has gone back to school. He is meeting with top men and women of every stripe and from every part of his new field. He is probing their knowledge. He is searching out their strengths and weaknesses. He is asking what they would do differently. He is discovering what they know, who they know, who they agree with, who their opponents are. He is considering what they have to offer and what they want.
Day after day, there is an unending stream of people of all kinds entering Trump Tower. Naysayers claim he wants them to “kiss his ring” … but the post-meeting interviews with his guests have had one uniform thread. Everyone says, the man knows how to listen, he asks interesting questions, and the topics are always said to be wide-ranging.
For example, a few days ago he met with Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago and Obama’s first Chief of Staff. I scratched my head when I read that, wondering why … but now I see that in fact, like him or not, Emanuel IS one of the power players in the game, and Chicago is a major city in the country. Now, Trump knows more about the issues regarding both that Rahm thinks are important.
And after saying that climate change is a “hoax”, I was puzzled when he met with both Al Gore and Leonardo DeCaprio. Afterwards they both said that they were able to deliver their message to him. And why meet with them? Again, in the new industry that Trump has entered, whether you agree or disagree with their messages, they are assuredly both major players in the game, huge name recognition.
How brilliant! By squeezing a ridiculous number of meetings into each day, by the time he actually takes the job, Trump will will have personally met and discussed the issues with just about every single major player in the new arena in which he is entering. He is meeting current and former Congressmen and Congresswomen. He is meeting current and former judges and lawyers. He’s meeting foreign leaders. He’s meeting with the New York Times, a newspaper violently opposed to him. (Quick factoid. 57 major city newspapers endorsed Hillary. One, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, endorsed Trump. But I digress …)
He’s meeting top TV executives and anchors, many of whom spoke out against him. He is meeting current and former mayors and governors. He’s meeting entertainers and businessmen and admirals and people like Mitt Romney who had lashed out viciously about Trump in the campaign, he’s met with Democrats and Republicans, he meeting with every major player he can squeeze in during the short time he has to prepare himself for one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.
I commend him for two things. First, he said he wants to be President for all Americans. The record of his meetings bears that out. Second, he is clearly taking his new responsibilities very seriously—he is using every minute of his available time to learn from the leaders and major figures.
And as to learning from them, consider. In the campaign, he said he would allow torture. Double-plus ungood on my planet, although not disqualifying IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, the circumstances being the parlous state of the US, the clarity and logic of his stated plans and positions, and the nature of his opponent.
But in his post-election interview with the Times, he said that after spending time meeting with General Mike Kelly, he had changed his mind on the matter of torture. Of course the media portrayed this as a giant Trumpian flip-flop or a sign of indecision, but I was overjoyed. It was clear proof that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks.
And that is what Trump has been doing all this time—learning new things about his new tasks and his new responsibilities.
He’s become a student of the bizarre geography, ethnography, and tribal alliances of the insane American Game Of Thrones political landscape that he is entering, learning not only from its current inhabitants but from the former inhabitants, as well as from the major players in the surrounding intertwined business, law, military, diplomatic, media, university, entertainment, law enforcement, and all the other important spheres.
What a stellar education! I can only envy the man his opportunity to be able to meet and talk to and learn from all of the top men and women in every field. Aaaah, to be a fly on the wall …
I’ve argued in the past that we should shorten the period between the election and the inauguration, saying that it is a relic of a horse-drawn age where January was the earliest it could practically happen.
But seeing the use that the Donald has made of it, like him I have to change my mind … it is a crucial time for the President-Elect to prepare to hit the ground running. He’s squeezing the juice out of every minute out of it, and it will be just as valuable to future women and men in his position, faced with preparing themselves for the awesome task of being everyone’s President.
Best regards to all,
When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
John Maynard Keynes