He thundered into the world like a phenomenon and brazenly changed the rules of the presidential game.
After riding on the “Make America Great Again” wave to victory in 2016 elections, Donald J Trump emerged from the curtains that night of November 8, 2016 clapping for himself, smiling sheepishly and breathing raw non-conventionalism: “Sorry to keep you waiting, complicated business, complicated,” he introduced himself to cheering supporters in an address broadcast live to millions of people around the world.
Comedy of errors
What has happened with America’s top diplomat for the past one year is a bizarre concoction of soap opera, comedy of errors and, possibly, one of the greatest political tragedies of modern times.
Towering in frame, brutish in speech, impenitent in visage, Trump took on a lonesome mission to bid for his country and his presidency, at all costs - including but not limited, to embarrassing his countrymen.
Neglecting officialdom, he took to his personal Twitter handle to take on critics, media and political enemies. Since his inauguration, Trump has tweeted 4,526 times as at 6pm yesterday. That adds up to, on average, six or seven tweets per day, according to USA Today.
A master at crafting and sustaining seething names for his perceived enemies, Trump took on adversaries with prefixed monikers: Crooked Hillary, Fake News CNN, Failing New York Times, Little Rocket Man, Crazy Bernie Sanders, Rigged System, Lonely Brian Ross, Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gilibrand, Leaking James Comey, Sloppy Steve Bannon and Sneaky Dianne Feinstein.
In a matter of months, and within the domain of world’s top diplomats, he shattered records for spewing the crudest of epithets. “A total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them) is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” he unapologetically took down New York’s Democratic Party senator and the Senate Minority Leader.
When Luther Strange faltered in his re-election bid as Alabama senator, Trump took to Twitter to disparage his rival; describing him as “the last thing we need in Alabama and the US Senate”, a puppet and a disaster.
And when Senator Bob Corker took on him, he pulled the axe: “Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS.”
His abhorrence for CNN, the popular US cable television network has been exceptionally pronounced, always describing it as fake while lauding Fox News, the voice of the Republican Party and his biggest supporter and defender. At some point, he demanded a boycott of CNN, describing it a total waste.
In his reign, the much-respected New York Times has not been spared either. He once described it as “the pipe organ for the Democratic Party” and “a virtual lobbyist for them.” Trump did not restrict his take-downs to America and Americans. When UK Prime Minister Theresa May went for him, she soon realised she was no match for him.
“Theresa May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the UK. We are doing just fine!” Trump tweeted.
Never afraid of controversy, he decided to live up to his campaign promise of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, stoking worldwide protest. Throughout his one year in office, not a day or two passes without him threatening to build a wall along the Mexican border to curb illegal migrants from entering the US.
When the book by Donna Brazile -- the former interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee -- on Hillary came out, he was head over heels describing it as “the real story”. But when he was equally unpeeled through a similar project, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, he dismissed the book and the writer as “the fake book of a mentally deranged author” who “knowingly writes false information.”
He also termed the book a conspiracy of the Democrats. “They should try winning an election,” he added. Quite out of form, he made it his business to disparage his predecessor when he was long gone.
He justified his recourse to social media “to get the truth out” by saying much of mainstream media had become a joke.
“I use social media not because I like to but because it is the only way to fight a very dishonest and unfair press, now often referred to as fake news media,” he tweeted on December 31.
On December 23, and like a villager baying for Christmas, the man vested with so much power started a countdown on the retirement of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. “He’s racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!
When Vanity Fair apologised to Hillary, Trump turned the heat on them describing the magazine as one on “last legs.” With the same zeal that he used to take on his enemies, Trump cheered on his country to grow some more.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” he would tweet after any achievement. As 2017 came to an end, Trump wished “all friends, supporters, enemies, haters and even the very dishonest fake news media” a happy and healthier New Year.
Of nuclear buttons
Around the same time, he put Pakistan on notice, saying despite gobbling up America’s $33 billion dollar aid, they had only given back lies, deceit and “thinking of our leaders as fools.”
His spat with Kim Jong Un was just pure comedy at best and gonads-measuring contest at worst. When the North Korea leader was reported to have said that the nuclear button was always on his desk, Trump barked: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is much bigger and more powerful than his, and my button works!”
And when North and South Korea got talking, Trump would wait to take credit saying his firm talk helped. Still, he commented on the “diplomatic coup” and the participants: “Fools, but talk are a good thing.”
With one year gone, the man who described himself as a “stable genius” continues to rumble on in America.