Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Trump doesn't want support; he demands submission


Having completely alienated our neighbors in Mexico, Donald Trump ventured this week to New Mexico to find new targets to offend and insult. He found one in Susana Martinez, the governor of the state, ripping her at a public rally in Albuquerque for things such as an influx of Syrian refugees, the number of people on food stamps in the state and its unemployment rate.

"We have to get your governor to get going," an animated Trump told the crowd. "She's gotta do a better job, OK? Your governor has got to do a better job. She's not doing the job. Hey, maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going. She's not doing the job."

Martinez is Trump's fellow Republican. She's the chair of the Republican Governors Association. As a female governor in a party with few female role models, as an Hispanic-American leader in a party where few Hispanics feel welcome, she is respected within the party as someone with national political prospects.

Yet Trump, needing support from Hispanic and female voters, went to her state and publicly trashed her. Why? Because Martinez has dared to withhold her endorsement, and has even expressed misgivings about Trump's proposals to "build a wall" and engage in mass deportation. It's the same reason he also took out after Mitt Romney again this week, accusing the 2008 GOP nominee of "choking like a dog" and mocking him for walking "like a penguin."

As others have noted, Trump really isn't that interested in winning the support of fellow politicians. He is a bully, and what he craves is their submission. Once Chris Christie endorsed him, Trump took visible joy in treating the New Jersey governor as a personal lackey, publicly poking fun at his weight and even telling him that he could no longer eat Oreos. When Rick Perry endorsed Trump and offered himself as a potential vice president, Trump could barely contain his glee. “He said the worst things about me," Trump chortled after Perry's statement. "This politics is a dirty business, I have to tell you. And I’ve never seen people able to pivot like politicians.”

If and when Paul Ryan succumbs, the speaker can expect Trump to perform the same kind of victory dance over his fallen body, because he has no respect for anybody other than himself.

In recent days I've had people suggest that if Trump is somehow elected, it won't be so bad because Republicans in Congress and in Washington would be able to rein him in. That thought process baffles me. They haven't been able to stand up to his bullying at any point in this process, and for the moment he is still Donald Trump, private citizen. Will Republicans who kowtow to him now suddenly find their backbones once they have to refer to him as "Mr. President"? Is Trump himself going to grow more amenable to guidance once he's elected president of the United States of America and they start playing "Hail to the Chief" every time he enters a room?

No. The bullying and arrogance now on display would grow exponentially should Trump ever get the power of the presidency behind him. They will be applied in every aspect of the job, from congressional relations to foreign policy, with disastrous results. That's not a maybe, that's a guarantee. And people who today proclaim themselves aghast at the fact that Hillary Clinton disobeyed the rules about establishing an email system will stand by and applaud obediently as Trump ignores every rule, law and custom established to rein in executive power. They love him because he promises to be the strongman, the Big Man, and he shows every intention of making good on that promise.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.