Here in the U.S., we're pretty used to hearing our politicians offer up pleasing-sounding bromides about how simple it is to govern the country -- as if the complexities of our economy can be tamed just by following the advice offered on Successories posters. Welp, I'll tell ya, if you can manage a household budget, ya oughta be able to manage the national budget. How many household budgets are subject to the whims of massive corporate interests? Or require a military? (I suppose as the nation inevitably divides itself into gated communities and favelas, we may soon know the answers to these questions.)
But leave it to presumptive GOP nominee and mucilaginous picklemonger Donald Trump, currently and obliviously touring Brexit-torn Scotland in support of his Trump Turnberry golf course, to arrive at the simple-minded take on modern governance that we all knew he was capable of providing. As The New York Times' Ashley Parker reports:
At one point, Mr. Trump even compared his renovation of Trump Turnberry with how he is hoping to overhaul the United States as president. When a reporter pointed out — correctly — that a country is hardly a golf course, Mr. Trump replied: “No it’s not, but you’ll be amazed how similar it is. It’s a place that has to be fixed.”
Ha, well, if Trump's Scottish golf adventures -- which we've previously discussed at length -- are any guide, then running a golf course is more instructive about how to wheedle government through harangues and failed promises than it is about recognizing how to "fix" things. When Trump first arrived in Scotland to found the resort that became Trump International Golf Links, he had to aggressively pester the local governing authorities to grant him the right to build on what was, at the time, an environmentally protected site. As The Atlantic's David Graham reported, Trump's pitch mainly involved "whining throughout the process that the government was going hard on him despite his plans to invest vast amounts of money in the country."
In the end, Scottish officials caved, only to later learn that they'd been sold a bill of goods. The 6,000 jobs Trump insisted would create a windfall for the local economy never materialized, Fortune's Michael D'Antonio reported: "His project has created just 150 jobs, with one golf course, a clubhouse with a restaurant and 19 rooms for rent."
And if you want insight into how Trump's golf experiences might inform his governing style, D'Antonio's account is wonderfully illustrative. He notes that the ersatz mogul got much of his Scottish land holdings through eminent domain seizures, and he chose the path of petty revenge when he couldn't acquire the property he wanted:
The political tide began to turn against Trump as Scots learned of how he was bullying the few landowners who refused to sell to him. When Susan Munro rejected his bid to buy her property, she said Trump’s workers built a ten-foot high berm of earth around it, blocking her view. Munro’s neighbor just to the north, David Milne, saw Trump’s men plant evergreens twenty feet from his windows when he refused to sell. To the south, farmer Michael Forbes was attacked -- his family lived like “pigs,” said Trump — and the developer’s lawyer approached the local government about taking his land by eminent domain.
It's really starting to sound like running and maintaining a golf course can be done by any old grubbing bully. (#NotAllGolfCourses, surely.)
Trump has, of course, staked his presidential claims to the idea that he is, as comedian Nick Kroll might put it, "good at bizness." But those skills aren't as readily transferable to other fields as many people believe. Sorry, meritocracy! In fact, as Millsaps College history professor Robert McElvaine noted in 2012, “The startling bottom line is that the nation’s GDP has grown more than 45 times faster under presidents with little or no business experience than it has under presidents with successful business careers.”
Of course, it's an open question as to whether Trump actually is as successful a businessman as he claims. Maybe he's the precise dunce for the job! If you think so, roll them bones. Be sure to be mindful of the fact, however, that Trump gives two surprisingly-tiny-for-an-adult thumbs-up to Brexit because "when the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry." So, if he ever faces a decision where collapsing the economy might be of great benefit to his balance sheet, you're probably going to pay the price for that.
In the end, we're reminded of something that truly separated Trump from most of the candidates (we'll leave Ben Carson out) that ran against him for the GOP nomination. A fair-minded observation that anyone can make of Mssrs. Bush, Cruz, Rubio, et alia, is that -- irrespective of whatever ideological disagreements you might have with them -- they all convincingly evinced the notion that serving as the American president was a difficult and complicated job, featuring daily encounters with grave decisions that required both diligence and responsibility to properly perform. Trump, on the other hand, thinks that running the country is easy. As simple as running a golf course.
It's going to be a rough day for all of us when he discovers he's wrong.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.