23 July 2020
By J R Thomas
OK, she’s not his sibling but the daughter of his sibling; but even nieces can cause trouble and visit the contests of their elders upon generation and generation. And Mary Lea Trump is out to cause trouble for her Uncle Donald. But first, apologies to those readers who feel hard done by with two epistles about American politics in two weeks; just look on it as a respite from the politics of Covid19. And these are indeed fascinating times in the wild wacky world of the 2020 Presidential election campaign, so bear with us.
So, to Mary, daughter of the President’s elder brother, Fred, eldest son of Fred, the founder of the Trump family fortune. Not a nice man, old Fred, by all accounts. Certainly, Fred Junior could not get on with him, left the business to become an airline pilot, failed at that and at marriage, took to drink, and died of a heart attack aged 42. That left the eldest son slot vacant, to be seized by the next brother Donald, and much of the rest of that story you already know. But it also left a family rift with Fred Junior’s children, which seems to have originated with money arguments in a dispute over Fred senior’s will. Mary Trump, born 1965, grew up to become a psychologist, married a woman, has a child, and operates a coaching business. Now she has taken her own psychological advice and got her troubles out in the open by writing a book, “Too Much and Never Enough”, presumably a spare James Bond film title.
Mr Trump is no doubt feeling that “Too Much” sums it up nicely. The book is a sustained attack not just on the Donald, but also on most of the Trump family, with a special emphasis on Fred Senior (“a high-functioning sociopath”) who she blames for most of the troubles of the family. Not that the family seems especially troubled compared with any other average wealthy American family, as one might expect a clinical psychologist to recognise, the main victim being Mary’s father and, Ms Trump would argue, the American people, having to put up with Donald as their President for four years. Never mind, Ms Trump is doing her best to prevent them getting him for another four.
That’s enough free publicity for what is a personal knife job of family bile probably best kept private. She sold nearly a million copies on the book’s first day out so Donald may well ruefully recognise an old family skill outing itself, the art of the deal. But Mr Trump has an election to win and the polls suggest he might not make it back to the Oval Office, with Joe leading by an average of 10%. There are surprising variations between the polls, with Mr Biden showing a lead of 15% in one, to around 3% in the most alarming for the Democrats. What might alarm them more is that the Trump campaign does not seem to have really started yet; whilst Joe is on the stump and making constructive speeches and formulating some impressive policy (we complimented the skill of his “Buy America” platform last week) Mr Trump is strangely quiet. Donald can never be literally quiet, it is just not him, but he is surprisingly restrained and seems to be holding back on the usual personal stuff. He did rise to Mrs Pelosi’s bait that he cannot be trusted to leave the Oval Office even if he is defeated – though examination of what he said would show that he was concerned about fraud in postal voting and in a very tight result would want that examined.
That restraint might well be making Joe and his team quite nervous; it is after all over three months to the election, and they suspect he is holding back his best witticisms and brickbats and comments on Mr Biden’s fitness of mind. They also fear perhaps another Trumpian piece of underhand behaviour. Is it, could it be, can the unthinkable be happening? Is President Lucifer Trump trying to become angelic?
Exhibit One is the speech that the President made in front of Mount Rushmore a couple of weeks ago. This has been little reported – our fine media having much more fun imagining what the stone Presidents might say to President T, or how the Donald might join them on a larger and oranger scale, than reporting what Mr Trump actually said. Which was, in brief summary, a defence and justification of the American revolution, and a thoughtful, coherent, historically based sketch of what each of those men had done to make the USA the great bastion of the world’s liberal values, diversity, and freedom. It was a skilful speech and almost certainly not written by the President. But it was delivered by him, and it was a riposte to all the “rip it down” and “tear it up” noises coming from the wilder shores of American politics today. It was of course not aimed there, but at core America, the heartlands, the increasingly nervous and conservative voters who switch on their TV’s and wonder what on earth is going on out there, who think that for all its myriad faults, the United States is a good place to be.
Exhibit Two is the President’s very restraint. He is showing that he is the safe pair of hands, the bulwark of those wondering what is going on, of those which we used to call the silent majority. Trump wants to show that he is there to defend them, that they are safe with him in the White Office, and that electing Joe will release the forces of anarchy. If the economy does start to revive, as it seems to be doing, and Covid19 to retreat, as it is not currently doing but may well do by November, those could be little bonuses too. “For safety and security vote Trump” is the message.
Exhibit Three is the Presidents hair. Have you noticed? He has gone grey. No more dye in the White House, perhaps, or just maybe here is another message “serious times, people, I’m an experienced and sombre man for these rumbustious times”.
Mr Biden can see what this strategy is, of course. He is an experienced and clever politician but he has the tricky job of trying to pull together a coalition of many very diverse and noisy interests: the Black vote; the working class vote; the socialistic Bernie Sanders vote; the Woke vote. These are not the most restrained of constituencies and Joe cannot silence them. But the more noise they make, the more they help the President in his new mission of sweet reasonableness.
None of this is presumably discouraging that hopeful authoress and learner giant killer, Mary Trump. She has a book to sell, a President to topple, a father to avenge. And if her sales keep up at this rate she could be heading to sales of over two million, astonishing figures, Harry Potter levels. But alas for her, her sales may not contra her uncle’s prospects in November. It is very likely that most buyers are those who were never going to be Donald voters in the first place; a case of selling hardbacks to the converted. Ah well; if she is a true Trump she will at least be comforted by the money through another four years.