Donald Trump: Improviser in Chief

(CNN)Watch Donald Trump get ready to take over the world’s biggest job and a central question will likely come to mind: Is he carrying out a strategic plan months in the making, or is he largely winging it?

If his 40-year career is a clue, the odds are you are seeing a man who is improvising as he has throughout his long life in the public eye. As a businessman/ entertainer Trump improvised narratives that could close a sale or make a TV show succeed. In the process he often staked out extreme positions as the first step in a negotiation that ended with him getting most of what he wanted. And if he didn’t, he was always willing to walk away.
    Earlier in the week, Trump’s personal tweet about abruptly canceling plans for two new, more efficient and technologically capable presidential jets sent Boeing’s stock value tumbling briefly. The tweet followed a press report on Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg’s defense of international trade. Muilenberg noted his company’s huge export business with China. Trump campaigned on a promise to disrupt current trade arrangements, especially those involving China.
    Is Trump affected by the idea that his comments can damage a major American exporter like Boeing or cause Chuck Jones to fear for the safety of his family? It is hard to say that he would be moved by these events.
    Throughout his life, Trump has sought to steamroller those who oppose him and has expressed little regret for innocent bystanders whom he has harmed, whether they were creditors in his bankruptcies or neighbors he tried to bully as he developed properties. All is fair in love and war and Trump believes, as he told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, “My life is war.”

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    In love Trump has also practiced a self-interested style that justifies going to extremes. His first marriage ended in a blaze of tabloid scandal. After his second came apart he engaged in another messy and public battle over the terms of the divorce. In his third marriage he has reached a kind of stability where his public image is concerned, but it didn’t keep him from engaging in the kind of grotesque banter that any wife would find extremely painful to hear.
    When it was made public, the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump making lewd comments about women shocked people with tender sensibilities but it showed Trump in typical form, playing to his audience and acting on gut instinct.
    We should expect to see more of Trump acting on instinct and improvising as he settles into the presidency. He won’t likely be caught saying anything as gross as his comments to “Access Hollywood,” but other politicians have been caught in so-called “hot mic” moments. If Trump has his own, we should expect him to confidently sell us on the idea that he planned it all along.

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