Donald Trump has so many weaknesses, flaws, sins, and vulnerabilities that it would be difficult to list them all from memory. His life has been essentially a field guide for everything that’s wrong with humanity, and his legacy will be a cautionary tale. But there’s one weakness in particular that’s cost him everything – and it’s an ironic one, considering how much value he places on arrogant bluster.
Trump has gotten ahead in the business world over the years by accurately identifying the kind of wide-eyed greedy suckers who were ripe for his financial scams. He conned investors with too-good-to-be true deals, then simply kept their money and sued them if they tried to get it back. He relied on contractors that he knew he could get away with not paying. He found the kind of suckers who were eager to fall for scams like Trump University. He was adept that reading people. But then he went into politics, and something changed.
Maybe it’s because he’s in severe cognitive decline and he just can’t read people anymore, or maybe it’s because political figures are a different breed, but Donald Trump has shown himself to be remarkably bad at reading people during his time in politics. He thought Jeff Sessions was the kind of harmless doofus who would be personally loyal to him, when everyone else knew Sessions had survived as a corrupt politician all these years by being a self interested snake. When Sessions quickly recused himself in the Russia scandal in order to protect himself, Trump was the only one who was shocked.
When FBI Director James Comey put his finger on the scale in Donald Trump’s favor during the election, Trump took that as a sign that Comey liked him. In hindsight, Comey simply believed the FBI and its procedures to be more important than the real-world sanctity of the election process. So when Trump took office, he assumed Comey would protect him in the Russia investigation. Trump could have fired Comey on day one, and he’d probably have gotten away with it. But instead he waited until it was far too late, and by the time he did fire Comey, it blew up in his face.
Trump’s biggest misread of a fellow political figure might have come with his decision to latch onto Paul Manafort. Trump seemed to believe that because Manafort was a fellow scumbag who was also beholden to the Kremlin, the two would naturally watch out for each other’s interests. But now we’re learning that Manafort was only using Trump’s campaign as a way of getting out from under his Russian financial debts. We’re about to find out how Manafort managed to convince Trump to go along with this stupidity, once all those intercepted wiretapped phone calls between them inevitably surface. It’s going to come out that Manafort played Trump like a fiddle, and Trump was dumb enough to go along with it even though he was aware of Manafort’s every move.
During his time in politics, Donald Trump has consistently misjudged nearly every major political figure he’s encountered. It’s cost him time and again. It’s how he got himself incriminated in the Russia scandal to begin with. It’s how he ended up with a Special Counsel breathing down his neck, and flipping over every rock of his corrupt existence. Trump has lost everything; it’s just a matter of time. He’s lost it all because of his specific inability to read people correctly since he entered the political world.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report