The Trumpian Decade: A master troll as president has the world bemused and US establishment scurrying for response
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, politicians and much of media guffawed "he can't be serious." Trump is still laughing!
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, politicians and much of media guffawed "he can't be serious."
Greeted by his supporters, Trump descended down a golden escalator to the basement of his New York Trump Tower and made his intentions known in quintessential Trumpian fashion - railing against illegal immigrants and the raw deal meted out to America.
The real-estate mogul proved his worth in 2016 with possibly the biggest upset victory in the history of presidential elections. One thing is for certain, you cannot afford to take The Donald lightly. Love him or hate him, he's already great in the minds of the "silent majority."
Here's looking at the past decade "in Trump".
2010: Trump considers POTUS bid
Trump was just a property mogul and reality TV star when he hinted at running for the nation's highest office against President Barack Obama. He had been asked about the bid in earlier times - sometime seriously, sometime jokingly.
Trump, 64 at the time, made appearances on various networks revealing that he was considering joining the race to the White House in 2012. "For the first time in my life, I'm actually thinking about it [running for president]," he told Fox News at the time.
"I'm a Republican so if I did anything, I'd do it, I guess, as a Republican," the Orange Man said. "I've been asked for years to do it, and I had no interest. This is the first time I am… at least, I'm considering it. That doesn't say I'm going to do it… but I am seriously considering it."
2011: Obama's brutal roast at White House Correspondent's Dinner didn't go down well
In 2011, Trump bowed out of the 2012 presidential race when faced with the choice of hosting 'The Apprentice' or taking on Barack Obama in the upcoming election. Meanwhile, Obama realized this was the best opportunity to hit back at Trump for questioning the existence of his U.S. birth certificate. He chose the White House Correspondent's Dinner to open fire at his most fervent critic.
Many consider the fateful night as the pivotal moment Trump decided to take a break from TV and become president of the United States. At the dinner, Obama and comedian Seth Meyers unabashedly scoffed at the notion of Trump living in the White House.
Jokes about Trump's now-iconic hair, his alleged "conspiracy theories", The Apprentice left the celebrity billionaire fuming.
"No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald," Obama quipped. “And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
44 did not stop there. “Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there,” Obama joked, drawing laughs from the crowd as a Trumpified White House was projected on the screen behind. Trump was seen glaring fiercely at the stage, even as others looked at him to see how he was taking the jokes. Not too well apparently as he reportedly made an exit even before dinner ended.
2012: Trump denounces Obama's 2012 presidential victory
Trump had a meltdown on Twitter shortly after Obama won his second term in office in the 2012 election. He condemned the Electoral College, saying it undermined America's democratic process and called for a revolution -- although he would later win solely with the help of the college.
"He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election!" Trump railed in a series of tweets. "The phony electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one!"
"Let's fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us."
"Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble...like never before," he added. At the time, Trump placed his faith in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to "hold our country together."
2013: Donald Trump buys the Old Post Office
Several critics of the real-estate tycoon had said he couldn't seal the deal on this hot piece of property, but The Donald proved them all wrong. On August 5, 2013, Trump officially signed a lease for the Old Post Office at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Ave. NW in downtown D.C., thereby setting the stage for the heritage site's renovation into a lavish Trump International Hotel.
This was a win-win deal for both the federal government and Trump, who aspired to dictate one of the highest per-night room rates in D.C. Meanwhile, the district got a five-star hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in a vicinity that previously did not attract much pedestrian traffic after business hours. Trump also announced at least $200 million in investments to redevelop the 114-year-old site.
2014: Trump teases bid again
Trump had already made up his mind about the presidential run when he met BBC reporter Mark Lobel on a golf course in the deserts of the Dubai in 2014. Scroll back two months, he had dropped a rather telling hint on Twitter. "While I won't be running for Governor of New York State, a race I would have won, I have much bigger plans in mind - stay tuned, will happen!" he wrote.
It also came to light that Trump had trademarked his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" right after Mitt Romney lost to Obama in the 2012. During the interview with Lobel, Trump was asked about the US housing market, but the billionaire real estate tycoon steered the conversation to a bid for the White House -- in what many consider his first TV pitch for the presidency.
2015: It's official
Trump was just a real estate & TV tycoon best known for his “You’re fired” catchphrase, when he announced his presidential bid in an impassioned speech railing against illegal immigrants and promises to build The Wall on border with Mexico.
The flirtation with the idea had become real. Trump made his candidacy official in front of eight American flags in the basement of Manhattan Trump Tower. “Sadly the American dream is dead," he said, adding if elected he will will bring it back "bigger, better and stronger than ever before.”
Making an entry to Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World, Trump attacked almost every other rival country while blaming Obama for going on an "apology tour" and letting America collapse to the level of “a third world country”. His unfiltered speech threw political correctness out of the window, Mexico was accused of of sending "their worst" including criminals and “rapists" to America.
“They’re sending us not the right people,” he asserted. “The US has become a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems."
“They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”
2016: President Trump goes to White House
Defying all expectations, Donald J. Trump defeats former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the highest office in the country.
Trump wrote history by running the most unconventional political campaign. He made it a point to visit blue wall states like Wisconsin and Michigan and held massive rallies instead of traditional door-knocking and get-out-the-vote operations. Despite turning the consensus wisdom about how to win the presidency on its head, his decisions were widely ridiculed in established circles.
But it was Trump who had the last laugh.
2017: Mueller, Jerusalem, and Covfefe
As expected, the first year of the Trump administration saw him break all the norms of presidential behavior. Nonetheless, he achieved significant goals in Republican talking points like tax cuts for the middle class and appointment of Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice. He also became subject of an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for alleged "collusion" with Russians during the 2016 election.
The years-long investigation eventually led to charges of obstruction of justice against the president, but failed to list any considerable high crimes or misdemeanors -- which could form the basis for a potential impeachment process.
Trump also caused a media meltdown over a seemingly cryptic tweet, which in all likelihood was a typo (but you never know with Trump). “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” Trump said in a midnight tweet on May 31, 2017. By the time Trump deleted it in the morning, it had already caused a Twitterstorm. Trump played along with the resulting blown-out-of-proportion media coverage, tweeting, "Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!"
In June, Trump announced in a speech from the Rose Garden that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate deal. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said. And in December that year, Trump broke through decades of a U.S. foreign policy deadlock by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - initiating the process of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv.
2018: Stormy Daniels, 'Rocketman', and Kanye West
Trump attracted opposite fire in 2018 after it came to light his personal attorney Michael Cohen had made hush payments to pornstar Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
It was alleged that he paid Daniels $130,000 on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to keep mum about her alleged affair with Trump a decade earlier. Cohen was later sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a series of financial crimes and for lying to Congress. Trump has maintained he never had sex with either Daniels or McDougal.
In June 2018, Trump broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy and held a summit with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore. According to former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, "President Trump deserves great credit for daring to try to personally persuade Chairman Kim to join the family of nations."
"This approach holds the possibility of history-making changes on the Korean Peninsula to make us all safer," Christie wrote in Time magazine.
In October, megastar Kanye West met Trump at the White House. The rapper was by then already one of the president's highest-profile celebrity supporters. West and Trump had a wide-ranging discussion, with the rapper giving a televised and much discussed monologue about why he supports President Trump..
Nearing the end of the discussion, Trump was asked about the purpose of their meeting. "Honestly, from our standpoint, this was just set up to be a lunch of two people that I like. And I guess they like me. And we’re going to have lunch. We’re going to talk," he said.
Kanye responded by saying he not only liked Trump, but he loved "this guy right here."
He stood up, approached the president, and gave him a warm embrace.
Trump called him "a special guy."
2019: Impeachment, ISIS, and that 'Gorgeous Chest'
In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump, charging him with betraying his oath of office and jeopardizing the nation’s security by soliciting help from a foreign power to investigate a potential presidential rival.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said invoking America's founding principles. She added that Trump “must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”
Amid the impeachment noise, Trump bagged a notable achievement by taking down Islamic State supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. After a highly covert military operation in Syria in October, the U.S. was able to successfully immobilize the ISIS leader who had become the world's most wanted man after the collapse of the caliphate.
"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead," Trump announced at the White House.
The commander-in-chief claimed al-Baghdadi did not die a hero but spent his final moments "crying, "whimpering" and "screaming."
"Like a dog," he said.
In November, Trump caused alarm bells to ring with an unscheduled trip to the hospital. Not pleased with the media speculation over his health, he addressed it in classic Trumpian fashion. During a Florida rally for 2020 elections, Trump told his supporters that false media reports of a heart attack had sparked serious concerns among White House staff. He clarified it was a routine health check-up, before going a step further and insisting that doctors were stunned looking at his spectacular physique.
“The first thing they do is say, ‘Take off your shirt, sir, and show us that gorgeous chest. We’ve never seen a chest quite like it’,” he quipped.
However, the POTUS wasn't done with his "trolling" as yet.
Shortly after the rally, Trump tweeted a photoshopped image of himself as a bare-chested boxer. The picture had Trump's head superimposed on Rocky Balboa's chiselled body.
2020: Four more years?
There is no doubt on both sides of the political aisle that the so-called "Trump Train" will be difficult to halt in the upcoming elections, given the existing Democratic line-up for 2020.
It sure is going to be a riveting election year and the presence of Trump will surely keep us glued to our screens.