As Donald Trump's presidency recedes into history, what will future generations make of this most unconventional businessman-come-politician? Biteback author Simon Dolan offers his view...
In just a short time as President, Joe Biden has failed to deliver a State of the Union address, dropped bombs on Syria, fallen up the steps of Air Force One, overseen a humanitarian crisis at the border and fluffed his lines when he tried to remember the name of one of his senior staff members.
There has been some criticism around these and other points in his 100-plus days in office, but the question remains as to whether his more direct predecessor – President Donald Trump – would have gotten away with the same track record?
Would Trump, as he is less than affectionately referred to by most, have been given as smooth a ride in the media as Joe Biden for the same incidents? How would the US and international media have reacted to the lack of State of the Union address alone? The headlines for forgetting a member of his own staff’s name would have been aggressive and derogatory.
It could perhaps be argued that Joe Biden is still in his honeymoon period, and therefore it can be accepted he would be ‘let off’ for anything going slightly awry. But the truth is that Donald Trump, the reality TV star and property magnate who became President, would without question have been pilloried for the very same incidents.
Trump had no honeymoon period to speak of. He was targeted even before day one, written off by the Democrats and his own Republican Party, and indeed by the international community, before he beat – no, swept aside – Hillary Clinton in 2015. It was the victory the world didn’t think possible, and it was a shock victory attacked from the outset.
During his presidency, Trump was subject to a years-long witch-hunt over allegations of conspiracy with Russia, for which, in the end, no evidence could be found. According to the conspiracy theory, this President was not just stupid and ridiculous – he was a traitor. However, unlike Obama, who waged military campaigns in Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria and failed to extract the US military from either Iraq or Afghanistan, Trump started no new wars during his tenure in the White House, withdrew troops from Syria, pacified North Korea, negotiated peace deals across the Middle East and was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize on four separate occasions. This is all overlooked – he receives no credit for these accomplishments.
It is this difference in how he was treated, in how he attracted so much criticism and negative press, that I believe is key to understand when considering his impact. Trump: The Hidden Halo sets out to do this, analysing what the businessman who took over arguably the biggest business in the world – the United States of America – actually achieved. It is a book which I hope helps in some way; but there needs to be a far more balanced look at the work of America’s 45th President if we are truly to understand his legacy.
And my challenge to anyone is to not consider what Biden has done in his first 100 days, but to look back on his time in office in four years, to see how it matches up with the achievements – and yes, there were many – of his predecessor, the man whom 74 million Americans voted for in the 2020 presential election.
My prediction is that those achievements will be far fewer – but they will be recorded in a far more positive way.
Trump: The Hidden Halo is out now: get your copy here.