Opinion: Trump′s games have begun | News | DW | 14.11.2016
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Opinion: Trump's games have begun

Trump's tone after his victory has spurred some optimism that maybe everything wouldn't be so bad. Yet Trump is picking up exactly where he left off. He remains dangerously unpredictable, says Ines Pohl from Washington.

Let's remember, the future president of the United States has no political experience. During his 70 years on the planet he has held no public office. As a businessman, the wealthy heir failed time and again, filed for bankruptcy several times and only survived because banks and creditors would have lost even more money if they had let him fall entirely. Too big to fail, you could call it.

Trump's real success came with "The Apprentice," a reality show that he moderated and turned into the foundation of the "Trump" trademark for him and his family. This was the time when Trump learned to seduce people, to dupe them into believing in fantasy worlds that were nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Worlds based on illusions, not facts. He refined this successful recipe over the years, until he was eventually able to win the fight for the White House with it.

Dignity of the office

Now Trump takes over the world's most important political position and nobody knows what awaits the world. His first remarks following the election campaign were therefore widely watched and interpreted. How would he react? Would the dignity of the office tame him? Would he continue attacking women, Muslims and Hispanics? Or could he be respectful? And above all, what advisers would he bring to his side? Because it will be those advisers who set the political agenda.

Right after Trump's election victory speech, you could hear tentative whispers of relief even from some of his biggest critics. His tone was reserved and avoided vitriol. He even found thanks, rather than malice, for Hillary Clinton. During his visit to the White House the next day he knew to be on his best behavior, appearing almost like a schoolboy next to President Barack Obama.

Ines Pohl

DW US correspondent Ines Pohl

The power of imagery

Then finally Trump gave his first interview. It wasn't a press conference as his predecessor had done. Instead, he did an interview with the respected television program "60 Minutes."

Trump is aware of the importance of symbols, he knows that images strike a chord in people's collective memory. That's why the rather sparse content of the interview is of not particular import. Except, of course, as evidence that the president-elect doesn't seem to plan to do his homework and at least have answers ready for some of the most important questions.

With this interview, Donald Trump showed how he views his impending reign - not as a democratically-elected president who seeks political compromises and is ready to work hard for them. Trump is presenting himself more as a monarch who rules his world from a gilded seat of power, and who is not interested in detailed questions about abortion law or deporting people. He's bringing staff in to deal with these matters.

Here, too, Trump's initial choices prove he's by no means distancing himself from his racist, inhuman course. Not even the fact of him bringing in Rence Priebus as White House chief of staff can disguise this. Trump needs Priebus, a splendidly connected politician, to be able to work with the Republicans.

Ostracism and hate

Besides Priebus, Trump appointed Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor. That's a slap in the face to those who were hoping that the office's magnitude might bring Trump to his senses.

Bannon, the former CEO of the conservative news website Breitbart, stands as almost nobody else can for ostracism and hate, for anti-Semitism and misogyny. Those were some of the tools he used to ensure Trump's election victory.

Trump knows how to slip into a role in order to be successful, but he also knows what alliances have to be forged in order to cut deals. And he showed his true face not by cosying up to the camera for the "60 Minutes" interview, but rather in the choice of his strategic adviser. He also showed it by portraying himself as a ruler who surrounds himself not with political competence, but with like-minded people.

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