The Peter Principle Presidency
In 1969 Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull published a book they believed was a satire of business practices entitled The Peter Principle. The “principle” is a management concept that posits: people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their "level of incompetence.” (Wikipedia) Laurence Peter’s research indicated “employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.” (Wikipedia) In our current political situation we definitely have a President (and Cabinet) who have clearly risen about their “levels of competence.” Most notably, in the current situation, the President was not someone “promoted” because he had been successful in his previous endeavors --- quite the contrary, in fact (as I will elucidate below). No, what happened in 2015-2016 is that a Celebrity who had no discernible competence at anything beyond self-promotion, managed to use his fictitious persona as a “successful businessman,” as defined by the television program The Apprentice, to convince enough Americans to cast votes for him, delivering an Electoral College (but not popular vote) victory. What we are now witnessing on a daily basis during this coronavirus pandemic and economic disaster is exactly how incompetent Donald J. Trump is. He is a living embodiment of The Peter Principle.
Let’s consider Trump’s record as a “businessman.” Despite Tony Horowitz’s authoring The Art of the Deal and creating the illusion that Donald Trump was a brilliant, wheeling-dealing businessman, all the evidence --- all the facts --- show us otherwise. Here’s a list of @realDonaldTrump’s business “acumen.” There are quite a few “one and done” companies on the list --- that is, they only lasted one or two years and then disappeared, never making a cent for Trump and often losing money.
Trump Steaks – 1 year (2007) If any reader actually ate one of these, please let me know.
GoTrump.com – 1 year (2006) – Travel search engine (remember Orbitz? Expedia? Travelocity?) With no expertise in this arena, Trump, of course, failed within a year.
Trump Airlines – 1989-1993 – formerly the Eastern Shuttle. Trump took the successful NY to Washington and NY to Boston shuttle flight franchise (originally started by PanAm) and, within four years ran it out of business.
Trump Vodka – 2006-2011 – Again, I’d love to hear from anyone who ever drank a shot of this spirit.
Trump Mortgage – 2006-2007 (1.5 years) -remember the bubble bursting in 2007? Trump showed his keen eye for business here, getting into the mortgage business just as the industry was going belly-up.
Trump: the Game – Monopoly knockoff – 1989 - 1 year – trying to capitalize on the success of the “The Art of the Deal,” Trump, as usual, overestimated his own popularity, believing people would flock to a game with his name on it.
Trump Magazine – 2007 – 1 to 2 years – I recommend you Google this monstrosity, just to see how deluded the entire Trump Klan is! Believing, somehow, people would buy a magazine all about “them Trumps” is another testament to the sheer, uncontrolled egoism.
Trump University – 2005-2011 – Still paying people off for fraud! This scam is well documented and has become a national punchline.
Trump Ice (H2O) 2004 – less than one year – this was “spring water” that, again, I’d like to hear from anyone who ever even saw a bottle of this!
The New Jersey Generals – USFL – 1984-1985 – His mismanagement of his franchise, and insistence that the USFL try to merge with the NFL (who wanted no part of it) led to Trump being blamed for the demise of the entire league. A colossal shit-show.
Tour de Trump – 1989 – 2 years – An American “Tour de France “bike race, only “Trumpier.”
Trump on the Ocean (Jones Beach catering hall) – 2012 – 2 months…This never even opened!
The Trump Network – 2009 – 2 years almost – Vitamin-selling QVC format “network.” Ever watch it? Ever even hear of it?
Trumped! Talk Radio show ….supposedly lasted 4 years …but not trace of it anywhere! There is one promo tape on SoundCloud or some such thing.
Trump New Media – 1998 – Video on Demand and High Speed internet: Never got off the ground because, shock of shocks, none of the Trumps have any expertise in VOD or high speed internet.
Trump Casinos - by 2014 had filed for bankruptcy FOUR times. In protecting himself from personal bankruptcy, Trump made numerous “questionable” deals with banks (Deutsche Bank, for example).
Despite this track record, Mark Burnett, the British television producer (Survivor) saw the opportunity in 2004 to use Trump’s notoriety (Trump would never let himself not be on Page Six as much as possible) and turn it into a successful reality show, The Apprentice. While Trump did have a handful of “successes” (Wollman Rink, The Grand Hyatt, and, of course, Trump Tower) that propelled The Art of the Deal to the top of the best-seller list, those successes were few, far between, and in the distant past when Burnett created The Apprentice and, in the process, invented the mythic Donald Trump who is now our Peter Principle President.
Given the scale of the crisis we are now facing, even a mildly competent President --- a Jimmy Carter, a Gerald Ford, maybe even a W. Bush --- would understand that grand Federal action is needed to help all the citizens of our nation. Nothing short of the kind of bold action like FDR’s New Deal is needed to cope with the combined crises of coronavirus, economic disaster, and racial strife. Federal health mandates, federal “stimulus” (relief) programs, and Federal social justice legislation could be enacted to save lives (regarding health and economics and racial strife). But only a leader who was, at the very least, competent would initiate action to move in those directions.
We, of course, are saddled with our Peter Principle President --- a man who is not even minimally competent to do anything other than promote his own fantasy image of himself and divide the American citizenry against one another --- at a time when we need National Unity. He will, as Adam Schiff warned us in his Impeachment summary, continue to lie and cheat. As Schiff noted: “You can't trust this president to do the right thing. Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can't. He will not change and you know it." And so now we must live with our Peter Principle President, a man incapable of leading this nation during these dire times.