If there is something to be said about the month of September, then it would be the reckoning of the Trump presidency. In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom talk about President Donald Trump’s defensive September, discussing the recent New York Times story revealing his tax history and the reconciliation that’s about to happen for our national identity. Shoes just keep dropping, and the more we’re peeling back the curtains to really see what is happening. Join Bill and Tom as they go deeper into the role of truth in the coming restoration.
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The Reckoning Of The Trump Presidency And The Reconciliation Of Our National Identity
Bill is back in his natural habitat, back in his home base. You’ve been on the road for a long time. It involved quarantining when you got to where you were going. You’re committed. Anyway, welcome back, Bill. I’m glad to have you. Can you believe what’s happened? The entire month of September, it seems like another shoe keeps dropping, something else gets revealed. Donald Trump has been on the defensive consistently. Even when he has a moment of naming a Supreme Court nominee, he doesn’t get the headlines for that for a week. He got it for maybe half a day or two days at most.
That shift into something else.
Things keep dropping. The most recent one is The New York Times story about revealing the reality of Donald Trump’s tax history. That’s the big one that’s dropped. It seems that more of the onion keeps peeling back or we keep peeling back the curtain and seeing what’s happening there.
One of the biggest difficulties that we’re facing is that as a nation, there’s a certain reckoning that’s going to take place. The word reckoning is interesting because there’s this reconciliation and then there’s this restoration that needs to happen. It’s like we have to reconcile our books at the end of each month or quarter, depending on how we as business people use our accounting system to reconcile things. If a person chooses to keep borrowing money to pay somebody else, they take somebody’s money from one person and put it over here and pay that person. The person that creates a story, “That person is good for it.”
What happens if they’re not? What happens if there is so much in debt that people look at them and say, “Time to call. You’ve got to deliver the money. No one else is going to lend to you.” There’s a thing called liquidation of assets. The reconciliation is what are these hotels worth? What are all your real estate properties worth? The reconciliation is of all accounts, but there are two things that are going on at the same time. How the American voter who voted for this person who had the experience of him being a wealthy and successful business person, “I made a lot of money and spoke with a lot of confidence.” How are they going to reconcile their belief about him? How are they going to reconcile their identity about him? How are they going to do that?
The great reckoning is what we’re facing off. Everything ends. We can look at all these different nations that used to rule the world, whether it’s Portugal. It’s so funny, I led with that one. Portugal, when did they lead the world? They had their time. Every nation had a certain time because they figured out how to run commerce and the economy of the world through their country. There isn’t the great reconciliation that needs to take place. It’s like, “How can we move it to a place of reconciliation?” When you think about the taxes piece, there are people that are going like, “He’s a smart guy. He only had to pay this amount of money.”
I had that experience with a Facebook friend who posted, “Everybody who’s beating up the President over only paying $750 tax bill. If we don’t know how to do it ourselves getting the proper support from a tax professional and paying the least amount of tax possible under the law, then we’re being foolish and we’re hurting ourselves” and all this stuff. I commented on that said, “That’s a very fair point.” I agreed with that. I myself use the Tax Code and the fact that I’m a business owner to my advantage to reduce my tax to the least amount. The difference to me and what I commented back, and this New York Times story and the revelation or the proof of Donald Trump’s taxes, what it reveals is how he is not at all a very intelligent or successful business person that he would like us all to believe he is. It’s one thing for a few years as you’re starting a business to take advantage of the Tax Code, maximize your deductions and pay little to no tax.Donald Trump is not at all a very intelligent or successful business person that he would like us all to believe he is. Click To Tweet
I’ve done it myself. I’m speaking from experience here, but it is not a sustainable long-term business plan to continue to spend far more money than you make as a company for decades. That’s literally what he’s done here. This is not an exaggeration. For decades, he has spent more than he’s earned and borrowed more than he’s earned. While on its face rate there, that’s very concerning because what it reveals is that what Donald Trump is very talented at is marketing and branding himself so that everybody believes he is a good and successful business person. In fact, he’s not. He’s siphoning off as much money as he can. He’s borrowing as much money as possible to create this illusion and it’s not long-term sustainable. That’s one part of a point that I want to make. If that’s not alarming enough in terms of reckoning that he’s not running profitable businesses. His businesses are bleeding cash. He doesn’t have the ability or he doesn’t care to build a business into a profitable enterprise.
The second thing that’s more concerning to me is that the federal government, especially in our intelligence agencies, doesn’t give security clearances to people that are being appointed to cabinet positions or even support positions to cabinet members if they have a significant amount of personal debt. I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a very real danger to the government that somebody can use that fact against them and carry favor with them. They’ll say, “I’ll take care of your debts if you do this for me. I’m going to reveal your secrets if you don’t do what I want you to do.” That’s illegal and nefarious. Here we have a president that The New York Times story has revealed that he’s personally attached to all these businesses that have hundreds of millions of dollars of loans coming due in the next couple of years. That is deeply troubling and concerning that the leader of the fair world has this burden. It is not a charitable thing. It is not an asset. It is not an advantage. His knowledge of how to get into debt is not going to help us as a nation. That’s my other point.
If I’m a person that invested my vote, my identity in a Donald Trump flag and I put my vote on believing the messaging that’s coming from his mouth, from his administration, from Fox News, it takes a bit for them to find the thing that they get to hang their vote on. I need to hang my vote on something. I’ve got a reconciliation. I’ve got to reconcile the identity that I’ve aligned with this other person’s identity. That’s tough to pry away from. Even post World War II people struggled with how could we believe or follow such a person as the Japanese emperor? How could we follow Hitler? Even people in certain religious cults or even just cults, how can we follow this person? There’s something in the person and the nation that wants to believe these things about ourselves that we are number one, even though when we measure ourselves against other countries, we’re not. We’re not number one in manufacturing anymore. I don’t know what even number we are. We aren’t number one in education. There’s a whole bunch of stuff. The reconciliation part of it is tough because we have to stare at what we don’t have. Our identity of America first is an interesting marketing and branding slogan.
It’s not in balance with the modern world. It’s not in balance with other times when the United States wanted to go down this path of isolation. We’ve wanted to do this as a nation many times in our history of 200 years. Every time, except this one, we said, “No, we’re not going down the path of isolation. We are going to keep moving towards expansion. We’re going to work with the world. We’re not going to work against the world. We’re not going to work against ourselves, but we’re going to work towards harmony. We’re not going to work towards separation.” We have somebody that has worked towards separation, and this is not my quote. He’s been quoted as he’s the first president that hasn’t tried to unite the nation. He hasn’t done that. His messaging has not been, “Let’s work together with those Democrats. Let’s work together with China. Let’s work together with X, Y, Z.” No, he’s not a work together guy. The great reckoning for the Donald Trump presidency is not only a reconciliation of his financial accountings, but a reconciliation for our national identity. Identity is an important need for us. This one is where we have to eat crow a little bit. This is a toughie.
It is tough, Bill. People that invested their vote in President Donald Trump in 2016 had certain beliefs at the time. It seems like a lot of those beliefs or points of identity are being chipped away on a regular basis. In the span of a few weeks, we’ve had the Atlantic story about Donald Trump and how he thinks of people that serve in the military, military leaders, POWs, the war heroes as the rest of us might call them. He didn’t think of John McCain as a hero. Others have said that he referred to POWs as losers and suckers. People who serve in the military are suckers, that sort of thing. That chipped away at certainly a part of the electorate that has much more respect, much higher regard for people that serve our nation in the military.
It’s very hard for those people to back somebody who’s going to call them losers and suckers. We keep getting more things chipped away. You had the Woodward interview where we heard in Donald Trump’s own voice saying how dangerous the virus was. With the Woodward tapes, we hear with the President’s own voice where he says that the virus is lethal and airborne. It’s deadly, much more so than the flu. He’s telling the rest of the country it’s not even as bad as the flu. He’s downplaying it. That peeled off more people that were losing faith in the President. Now you have the very foundation of his entire identity of running for president. When he came down the escalator and made that speech in 2015, where he said, “I’m rich.” That was very important to him. You’ve said on this show many times that in America, we tend to equate intelligence with wealth and respect. Here, evidence has been revealed that while he lives a very wealthy lifestyle, all financial evidence suggests his net worth may be negative. He is spending more than he makes.
It’s going to be interesting how the unraveling of this experience. That’s what a reckoning is. We’ve got to reconcile our beliefs. We’ve got to reconcile our identity. These are important needs for us. America’s track record regarding accountability is not particularly strong. We’re not big on owning mistakes as a nation. We don’t do it very well. The Iraq war a mistake. We attacked a country that didn’t have anything to do with 9/11, but we made up the experience. Looking back, we discovered that the intel wasn’t there, even though the leaders told us that there’s something over there we’ve got to go find with nuclear weapons. Even Saddam Hussein one time was interviewed. If you look back at the records, he goes, “What do you guys want? Do you want more money? What do you want from us?” The answer was a place to have a war. It’s what we want from you. A place to have it. You’re the guy. It’s very challenging among other motives. We’re not good with scary honesty. Tom, when your kid makes a mistake, how hard are you on your kid?
Sometimes harder than I should be. I try not to be hard. I’ll give you an example. I had this happen. I’ve got a six-year-old in first grade doing distance learning from home, which most people are right now. She’s on virtual class and I’ve hired somebody to come in, assist, monitor, and make sure that she’s learning something, and dealing with practice, homework and all that. I don’t have time to do it as a person running a business. My six-year-old had never used the actual computer before this. We have to teach her to use a computer. She figures out how to get on YouTube in another tab in the browser where she’s in one browser window in class. She’s on Zoom.
She discovers YouTube and figures out how to watch Barbie videos. Fortunately, it was children-related stuff, but she’s got the class going on in one tab simultaneously, not listening to that, not watching it. She’s playing a Barbie video in another tab. It’s pretty clever. I’m like, “She figured that out? That’s amazing.” She’s not even fully reading. She’s reading, but a little bit and figuring out how to navigate a computer. On the one hand, this is not good. This is not proper behavior. This is bad. You want to emphasize that to make sure that they understand it. On the other hand, you also don’t want to come down on her so hard that she doesn’t learn a lesson here. The thing was, I kept to the point of saying, getting her to admit that she was doing something she shouldn’t have been doing or that she lied about it initially. It’s like, “Now it’s your opportunity to tell the truth to come clean. If you are honest with me about what you did, you’re not going to get in trouble. We’re going to talk about it. In the future, you’re going to maybe have a consequence, but not now.” She did tell the truth. It’s a long way of getting at I try not to come down super hard.
That’s your young kid. Let’s go ahead. You’ve had a teenage kid at one time. How hard are you on the teenage kid, 16, 17, 18?
It will be interesting to see how I am with the next teenager who’s not a teenager yet because I’ve learned a lot and grown in my language and communication. With the first one, I was probably pretty hard.
Where I’m going with this is, how hard are we going to be on the Donald Trump voter? How hard are we going to be on them that they “made a mistake?” How hard are we going to be as a nation on the Republicans? How hard are we going to be? There are a lot of choices that were made that met the needs of the individual donors but did not meet the needs of the nation.
It’s a very interesting question, Bill. If we’re going to approach this with a goal of reconciliation and restoration healing, we need to be empathetic to the Republican voter and recognize, remember we’re all Americans. We’re all living here together and try to be compassionate to them. What makes it hard is not the Republican voters so much, but it’s the Republican members of Congress and our President that make it hard. Take Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. The fact that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate are going to absolutely shove this nominee down the throat of the American people because they can. They have the power to do it, but they are being completely inconsistent and hypocritical of what they all said in 2016. Some of them even said it in 2018 or even more recently if you’re Lindsey Graham. “Hold the tape,” he said. “We should not do it.” That makes it very hard because in our minds, we lump in the Donald Trump supporter of the voters, the people, with the Donald Trump supporters of our leadership.For decades, Donald Trump has spent and borrowed more than he's earned. Click To Tweet
This is difficult because this is when there’s one thing to change your mind. There’s another thing to lie. There’s another thing to be a hypocrite. All those languages create violence that we all have to restore because we’ve still got to live with each other as a nation. We still got to get in place of having compassion and empathy to say your values are so important that you would like the court and the legal system to reflect your values. Your values as a conservative person is something that you would like to see in the court. You do not want a liberal mindset as a judge. You want a conservative mindset as a judge. Having empathy and compassion for that is saying that this person wants to have their belief structure to be in alignment with stability, consistency, fiscal responsibility, a rule of the law for certain people. Not necessarily rule of law all the way across the board because if the things aren’t equitable, at least they’re equitable in my court. Not if you have somebody that is not in an environment that you’re not considering all the things around their environment. They should have known better.
It’s like they didn’t have any ability to get there from here. This person does other things that need to be changed. They’re in front of your court because of that. There’s not a lot of compassion or empathy from time to time when you get down to the rule of law. It’s like you wrote it, you pay the price. You did the thing, you pay the price. It is what we’re seeing in the current Department of Justice where one group of people gets off easy. Another group of people doesn’t get off easy. If you know this group of people have this amount of money, that’s one part of law. The other part of law is if you have a little bit of money and you’re caught in this part of the system. We have a reckoning to do and a reconciliation, not just of Donald Trump’s books, but the reconciliation of the nation.
How are we going to move back to a collaborative cooperative position? How are we going to adjust our mindset as well as the mindset of others to be more inclusive? I don’t want to trade war between California and Alabama or a reconciliation between New Yorkers and Floridians. That type of mindset is not the United States of America where our states compete with each other aggressively. Whereas in other countries, that’s not fully true. They do compete with each other aggressively. That’s the thing that is a big part of the reckoning of the Donald Trump presidency, the reconciliation of his books, the reconciliation of our identity as Americans. Eventually, we’re working our way back to the restoration of trust and the commitment to truth in a new way. We’ve got to recommit to truth. You and I’ve been talking about how truth is being purchased. Here we are, we’ve got to reconcile truth after doing this for a while. What a journey.
I’ll tell you, while certainly a lot of people have believed that this president has not been truthful from the beginning, circling back to The New York Times story about his tax records, that’s why it’s so huge is because it gets to the very foundation of his justification for why we should elect him to be president. It’s because he’s a wealthy and successful businessman. There’s a definition, Bill. There’s another term that we haven’t mentioned here, but when I read the definition, it so applies to this present situation that we’re learning about Donald Trump with all this tax revelation. The word is charlatan. The definition, to be clear about that, is one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability. The synonyms are fraud and fake. The reality is that he has been making showy pretenses to his knowledge and ability, even as a business person. Forget trying to lead a nation, but the very foundation of what a lot of people were attracted to vote for him because it didn’t exist.
That narrative is not going away. He will still say, “I pay a lot of taxes. I’m a smart guy because I follow the tax codes. I was a person that use the rules that were in front of me.” It’s a little bit of how a big part of the trick, but sometimes it’s feeling like that how many excuses can we keep creating? That’s what’s happening with the various different voter blocks. A certain group of veterans peel off and he loses another 10,000 or 100,000 voters. Another group of housewives peel off, he loses another 10,000 or another 100,000 voters. There’s no way to go. It’s like you come outside and your kid dinged the front of the car and there’s a dent in the front of the car. It’s like, “Who did this?” “Someone ran into me.”
“Someone ran into you? Did you get their name?” “No. It was a hit and run.” “Someone ran into you and it was a hit and run? Where did it take place?” “It was near this intersection.” “Near this intersection?” It’s like you’re getting a truth, but you’re not getting a truth. It’s like, “Did you run into something?” “No, I’m a great driver.” “The car was parked. I thought you said it was near the intersection.” It’s like, “When am I going to get the truth out of this 16 or 17-year-old about the dent in my car?” It’s like America’s cars need to be fixed. We’ve been dinged up for four years here.
We’ve got dents in our integrity. We’ve got dents in our respect. We’ve got dents in our trust. Even though somebody that might read this goes, “It’s not about Donald Trump at this point. It’s about messaging and belief structure and identity. Do we want to be that country that does this stuff? Do we want to be the other country that we used to be the shining light on a hill?” Do we want to be that? It’s like, “You stop the Mexicans from coming in. Great. What’s the impact on the agriculture business because you did that?” There’s nobody that are there to lift their family and their existence up by getting out of a country because they want to be safe. They want to sleep in peace. It’s hard. Tom, there’s plenty more to go here, but we’re in the process of restoration and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens because we’ve got a debate coming up too.
We can’t get to that restoration soon enough, but you’re right. Our next episode is going to be a discussion about that first presidential debate, which is about to take place. I imagine we’ll have almost too much to talk about, but I enjoy going through the language and communication and see who did well communicating the message and who didn’t. Maybe also, some Monday morning quarterbacking of, “If only he had done this or that.”
More to come.
Thanks a lot, Tom.
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