The Six Crises of Donald Trump

By Alan Steinberg | June 23, 2020

Insider NJ


After he lost the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon wrote a political memoir entitled Six Crises.  The book served not only as a Nixon career autobiography but also as a political history of Postwar America through 1960.

The six crises described in the book included the following: 1) the Alger Hiss case; 2) the “Checkers” speech; 3) the Eisenhower heart attack of 1955; 4) the Nixon motorcade confrontation with a violent mob in Venezuela in May, 1958; 5) the Nixon “kitchen debate” verbal exchange with the leader of the former Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow in 1959; and 6) the election of 1960.  The study of these episodes in the life of Richard Nixon gives the reader a vivid insight into his character, philosophy, and decision- making process.

Nixon was both a patriot and a leader of both genuine intellect and intellectual curiosity, regardless of his other flaws.  Trump is decidedly anti-intellectual and consumed by a narcissism that negates any possibility of patriotism.

Yet it does appear that there is one purely coincidental similarity between Trump of 2020 and the Nixon of 1960.  Trump has exactly six major crises of his own, enumerated as follows:

CRISIS 1:  Trump’s Covid 19 Gross Mismanagement

More than anything else, it has been Trump’s gross mismanagement of the Coronavirus crisis that has made him a prohibitive underdog for reelection.

Trump, the most anti-science president in American history had based his entire reelection strategy on the economy.  He and his lead advisor, Jared Kushner had lived in fear that the news of an oncoming Pandemic would frighten the financial markets and cause a Wall Street meltdown.  So they lived in denial of any crisis and failed to initiate any response for three months until the president’s error-ridden national television speech of March 11.  According to a Columbia University study, the lock down and social distance delays resulting from Trump’s policies resulted in an additional 36,000 deaths.

Over time, Trump’s actions and policies became even worse.  He encouraged use of Hydroxychloroquine, a drug as to which the National Institute of Health stopped trials on June 20, 2020.

While all public health authorities emphasized that widespread use of masks and social distancing served as the most effective measures to stop the spread of Covid19, Trump refused to promote either measure – in fact, he refused to wear the mask.

And then finally, this past weekend, Trump’s desire for healthy numbers over healthy patients got the better of him.

Trump has complained that we are over testing and that this is resulting in an inflated number of patients. Yesterday, in a radio interview, he admitted that he is encouraging a slowdown of testing at a time when an acceleration is sorely needed.

In a nutshell, Trump’s mismanagement of the Coronavirus Pandemic constitutes the worst presidential crisis mismanagement over the past century.  This failure, in itself is why Trust appears irrevocably destined to face his political Gotterdammerung in November.

CRISIS 2:  The Bolton Book

These days, I am not very well inclined towards John Bolton, Trump’s former National Security Advisor.

He has a reputation for kookiness, yet few question his basic honesty.  I am inclined to believe basically everything he says in his new book.

Yet had Bolton been willing to testify at the impeachment trial as to the matters described in his book, it may have led to a significant number of Senate Republican defections.

There is one aspect of the book certain to have a negative impact on the Trump campaign attack strategy against Biden.

The plan of the Trump campaign against Biden has been to portray him as a weak tool of the Chinese.  Yet the Bolton book provides compelling evidence that the opposite is true.

It was Trump who entreated the Chinese for assistance in winning the 2020 election.  This constitutes an impeachable abuse of power against Trump and destroys the credibility of any Trump attempt to link Biden with the Chinese.

CRISIS 3:  The Supreme Court fails Trump

History is replete with examples of 1) presidents intending to implement social change through their appointed Supreme Court Justices; and 2) cases where the appointed justices disappointed their appointing president.

This happened dramatically within the past month.  Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion affirming that members of the LGBT community are granted full protection under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, contrary to Trump administration policy.

And in another case, it was a Bush 43 appointed Justice, Chief Justice John Roberts, who provided the swing vote denying the Trump administration’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Bottom line: On the Supreme Court front, Trump is a loser.  My belief is that the two matters above were well decided.

CRISIS 4: Race relations

There was a development that was only a one day story but could take on added significance among moderate Republicans as we approach Election Day.

Specifically, a 30 year-old African-American woman, a lifelong Republican regarded as a coming star, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, submitted her resignation with words that definitely impugned the character of Donald Trump on race relations.

“Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Taylor wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.”

This resignation could take on heightened significance among moderate Republicans who would normally vote for Trump out of party loyalty but are troubled by his record on race.  Expect this letter to become an item targeted to moderate Republicans by Democrats and anti-Trump entities during the last two weeks of October.

CRISIS 5:  The Incorruptible Prosecutor from New. Jersey

During my service as Assistant Commerce Commissioner under the then Commerce Commissioner Gil Medina during the 1990s, I had the fortunate opportunity to work closely and extensively with Ron Berman, then the premier developer in the Trenton area.  I have worked closely with many of the leading developers in America, but Ron was at or near the top of the list both in terms if competency and character.

I never met Ron’s son, Geoffrey, also a New Jersey native, but after last week, all America knows about Geoffrey.  He was the central figure in the botched effort of Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr to remove him as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  Geoffrey was rumored to have supervised investigations involving both Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump.

I will not go into details, except to say that the entire matter gave rise to suspicions that Bill Barr was trying to gain control of politically sensitive investigations that Geoffrey Berman had under his jurisdiction.  In any event, the bottom line was that Geoffrey Berman displayed the utmost of character, competence, and courage in refusing to vacate the job unless and until his highly respected deputy, Audrey Strauss, was appointed as his interim and immediate successor, assuring the continuation of all the above investigations.

Indeed, Geoffrey Berman enhanced the honor and legacy of his late father, Ron.

And somehow, I get the feeling that Bill Barr, Donald Trump, and Rudy Giuliani aren’t sleeping so well at night.

CRISIS 6:  The Trump Rally Flop in Tulsa

I draw several conclusions from this:

First, the dangers of the Coronavirus does deter attendance.

Second, the continuance by Trump of these rallies can only worsen his bad reputation of being insensitive to the dangers of the Coronavirus.

Third, while the rally was the signature event of Trump Campaign 2016, the president may need to find an alternative for 2020.

Stay tuned.


Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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