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  • Donald Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he admires and hopes to emulate in the White House (Photo Dan Scavino/White House)

    Donald Trump’s CNN debate performance was a frightening foreshadowing of his potential second term that should far outweigh any concern about President Joe Biden.

    While media post-mortems have focused on Biden’s fumbling performance, Trump’s unbridled, outrageous lying should be sending alarm bells to Def-Con One.

    He exhibited an obsessive-compulsive view of himself as “The Great Leader,” that smacks of the same cult of personality that North Korean dictators have long used to maintain power.

    It’s one thing for Trump as a private citizen to exaggerate his golf game, or the height of his buildings. It will be quite another when his lies become official U.S. government policy.


    Trump’s life and entire career have been focused on fostering a myth about himself centered on his supposed genius and infallibility.

    I explored the man and his myth in my book “Trump Argonautica.” It is something he’s carefully cultivated over a lifetime — a reflection of his narcissism, high sense of self-importance, grandiosity and weakness of the flesh. 

    Truth is a critical component of a functioning democracy, and it will have no place in a second Trump administration. Trump will rewrite reality to suit his narrative as he’s done repeatedly on the campaign trail.

    Trump may have been declared the debate winner, but it’s easy to win when you just make things up and forcefully repeat them instead of answering questions. And, Trump did just that. He lied about virtually everything.


    He’ll do the same as president with one big difference. Trump will use the vast power of the federal government to punish anyone who challenges him, just like those who criticize the dictatorship in North Korea.

    Kim Il Sung founded the nation after World War II and his son, Kim Jong Il and grandson, Kim Jong Un have succeeded him by maintaining an iron grip on the impoverished nation.

    Any North Korean caught with anti-Kim information — even Western movies and books — are arrested and punished, sometimes with death. By controlling all sources of information as well as anything else that could challenge the party line, dissent is virtually non-existent, according to Fox News.

    As part of that control, three generations of leaders have fostered a cult of personality that paints the family as godlike figures.


    Likewise, certain evangelicals believe Trump is blessed by God or even the second coming of Christ. He has never been known to attend a church service, yet he graciously accepts the accolades. Then, he turns around and hawks Bibles.

    All things in North Korea flow through “The Great Leader.” One man who defected to South Korea told The Washington Post that even the most mundane, positive developments are attributed to the Kim family.

    Trump takes personal credit for anything positive no matter how tenuous his connection and quickly blames others for anything negative no matter how deeply he’s responsible.

    His mismanagement of the COVID pandemic, botching the Afghanistan withdrawal and inflaming the Jan 6 insurrection show the extremes of his deflection and blame-shifting. His second term would be no different.


    He is always the victim… or the savior. “If Trump loses November’s election, it will be for one reason: He can’t help making it all about himself,” wrote David Frum in The Atlantic in March.

    Trump’s pettiness when his ego is involved knows no bounds. In 2018, he refused to invite the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House.

    He claimed the team refused to endorse his view that players should stand for the National Anthem. (None of the Eagles knelt during the National Anthem during the season.) But other reports emerged that he was afraid of being embarrassed because only 10 players were expected to show up.

    Indeed, the parallels between North Korea’s government and Trump’s vision for his second term are stark and frightening, down to his complete intolerance for criticism and menacing warning of a “bloodbath” if he is defeated in November. 

    Trump has already made clear that he will be the unquestioned leader, with the power of the government and military at his beck and call to reward cronies and punish anyone who questions him or his administration.

    As late as this month (June), he said he is prepared to prosecute his political enemies if elected, The New York Times reported.

    In the 2016 election, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a race-baiting xenophobe.

    The four-time indicted, twice-impeached disgraced former president also threatened the news media, and vowed to revoke the broadcast licenses of networks that air negative stories about him.

    Trump insidiously refers to the media as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” to demonize it and undermine its credibility. But he intends to go beyond that.

    His former top political strategist, Steve Bannon, and former National Security Council adviser, Kash Patel have openly discussed plans to target the press.

    “I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I win the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events,” Trump declared, arguing the media “should pay a big price” for supposedly hurting the country. Read that to mean, hurting him.

    “The promises of revenge are not the rantings of a madman, but the actual intended course of action should the Republican presidential front-runner manage to seize power again,” writes Oliver Darcy on CNN’s website.

    These threats are a callous disregard for the First Amendment and do real damage to the rule of law, legal experts told The Times.

    A willing coterie of radical MAGA Republicans in Congress have already fallen in line with Trump’s lies and misinformation. They includes backbenchers like Majorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Byron Donalds, Wesley Hunt, Elise Stefanik, Nancy Mace and Ron Johnson, among others.

    Trump’s power to bend people to his will is evident throughout the Republican Party. One-time critics like J.D. Vance, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are now simpering sycophants, repeating even the most outlandish of his lies as gospel.

    Today, you would never know Vance in 2016 suggested Trump was “America’s Hitler” and called him “cultural heroin.” Now, he is a leading purveyor of Trump disinformation.

    Graham slammed Trump in a 2016 campaign interview. “He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, racist bigot. He doesn’t represent my party, he doesn’t represent the values the men and women are fighting for…” he said in an interview.

    Trump humiliated Cruz during the 2016 campaign, insulted his wife and planted a story in The National Enquirer that Cruz’s father was in league with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, a patent falsehood.


    When the article was published, Cruz lashed out, calling Trump a “pathological liar.”

    “He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies… practically every word that comes out of his mouth,” he said, calling Trump a “sniveling coward” and “utterly amoral.”

    Trump hasn’t change. He’s still selling the same snake oil in the current campaign. But his former critics have. They have gulped down the gooey orange syrup of lies and totally submerged their own moral compass in deference to Trump.

    In 2020, Cruz went so far as to work directly with Trump to concoct a plan to thwart the legitimate results of the presidential election, according to a Washington Post expose.

    Cruz, who has harbored his own presidential ambitions, disappointed his close allies and longtime friends, who accused him of abandoning his principles. But his subservience to “the Great Leader” is total.

    While Trump’s die-hard Republican base is shrinking, according to several recent polls, he can still count on 30% to 40% of GOP voters who hang on his every word. He has used that leverage to take over the party and install family members in key positions.

    Like most dictators, Trump places a premium on unquestioned loyalty. He rewards those who toe the line offering them support, an endorsement, a joint appearance, or even an election-year visit to their state or district.

    In contrast, he viciously attacks anyone who criticizes him and endorses primary opponents to unseat them. His record of success is impressive.

    Of the 10 Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of his second impeachment, four retired in the face of stiff primary opposition. Of those who ran for re-election; two won their primaries and three lost against Trump-endorsed candidates.

    Over the years, the Kims have built their cult of personality with seemingly super-human feats. The public enthusiastically applauds each one without question.

    Kim Jong Un was said to have first driven a car when he was three and raced the chief executive of a foreign yacht company when he was just nine. He has also been lauded for painting masterpieces and composing complex musical scores.

    According to state propaganda, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung never defecated or urinated. Kim Jong Il claimed to have bowled a perfect game and made 11 holes-in-one during a golf match.

    Oddly, golf erupted as a topic during the debate. For Trump, the game has become an artifice to promote hos own supposed athletic prowess and physical condition.

    “I just won two club championships — not even senior,” the former president claimed. “Two regular club championships. To do that, you have to be quite smart, and you have to be able to hit the ball a long way.”

    Donald Trump shanks a ball into the water.

    What makes the exchange so bizarre is that Trump’s history of cheating and lying about golf is well known, has been witnessed by many and is even documented in a book.

    Sportswriter Rick Reilly penned the 2019 book Commander in Cheat that recounts all of Trump’s lies, embellishments and subterfuge on the golf course.

    Golf is supposed to be a gentlemen’s game that relies on the integrity of the players to uphold the sport.

    In that way, it’s like a “Rorschach test for your morality,” Reilly said in a 2019 interview.

    “In a weird way,” golf says “as much about Trump as almost anything else we know about him, because it cuts to the core of his character.”

    “Trump’s going around telling people he has won 20 [golf championships]. But that’s 100 percent a lie,” Reilly said.

    “I actually played with him once, and he told me how he does it: Whenever he opens a new golf course, because he owns 14 and operates another five, he plays the first club champion by himself and declares that club championship and puts his name on the wall. But it’s usually just him and Melania in the cart and nobody else. He just makes it up.

    “He’s always told people that no one can beat him, that he’s the best of the rich guys. But it’s always been complete bullshit, and everyone knows it,” he says.

    Not surprisingly, when Trump plays in a real, sanctioned tournament, reality bites. “He’s played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a really popular golf tournament that’s full of rich guys, for seven straight years. His team has never made the cut,” Reilly says.

    In 2006, Trump played in the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament held annually at Edgewood Tahoe golf course in California. He finished 62nd out of 80 golfers. An 80-year-old golfer finished ahead of him.

    Trump could always argued he was distracted. He met porn star Stormy Daniels there and had an alleged tryst during the tournament while Melania was home, pregnant.

    Aside from pro players, golf should be a footnote in anyone’s career. But it is central to Trump’s because it is a microcosm of his pathological obsession with himself and the lengths he’ll go to promote the myth of “The Great Leader.”

    This is what makes a Trump second term dangerous. Win or lose, it’s the final act of his career and he’ll go all out to put his personal ambitions over everything else. It’s already evident in his campaign.

    Trump’s speeches are filled with wild embellishments and outright lies, and his performance during the debate was the same. If that doesn’t deeply disturb you, then our democracy truly is in danger.

    Donald Trump’s White House Track Record:

    — Trump promised infrastructure bill… failed to deliver
    — Trump promised health care insurance … failed to deliver.
    — Trump economy hit 6.5% unemployment
    — 16 million people out of work.
    — Only president to leave office with job losses
    — Trump cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy 1%
    — Trump is responsible for 25% of the national debt.
    — Trump started a tariff war with China, nearly ruining family farms and costing consumers more than $10 billion.
    — Trump tried to coverup the pandemic, then mismanged it.
    — Tractor-trailers used as temporary morgues
    — 750,000 COVID dead attributed to his watch.
    — Trump didn’t deliver low inflation, low gas prices or low mortgage rates, they were caused by the pandemic lockdown and the Fed, which cut interest rates to zero to prop up the Trump economy.
    — Toilet paper, food shortages, empty store shelves.
    — Forced states to compete for PPP supplies.
    — Long lines for charity food handouts in states across the country
    — At least 113 murders committed by illegals during Trump’s term, more than twice the number under Biden
    — Trump negotiated oil cuts with Saudi Arabia and Russia to save U.S. oil companies at the expense of consumers.
    — Gas prices rose all during Trump’s term in office, peaking at $2.80 average per gallon before the pandemic.
    Donald Trump Foreign Affairs Record

    — Inflamed the Middle East,
    — Undermined NATO in Europe
    — A war raged in Ukraine all during Trump’s administration, and he did nothing to resolve it, despite his relationship with Putin
    — The war in Yemen exploded during Trump’s term; he sold billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the Saudis commited genocide there.
    — Trump sold out the Kurds, our ISIS allies in Syria, leaving them at the mercy of the Turks, who attacked them and seized part of their territory.
    — Trump turned over U.S. bases in Syria to the Russians, forcing a humiiating withdrawal of U.S. troops and decreasing their security.
    — Trump negotiated the surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban and set up a near untenable withdrawal, which he tried to sabotage.
    — Trump unilaterally moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, inflaming Middle East tensions.
    — Trump killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani causing Iran to step up its support of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamic groups, leading to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
    — At least 64 soldiers killed in Afghanistan during his term.
    — Failed to respond to Iranian-backed attack on Marines in Iraq; more than 100 injured.
    — Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal signed by more than 27 nations, causing Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program
    — Trump withdrew from several nuclear arms control agreements, touching off a new nuclear arms race with Russia and China.
    — Trump’s Abraham Accords were a bust. Israel called it a joke and Saudi Arabia refused to sign it. It declared peace between countries that were not at war.
    — Four U.S. soldiers were ambushed and killed in Niger; Trump did nothing and did not honor them.
    – Trump launched a ruinous tariff war with China that nearly destroyed family farmers and cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars.
    — Trump is owned by Saudi Arabia, which gave Jared Kushner $2 billion and launders money through LIV golf to keep Trump’s businesses afloat.