By Lynn Ashby 14 Dec. 2015
PLAYING THE TRUMP CARD
What do Donald Trump, the Longhorn Network and Hirohito have in common? No, not silly names, but masters of – drum roll — Unintended Consequences, or UCs. They set out to do one thing and end up causing exactly the opposite. Indeed, all of them would have done better for their cause just to do nothing. We may be witnessing a major UC in the Trump juggernaut. He is blowing away the opposition with his tell-it-like-it-is proclamations. Each time he rants, his ratings climb. But already some pundits are saying that Trump’s shtick is growing old, his Angry Man mantra is getting stale. They may be right. We have a long campaign ahead.
So here’s the UC: Trump is appealing to frustrated voters who want an outsider to set Washington straight. (He may run as an independent. Remember President Ross Perot?) If the Donald gets the Republican presidential nomination, is he too wild, un- electable and full of angst to win the Oval Office? This brings us to the woman he hates the most, except perhaps for a few ex-wives: Hillary Clinton. She is the inevitable favorite to win the Dem nomination, as we were told in 2008. If Trump is, indeed a political disaster, Hillary measures for new drapes in the Oval Office, and orders the Secret Service to keep an eye on her husband. Wait. Considering the Secret Service’s recent record with prostitutes and drunk driving, Bill may fit right in. Trump’s efforts to defeat Hillary could be the one cause for her election. (Speaking of things presidential, Richard Nixon erased tapes, lied and schemed to cover up Watergate. His efforts had a UC.)
Let’s look at a closer example. Steve Patterson was brought in as athletic director for UT-Austin. In short order he turned the operation into a ravenous, heartless business. At $167 million, UT had the largest athletic budget of any university in the nation, by far. Patterson raised ticket prices, parking fees, plastered ads everywhere. He also alienated alumni, faculty and, most importantly, rich donors. San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs, a longtime UT supporter, told ESPN about the eventual ouster of the money-mad Patterson, “It wasn’t working. It was building up from a loud holler to a shouting match that this guy is killing us.” Teasips are longhorns, not cash cows. His drive to raised funds for UT, and along the way, earn a huge salary, had a UC. Patterson was fired.
Then there is UT’s attempt to receive big bucks with its Longhorn Network, or LHN. The school got a big TV contract, but its football games on the network could only be seen in a sport bar in Marfa. For Texas A&M, the LHN was the last straw. The Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC with its far more lucrative TV contract. Maybe the LHM had a bad case of UC.
The best examples, however, are wars. We can start right here. Gen. Santa Anna attempted to put down a revolt in his northern province of Texas. He not only lost Texas, but his efforts led to losing everything to the Pacific Ocean. Santa, you should have stayed home. The South thought it would put Lincoln in his place by firing on Fort Sumter, a warning shot, so to speak. That would guarantee Southern independence and protect slavery. But those shots definitely had a major UC. Fast forward: Last summer Dylann Roof killed nine blacks in their Charleston, S.C. church, and cops later found photos of Roof with Confederate battle flags and assorted Rebel paraphernalia. His insane exploits set off a storm of angry sentiments, as Confederates’ statues and graves were moved and names changed. Roof, thanks to you, they ain’t just whistling “Dixie” anymore.
A Bosnian-Serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in an attempt to free Princip’s beloved homeland from the Archduke’s Austro-Hungarian Empire. As we know, Princip’s actions led to World War I, left 38 million people dead, Serbia was devastated and Princip died of TB in prison. Don’t do me no more favors, Gavrilo. Tokyo in 1941: Emperor Hirohito’s military leaders convinced him that if Japan wiped out the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. would sue for peace and Japan, led by you know who, would rule Asia. This brings us to the Understatement Award of the 20th Century: “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.” – Emperor Hirohito, to his people, upon announcing Japan’s surrender. Lastly, we have George W’s invasion of Iraq to seize all those weapons of mass destruction and bring democracy to the Middle East. Wow, did that work out well.
True, not all UCs are disasters. Columbus was looking for India. Aspirin was only a pain reliever. Then it was discovered that it is also an anticoagulant that can help prevent heart attacks and reduce the severity and damage from strokes. Viagra was developed to lower blood pressure, but clinical trials discovered a side effect. You probably have your own Unintended Consequences – ideas or actions that seemed like a good thing at the time, but didn’t work out. Remember that great weekend in Cancun? And the subsequent rash? You tried to save money by fixing the furnace yourself. Did the insurance cover the fire?
My own attempts included creating the International Society for International Societies. I guess I shouldn’t have called it ISIS. Then there was my plan for the State Department and ICE to fast-track Syrian refugees. I opened the Planned Parenthood franchise for Vatican City. The most telling UC was endured by Pontus Pilate and the Roman Empire. Hey, Ponti, I hear you tried to stamp out that religious movement led by some intenerate preacher from Galilee. How did that go? Getting back to Donald Trump, he is a loose cannon, fully loaded and constantly blasting away. Wonder if, because of him, Hillary will win and his worst nightmare will come true?
Ashby is a UC at email@example.com