By Oh Young-jin
If Americans think that President Donald Trump will be different from Trump the candidate, we Koreans could tell them, "Get real. This is advice coming from the bottom of the heart of people who have had our share of being smitten by a string of dud presidents ― the incumbent included.
Above all, it's a human tendency to rationalize what has happened that can't be reversed even to the best of a given person's ability. But it is like a losing bet being waged against stronger human nature ― old habits die hard.
President Trump would likely become a groper, liar, racist, misogynist, etc., but only in presidential proportions.
True, he has tried to look presidential.
He recently went to The New York Times, a liberal paper that bet everything during the presidential campaign ― news coverage as well as editorials ― to have Trump lose to Hillary Clinton. He gamely joked that he read it at the risk of reducing his life expectancy, still praising it for being "the jewel of journalism."
But this was not a peace offering, rather a victory lap of a kind for the Donald, who must have felt good that he doesn't need the Times to get the message out because he can tweet to the American people.
Also in a display of the size of his ego, he called in Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate, who called him a "phony" and a "fraud," into his New Jersey golf club for a far-reaching conversation.
It is Trump's gesture of magnanimity, but it remains to be seen whether it is just that _ a show. Still, it has been better received than his campaign boast about his gifted private part.
That was where his magnanimity or, more precisely, his pretense of it, started and his true self kicked in. His appointments ― Steve Bannon as chief strategist, Michael Flynn as national security advisor; Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general-designate and Rep. Mike Pompeo as director of Central Intelligence, among others ― confirmed that Trump is Trump is Trump, beginning to translate his campaign promises into reality.
Possibly, the wall along the Mexican border may get smaller than he liked, two or three million Hispanics rather than 11 million may get kicked out, some Chinese imports may get spared from his proposed 45 percent tariffs or Koreans and the Japanese, besides the Europeans, may be allowed to be freeloaders for a little while longer.
Trump can't deny what he has said because that is what he believes in and has got him elected.
Words are like a shadow as they reflect one's thoughts and dare the speaker to act on them.
For us, if Trump acts on 10 percent of what he said, we may be in for an apocalypse or Armageddon or a combination of both.
Knowing of the dangers of the Trump presidency, people, even smart ones, are trying to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and think that the presidency will somehow make a better man out of him.
Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, pointed out after meeting Trump that the billionaire real estate developer doesn't have the "baggage" that other presidents had. To the Watergate-toughened Kissinger, Trump's mountain of baggage may look like a pitcher's mound, which is filled with his business interests around the world and his bromance with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
If he were left to his own devices, Trump could get impeached and kicked out of office well before the end of his term.
Or he would dare to erase four presidents on Mount Rushmore and carve his big face instead for his leading the split of California from the U.S.; abolishing republicanism for the revival of a monarchy; reintroducing slavery and pushing the U.S. back into the Stone Age.
Trump has done his best job of making America great again when he was elected. Ironically, Trump has served as lightning rod for the disaffected 99 percent's struggle with the top 1 percent. It is tantamount to the Second American Revolution, minus blood spilt in the first one. In order to make it a success, Americans can keep Trump from digressing back to what he is, and force him to take the nation on a course they want by applying an incessant series of checks and balances. Or ditch him.
Bear in mind that it is not Trump's game but that of American people.
We outside the U.S. have our own skin in the game so will keep your fingers crossed.
Oh Young-jin is The Korea Times' chief editorial writer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. This column is the precursor of a special on the election of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president, which will be published for Wednesday.