Lawrence Martin understands what is at Donald Trump's core -- money, plain and simple:
While so much of Mr. Trump’s policymaking is helter-skelter, scattershot, spur of the moment, it’s not so difficult to discern a constant in what he is doing, not just on foreign policy but with everything. Money is the morality. The drive for riches underpins this man’s entire life, his grotesque vanity, Mar-a-Lago, his gold-embossed Trump towers. It’s what’s behind the scandals, his alleged Russian ties, his Saudi softness, his refusal to release his tax records. It drives his thinking to the extent that the word kleptocracy has entered into the debate to describe how his presidency seeks to enrich himself and friends and family.
Money is at the root of everything Trump does:
David Hendrickson, author of Republic in Peril, argued that [Trump] was more imperialist than isolationist. In his book he writes that Mr. Trump sees alliances “as arrangements between a superpower protector and deadbeat dependents who should pay up or shove off.” In extracting rents from allies, he says Mr. Trump is trying to create “an empire of tribute.” He’s a president who decries not so much the lives lost in Middle East wars as the trillions of dollars America has squandered in them.
His refusal to deal with climate change is all about money:
The profit mentality can be seen in his approach to climate change. I was seated beside Jim Speyer, who worked for the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency, William Ruckelshaus, back in the early 1970s when the agency was created by Richard Nixon. Subsequent presidents, Mr. Speyer noted, at least took environmental issues seriously. But for Mr. Trump all that counts is near-term economic health. Climate-change programs get in the way of it. They need to be nixed. A carbon tax is the way to go, Mr. Speyer said, pointing to Canada as being on the right track.
And the obsession with money shows up most egregiously in Trump's tax cuts:
In the meantime, the administration must take care of its wealthy, even if the giant tax breaks that are going to them as well as the huge budget dollars for a rearming of an already overarmed military are creating such a deficit that, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned this week, social programs will have to be cut back.
Trump is no towering intellect. But he does know what he wants -- money. And he's going to squeeze it from whomever he can -- as he watches his own bank account grow.