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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 10th November 2017 > THE SWAMP RUNNETH OVER

THE SWAMP RUNNETH OVER

DONALD TRUMP VOWED TO END THE CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION IN D.C., BUT ETHICS EXPERTS SAY HE IS RUNNING THE SLEAZIEST ADMINISTRATION IN HISTORY
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY C.J. Burton

Now, in the last weeks of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump needed one more stirring slogan. And since he was badly trailing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it would have to be a marketing marvel worthy of Mad Men’s Don Draper, one that encapsulated the vague yet compelling promise of his candidacy—its worship of American ideals and its total break from them.

HE’D PROMISED TO BUILD THE WALL. TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. TO LOCK HER UP.

On October 17, 2016, the Trump-Pence campaign released a five-point plan for ethics reform that featured lobbying restrictions. The plan was called “drain the swamp.” Trump tried out the phrase that day at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He used it the next day at a rally in Colorado. “We’re going to end the government corruption,” he vowed, “and we’re going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.” He then recited a litany of accusations regarding Clinton and her private email server, calling her “the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.”

“Build the wall” had been the raw opening cry of Trump’s campaign. “Make America great again” was its chorus. “Drain the swamp” was its closing number. But while talk of a border wall thrilled Trump, he was apparently never too worked up about the festering bog that was the nation’s capital. He admitted as much in an October 26 rally in Charlotte, North Carolina: “I said that about a week ago, and I didn’t like it that much, didn’t sound that great. And the whole world picked it up.… So ‘drain the swamp,’ I didn’t like it. Now, I love it, right?”

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY;;

“THEY’VE MADE A MOCKERY OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER AND OF ETHICS IN GENERAL.”

“Drain the swamp” fit perfectly with Trump’s constant complaints about the “rigged system,” thereby excusing what some said was going to be a historic defeat. As the campaign concluded, Trump turned himself into a martyr for American democracy, waging a principled but doomed campaign.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a “third Obama term.” Winning endowed the things Trump said during the campaign with an import they’d previously lacked. And while many understood that his “rigged system” was just an excuse, “drain the swamp” sure sounded like a promise.

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SNAKES ON A PLANE Trump’s jet-setting White House may be the most corrupt in U.S. history.
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