"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

There Are Three Donald Trumps–Why Do We Insist On Just One?

Depending on your point of view and political perspective, Donald Trump is either a vaudevillian, clown, circus performer, Las Vegas comedian, and buffoon; a canny businessman who has made and lost billions but whose real estate empire is a testament to brains, will, braggadocio, and chutzpah; and  a man with a coherent political philosophy who conveys his principles reasonably, rationally, and convincingly – a quick learner and savvy manager.

Why can’t he be all three?  The Donald Trump we saw on the stump, at his early press conferences , and at staged promotional events is a showman who loves glitz, glamour, bright lights, and applause.
The Donald Trump who is willing to make deals with anyone as long as those deals are in America’s interest is no different from the man who strong-armed, threatened, wheedled, pushed, and insisted until he got a deal in real estate, a world there is no morality – only excavations, steel girders, and ‘TRUMP TOWER’ engraved over the entrance. 

Trump has made no apologies for dealing with Vladimir Putin. He understands his geopolitical ambitions, his cultural imperatives, and his desire to reestablish the Russian Empire.  Trump also understands that in little over 35 years, Russia has been transformed from a beaten, debilitated, floundering state into a superpower.   Such a state cannot be ignored, and such a powerful, amoral, and determined autocrat like Putin cannot be dismissed.

Why is Russia once again a superpower? Nuclear weapons, limitless amounts of natural gas, a population that prefers coherence, stability, and confidence in its leaders, and brilliant leadership.  
Russia has retaken Crimea, established hegemony in Eastern Ukraine, has defeated the West’s most dangerous enemies– ISIS and radical Islam in Syria – and is forging ties with Europe and Asia.
How can Trump not deal with Russia? And who better than a New York bare-knuckled street-fighter? In the face of such an implacable, smart, and determined opponent, Trump is the obvious choice.

As for Donald Trump No. 3 – statesman, national leader, President for all the people – there is no reason to think that he cannot succeed at being that as well.   He understands the principles of top management – select men and women who subscribe to your philosophy, are loyal, competent, and independent enough to challenge you on difficult decisions. 

His Cabinet appointments – especially those responsible for national security and foreign policy – meet all those criteria; and despite some early missteps, they represent a strong coalition of CEOs, generals, and successful private and public managers.  The Trump Cabinet members are all, like Trump, free from the yoke of moral exceptionalism, and subscribe to the same bottom line, win-at-all-costs philosophy.

His relationship with the GOP in Congress is untested, largely because his populist promises are so out of synch with the monied interests of the House and Senate.  American business wants cheap immigrant labor; and American multi-national corporations want free trade.  On the other hand the Republican Congress applauds Trump’s rollback of restrictive and punitive regulations, investment in the military, and lower corporate tax rates.  Deals will be made.

So, what is the problem?  Do we demand consistency, uniformity, and moderation in our Presidents? Or in anybody for that matter?

There has been an unfortunate trend in American society to label, particularly according to the criteria of race, gender, and ethnicity; and to dismiss anyone, regardless of their achievements, promise, or talent, who is guilty of any one of many sins within the canon. 

During the campaign, Trump was automatically dismissed as a candidate by the progressive Left because of his supposedly misogynist and homophobic views.  Major American historical figures are now suspect because of their association with slavery and their names expunged from the public record.  Regardless of their contribution to the Republic, their valor in war, their courage and rectitude, they must be erased from history including slave owners Washington and Jefferson.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great, courageous man; but he was also a Lothario who cheated on his wife and was more of a sexual libertine than JFK.  Did these moral failings disqualify both men from leadership or high public office?

Many women immediately disqualified Bill Clinton from any further political consideration after he had sex with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. If he cheated on his wife, they said, he will most certainly cheat on us. Yet the Bill Clinton years look good in the light of recent White House debacles.

Ezra Pound and H.L. Mencken were both rabid anti-Semites, but their work was notable.  Immanuel Kant said, “'The Jews still cannot claim any true genius, any truly great man. All their talents and skills revolve around stratagems and low cunning ... They are a nation of swindlers.”

George Bernard Shaw said, “Stop being Jews and start being human beings”. Theodore Dreiser said, “New York is a 'kike's dream of a ghetto,' and Jews are not 'pure Americans' and 'lack integrity”.
Are we to burn their books? Consign them to the trash heaps of literary history?

It doesn’t take much scraping of the surface to find something in public, literary, scientific, sports, or Hollywood to offend our current sensibilities. Gay slurs are common in our football and basketball heroes.  Wilt Chamberlain boasted of the fact that he had slept with 1000 women and the clock was still ticking.  In many people’s mind he was a degenerate, a profligate, and an irresponsible reprobate.  Yet, he was one of the greatest basketball players ever and changed forever the way the game of professional basketball was played.

The point is not only that Donald Trump should not be excluded from consideration because of low-bourgeois taste, arm candy, yachts, mansions, and trophy wives, he should be applauded.  He is America, or at least half of it; and this America loves him for his outrageous, defiant personality, high-roller lifestyle, and absolute confidence.

Not only should he not be criticized for his New York landlord behavior, he should be cheered for bring to the White House and focused, bottom line, business-oriented, profit-making mentality.
In the case of Mencken, Kant, or Pound, their questionable social principles added nothing to their art or ideas.  In the case of Trump, everything in his past does indeed prepare him for high office in the 21st century. 

His celebrity personality plays perfectly to his crowd who want WWE, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, beautiful women, and a brush-off of the dreary but dangerous Washington Establishment.
His willingness to challenge anyone who gets in his way and fight, intimidate, and threaten to get what he wants is exactly what his supporters want him to do as President.  America has for too long been the world’s patsy.

His Cabinet nominees, address before Congress, and social media posts have made it clear that he absolutely, positively, means to carry through on his promises.  While the Left may criticize his positions, they have to admit he is doing what few politicians ever do – do what they say.

So, love the showman, admire the street fighter, and appreciate a President who is loyal to his constituents and to what was was promised to them.  

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