Trump, Ego and the Presidency
It was only a week or so ago that I made a short video titled “What Do We About the Donald?” (available on YouTube). It was intended to be a goof, riffing on Trump’s supposed presidential ambitions and suggesting a better use of his abilities — i. e., to take over the United Nations and turn that useless institution into the “Trump U.N.,” a potentially hugely successful, if admittedly vulgar, luxury hotel.
Little did I know that Trump is yet more serious about his presidential aims, to the extent that the TV personality/real estate tycoon has already bolted the Republican Party. ABC’s The Note reported, “Trump took another step in that direction on Thursday, switching his party affiliation from Republican to “unaffilated,” according to a source close to the reality television star.”
The smart money is betting this is no more than another publicity stunt to keep The Donald in the public eye and forever a fixture on the “Greta” show. And that’s probably right, and for that reason this column plus my video are just more grist for Trump’s mill. (I’m waiting for my check.)
Still, the smart money is often wrong. And Trump’s ego is, as I noted in the video, the size of Brooklyn. He may really run.
Which leads me to my main subject, the role of egotism in politics. It is one of the perils of democracy, especially a modern one in a giant country like ours. Who but an egomaniac would have the desire and the sense of entitlement to think he or she should lead the United States of America?
In this election season, we are in the midst of a festival of egomania. Some candidates hide it better than others, but it is always there.
And the eventual Republican nominee is going to do battle with the Supreme Egomaniac, Barack Obama, whose sense of entitlement was so monumental he believed he deserved the most important office on Earth with virtually no executive experience — an amount dwarfed by, we are forced to admit, Donald Trump, who objectively speaking, is exponentially more qualified to manage the affairs of our great nation than the incumbent.
But what are the qualities we should be looking for in a president? It’s not easy to say, other than that Brooklyn-sized ego, which is something we may not want, but get anyway because it comes with the territory. The real qualities we say we want in a president — judgment, wisdom and so forth — are for the most part boilerplate generalities.
I have a suggestion of my own, which I admit, borders to a degree on boilerplate, as well. It is honesty. The two men who were arguably our two greatest presidents evidently had it abundance — the fellow who could not tell a lie about the cherry tree and the other one known as Honest Abe.
Of course, the cherry tree story about Washington is apparently apocryphal, but the intent is there. Similarly, I dimly remember a quote from The Talmud that went something like, “Great is truth — mightiest of all things.” Inaccurate though that may be, it resonates with me. The person who should be president is the one who can tell the truth both to him or herself and to us.
Unfortunately, ego is not helpful with that. And none of the candidates so far have lived up to that high standard. The president has been even worse. Still, in a few days it will be a new year — and I will try to be hopeful.