I’m often asked what do I think of Trump,
the question really asking what do I think of him as President. There was never any doubt in my mind that as a man and presidential candidate he was terrible. But rather than just assuming this terribly bad man and candidate would be a terrible president, I preferred not to answer the question, saying along with many others, that I’d wait and see. Probably because en mon for intérieur I so wanted him to be someone, anyone else, someone better.
Also our country has been so long with mediocre leaders, without having in the same man, president, or presidential candidate a few essential and great qualities, including knowledge, intelligence, courage, and goodness.
Might they be there in Trump, the man who was mostly unknown, buried far down, hidden, and needing only in this instance the successful completion of the presidential campaign to allow them to come out? As difficult as that may be to imagine, given all the crazy statements that Trump had made during the past year or so, I did imagine it and didn’t drop Trump entirely until yesterday, Inauguration Day.
Have we ever seen a president in the modern era with all four of the qualities I mention? Well there have been a number of them with knowledge and intelligence (FDR, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton and Obama), perhaps a few with courage (Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan), probably only one, Jimmy Carter, with goodness. For me Inauguration Day would be Donald Trump’s coming out party, and I looked forward to seeing the man as he came out and revealed for the first time what he really was.
And what happened when he came out yesterday? Well already in the days leading up to the Inauguration we had clearly seen (and again I overlooked them) in his tweets to Meryl Streep and John Lewis for example, that there was little or no goodness in the man. Then in the new President’s inauguration speech, as President following the swearing-in ceremony, I saw revealed in all its ignominy his total ignorance of the history of the country, in itself enough to condemn his presidency to irrelevance and eventual failure.
The country he spoke about was never there. While Trump may be intelligent his ignorance of the country he would govern makes that intelligence irrelevant. What’s it supposed to act on? The wrong information? And courage? Does he have it? I don’t know. I haven’t yet seen it. But if he did have courage that alone someday during the next four years might at least permit a change to his thinking to take place and keep his otherwise destined to sink presidency afloat to the very end. But I doubt it.
If Trump had known anything at all about the country’s history he could never have held up his fist and said, “America First.” In his speech that’s what most of all embarrassed me. Think about it, what if the boy in the playground held up his fist shouting to playmates, “me first.”
He would have been laughed off the yard (or at least he should have been). And then what if he had said at home in the presence of his neighbors, “my family first.” Laughed at again. He would have been laughed at all the way up to his saying what?
Would there ever come a time when he could have said my whatever first? Trump thinks there is, that the exclusive allegiance to one’s country is that time, and that time is now, not to lesser entities, to oneself, or one’s neighborhood, one’s state, or one’s business, but to one’s country, to America.
I would like to ask him what would be wrong with saying “the world first”? There is nothing wrong with that of course, but Trump because of his ignorance of the world’s history doesn’t understand how this could ever be. He doesn’t understand that this is how in fact the world is, how things are. Instead Trump would impose on all of us while waving his fist in the air a complete misunderstanding of man’s history. The country’s borders he so loves were a very late arrival on the scene and have been the cause of most of the world’s suffering. Would Trump continue this sort of thing?
Then there is the realization that most of us come from other countries, countries with other borders. Does it mean that by coming here we have agreed to protect the new invisible border lines that we encounter when here? Is that then a kind of patriotism, among the very highest of a country’s ideals? Is that what Trump is for, worship the new borders?
And then those borders that according to Trump make us a country, make America, or “America First,” weren’t they all established by wars of aggression? Why in many cases don’t we reject them? That’s history, and does that count for nothing?
And what about the native Americans. Weren’t their lands, lands that they valued no less than we ours, mostly without borders? One crossed freely into and out of them. Would there even have been an America if the natives had been at all able to defend their lands? But they weren’t. And why, because they weren’t patriots? No for the most part they were better than that.