Because I try to be reasonably self-consistent, I occasionally find myself wondering about the apparent inconsistencies in the way I felt about President Obama and the way I feel about President Trump. In particular, I ask myself why I’m willing to give the latter a pass on so much with which I really don’t approve while being much less lenient with the former.
I wanted to know about the terrorists and bigots in Obama’s past, about his affiliations with socialists, about his speeches to anti-Semitic groups, etc., because I thought that Obama himself was motivated, at least in part, by animus toward the country I love. I have always believed that he thought America is too big for her britches, a country in need of being taken down a notch, too proud and too self-confident — a country that must atone for her sins. I think his past associations hinted at that, and I think he often governed with those motives in mind.
I don’t think President Obama really liked America very much, at least not the America I grew up in and love.
In contrast, I have little interest in knowing about President Trump’s past, because I think I understand the man well enough without it. I think he’s a narcissist, a self-promoter, a rambling promise-anything hustler, a man with essentially no ideology, and also a man who wants to be loved and admired. I think he has, for whatever reason, identified success as a patriotic, pro-business, get-the-job-done conservative as his path to the love and admiration, the greatness, he wants, and playing that role is more important to him than anything else.
That works for me because of the role he’s chosen, and again, for whatever reason, has him pursuing goals congruent to my own interests.
My interest in Obama’s past was that it might help me to expose him as the anti-American progressive I thought (and still think) he was. And, now that he’s out of office, I don’t even care about that.
I have little interest in Trump’s past, since his behavior now is self-evidently, and usually, the kind of behavior I want in a President, and I don’t expect it to change. I don’t think he’s a particularly complicated man.
Obama was a private, secretive man. Trump, the good and the bad, is transparent.
I think that’s why Trump’s sins don’t bother me. We want good character in a President in large part because character is a predictor of behavior. We don’t need a predictor with Trump: he’s driven by an unflattering aspect of his character, his pride, in such a way that he feels compelled to do things of which I happen to approve.
That isn’t ideal, but I think it’s reality and it works pretty well, so I can live with it.Published in