Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why Donald Trump Can't Be President

There are many reasons why he shouldn't, but really there are very few actual bars to The Donald stepping up to the country's highest office.  And even though neither of these two skill sets I'm about to describe are ever described as being prerequisites for the job, I think they are utterly indispensible.

In fact, the list of qualifications for President are pretty short.  You have to be a natural born citizen, be at least 35 years old and lived in the country for at least the last fourteen years, and have a pulse.

That's it.  Nothing in there about a law degree or even a high school diploma.

Nothing in there about a track record.

So, what do I think Trump utterly lacks that automatically disqualifies him for the Presidency?  Easy: diplomacy and humility.  Let's attack these in order:

When you're the boss of the big company, you shout and people jump.  They jump every which way.  And as President you might expect that to happen too, but it's important to remember that while you might be the President and therefore the Chief Executive, you are also the Employee in Chief.  The President is a single point on the circle of power of the United States, he is the boss who calls all the shots, because his 300 million bosses told him which shots to call.

I wonder if Donald is capable of absorbing this lesson.  Politics has become, through the years, a venue where egos are a driving force.  In the modern arena of expensive campaigns, televised debates and "winning" votes rather than earning them, you have to go into the race believing that you're the right man for the job.  At one time, governance was the kind of thing you took up - sometimes reluctantly -  because the public wanted you to do it, now it's something people chase after.  It takes a lot of chutzpah to step up to that kind of spotlight, to hang your face out there and say, "yes, I can do this.  I'm the one who's smart enough, wise enough, to make the decisions that will be best for the country."

What about when different factions inside the country don't agree?  Can't just tell 'em "they're fired."  That's just callous.  And we already know The Donald can be callous.  What does he care, he's filthy rich.  Except as President The Donald, he doesn't get to be rich.  All his business is set aside.  Being President isn't something you do on the side, when your day job is done.  As President The Donald, you are as poor as the poorest man in America.  If you hope to get anything passed through Congress, you have to master much more than "The Art of the Deal," you have to be willing to bend.  You have to be willing to accept the other guy may be right, righter than you are.  You have to be willing to step back from your own agenda when other agendas, agendas worth pursuing, have a better chance at getting the attention they need.

And if you can't take a joke, how do you expect to make it five minutes in the white-hot spotlight of the campaign trail?  You'll flame out in five minutes.

Actually, in retrospect, he took that joke pretty well.

Too bad he lied about the bank balance, though.  Our economy is messed up enough, if that's the kind of accounting we can expect from The Donald, maybe you're not even good Vice President material.

Is this the same level of diplomacy we can expect when it comes time to mix it up with other countries?  Lambasting China over and over again, that they're eating our manufacturing lunch and manipulating our economy (while hypocritically plastering his name on almost exclusively made-in-China products) will play very poorly from the Oval Office.  Way to burn bridges, dude.  Nice job.  Have you thought about where we wind up if China decides to suddenly call in all its markers?  We'd be violently broke.

It's one thing to be the top dog of a company with your name on it.  To work in a tower with your name on it, to sail around in a big yacht with your name on it, to sit on a solid gold toilet with your name on it.  That's pretty heady stuff to be sure.  But when you're President, your name is only on the door for four years, or eight if you manage to fool the constituents a second time.  And while your title is President, don't forget the qualifier: "...of the United States."  When people are speaking about you specifically, that's when your name gets mentioned.  The rest of the time, you're just The President.  Not The Donald.

Pull back on the profanity a tad.  You don't need to roll out the ugly words to get your point across.  In fact, some points don't need to be made at all - they're not relevant.

It's important to remember that while it is one of the youngest countries in the world, the United States is also one of the most powerful.  It was built quickly by driven men, driven men who adhered to an ideal.

That ideal wasn't "this place needs me."  The United States doesn't need anyone nearly as much as it needs everyone.  When you're willing to set aside your personal goals enough to make the goals of the entire country your own, when you pull on the mantle of Presidency not as a feather in your cap but as a burden that must be borne, that's when you're ready to be President.  I don't think we've had a president like that in a long time, and if Donald Trump somehow, against all odds, manages to get nominated and then (ye gods) wins, it'll be another four years before we get it again.

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