Send in the clowns

November 16, 2016 09:52
Donald Trump appears at a round-table discussion. His animosity toward people of a different race, colour, creed and sexual orientation evinces a deep-seated fear of the unfamiliar. Photo: Reuters

Barack Obama set out to improve the world’s perception of America and, given the depths to which the image of the United States had sunk under George W. Bush, he made significant progress.

The reality is that the image of countries especially that of the US, China and Russia is largely personified in the character of their respective leaders.

Since Donald Trump rarely finishes a sentence or leaves it hanging in the air as an unanswered question for each person to judge for themselves, penetrating what passes for his brain to find a constructive thought presents a formidable hurdle, probably only achievable by an MRI.

Even the magnetic image is liable to come up short against one of those brick walls of which he is so enamoured.

He has the impetuosity of a five-year-old with an obsessive compulsive syndrome and no watchful parent to guide him.

He is a misogynist, his attitude to women indicative of an underlying fear of the opposite sex exhibited in his obscene treatment of them.

His animosity toward people of a different race, colour, creed and sexual orientation evinces a deep-seated fear of the unfamiliar.

The bizarre sculpture of his hair and the flight to capacious head concealing baseball caps evidences a serious sense of insecurity.

The 75 or more outstanding lawsuits against him for a variety of alleged breaches of contract, misrepresentation and his willingness to employ illegal workers, and the knee-jerk claim of racial prejudice against a judge who finds against him, all mark out a man who has not a scintilla of respect for the rule of law.

The readiness to identify with sociopaths like Putin and Assad, the Ku Klux Klan or froth blowers like Farage, can be attributable to a desire for companionship with like-minded people whom the civilized world recognize as either wholly beyond the pale or, at worst, psychopathic.

He promises to bring back employment to parts of America where the inexorable path of technical progress and the pursuit of cheaper labour costs have killed off industries.

Do the steelworkers of Ohio believe that their loss-making plants can be revived? Or are they prepared to work for less than their counterparts in China, South Korea or India? Selling this kind of hogwash does them a terrible disservice.

When he raises trade barriers against Chinese imports, how many American companies with their manufacturing facilities based in China will go to the wall?

Critically, his promises are distinctly light on practicable means of achieving them.

He is, self-evidently, a bully.

Anyone who harbors a nano-second of doubt on that score need only revisit one or two airings of The Apprentice. He is confrontational, not inspirational.

He is a political P.T. Barnum. Distracting the attention of the gullible with the circus barker’s raucous flim-flam but offering nothing but smoke and mirrors. God help him when the smoke clears.

If his economic policy is to be judged by his woeful lack of business acumen, not just the United States but the world should prepare for a financial meltdown the like of which has never been witnessed. Four or more bankruptcies testify to a propensity for financial chaos.

Anxious to insure against failure, he was screaming foul even before the election began. In truth, he is a but a little man with wild aspirations to hold an office entirely beyond his competence.

None of which is to ignore or deny the fact that the loss of jobs and opportunities for a great mass of manual workers in the US has created widespread and deep damage to standards of living and the cohesion of social fabric.

That successive governments have failed to anticipate and address these negative developments has led, inevitably, to a loss of confidence in those purporting to have the skills and knowledge to govern.

We have witnessed a primal and justifiable scream for change. But the victims of piracy walk the plank into a sea of sharks.

Once upon a time, the world looked to the US for moral leadership and the capacity to police it against tyrants.

Now the country is to be led by a phantasist, an amoral demagogue, divorced from mainstream Republican philosophy and embarked on a monster ego trip.

To a certain extent, a presidential image is colored by those whom the President selects as his immediate cabinet.

So it was that the semi-articulate George W. Bush acquired a steely reputation through the "shoot anything that moves" Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Yet this was tempered by Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, people with a vast experience and intellectual grasp.

Inasmuch as Donald Trump has selected individuals true to his stereotype like Steve Bannon and, God help us, Sarah Palin, we cannot look forward to much if any informed influence being brought to bear on the personality of the man himself. Nigel Farage looms large.

Irrespective of its past shortcomings, none of this President-in-waiting’s characteristics carry the hallmark of the United States’ perception of its standing in the eyes of the world.

There is no color or creed qualification to the words Emma Lazarus lent to the Mother of Exiles:

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Universal peace and economic prosperity require equilibrium. But if the scales are pre-weighted, what price global balance?

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Queen's Counsel