The prince and the pauper: The case of Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump poses in his office aboard Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after he returned from Philadelphia on January 26, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/NICHOLAS KAMM

The world seems to be caught up in a slow motion made for a television show which is part burlesque and part horror, as we continue to be privy to the escalating chaos and divisiveness of the Donald Trump administration in the United States of America. The problem is that the sequence of events has ceased to engender laughter and wry smiles, but is instead causing consternation, deep unease and fear of the present and future. President Trump received most of the votes of white evangelical Christians in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and it is estimated that their support sealed his victory.

As a staunch Christian I believe it would be apropos to look at a biblical example of leadership in the account of Joseph, whose divine purpose caused him to achieve stupendous political power and prominence in ancient Egypt as Pharaoh’s second-in-command after a series of spectacular events. Amazingly, prior to his appointment, Joseph was the victim of a trumped-up charge and had been imprisoned. He underwent a revolutionary change in attire from a shameful, lowly and nondescript prison uniform to majestic, princely apparel. We are led to believe that he was a successful ruler, which indicates that he also experienced a profound paradigm shift in his general attitude.

President Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election by virtue of which he became the most powerful man on the planet as the leader of the free world. The attainment of this stratospheric position ought to have automatically guaranteed that he would be attired with the ”princely raiment” of graciousness, honesty, sagacity, dignity, discipline, magnanimity, composure, valour, discretion, restraint, confidence, composure, gravitas and a little humility. Alas, to our dismay and incredulity we behold Trump eschew these attributes representing befitting regal and sartorial elegance and instead cleave to inappropriate and unbecoming vestments, unworthy of his office or station in life.

Trump ought to be comfortable and well ensconced on his gilded, ornate princely throne and dais, but instead appears to be attempting to balance whilst perching on a two legged stool. The truth is that he has never been comfortable or secure in his presidential campaign victory over Hillary Clinton or for that matter, in his present undisputed role of president. His frivolous, unnecessary, easily debunked and outlandish prevarications concerning the size of his inauguration crowd and the margin of his electoral college votes are the tip of the iceberg of his fabrications.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, he has told an average of 4.5 lies a day in the six weeks he has been in office. The most egregious and volatile of which to come to light as a result of successful U.S. media sleuthing, now appears to be his assertions that no member of his presidential campaign’s inner circle met with any Russian officials. Having been caught in a web of fibs, Trump chose not to wear the princely robes of “restraint, responsibility and composure’’ but covered himself instead with garments more commonly associated with the least privileged in society. He resorted to togs of desperation and subterfuge, blaming his present predicament on his defeated, silent foe Hillary Clinton and his confounded and dazed predecessor, Barack Obama on whom he heaped public vituperation and hurled churlish insults, possibly libeling him in the process.

It is “de rigueur” that a prince surrounds himself with honest, competent, expert, astute, pragmatic and fearless courtiers who are level headed, trust worthy and not prone to sycophancy. By so doing he would invariably enhance his leadership profile and reap the political rewards of successful policies and programmes.

There is no doubt that Trump has picked cabinet members who are juggernauts in their respective fields and whose commitment and loyalty to country is beyond question. Why then would he jettison this repository of intelligence, experience and sound judgment and prefer to seek out and act on the suspect, flawed, subjective and inane advice of less than stellar members of his inner coterie, whose domestic and global agendas provoke extreme concern amongst seasoned U.S. politicians and members of the intelligentsia.

The answer is simple. It is because the latter category of persons is who President Trump identifies with in his core. He, therefore, willfully and deliberately side-steps wise and enriching counsel in favour of views emanating from a far less qualitative and definitely knavish source. In so doing he uses low grade nylon yarns and discards princely embroidered threads. A case in point is his failed “seven nation Muslim ban” which will go down in infamy and which has made the world less safe and definitely less friendly.

As a global citizen, I am a member of the increasingly bewildered, flustered and unnerved viewing audience watching this theatre of the absurd. The leader of the only standing world empire should be a symbol of strength and soundness, who discharges a sacrosanct role on the global stage in a world challenged with large scale turmoil, catastrophes and existential threats. Trump needs to start transacting affairs of state in princely regalia, employing the full or partial panoply of the heretofore mentioned list of desirable attributes or at the very minimum any one on the august list.
Ms. Fowler is an international lawyer.

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