Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale "The Emperor’s New Clothes"  with its themes of pride, vanity and honesty is currently being rerun for the American public with the starring role of emperor being played by our President Donald Trump. In Andersen’s tale two weavers successfully appeal to the pride and vanity of the emperor promising to design a suit of clothes for him that will be invisible only to those subjects who are incompetent and unfit for their positions. In reality, the weavers make no clothes at all and their great leader appears before his subjects naked. At first, no one in the crowd challenges the emperor’s lack of garments, because to do so would mark them ignorant and incompetent, until a small child calls out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all.”

Donald Trump has promoted himself as a brash, break-all-the-rules billionaire whose business acumen qualifies him to run the country. Trump boasted to the Des Moines Register just before announcing his presidential run, “I’m the most successful person to ever run for president.” Yet a look back at Trump’s business deals by The New York Times reporters Russ Buettner and Suzanne Craig, published in an article on May 8, reveals that he has lost more money than nearly any individual American taxpayer ($1.17 billion for the decades 1985-1994), with the result that he did not pay taxes for eight years. The Times' reporters indicated that Trump was not without resources to help recover from his losses, including gifts of more than $413 million (in 2018 dollars) from his father, Fred Trump.

Three years into his presidency, Trump continues to burnish his public persona as a leader extraordinaire, claiming to be smarter than his generals and his intelligence chiefs, more adept at diplomacy than experienced members of his own State Department and the best negotiator for global trade agreements. Yet with all his “brain power” and strategic skills, Trump shows a shocking lack of knowledge and respect for decades of treaties and alliances with our global allies. His threats to withdraw from NATO, his actual withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal, his unexplained penchant for praise and even love for autocratic leaders around the globe and his continued use of tariffs to drive advantage in trade negotiations have been questioned and challenged by his own advisers and global allies.

Indeed, in Trump we have an “emperor” whose persona burnished over the years by inherited wealth, bluster, lies, bullying and pure salesmanship is being challenged by investigative reporters, advisers and global leaders. As 2020 approaches we need to look closely at this man to decide if he is, in fact, lacking in the skills, the knowledge and the temperament to be president.

 

The writer lives in Ridgeway.