As dean of the newly established University of Hope (partly fictional, and partly real: at least as a concept), I’d like to award Mike Tyson an honorary doctorate in philosophy. For his prescient statement during the presidential campaign, which bears revisiting now with a deeper analysis:
“Barack Obama was America’s first black president. Donald Trump will be our first interesting president.”
The only problem is, boring presidents tend to be much better. Consider how honest Abe Lincoln would’ve played on TV. “Four score and seven years ago…” Snooze. A national lunge for the channel changer. Isn’t anything else on? Big ratings drop. Overnights: really bad.
Dwight Eisenhower, one of America’s most reassuringly boring presidents, guided America to peace and prosperity in the fabulous fifties. He was a rock of grandfatherly stability. Nobody ever accused Ike of being overly charismatic. Neither Jimmy Carter, with his Mr. Rogers cardigan sweaters, who confessed the “sin” of a mere lustful thought, and whose idea of a good time in his post-presidency was to build houses for the poor and teach Sunday school at his local church. Not exactly “Dancing with the Stars” material.
I have a theory about Donald Trump. Like all of us, he hungers for basic human love and recognition—two things that, according to the great 20th century intellectual Erich Fromm (truly great, not dumbed down, trumped up, Madison ave. “great”), are harder to come by in an alienated capitalistic society. So even though Trump became famous, as a celebrity businessman and reality show star, it wasn’t enough. He hungered for more. It’s even quite possible that, somewhere deep in his heart, Trump really does want what’s best for our country. Though that’s harder to believe given the Republican health care plan, which he supported, that will result in poor people dying so the rich can get richer.
My main point in this essay, though, is to suggest that the presidency is best suited to a more gray, plodding, bureaucratic personality than Trump. I see Trump as more of an actor. What if, instead of going to military school and a business college, he had fallen in with theater people instead? As strange as it seems, somewhere, trapped deep within the crusty external “tough guy businessman,” there may be a magical artist trying to get out. An experimental performer, still destined for Hollywood and Broadway, pioneering a new genre in spontaneous oratory married to a political sensibility.
So I’d like to suggest an even more interesting career change for Trump. Not just for our sake, but for his. He’s already starting to look older, due to the overwhelming job stress of the presidency. I think he’d be happier running a TV network, turning Trump University into a political think tank, and starring in movies and in “Trump on Broadway.” Look, he’d even be closer to home; and to much better restaurants. It would also prevent this essentially bureaucratic job from making him boring.