Barack Obama and Donald Trump are ‘Great Men’, and That’s The Problem

Let’s start off with some quotes:

“Dear Sir: I am.” – Attributed to G.K. Chesterton, responding to a newspaper’s question, ‘What’s wrong with the world today?

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves.” – Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken

“…Great men are almost always bad men…” – Lord Acton

Obama Zombies 9-13-15

Trump with Crazy Woman and Baby 9-13-15

Donald Trump has, similar to Barack Obama when he was a presidential candidate in 2007, swept a considerable number of people off their feet with his novelty, celebrity, rhetoric, and status of not being part of the political establishment.

Obama the newcomer wrecked the coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2008, and Trump the celebrity is sucking most of the media coverage oxygen out of the room at the expense of most of his Republican rivals (other than Trump, Ben Carson is the only other candidate to have poll numbers in the double digits; all the other Republican presidential candidates currently have poll numbers in the single digits):

2016 Republican Presidential Poll Results 9-13-15

While Obama and Trump are quite different from one/another, they have one thing in common: they’re both ‘Great Men.’

Obama had his soaring rhetoric and will have his place in history of being the first black (or African-American, if you prefer) to be elected president. Like him or not, Obama certainly has taken consequential steps on his pronouncement to “…fundamentally transform the United States of America” during his time in office (examples: ObamaCare and Obama’s nuke ‘deal’ with the fanatical death-cult Iranian mullahs). Trump is a flamboyant, WWE®-style trash-talking billionaire entertainer real estate mogul who says what he thinks and says it in a way many in his WWE® blue-collar constituency and others find entertaining, endearing, and attractive.

But ‘Great Men’ are something the Founding Fathers warned us about and they set about designing a form of government that would harness, curtail, diminish, and soften the impact of ‘Great Men’.

People being attracted to and chasing after ‘Great Men’ is nothing new; in fact it’s as old as the heart of humanity itself.

The book of 1 Samuel in the Bible recounts the story of when the Hebrews, dissatisfied with theocracy, their form of government at the time, demanded God’s earthly representative, the prophet Samuel, to appoint a king over them:

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” (emphasis added)

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (emphasis added) 1 Samuel 8: 1-9

There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. (emphasis added) 1 Samuel 9: 1-2

The Hebrews were dissatisfied with Samuel and his corrupt sons, so they looked around at their neighbor nations and told themselves, “Why can’t we be more like them?” (perhaps one of the earlier recorded accounts of wanting to keep up with the Jones’?).

And God tells Samuel not to get too hot around the collar about his countrymen’s demand for a king, informing him they’re not giving him the heave-ho, but rather they’re pushing God out of their lives.

So God tells Samuel to solemnly warn the Hebrews of what they’re in for with their demand for an earthly king. God tells them if they go down the road of this earthly king thing, they’re going to get all they demand and they’re going to get it good and hard:

Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.

Later we read that the earthly kingship over the Hebrews goes to tall, dark, and handsome Saul, a ‘Great Man’, “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” You can almost hear the people exclaim, “look how rich/tall/well spoken/etc. our new king is…”.

Just as Obama rode a wave of popularity, being called “The One” by Oprah Winfrey and others on the left side of the political spectrum, now Trump has done something similar with those on the right.

Trump has capitalized on the fact that many in the Republican ‘establishment’ appear to be tone-deaf and unresponsive to the base’s wants, needs, and desires (unless it’s election time, then Republican politicians calibrate their rhetoric to court the base to get reelected). In this sense, Trump’s poll numbers are a symptom of establishment Republican’s refusal to engage with its base. It’s been said that Trump’s poll numbers are a rigid and stiff middle finger to the Republican establishment.

But, similar to the Hebrews being dissatisfied with Samuel and his sons and demanding an earthly king for what ailed them, many in the Republican base appear to want to throw out the baby with the bath water in supporting an avaricious, bombastic, egotistical, crude, populist ‘Great Man’ at the expense of conservative principles, philosophy, and approach to government.

The country has had six and a half years of a ‘Great Man’ in the Oval Office. As bad as the Republican establishment has been, the answer is not electing another ‘Great Man’ who is very clever at manipulating his message in order to get votes.

The fundamental bet the Framers made was that the people who consented to being governed would be sober minded, educated, engaged, and vigilant against hucksters, snake-oil salesmen and ‘Great Men’ of all stripes. That the people elected Obama once was bad enough; that they reelected him is not encouraging.

If the people elect a ‘Great Man’ like Donald Trump as president of the United States of America (or for that matter a ‘Great Woman’ like Hillary Clinton), all I can say is get ready, because you’re going to get what you demanded, and you’re going to get it, good and hard.

Donald Trump Fangirl 9-12-15

UPDATE, TUESDAY 9-15-15:

This piece, from the estimable Thomas Sowell, is a must read. Sowell makes the point that the real danger is not the glib egomaniacal politician, it’s the people who would elect such a person.

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6 Comments on “Barack Obama and Donald Trump are ‘Great Men’, and That’s The Problem”

  1. soakland says:

    Ok, then here’s an idea: Elect one of the other 16 candidates, and get business as usual, with its inherent political corruption in the form of big money donors and manipulation, as well as liberalism just like Obama. Great choice you give everyone. You are clueless about how bad the country is right now. Over 90 million jobless, international crises everywhere….and all you offer is “don’t vote for the strong man.”

    Like

    • Thanks for reading, Soakland. Obama has been an utter disaster for the country. Trump, IMO, lacks the temperament, poise, demeanor, dignity, expertise, history, statesmanship the country needs to lead. You’d do better voting for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or Carly Fiorina.

      Like

  2. Your premise that Barack Obama was or is a great man immediately voids your argument. Obama did nothing great in his career before he was elected. One term Senator who rarely voted more than “present”. Your comparison of him to Trump is like comparing a little leaguer to a professional baseball player. Trump is a world class entrepreneur and one of the most successful self made businessman on the planet. His reason for being considered “great” is because of his business and negotiating abilities. He has the resume needed to be successful as President, Obama clearly didn’t. Your blurring of the lines between politics and religion is odd and confusing. The President of the United States is NOT our religious leader, and your comparisons are at best dangerous. We do not subscribe to one religious leader in this country. We have the freedom to believe what religious beliefs are best for us. We also have a clear separation of church and state, something you are trying to combine to make every business decision in politics a referendum on religious beliefs. This entire article “smacks” of false prophet comparisons. This is exactly what happens when you attempt to blend religion with politics, which is why our Founders separated the two.

    Like

    • Thank you for reading, Svingali Mage.

      When referring to Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump as ‘Great’, I was using it in the context of the quote from Lord Acton at the beginning of the piece:“…Great men are almost always bad men…”, which is why I put the word ‘great’ in quotation marks.

      We disagree on Mr. Trump; I am not a Trump fan, and I consider him to be another flavor/species/variation of a ‘Great Man’, and the country has groaned under our current ‘Great Man’ in office, Barack Obama, for 6.5 years. Obama is a curious blend of blinkered hard-left ideology, enormous narcissism and self-regard, and good old-fashioned incompetence.

      Obama and Trump are both petulant and thin-skinned, and have an exceedingly high opinion of themselves. Instead of replacing the ‘Great Man’ Obama with another ‘Great Man’ (or ‘Great Woman’) in the Oval Office in 2016, I’m hoping the electorate comes to the place where they’ve enjoyed their ‘Summer of Trump’ diversion, but will then allow their reason to prevail when they actually do pull the lever in November 2016.

      The country needs a president with standing, bearing, tone, demeanor, dignity, and statesmanship. Neither Obama nor Trump possess these qualities, which is a big reason why they’re ‘great’ in the sense Lord Acton uses the term.

      Like

  3. John T. Keller says:

    The author is desperate to make an equivalency between Trump and Obama.

    It’s forgivable. I’ve heard it before.

    But there really is no comparison.

    Even I thought Obama was a bit shallow and full of it in ’08. The rhetoric was nothing like Trump’s. Obama’s history and track record was also nothing like Trump, nor was his politics or positions.

    Trump’s something we’ve never seen in this country, not in 50 or 100 years.

    Like


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