Maybe He’s Not That Bad

Maybe He’s Not That Bad

With all the hubbub and negativity, it could also be that he's not as bad as he seems.

With so much negativity in the media surrounding this year’s crop of presidential hopefuls, it’s easy to lose hope. Donald J Trump is a misogynist bigot with an unstable temperament, and a fraud. Hillary Clinton is a corrupt Washington stooge, Wall Street puppet, and a liar. But peel away the propaganda and look at these two as human beings, and perhaps, you will see that we actually have two very excellent, very viable choices before us.

Trump the Monster

Donald Trump has recommended building a wall on our border with Mexico, and said he thinks Mexico is actually going to pay for it. He’s advocated creating a database for tracking Muslims, and suggested they should sign up at the mosques, proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country, has made numerous inappropriate comments about women, has equated #BlackLivesMatter with terrorism, and has embraced the same upper-bracket tax cuts that devastated the middle class during the Regan/Bush years. Moreover, he’s easily provoked, gullible, has no respect for families of combat veterans, and thinks it’s acceptable to invite a foreign power to commit espionage for his political gain.

Trump the Leader

For all the hubbub, Donald Trump is not stupid. You don’t get to be a billionaire by being stupid. Yes, you lie and cheat, and short people at every turn, and it means being willing to sell wine and vodka when you don’t even drink, but not everyone who does dishonest business dishonorably ends up with his own tower.

He acts and speaks from fear. Nothing more, nothing less. The truth is: Donald Trump isn’t saying anything new; in fact, he isn’t saying anything the Republican establishment hasn’t been thinking for a long time. The only difference is that he’s not afraid to speak it out loud, and that’s why people support him. Because when you say something out loud, you open a dialog. For all his ‘divisive rhetoric’ against Muslims by equating the recent string of terrorist acts around the world with Islam, he’s inspired a national dialog. Ironically, it’s because of him why many of us are now coming to see that the Isis cult has nothing to do with Islam at all, but rather seeks to be equated with such to establish its own legitimacy. Yes, he acts and speaks from fear, but then who doesn’t? At least he’s aware of his own fears. He just needs to learn temperance.

On that note, last week’s endorsement of John McCain and this new alliance with Paul Ryan proves he’s capable of learning. Yes, Trump is a Washington outsider, which means many of the outlandish things he says can be put into that context: unlike the ‘insider,’ he doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. But a) being willing to speak and thereby open a dialog and b) being capable of learning, capable of revising his point of view, and capable of tempering his position is a welcome change. I still remember George W Bush’s insistence on staying the course, even though the course was clearly the wrong course. You have to be adaptable and willing to revise your action plan with new information, and Trump has shown himself willing and able to do exactly that.

This brings me to his most powerful asset: his ability to spot talent. We’ve seen this before, and it’s one thing he’s spoken about from time to time, and that’s his ability to put together a ‘fantastic team.’ And this is not to be underestimated: a president’s first job is to name the cabinet, and it’s the cabinet who makes most of the micro decisions. Don’t doubt that if you put a good pool of people in front of the man, he’d assemble a dream team.


Because of all his divisive rhetoric, some of the best minds of the Republican party have refused to work with him. Apparently, Condoleezza Rice turned down his offer to name her vice president. While Trump himself is probably not the racist bigot the Democratic propaganda machine makes him out to be, his followers certainly are. Because of that, the talent pool this team-assembler has to choose from is dismal at best. It effectively neutralizes his greatest strength. Always remember: Hitler didn’t kill a single Jew.

Additionally, being capable of learning doesn’t mean he’s going to learn. And having someone who would lose his cool over something said by a fellow American on a campaign trail is dangerous when you consider what foreign powers would throw at him. When Obama said he’s “temperamentally unfit for the presidency,” he wasn’t joking.

The Verdict

The first thing Trump needs to learn is temperance. It’s the same thing you learn in the military, during boot camp when the DI is shouting something about yomama while your sleep-deprived self is supposed to figure how to say “Sir, this recruit requests permission to make roll-call, sir!” (probably said that wrong) Maybe he shouldn’t have dodged the draft, maybe then he’d have some respect for military families.
Bottom line: bring in the best minds our country has to offer, put them in front of him, and tell him to name his cabinet. Then, he can play golf and keep his mouth shut for the next four years, and he’d make a great palatable president.
Just don’t give him the launch codes.

Michael Patrick Lewis is a teacher, and bestselling author of Edge Of God, and Preferred Rewards. He also has a cat.

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