Trump vs. Mueller: A Study in Contrasts
Both men come from wealthy, privileged families.
Both were “raised in rare comfort.”
Both men “attended elite all-male private schools, were accomplished high school athletes and went on to Ivy League colleges…”
Both men “rose to positions of enormous authority…”
But that’s pretty much where the similarities, as described in the Washington Post, end.
Ironically, one became the president of the United States, the other became the special counsel appointed to investigate the former.
…Robert Swan Mueller III and Donald John Trump…can seem to come from different planets. One is courtly and crisp, the other blustery and brash. One turned away from the path to greater wealth, while the other spent half a century exploring every possible avenue to add to his assets.
The Post also refers to Mueller and Trump as “the war hero and the draft avoider,” respectively.
Is the Washington Post wrong?
Trump attended the New York Military Academy, where he “won medals for neatness and order” and of which Trump claims that it gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
As “captain” of “A Company,” Trump introduced its members “to a world of fun, setting up a tanning salon in his dorm room, bringing beautiful women to campus and leading the baseball team to victory.’
During the Vietnam War, Trump attended the University of Pennsylvania and received five draft deferments, “four for being a college student and one for a medical disqualification.” The medical disqualification was for foot bone spurs. (Which foot? Trump could not recall in later years.)
During the same war, after graduating from Princeton University and New York University, and despite a (real) knee injury (Mueller spent a year waiting for it to heal so he could serve), Mueller joined the Marine Corps, attended Officer Candidate School, the Army’s grueling Ranger School and Airborne School, the latter two, “assignments…unusual for Marines and, typically, set aside for just a handful of the best each year.”
Mueller then was off to fight in Vietnam as a rifle platoon leader, one of the most perilous assignments in that war.
In December 1968, Mueller led his men in an eight-hour battle during which his platoon suffered heavy casualties. Second Lieutenant Mueller bravely led his troops in battle, skillfully led the evacuation of wounded Marines, including the recovery of a mortally wounded Marine.
For his actions, Mueller received the Bronze Star with “V” distinction for combat valor.
Mueller received a (real) promotion to First Lieutenant and would go on to lead his platoon in other battles, suffer an enemy gunshot wound in the thigh and receive additional (real) military decorations and awards.
Years later, Thomas B. Wilner, a longtime friend of Mueller would say this about him, “He never speaks to that horror and what he did…”
By contrast, Trump regularly sought coverage of his accomplishments, not of accomplishments on the battlefield but rather “about his dates and bedroom activities.”
But wait, Trump did proudly refer to his Vietnam non-service during a 1997 interview with Howard Stern.
When asked by Stern how Trump made sure he avoided contracting sexually transmitted diseases during his romances, Trump answered:
I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.
The rest of the careers, and lives, of the two men could not represent a more stark “study in contrasts”:
One would be always true to his Marine motto “Semper Fi” — to his Service, to his country.
The other would always be true to the almighty dollar and to himself.
Or, as the Post reports, “One turned away from the path to greater wealth, while the other spent half a century exploring every possible avenue to add to his assets.”
One man, the family man, would go on to attain some of the highest, most trusted and respected positions in the land – including Special Counsel to investigate the president — because of his integrity, honesty, decency, morals, circumspect, discipline, doggedness, humility and principles.
By contrast, the other, the “Ladies’ Man,” would go on to become a powerful real-estate mogul and eventually hold the highest office in the land despite his immorality, dishonesty, narcissism, impulsiveness, bluster, vindictiveness, misogyny, boorishness and a total lack of principles.
Mueller once said in a commencement address, “You are only as good as your word. You can be smart, aggressive, articulate and indeed persuasive, but if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer, and once lost, a good reputation can never be regained.”
Trump wrote in his The Art of the Deal, “The key to the way I promote is bravado…I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.”
Today, in a confrontation of epic proportions, one man is determined to show that no person is above the law, not even the president.
The other man is determined to destroy the investigator, before he can show the world exactly what kind of a man Trump is.
Neither man – nor the country — knows how this sordid episode will end. But, today with the sentencing of Michael Cohen, Mueller may have moved one step closer to once and for all establishing that no man is above the law
In announcing that Robert Mueller was on the “short List” to be the 2018 Person of the Year, TIME Magazine had the following comparison of the two men and assessment of their struggle:
Trump and Mueller could hardly be more different. One created a public persona as the embodiment of gaudy capitalism; the other is a reticent patrician, driven and serious, who’s devoted his life to institutions. One embodies disruption, the other consistency. One flouts the rules, the other enforces them. One is the avatar of disorder, the other the personification of order. Nothing less than core principles of American justice and self-government are at stake in their struggle.
Lead image: From Donkeyhotey.com