In a recent piece, counting the “many things that should make Americans wary if not outright scared about a potential Trump presidency,” I recited a long laundry list of this very rich man’s most appalling character flaws, egregious actions and disgusting remarks.
The list included Trump’s boorishness, narcissism, misogyny, xenophobia, his calumny about Vietnam War hero John McCain and our prisoners of war, his flip-flopping on issues, his cavalier braggadocio on how he was “just taking advantage of the laws” — gaming the system — to pull his businesses out of the abyss without a second thought to other struggling Americans, and more.
But, more important, I asked, how will a President Trump ensure that he and his administration do not view the buying of influence by the rich and famous as business as usual — since that has been, by his own braggadocio, his modus operandi.
I added, “While some have suggested that a super-rich person cannot be easily ‘bought’ there are other ways by which influence and favors can be obtained from an incorrigible narcissist.”
A couple of days ago, a Wall Street Journal (by no stretch a liberal rag) editorial looked at Trump’s “I can’t be bought” argument from a different perspective.
The Journal maintains that while the argument — “that he’s ‘very rich’ and therefore cannot be induced to indulge a narrow special interest” — “plays into the current political frustration with Washington…it is as self-serving as it is dangerous to democracy.”
“What he’s really saying,” the Journal adds “is that nobody who isn’t wealthy should be able to run for President because only the superrich can be untainted by political corruption.”
The Journal makes the argument that most politicians aren’t rich and thus have to raise money from others, broadening their support and making it “less likely any single donor or constituency would have inordinate influence.”
After throwing some lukewarm water on the idea that accepting large donations creates an obligation to return the favor, the Journal, in my opinion, throws some definitely ice cold water on Trump’s “worst argument”:
The stolen base in the Trump argument is that if elected the other candidates would have agendas but he wouldn’t. The truth is that even if he never takes a nickel from a lobbyist, Mr. Trump will still be influenced by his largest campaign donor—himself. To say the least, he’s never been shy about pursuing his interests.
In business that’s fine and plastering his name everywhere has built a well-known brand and accumulated a fortune that may even be as large as he says it is. But it’s naive to examine his career and conclude that he lives only to serve others. It’s not clear to us why the agenda of one rich guy in Manhattan is superior to one that incorporates the views of a thousand rich guys across the U.S.
Then again, Mr. Trump is new to the presidential campaign and on Sunday he said he also is open to taking contributions, large and small, as long as there are “no strings attached.” Like any other politician.
The Journal asks, “Is it better to represent the agenda of one rich guy or 1,000 rich guys?”
Darn good question.
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The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.