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A Renaissance Trump?

Howell Hurst Defining Trump

A dear old friend sent me a piece of writing by David Brooks highly critical of Mr. Trump. Actually, it strikes me his piece may possibly be a tad dated in its observations.

Having long been a critic of Trump, I reveal my developing take on him, a hopeful one, is he may conceivably down deep inside actually be intelligent enough to be realizing as president that he is now facing more rationally critical people than he’s ever experienced. And that he must change. This hopeful outlook I am attempting to test for its veracity by continuing to watch the man in action.

It is reported that Trump in personal meetings is a persuasive charmer. If he can transfer that charm to his media personality, stop being the barely subdued redneck he sometimes appears to favor, and use his charm to turn his enemies toward him rather than always attacking them, he holds one card I suspect he may be talented and decisive enough to wield very effectively: our military.

Trump may (I say may) hold the potential to be a wily military commander. If he can heed the philosophy of Teddy Roosevelt, speaking softly while wielding a big stick. Military strategy against fanatics must of necessity combine vibrant diplomatic media savvy with actual destructive power. A current president has to keep his own citizens on his side while he juggles tactical diplomacy with dominant force against threatening enemies.

We have some real enemies today, with wrinkled minds. Religious fanatics and hankerers after nuclear weapons must be taken seriously. If backed into perceived corners, both can react with venomous consequences to us. Religious fanatics have proven they know how to conduct media campaigns highly effective in sustaining the support of their followers. They are nasty, efficient guerilla fighters, hitting and hiding. They must have read Lawrence of Arabia while hypnotizing themselves with the most rudimentary militant side of the Koran.

Mr. Kim Jung-un is a feral aberration living in one of humanity’s darkest imaginable mental jungles. He is an hysterical figure. However, I would bet that when faced with a massively tangible military force on his doorstep, and approached by its commander in a personally charming manner, he might permit a touch of sanity to enter his fevered brain. It’s a gamble, of course, but anything one does with him is a gamble. That’s why it’s good to unflinchingly keep our powder dry and primed, as Trump is obviously doing.

My friend who sent me the piece by Brooks may chide me for awarding Mr. Trump a potential personality breakthrough. That’s my gamble, though. Trump is clearly not stupid, despite his often arrogant, reactionary personality. And if he does indeed contain in his mental makeup the capacity to grow, as I hope he may, perhaps he may pull some irons out of the fire of our times.

Something needs to defuse the insanity that appears to have engulfed the world. Diplomacy will temper some. Some, ISIS for instance it is clear, will assuredly and absolutely respond only to extremely brutal knocks on the head. The need may be their terminal destruction by force, they are so rabidly distorted of mind.

Trump either must prove himself to be far more a man than he has ever to me appeared to be, or possibly totally fail, leaving his mistakes for another to pick up. Many may still view him as an irreparable catastrophe. He may be so. But he is still our catastrophe. And until he is proven to be intellectually beyond self-mending, I propose we allow him some space to grow into the role we would like him to assume.

I venture most Americans would like our own military might capable of being maximally restrained. The U.S. possesses its own moments of utter irrationality. Perhaps Mr. Trump’s common strategy of managing his own peculiar slight-of-hand mayhem has some value. Maybe he can pull off something positive. I wish him that that capacity.

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