Political Image & Character

President Trump, when he was Donald Trump, was to me that mean guy saying you’re fired whenever  my fingers accidentally hit a certain television channel number, and the guy who had so many bankruptcies media images of him and his long over-coat seemed pointless,  almost funny. But then a few years ago an old friend of a friend back from Florida showed me a recent snapshot of himself with Donald Trump in a suit without the coat and I couldn’t help but humanize him because as far as I’ve been aware that friend has been like so many others I’ve known from years ago on Toronto streets; so that Donald Trump who’d spontaneously stepped  into that snapshot pose was no longer just that “You’re fired!” guy with all the bankruptcies he was like the hustlers, the good time  story tellers always with something big about to break on the horizon.

But when he tried to put that unusual spontaneity that threw political caution to the winds  in the political realm, journalists must have thought he was “putting them on”, just kidding. Target of ridicule, the most repeated charge was that Mr. Trump lacked that tip toeing, walking on eggshells attitude of an experienced politician. But what was rarely presented in the fore ground of their articles was the rather lengthy involvement Trump had had in politics supporting politicians both winners and losers as a financial supporter and friend. In a way Mr. Trump now seems the most political of all the personalities media have presented over the years. But to me politicians are all image, the guys who know how to get elected, by getting around with their faces on every sign, on every flickering screen.

For me this insight  was confirmed by a comment by former President Carter, a Democrat who amidst all the loathing histrionics about Mr. Trump’s Republican primary candidacy said that Mr. Trump was malleable. That statement summed up one politician’s view of  another politician gained by observing the behaviour, the face of that other politician. But it also revealed something fundamental about Mr. Trump’s character hidden under his mask of bravado that encouraged journalists to use as evidence of an inflexible  tyrannical disposition, the kind of vulnerability and insecurity armoured by a very thick skin that made Rush Limbaugh say that Trump should have succumbed to the unprecedented barrage of  media attacks but didn’t.