The Turkey Coup Attempt
PDQ Bach

Trump by Another Name

By Jonathan B. Wight

With apologies to Leo Tolstoy, who wrote the following about an autocratic-leaning narcissist who can’t tell the difference between lies and truth—a.k.a. the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.   Adapted for modern ears:

A man without convictions, customs, traditions … emerges by the very strangest of chances it seems, from among all the turbulent parties of [America] and, without [initially] attaching himself to any of them, is borne forward to a prominent position. The ignorance of his colleagues, the weakness and insignificance of his opponents, the frankness of his falsehoods, and the dazzling, self-confident narrowness of this man raise him to the head of the [party].

His opponents’ reluctance to fight, and his own childish audacity and conceit win him … fame. Innumerable so-called chances attend him everywhere. The disfavor into which he falls with the rulers of [his own party] turns to his advantage…. He is several times on the brink of disaster and each time is saved in some unexpected way…. He finds the government in [Washington] in a process of dissolution in which all those who are in it are inevitably wiped out and destroyed….

As a newcomer [initially] free from party entanglements, can only serve to exalt him. He has no plan of any sort…. He alone, with the ideal of glory and grandeur he had developed, with his insane self-deification, with his audacity in crime and his outright lies— he alone can justify what has to be done.

But the once proud and shrewd rulers of [the Republican Party], feeling that their part has been played, are even more befuddled than he, and fail to say what they ought to have said to retain their power and crush him. The discredited [former] rulers … have no terms and no rational ideals with which to oppose the meaningless ... ideal of glory and grandeur.

It is not so much [he] who prepares himself for the performance of his role as those around him who equip him to accept the whole responsibility for what is happening and has to happen. There is no act, no crime, no petty subterfuge he might commit that is not instantly hailed as a great deed.

Not only is he great, but so are his ancestors, his [wives, his sons, his daughters, and his sons-in-law].

Adapted from Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (Signet Classics) (p. 1323). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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From Tolstoy’s view, great political upheavals, and the so-called leaders like Napoleon who front them, have to run their course before their folly can be revealed. A tide must rush in before it can rush out. The ethical lesson I’ve learned from reading Tolstoy’s magnificent War and Peace is that humility and gratefulness are the great underrated virtues in political life—or life in general.

Onward to Cleveland! 



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