It’s all a ques­tion of char­ac­ter

True re­form is more likely to be the prod­uct of anger

The Wharf - - The Week - Giles Broad­bent

P res­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is a brutish, un­savoury man with a mis­sion – to shake up the com­pla­cent Wash­ing­ton ma­chine.

At least, that is fer­vently to be hoped – be­cause if he fails to pur­sue his self-ap­pointed mis­sion then he is merely a brutish, un­savoury man with a set of nu­clear codes.

The gos­samer thin sil­ver lin­ing on Trump’s pres­i­dency is his nar­cis­sis­tic, prickly char­ac­ter – his great­est weak­ness is his great­est strength, as is so of­ten the case.

For that flaw con­tains the pos­si­bil­ity that he will sweep away the busi­ness-as-usual hege­mony – vested in­ter­ests, a supine press, an in­dul­gent Congress and the rest – and truly go to town on the Wash­ing­ton elites and their pay­mas­ters.

That is not to say his pres­i­dency won’t be a tragedy for many. But if some­thing can be sal­vaged from a Trump White House then it might be that his scorched earth pol­icy leaves the field clear for more ap­petis­ing re­form­ers in years to come.

Too of­ten an out­sider can­di­date prom­ises to take on the Es­tab­lish­ment only to find them­selves over­whelmed by scle­rotic in­sti­tu­tions, out­ma­noeu­vred by the self-in­ter­ested or, more likely, flat­tered by the trap­pings that the Es­tab­lish­ment en­joys.

Pres­i­dent-elect Trump does not ap­pear to fit that mould (or any mould). This is not be­cause he is a bil­lion­aire with a he­li­copter and a golden lift (although it helps) but be­cause his rest­less trou­ble-mak­ing fills the hole where his soul should be.

One per­ceived slight, one off-colour op-ed and he’d be up in the dead of night plot­ting his re­venge and tweet­ing its out­come. Psy­cho­log­i­cally, he needs to win. What­ever the cost.

Win­ston Churchill’s creed was this: “In war: res­o­lu­tion. In de­feat: de­fi­ance. In vic­tory: mag­na­nim­ity. In peace: good­will.”

For Trump, the first one counts, the rest are for losers.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn has taken a leaf out of the Trump play­book. As part of his in­sur­gency re­launch he seized upon Trump’s cam­paign trig­ger word – “rigged” – to make claims about pay in­equal­ity, the bro­ken sys­tem and the over­looked ma­jor­ity.

“We’re go­ing to call time on this rigged sys­tem be­cause power is in the wrong hands,” he said in a re­cent speech.

It is a pow­er­ful cut-through mes­sage re­in­forced spec­tac­u­larly by the Brexit vote, which amounted to a howl of protest from the for­got­ten mil­lions. His de­rided “max­i­mum pay cap” may have crash-landed but it found res­o­nance with the dis­af­fected to whom it had all the hall­marks of tra­di­tional fair play and com­mon sense.

But here’s the prob­lem with that strat­egy. Cor­byn is no Trump. For Cor­byn is en­tirely set­tled in his be­liefs, snug in his so­cial­ist bub­ble.

He is un­ruf­fled by per­sonal at­tacks, un­threat­ened by ri­vals, un­af­fected by opin­ion polls and un­moved by the very real prospect of elec­toral ar­maged­don.

Trump is a bun­dle of neu­roses. Cor­byn is com­fort­able in his skin. Trump is fu­ri­ous; Cor­byn is con­tent. Trump is rag­ing; Cor­byn is mea­sured. One is vul­gar; the other pleas­ant. One hunts fresh meat. The other makes jam. One re­quires bloody sac­ri­fices to silence his dark demons. The other is happy to pot­ter about im­po­tently.

Cor­byn af­fects to smash the sys­tem, Trump sim­ply must.

Trump has to win to keep his demons quiet



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