Trump is the A±uenza can­di­date

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ruth Mar­cus

Ethan Couch, meet Don­ald Trump, fel­low Af­fluenza suf­ferer. Couch is the Texas teenager whose drunken driv­ing killed four peo­ple in 2013 when he lost con­trol of his — or, should I say, his mommy and daddy’s — speed­ing pickup. Couch was 16. Three hours af­ter the grisly crash, his blood al­co­hol level was three times the le­gal limit for an adult.

His lawyer and his ex­pert wit­ness psy­chol­o­gist — or, should I say, the lawyer and the ex­pert wit­ness psy­chol­o­gist hired by his mommy and daddy — ar­gued that Couch should be spared im­pris­on­ment be­cause his over­priv­i­leged up­bring­ing had failed to teach him the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong. Mommy and daddy had never set lim­its or im­posed con­se­quences on young Ethan.

Couch’s in­fu­ri­at­ing de­fense — it’s not fair to pun­ish me win­ning him pro­ba­tion in­stead of the 20 years sought by pros­e­cu­tors. Of course, Couch is back in the news be­cause com­ply­ing with the no-al­co­hol terms of pro­ba­tion was ap­par­ently too much for him; Mommy fled with him to Mex­ico rather than al­low him to face pun­ish­ment.

In a telling in­ter­change in a video­taped de­po­si­tion in a civil law­suit, Ethan’s fa­ther Fred was asked about his own stop for drunk driv­ing: “Did you tell the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer, ‘I make more in a day than you make in a year’?”

Fred Couch, smirk­ing: “Prob­a­bly.”

When the head of Ethan’s pri­vate school con­fronted Fred Couch about al­low­ing the boy to drive him­self to school at the age of 13, he laughed her off and said he would buy the place.

“He was adamant that Ethan was go­ing to drive to school,” LeVonna An­der­son told “D” Mag­a­zine. “He be­lieved his son was bet­ter. His son was more tal­ented. He was the golden boy.” Hmmm. Sound fa­mil­iar? If Couch is the Af­fluenza Teen, Trump is the Af­fluenza Can­di­date. The symp­toms he ex­hibits are mul­ti­ple, and florid: The over­ween­ing sense of en­ti­tle­ment. The con­fla­tion of money and in­tel­li­gence, and the be­lief that wealth is a virtue in it­self. The ob­ses­sive flaunt­ing thereof.

Th­ese qual­i­ties are not in­ci­den­tal to Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. They are in­te­gral to it. The cam­paign is pred­i­cated on the no­tion that with great wealth comes great en­ti­tle­ment. His trum­peted bil­lions con­sti­tute the pri­mary ev­i­dence of his qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the pres­i­dency.

“I’m really rich,” Trump said in an­nounc­ing his cam­paign. “I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amaz­ing job.”

Amer­i­can pol­i­tics has fea­tured its share of rich can­di­dates, but never be­fore, and cer­tainly not to this de­gree, has a can­di­date’s for­tune been his rai­son d’etre.

The can­di­date’s wealth is both ev­i­dence of his merit and a ben­e­fit in it­self, proof that Trump is im­mune to the pres­sures faced by less-af­flu­ent politi­cians. “I don’t need any­body’s money,” Trump pro­claimed in his an­nounce­ment speech. “It’s nice.”

The flip side of this at­ti­tude, for those af­flicted with Af­fluenza, is that the or­di­nary rules of per­sonal con­duct and hu­man de­cency do not ap­ply to the suf­ferer. Trump calls peo­ple names. He says things that are un­true. He never backs down. Be­ing Trump means never hav­ing to say you’re sorry.

In the case of Ethan Couch, his par­ents were the en­ablers of this con­duct. In the case of Trump, at least so far, it’s the vot­ers.

A can­di­date with Af­fluenza is bad enough. Imag­ine a pres­i­dent with this mal­ady.

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