Cal Thomas: For Trump, what might have been

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 17, 2021

“For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’ ”

— John Greenleaf Whittier

By Cal Thomas

There are many things beyond human control, among them, when and where you were born and who your parents are. As President Trump leaves office, he will have time, but perhaps not much time given that his enemies seek to destroy his businesses and his chance for running again for any office, to contemplate what went wrong.

Before he announced for president, if a pollster had asked voters whether they would vote to grant a second term for a president who has accomplished what Trump has in foreign and domestic policy, I suspect the response would have been a resounding “yes.”

History is full of incidents where people have self-destructed by giving in to the furies of their lower nature.

In a speech last week that was too little, too late, President Trump spent a little more than five minutes addressing the nation from the Oval Office.

The president’s tone was, well, presidential. For a change he didn’t claim to have won the election; he didn’t blame “fake news.” Instead, he denounced violence and urged his supporters not to participate in it during Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Choose your analogy. This was a case of closing the barn door after the horse had escaped or calling the fire department after a building has been consumed by flames.

Trump’s problem has been diagnosed by amateurs and professionals as malignant narcissism. The Mayo Clinic defines it as: “People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”

According to Mayo, narcissists have “…an exaggerated sense of self-importance; have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration; exaggerate achievements and talents; monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior; behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious.”

Don’t these symptoms perfectly fit Donald Trump?

Mayo says there is no known cause for this disorder.

The list of Trump’s accomplishments is long, but many will be undone by his successor and that is the biggest tragedy. Trump let his personality disorder become the issue and not his push-back against the Washington establishment, which will regain control.

Government will again dictate what is good for us. Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion spending plan for virus relief and vaccine distribution will swell the national debt and incentivize American dependency. Opening up businesses with caution and allowing people to earn a check, rather than getting a check from the government, which will addict more people to Washington and to Democrats, is the best cure for our economic ailment.

Trump may have won a second term, even as the coronavirus raged, had he not made everything about him.

Can he come back? After losing to John F, Kennedy for the presidency in 1960 and the California governor’s race to Pat Brown in 1962, Nixon attempted to re-cast himself as the “new Nixon” in the 1968 presidential race. He won and then won a second term in a landslide in 1972, but the old Nixon returned. The Watergate affair and the subterfuge that preceded it and followed it led to his political downfall.

If Trump is to come back, assuming Congress doesn’t bar him from future office, he needs the equivalent of a religious conversion and it must be seen as genuine. That, too, may be out of his control, which is why he should consult a power higher than himself and try putting on a cloak of humility.

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