Anyone can get elected to this office

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 


Barack Hussein Obama used to boast — and I imagine he still tells audiences this factoid — that he is proof that “anyone can get elected” president of the United States.

He is of mixed race: half black and half white. He came from a broken home. His mother and his maternal grandparents reared him into a university graduate, where he excelled at Harvard Law, becoming the first African-American to edit the Harvard Law Review.

Yes, Obama’s story is compelling.

However, he is a piker in the “anyone can get elected” category. The hands-down winner of that contest, such as it is, would be Donald John Trump, the immediate successor to Barack Obama.

Now, having said that, I forewarn you that what I am going to say next will be far from complimentary. While I continue to hold the former president in the highest regard partly because of his life story, I hold the current president in the lowest regard, also partly because of his life story.

Trump was born into wealth. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and then from Penn’s Wharton School of Business. He went into business, riding a multimillion-dollar stake from his father. He bought commercial real estate. Trump built office buildings and apartment complexes.

Trump managed to grow his inherited wealth into something even bigger. Along the way, he had business failures. He filed multiple bankruptcies. He schmoozed with fellow developers, some of whom had questionable dealings (see Jeffrey Epstein, as just one example).

Then he got involved with “reality TV.” He hosted a game show. He managed beauty pageants.

The real estate mogul got married, then divorced. He married and divorced again. He is now married to his third wife. Along the way, he accrued more wealth, lost some of it through more business failures. He produced five children with the three women he married.

What is missing from this brief background? Give up? OK, here it is: public service. Unlike Barack Obama, who became a “community organizer” right out of law school, and then a state senator in Illinois before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Donald Trump devoted not a single second of his time to serving the public.

Nothing. Zero. It was all about Trump.

So I am left to wonder how in the name of presidential politics was this guy able to parlay his life experience into assuming the most powerful and most exalted public office on Earth.

I am all in favor of “anyone” seeking public office. To that extent, I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge Donald Trump seeking the presidency after pursuing a career in business and … well, whatever else he decided to do.

Barack Obama, though, remains in my estimation the idealistic version of the cliche that “anyone can get elected” to the nation’s highest office. He rose quickly to be sure. His life, though, was a testament to public service.

Donald Trump’s life was a testament to self-service.

And it has shown itself demonstrably during his time in the only public office he ever has sought — or ever will seek.

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