Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump, Part I

dog pilot

I have to cleanse the blog of Trump related markers, like having “The Presidential Impeachment And Removal Plans, 2016-2020” link under the home page banner, and the “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President” categories to tag articles. I’m not nostalgic or anything, I just hate blog housekeeping. But It’s also time to close that chapter with an ethics assessment of the Trump Presidency.

Three metaphors I applied to the nation’s Trump adventure nicely encapsulate what went on, I think. Beginning in late 2015, I derided the idea that electing (or nominating) Donald Trump to be President was the equivalent of the passengers in an airplane navigating a storm voting to let a dog (in some versions, a chimp) try flying the craft. The metaphor was apt, and it’s still apt, even though the dog/chimp equivalent did not crash the plane and kill everyone in it. That was moral luck, as pure as it can be. It was madness for this country to permit a man with Trump’s well-documented character flaws and proven proclivities both and executive and a human being control the destiny of the nation in 2016. Concluding otherwise is indefensible. A valued commentator here has apparently abandoned commenting here because he objected to my tendency to designate what he considered opinions as facts. I’m sure that he considers this one of those, but he’s wrong and I’m right. It’s a fact that Donald Trump had proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was unfit to be President before the 2015 debates, and he did nothing during the campaign to undercut that conclusion. It’s a fact that a dog shouldn’t fly a plane, and similarly, it’s a fact that Donald Trump should not have been allowed to come within miles of the White House, except as a visitor. Hillary was right: for the most part, those who were advocating Trump’s Presidency were deplorable: ignorant, reckless, irrational, walking and voting examples of the perhaps fatal flaws in democracy. She was just the worst possible individual to make that observation, since giving Clinton and her party the power she sought, while different from allowing a dog to fly the plane, was still wrong. It was just more like allowing a kamikaze pilot to fly the plane.

I should inject here that the dog/chimp metaphor did not apply in 2020, for the simple reason that, lucky or not, Trump flew the plane, took off and landed many times, reached some desirable destinations, and was, if not a good pilot after four years, or a risk-free pilot, was at least an experienced one.

Moreover, President Trump deserves credit for surviving a disgusting experience that I used an off-shoot of that first metaphor to describe: the passengers elect an unqualified pilot to fly the plane, and he agrees to take the controls, bravely or foolishly, whereupon as he struggles to do the job, the passengers who voted against him crowd into the cockpit, jostle him, scream at him, and harass him the entire trip. That is exactly what what I have called The Axis of Unethical Conduct—“the resistance,” Democrats and the mainstream media—did from the second he took office. Trump gained a measure of respect from me by enduring this. Most men, and many Presidents, would not have been able to do it, and it was unforgivable that President Trump was treated that way. I mean that literally: I will never forgive nor trust the individuals and institutions responsible. Never. They did immeasurable but perhaps permanent damage to our nation, our culture, our society and our prospects for the future in what was, as Stephen Kruiser wrote today referring to CNN, a “tantrum that went on for four years.”

Nonetheless and against all odds, perhaps in part because the United States has a damn good autopilot after all these years, President Trump achieved some things, got the passengers to some good places (whether they realized it or not, and though the ride was awful), and, as old pilots like to say, his landing was good enough because the equipment was still usable.

That doesn’t make Trump’s an ethical Presidency, because the ends do not justify the means. Nor does the fact that his conduct was better than the asshole passengers trying to make him go into a nose dive so they could grab the controls make his conduct more ethical.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the second metaphor: the final scene in “Animal House.”

14 thoughts on “Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump, Part I

  1. As you say, apt metaphors, all; especially the Kamikaze Pilot.

    I recall going on record (Christmas Eve, 2015) in front of numerous inconsolably horrified career Lefty family member/in-laws, that the only way Donald Trump would ever see the inside of the Oval Office would be on a WH tour.

    Regrettably that’s not the only mark I’ve missed with room to spare; I predicted that not only would Ronald Reagan never get elected, but wouldn’t even get a whiff of being nominated.

  2. I am interested in knowing what the metrics are for Presidential fitness to serve. Just how many strikes does it take to be considered unfit. Is there a weighting system for these strikes? Does civility and politeness earn special points that can overcome incompetence? How do we evaluate polite condescension? Come on man, you know the type Biden uses daily. Does it matter if patronizing language that is not crude but grammatically correct become civil discourse because it is eloquent and uses polysyllabic or esoteric verbiage that is usually reserved for use by Ivy League graduates?

    It seems to me that quite a few high ranking elected officials were lotharios who capitalized on their power to bed numerous women while in office. What about deified war heroes who dump their crippled wives to marry much younger and wealthier women? Does that make him unfit? Why do we never raise the issue of fitness of a female candidate who exploits her sexuality to obtain what she wants economically and politically? Or, is that impolitic? What of the women that seek out powerful men to obtain wealth and power. Would it be civil to label them for what they are doing? No, but we condemn a man who made a statement of fact that their are some women who will let you ___________ because you are rich. Tell me Glenn Kessler, is that a lie. Did the person uttering that statement say he knew this from personal experience. The answer is no.

    Let’s assume HRC beat Trump in 2016. Do you think America would be far better off had she won. If so, why did so many think otherwise? Is it moral luck that until March of 2020 real incomes across all strata were rising and more so in the lower income quintiles or was it a result of a policy preference? Was it just dumb luck that unemployment of minorities and young people fell to historical lows or did it occur as a result of a set of policies that promoted entrepreneurial activity? Would we have become energy independent and thus strengthening or negotiating positions among Muslim led OPEC nations with HRC? Peace was on the rise in the Middle East until now when Palestinian rockets rained down on Jerusalem and which many more were returned in retaliation. Do you think those peace accords magically appeared? Do you think illegal immigration problems would have been mitigated through Democrat policies? Perhaps they would have eliminated illegal immigration simply by not enforcing the laws and issuing amnesty through Executive actions? Would it have been in the interests of the United States to sanctify the balkanizing forces that are embracing the 1619 project, defunding the police and Critical Race Theory. More importantly, if the virus pandemic was entirely accidental would we have had the vaccines ready to inoculate 100 million people by the end of January and if not how many Americans would have died because we were unprepared. If it was not accidental what is the current administration planning to do about it?

    The question is: Do we want one that achieves what he or she promises or do we want someone that tells us how the problems of the world are always someone else’s fault or systemically entrenched because of white people who are the dominant culture and oppressors. The time to evaluate a candidate performance is during the lead up to an election and during the President’s tenure. Let the Presidential historians write what they want after all the players are dead and buried. It will all be their opinions anyway and if they choose to denigrate Trump they will. The media has proven that it is easy to bullshit the populace who will not read more that one paragraph.

    I supported Ted Cruz in 2016 until Trump won the nomination. Knowing what I know now I might have included Rand Paul in the mix for fighters I could support. I know Cruz made some blunders on the campaign trail for which he was crucified here. Maybe crucified is the wrong word because I recall seeing his appearance being compared to Lucifer yet we condemn the ad hominem attacks on others. Cruz may have used some unethical tactics but within the entire slate of candidates he was one of two in Congress that will protect our Constitutional liberties, Rand Paul would have been the other but he cannot argue the Constitution like Cruz can.

    When Cruz failed to secure the nomination I put my support behind the only candidate left to keep HRC out of the White House. I don’t consider myself a deplorable, stupid, or foolish because I wanted Trump to beat HRC. As character goes the two were on par with each other so it was a wash. She and the others in her party are power mad. It is obvious that Trump was the only thing that stood in the way of her desire to become a permanent member of the global ruling elite that includes the glitterati of Davos as well as Putin and XI along with their sycophant oligarchs.

    Perhaps my southern heritage makes me fear losing our national sovereignty to the global cabal who seek control over all resources including labor as did my Virginia ancestors who saw federal power as an encroachment and a threat to their political and economic sovereignty 160 years ago. The whole issue of slavery probably would have resolved itself within thirty to forty years with the refinement of the internal combustion engine. The accompanying farm implement inventions that could have been developed with the resources that were expended prosecuting the nation’s bloody civil war would have eliminated the need most of the African field hands which were quite costly to maintain. http://www.cotton-machine.com/application/History-of-Cotton-Harvesting-Machine.html Preserving the union could have been done by working with the southern states to find technological substitutes to cotton harvesting rather than making unilateral demands. That would have also prevented the need for massive tariffs on British finished goods that severely reduced the demand for exported cotton which devastated the southern states economies. The point is that hind sight is always 20/20. If Trump’s accomplishments were purely moral luck then so too was Lincoln’s.

    Bush, Kasich, Fiorino, and to a lesser degree Rubio proved to be a mass of gelatinous goo in the debates. Kasich has dropped all pretense about his devotion to the ruling elite. He believes Biden is a unifier. What world is he in. His sanctimonious rhetoric makes me cringe. The others have withered away and we hear little from them today. People who do nothing never make mistakes.

    It is a damn shame we no longer have people like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln who took on the enormous task of leading the country at considerable expense to their own wealth and health. The only person in recent history who lost multiple millions from being President instead becoming a multi-millionaire was the person that everyone believes was unworthy to even be in the office. There was only one person that we deify because he was perfect and that person would never have held office.

    I don’t have to approve of Trump’s character deficits to acknowledge that he did improve the lives of most Americans in a relatively short period of time. Conversely we now have a president who killed 12,000 jobs on the Keystone pipe line, spent over 6 trillion dollars to keep many Americans on the dole because working is economically irrational with the massive income boost by the Feds, and cannot figure out when he should wear his mask and when it is unnecessary. Under the Biden watch gas prices have been marching toward $4.00 a gallon and now gasoline supplies on the East coast are threatened by Russian ransom criminals and prices of most intermediate goods including energy such as plywood, steel, aluminum, wheat, meats, and dairy are seeing huge price hikes. The price of plywood is double what it was a year ago and OSB which is the predominant material for exterior sheathing is triple that of just a few months ago. If it costs three time as much to build a house affordability falls and wealth gap increases. Biden is claiming his policies are resulting in 6+ % growth. Keep in mind the economy was shuttered for months so the growth rate is a function of what is was in immediately preceding quarters. If I kept people from conducting their usual activities for months and then unleashed them to go on a spending torrent with money I give them that future generations will need to repay pent up demand will drive some real growth but if prices rise faster than supply then the GDP growth is only illusory.

    Americans will be happy to relax in their Barco-loungers getting free stuff from the government until it all runs out. Perhaps we should issue free copies of Animal Farm. Unfortunately, it must be provided on video most of them will be unwilling to take the time to read more than the first paragraph.

    • I hope to answer that in the Part 2. My view, after a lifetime of studying Presidential leadership, is that a fit President is a trustworthy leader, committed to ethical values, is dedicated to the nation, is intelligent, articulate, responsible and prudent, as well as courageous, who understand the office. Trump didn’t come close to meeting that standard.

      But when the electorate decides a man is fit, then he is to be presumed to have met the standard of fitness that matters—the public’s.

      • “. . . a fit President is a trustworthy leader, committed to ethical values, is dedicated to the nation, is intelligent, articulate, responsible and prudent, as well as courageous, who understands the office. ”

        I want trustworthy and ethical and dedicated to the nation too. However the trait of trustworthy is elusive. Is a person not trustworthy if he or she knows full well that not all promises made can or will be kept? Of course not. Is someone trustworthy if he compromises to achieve a partial victory? That depends on the evaluator’s perspective. What we have are candidates that promise the world and then blame the other guy for it not happening.

        I challenge you to show me a modern successful candidate that exemplifies the ethical values and traits you listed above. Traits that we all desire. Even Rand Paul who I believe comes the closest is rarely successful in countering the unethical politicians with whom he does battle. None of the slate of candidates in 2016 from either side would have met your criteria.

        The last thing we need is an intelligent and articulate president who has a hidden agenda. We had that and he set back race relations to 1968. Many a tyrant had the gift of gab and could verbally slice and dice his opponents. Germany, Italy in the 30’s and more recently Iran, Iraq and Libya all had leaders that were intelligent and articulate. They were all able to communicate the idea that failure to agree with them was not in people’s best interest.

        I understand your desire to have a President that exemplifies the good that we as Americans thought America stood for. I still believe in it but the quest for wealth and power that has come from serving at the federal level from the Presidency on down derived from controlling portions of the massive federal budget has a corrupting influence on those in office. One or more of those traits will be sacrifices to retain power and control. The question for me was in 2016 who was more dedicated to the national sovereignty and protecting the Bill of Rights which were the inalienable ones? Trump or Clinton. Hands down it was Trump.

        • 1. “The last thing we need is an intelligent and articulate president who has a hidden agenda.” Yes, that’s Obama.

          2.”I challenge you to show me a modern successful candidate that exemplifies the ethical values and traits you listed above.” Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I. Romney is trustworthy: he will diligently pursue the agenda that he thinks will benefit his constituency, and doesn’t pretends to have an ideological core.

          3. Sure it was Trump. Did he have the skill, common sense and tools to do that effectively? He did not.

    • I agree with you completely. Your experience and choices also reflect mine. It felt like a breath of fresh air to read your comment. Thank you for expressing these frustrations so articulately.

    • But since I can’t sleep….

      I am interested in knowing what the metrics are for Presidential fitness to serve. Just how many strikes does it take to be considered unfit.

      If the deficit is important enough, only one. Trump lacks any ethical compass at all. That’s strike 1,2 and 3. he’s untrustworthy.

      Is there a weighting system for these strikes? Does civility and politeness earn special points that can overcome incompetence?

      The issue is leadership, and unfitness is cumulative. A flaw can take away one point or a thousand. When you are in negative numbers, you’re unfit.

      How do we evaluate polite condescension? Come on man, you know the type Biden uses daily. Does it matter if patronizing language that is not crude but grammatically correct become civil discourse because it is eloquent and uses polysyllabic or esoteric verbiage that is usually reserved for use by Ivy League graduates?

      That’s a deflection, Chris. If a leader is effective, that’s a minor problem. If it adds to other habits and practices to render the leader ineffective, then it contributes to lack of fitness. Trump’s inability to say what he meant or to use the “bully pulpit” competently was crippling, over and over again.

      It seems to me that quite a few high ranking elected officials were lotharios who capitalized on their power to bed numerous women while in office.

      Which goes to character. If it did not interfere with their leadership ability, then it’s a side issue. See: MLK.

      What about deified war heroes who dump their crippled wives to marry much younger and wealthier women? Does that make him unfit?

      For what? As a war hero? Irrelevant. If private conduct makes a leader less effective , it effects fitness. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t go to fitness.

      Why do we never raise the issue of fitness of a female candidate who exploits her sexuality to obtain what she wants economically and politically? Or, is that impolitic? What of the women that seek out powerful men to obtain wealth and power. Would it be civil to label them for what they are doing?

      Who says “we” never raise that issue? I raised it with Harris: it shows she’s a hypocrite, a phony feminist, and raises trust issues.

      No, but we condemn a man who made a statement of fact that their are some women who will let you ___________ because you are rich. Tell me Glenn Kessler, is that a lie. Did the person uttering that statement say he knew this from personal experience. The answer is no.

      You’re raising an episode that had nothing to do with my verdict on Trump’s fitness.

      Let’s assume HRC beat Trump in 2016. Do you think America would be far better off had she won.

      Again, irrelevant. I have no idea, and neither do you. Would we have had two impeachments that rendered the Clause near useless going forward? Would the news media have gotten this bad? Would we be this divided? Would Biden be President? These matters weren’t Trump’s doing, but Trump was the catalyst for them. But none of them are relevant to his fitness.

      If so, why did so many think otherwise?

      Come on. You really think that’s an argument?

      Is it moral luck that until March of 2020 real incomes across all strata were rising and more so in the lower income quintiles or was it a result of a policy preference? Was it just dumb luck that unemployment of minorities and young people fell to historical lows or did it occur as a result of a set of policies that promoted entrepreneurial activity? Would we have become energy independent and thus strengthening or negotiating positions among Muslim led OPEC nations with HRC? Peace was on the rise in the Middle East until now when Palestinian rockets rained down on Jerusalem and which many more were returned in retaliation. Do you think those peace accords magically appeared? Do you think illegal immigration problems would have been mitigated through Democrat policies? Perhaps they would have eliminated illegal immigration simply by not enforcing the laws and issuing amnesty through Executive actions? Would it have been in the interests of the United States to sanctify the balkanizing forces that are embracing the 1619 project, defunding the police and Critical Race Theory. More importantly, if the virus pandemic was entirely accidental would we have had the vaccines ready to inoculate 100 million people by the end of January and if not how many Americans would have died because we were unprepared. If it was not accidental what is the current administration planning to do about it?

      Hindsight bias. Fitness, as far as the post is concerned, is based on what we knew before the election. Trump could have been right on all sorts of policies, but having policies that turn out are not markers of fitness.

      The question is: Do we want one that achieves what he or she promises or do we want someone that tells us how the problems of the world are always someone else’s fault or systemically entrenched because of white people who are the dominant culture and oppressors.

      No, that’s a false dichotomy, as you know.

      I supported Ted Cruz in 2016 until Trump won the nomination. Knowing what I know now I might have included Rand Paul in the mix for fighters I could support. I know Cruz made some blunders on the campaign trail for which he was crucified here. Maybe crucified is the wrong word because I recall seeing his appearance being compared to Lucifer yet we condemn the ad hominem attacks on others. Cruz may have used some unethical tactics but within the entire slate of candidates he was one of two in Congress that will protect our Constitutional liberties, Rand Paul would have been the other but he cannot argue the Constitution like Cruz can.

      What? Cruz has negative charisma, and is unelectable, hence unfit himself (he’s barely electable as a Texas Senator.). Libertarans like Paul live in a fantasy world. His father thinks we should have stayed out of WWII. Rand Paul believes that we should not have laws preventing public accommodations from refusing to serve Blacks and Jews. Also unfit to be President, not based on his character or ability, but based on his ideology.

      When Cruz failed to secure the nomination I put my support behind the only candidate left to keep HRC out of the White House. I don’t consider myself a deplorable, stupid, or foolish because I wanted Trump to beat HRC. As character goes the two were on par with each other so it was a wash. She and the others in her party are power mad. It is obvious that Trump was the only thing that stood in the way of her desire to become a permanent member of the global ruling elite that includes the glitterati of Davos as well as Putin and XI along with their sycophant oligarchs.

      Check back: this was the reason why I decided not to vote for either of them. But deciding that Trump is the lesser danger—which is what you did— is not the equivalent of actively wanting someone like him to be President. That’s ignorant and deplorable.

      • In summary: The President of the united States can be a horrible human being, but he must not appear to be a horrible human being. The latter makes him unfit, because the President represents the country, the government and the national culture here and abroad, and having a horrible human being symbolize those things is disastrous—and has been disastrous, regardless of what policies worked out well.

        • “The President of the united States can be a horrible human being, but he must not appear to be a horrible human being. The latter makes him unfit, because the President represents the country, the government and the national culture here and abroad, and having a horrible human being symbolize those things is disastrous—and has been disastrous, regardless of what policies worked out well.”

          You do realize that the media controls the narrative. They can amplify the negative or bury it. They can make the unholy look beneficent. Based on the media reports Joe Biden is a capable, sincere everyman who only wants to unify the country. You would think that since January 20, 2021 his administration created the vaccine and rolled it out and brought us out of Trump’s depression. The media no longer carries the Covid Death Monitor on their chyrons, nor does the Washington Post keep the lie tally board running.

          Joe Biden is in fact a lying bastard who takes credit for others work and smears those he does not like. In his 40 years in the Senate he has little to show in terms of results other that throwing money around. If appearances are so important why don’t we simply let the media moguls pick our president who they will portray as the great symbol of America. Who cares if he he will sell out America’s future and its Constitution to satisfy Chinese or Iranian demands. All that matters is that he make the US look good in the eyes of the world. I however cannot afford to continue buying the hearts and minds of other leaders who play us as fools.

          Trump was never portrayed as a horrible human being until he ran for office. Democrats courted his donations, HRC invited him to Chelsea’s wedding, People rolled out the red carpet for him. When they decided to smear him to ensure HRC would win only then was he cast as a deplorable human being. I bet if the media put their mind to it they could twist everything anyone stands for and make them appear as a horrible human being; including you. The question remains will we allow them to drive us like sheep to their Marxist utopia where they will live in high comfort as they keep the hoi-polloi at odds with each other.

          Trump’s Achilles heel was that he he took the denigration personally which allowed his adversaries to bait him. This is why I could never run for public office. It is a fault I recognize in myself. Many a pundit have stated the he just shook off the slings and arrows and stood up to the onslaught like no other could. They were wrong because he responded to the attacks. I believe that a sense of self doubt pushed him to feel he needed to defend himself daily. Sociopathic narcissists do not care what others say they just carry on doing what they do. Bullies tend to figure out a weakness and then exploit it. Had the media treated him fairly he might have just risen to the challenge without the tweets. Neither of us know for sure. I acknowledged hindsight bias in my original post. Nonetheless, my fears that our Constitutional Republic would be in jeopardy under under an HRC administration is now being realized now under the Biden regime.

          • “Trump was never portrayed as a horrible human being until he ran for office.”

            Chris. Seriously. Of course he was, because he IS and has always been a horrible human being. I wrote about that more than a decade ago. The news media briefly ignored the fact when he was running, because it thought he was entertaining. But Trump’s corrupt character was never in doubt.

  3. Jack,

    I’m just curious. Would you be interested in writing a biography of Trump? Even if it were contained to just the White House years, I would think you have ample material from Ethics Alarms for a strong backbone to the book.

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