Things are rarely what they seem, and it’s particularly odd how sometimes the least admirable of people can be agents for change for the better.
Remember US President Nixon? One of the most corrupt and dishonest of people, he deliberately prolonged the war in Viet-Nam in order to increase his chances of getting into office. He arranged for the offices of the Democratic Party to be burgled, and tried to lie and bribe his way out of the resulting mayhem. And his egotism was such that he recorded his own conversations, and was ultimately convicted on the evidence of the tapes.
But who brought about the rapprochement with China, ending what could have been as serious a cold war as the one with the USSR? President Nixon.
Take President Reagan. A Hollywood actor (with a wife who believed in astrology) who became US President. Who condemned the USSR as the ‘Evil Empire’ but then made a deal with them in which both countries agreed to start reducing the stocks of nuclear weapons.
And now there is a new US President. A phenomenally wealthy business person — specialising in casinos of all things — several of whose businesses have gone bankrupt. Who can espouse twenty mutually contradictory policies before breakfast but who appears to believe none of them for more than ten minutes. A notorious bully who uses his wealth to ride roughshod over the interests of ordinary people like the residents of the land adjoining his new golf course in Scotland. Who has no previous experience of politics and no noticeable understanding of foreign affairs.
Disaster? It should be. But who is advocating stimulating the economy by combining tax cuts with government spending? (See here if you don’t already know why this is a good idea.) Who wants to find ways to co-operate with Russia rather than stumbling headlong into a third world war? Who wants to get rid of ‘obsolete’ NATO? Er, this same new President, one Donald J. Trump.
Of course, the fact that he says he’s going to do these things doesn’t mean he is actually going to do them, any more than the fact that he said he will build a wall between the US and Mexico at Mexico’s expense means he will actually do so. Likewise his claim that he will abolish Obamacare. Or his stated support for women’s right to abortion, which is roughly balanced by his stated opposition to it. Or his assertion that Hilary Clinton should be prosecuted and imprisoned (last week), or that the US owes her a ‘debt of gratitude’ (this week).
Who knows what Donald J. Trump will do? I don’t. Neither, I strongly suspect, does Donald J. Trump. The chances are that he will do whatever seems to work. And it is just possible that that might be a Good Thing.