Oh, what might have been.
Donald J. Trump, you should not have been a contender. You had money, fame and an adoring family. You had businesses, from high-end real estate to vineyards to marbled steaks. Man, you were at the top of the world.
You might have lived out your career playing golf, making deals and hobnobbing with other rich and famous folks. You were welcome in the best places by the best people who use the best words. You had a wife who wants everyone to be best. Your path ahead was unimpeded. You had fixers and staffs of experts waiting to do your bidding.
Unfortunately, you also had hubris, avarice and a great black hole where your moral center might have been. You had people in your circle who not only bent the rules on your behalf but also showed great initiative in flouting any law that got in the way of serving your interests.
Most of them probably wish they never joined your circus. Michael Flynn, your former national security adviser, was a U.S. Army lieutenant general. He was an upright, uptight fighting son-of-a-gun. He led efforts against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. He led counterterrorism forces, for heaven’s sake. He might have had a rewarding life ahead, but he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about ties with the Russians. Would that have happened if he hadn’t fallen in with you, Mr. President?
Paul Manafort probably didn’t need much help in figuring out how to circumvent and otherwise ignore federal laws and regulations that got in the way of his dicey international monkey business. He had a circus of his own, and it might have continued successfully if he hadn’t agreed to chair your campaign for president. Suddenly, in the spotlight, the seamy side of his enterprises was exposed. The poor guy was a lobbyist; he might have gone on for years allegedly laundering money and evading taxes if he hadn’t partnered up with you, Mr. President. Now he’s in the clink.
So many crimes; so much to regret. How the indicted and the felons must wish for a holiday miracle, a way to undo the deeds that have led to prison instead of the riches and power they imagined.
Last week’s lost soul was Michael Cohen, who spoke in open court about his regret and his own weakness in following your orders. A successful lawyer, he might have been shading the truth in his business dealings, but again, who would have known if he hadn’t become your guy, your advocate and your friend? The day Cohen agreed to work with you was a bad day for him and for his family.
The Trump bump has landed Cohen and many others in jail.
Which brings me to your children, Mr. President. Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and Don Jr., in particular, slid into the West Wing with a sense of entitlement. They took jobs for which they had no preparation, experience or talent. They assumed vast power and influence that were disproportionate to their skills. They may have played fast and loose with the truth and the law; that will be determined by ongoing investigations.
How do you feel about that, sir? Aren’t your well-educated, privileged children too close for comfort to those who are already in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sights? Wouldn’t they have been better off building their successful businesses and living their lives outside the chaotic Trump White House?
While you taught them the merits of aggressive, take-no-prisoners business dealings, they apparently never learned that integrity and honor and humility must be brought to successful government service.
Would any one of them, or any one of your former associates, given the chance, step into the center ring with you again? They had lives and families and futures, and now, because they worked with you and for you, they are felons or suspects.
For an empathic human being, this pileup of broken lives might stir some feelings of regret, some new resolve. For you, I’m guessing, it’s nothing more than the cost of doing business.
Copyright 2018 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.