50th Day of the Gilbert and Sullivan Comic Opera ‘Anime,’ playing in Washington DC
“Today, China has stood up.” Mao tse Tung – October 1, 1949
– China will make the Chinese great-
“Today, I have stood up.” Donald Trump – January 20, 2016
-I will make Americans great-
Barack Obama, serving as President of the United States, was a class act, one who was difficult to emulate. He, an aesthete (successor, vulgarian Donald Trump, went on the campaign trail boasting that his primary hobby was to “hug pussies”), was a Professor of Law at Harvard, a scintillating prose stylist shorn of deadening language, his writing skills being revealed in his two books “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” A Nobel Prize winner, he was a persuasive public speaker and a master policy formulator. An attempt to succeed him as President would be like trying to succeed a Mandela or a Chou en Lai. Donald Trump did become the U.S. President but could he sustain it? On the day of his inauguration, he promised that his first act, which he would implement that day itself, would be to repeal Obamacare. Fifty days has lapsed and Trump admitted lamely that Obamacare was “incredibly complex,” which meant that when Trump gave his undertaking, he had not read systematically through its provisions. Trump, to be a lame duck from day one? The jury is out.
Health is a major activity in the US, covering 20% of her economy. In Sri Lanka, a patient needing healthcare would go to a government hospital to be attended without payment. In the U.S., no hospital would admit a patient without prior assurance of payment. If the patient has no funds, it was his or her hard luck. A U.S. citizen or his family suffers or dies if he/she cannot fork out the enormous funds required to deal with that condition. Obamacare was an entrepreneurial system by which insurance companies were brought into the equation. It is unlikely that the fundamentals of Obamacare will be repealed: such a repeal would make 10 million U.S. citizens not great but sick again. Repeal of Obamacare would be a luddite act, like, if Edison’s electric bulb were prevented from production because it would make candle-makers go bankrupt. But the repeal of Obamacare was a No. 1 priority of the government. There will be a substantial downside for government if it does not repeal it.
Though the U.S. has less than 4% of the world’s population, she generates 25% of world GDP, making her the unchallenged economic hegemon of the world. The dimensions of her war budget are disturbing. In the region of US$ 650 billion and increasing, it exceeds the war budgets of the next eight countries. Nero – the Roman Emperor- delighted himself playing the fiddle while Rome was burning (there is a body of established historical opinion that it was he who was the arsonist). In the dominance of homo sapiens which started 70,000 years ago, there had emerged a number of empires – Mesopotamia (the land where Abraham roamed), the Incas, the Aztecs, the Roman, the Alexandrian, the Ptolemaic, the Islamist, the Mauryan, the Mongols. In none of them could the emergence of madmen like Idi Amin or a Pol Pot, enable the ruler to destroy the whole world in one stroke, as a U.S. President is enabled now to do, if he playfully felt so inclined. This is not a fantasist’s view. George Bush destroyed Iraq (the former land of Mesopotamia) claiming that she had weapons of mass destruction when she did not: the real reason for Bush to do so was his personal dislike of Saddam Hussein. Hillary Clinton, the then U.S. Secretary of State, gloated over the sodomising murder of Gaddafi and the destruction of the welfare State of Libya, exclaiming, “we came, we saw, we killed Gaddafi. Wow!”The execution of unresisting Osama bin Laden was conveyed in real-time from Abbottsville, Pakistan, to a salivating U.S. Cabinet. Despite feminine delicacy normally precluding a woman from being an eyewitness to such executions, Hillary Clinton – like Madame Defarge perched at the foot of French Revolution’s guillotine – was a drooling onlooker of Osama bin Laden’s murder, though this tricoteuse was not knitting (A photograph of the scene went viral on the internet). One of the few positives for Trump could be that he prevented a corrupt (Whitewater and a close collaborator with Wall Street) Hillary Clinton, from becoming the U.S. President. Hillary would have shed more human blood than even Attila the Hun ever did.
On 10.02.2016, Nayomini Weerasooriya (email@example.com) – a senior journalist, writer and PR professional- wrote an Op-Ed in the Daily Mirror raising the question; “As entrepreneurs, what lessons can we learn from President Trump?” ( She assumes that Trump was an entrepreneur though he suffered five bankruptcies). She claimed that the election of Trump “showed the will of the people and the silent majority had spoken.” The silent majority? Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by 2.5 million votes. Trump owed his appointment as President to a Constitutional quirk: the President of the U.S. is not elected by direct vote but in a two-stage process. After the direct vote, an electoral college is appointed which is expected to represent electoral proportions but, on occasion, does not: earlier, George Bush beat Al Gore despite receiving a lesser number of votes.
A true indication of Trump’s popularity is shown in the events of next day. Normally, after an election defeat, the supporters of the losing candidate repair to their homes to lick their wounds (in Sri Lanka, to safeguard their houses). In the case of Trump, a larger number than those who were at the inauguration, gathered the next day and protested vigorously. Trump, in true third world politician fashion, blamed the press, claiming it had understated the inauguration turnout (by 500,000) and overstated the size of the next day’s leaden – eyed protests. Like a third world dictator, he called the “press an enemy of the people,” a true sign of an emerging dictator, as John McCain (a Republican nominee for an earlier presidential election) pointed out. Nayomini’s assertion that Trump represented the majority, silent or otherwise, is unsupportable.
Nayomini explains that, “her focus is to draw out lessons from Trump, for he has many lessons to teach the rest of the world.” She lists a number. The first is that Trump had kept his word. Politicians, as they try to implement rash promises made in the heat of an election campaign, take steps which appear not the wisest. Within one week of assuming duties, Trump issued an Executive Order banning Muslims from seven selected countries entering the U.S. This was the implementation of an election promise. This order created a furore. The judicial system turned it down, showing Trump to be a bigoted dumbo, hardly offering a lesson which entrepreneurs, businessmen and women could absorb.
Similarly, in Sri Lanka, the newly-elected Prime Minister of 1956, implemented an election promise to make Sinhala the sole official language within 24 hours. The consequences were devastating. Sri Lanka took over half a century to recover from this decision. Election undertakings are like lover’s promises, offered to seduce and gain an objective. Once that objective is achieved, the promise is abandoned, if there is no further advantage in its pursuit. Wisdom does not necessarily emerge from the romantic. Once in office, reality checks stream into place, deterring starry-eyed implementation of grandiose election promises. Nayomini may consider such reneging a letdown. But then, Nayomini is a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional. What do they of politics know, those who of politics have no elective experience, substituting its lack through books and gossip. It is an ersatz knowledge.
The second lesson Nayomini claims Trump could teach is that “Trump had gone to work from day one.” How Nayomini knows this is not revealed. Of course, Trumps’ residence and office are next to each other: both are in the White House. Where else would Trump go after breakfast than to his office next door? Or, perhaps, the lesson that Nayomini wishes be spread to her readers, businessmen and entrepreneurs is that that they should build their residences next to their offices. Does Nayomini think that after arduous years on the campaign trail, Trump is going to take his ease after his election victory? Nayomini seems to be caught in a catch 22 situation, of being mesmerised by her own unbalanced stereotypes of a politician.
The third lesson which Trump could teach is unbelievable. She writes, “Trump has got his team in place!”. The White House is in total disarray. Within a week of inauguration he sacked his newly-appointed acting Attorney General for refusing to defend an Executive Order which the judiciary subsequently held to be illegal. Within a fortnight, Trump’s nominee as Cabinet Minister for Labour resigned. Within these two weeks, Trumps’ appointee as the head of National Security Council (NSC) resigned: it turned out that he was an agent of a foreign government. (The NSC is a prestigious, powerful and secretive institution. Henry Kissinger was head of the NSC before he was promoted Secretary of State, as were Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice). Trump’s nominee, as successor to the one who resigned, turned down the invitation. In the next week, in separate decisions, the secretaries of the Army and the Navy resigned. No one, it seems, wants anything to do with Trump.
The White House, loaded with relatives, is in a shambles, each one at each other’s throats. It mimics an act in Verdi’s opera Un Ballo in Maschera, where, it is not clear who is on whose side, as each circled one another cautiously and with fixed smiles, daggers at the ready for offence or defence. Never in the history of U.S. Cabinet making have so many top officials left their posts in such a short period of a month after Presidential inauguration and in such numbers. Nayomini, without a trace of irony, writes; “Trump has built a team which can assist him ably in his work.”
Nayomini concludes that “the fact Donald Trump was a successful businessman should not be lost on any entrepreneur.” Was he all that successful? Five of his enterprises went bankrupt. Being a businessman need not necessarily make an individual an entrepreneur. If so, every second hand car dealer in Sri Lanka would be an entrepreneur. What were Trump’s lines of business? They were casinos (he is big in Las Vegas), Golf Clubs, brokering land deals and participating in T.V. reality shows. Would Nayomini consider marriage brokers in Sri Lanka as entrepreneurs? The Trump University, which set out to teach land deal management went bankrupt, not because the idea was bad but because of incompetent management. He had to buy out irate students who filed a class action claiming damages.
It is important to distinguish a businessman from an entrepreneur.Trump is no entrepreneur but a businessman.
Trump, like Woodrow Wilson in 1914, succeeded to U.S. Presidency to reshape the world. One of the innovative measures of Woodrow Wilson was the creation of the League of Nations. It had its shortcomings and eventually failed. If it had continued, it could be argued that WWII would not have occurred. Trump, not having a sense history, wishes to disengage himself from the United Nations, the creation of the post-WWII consensus. This would be a disaster and strongly to be condemned. The emergence of the human species, about 70,000 years, led to its evolution through natural selection, so that it has been able to occupy every evolutionary niche and dominate it. But its dominance has led to its anti-theses of possible worldwide destruction. Whether Trump could accept the challenge or even understand the nature of it, is a challenge.