Far too much of our national time, treasure and talent is wasted hating President Donald Trump. The current message of the once-great Democratic Party seems to have eroded downward to, “We hate Trump and we sincerely believe you ought to hate him, too!”
An idea visited me last night. It’s the kind of idea that, if you still like it by dawn’s early light, you should run with it. The fragrance of this idea surrounds a slice of history I used a few columns ago. You may remember the one about Napoleon visiting his enemy prisoners after an epic battle somewhere. He noticed that one of the prisoners seemed hopelessly depressed by his plight. “Cheer up, Mon Ami,” consoled Napoleon. “It’s no disgrace to be beaten by my army!”
The core of this idea takes us to the center of the Japanese government in August 1945, after two American atomic bombs had devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world automatically assumed, and does to this day, that once the Japanese felt the overwhelming might of this new and horrible weapon, they simply did the logical and human thing and surrendered. Wrong!
There was little we would call logical or human about the Japanese surrender. We were by then quite familiar with the Japanese insistence on fighting for the emperor to the bitter end. There was formidable resistance to surrender even after the dropping of the two nuclear weapons. What, then, enabled the pro-surrender faction of the Japanese regime to prevail?
I’ll always be grateful to South African writer and intellectual Laurens van der Post for writing his memoirs as a Japanese prisoner throughout the war on the Dutch island of Java, now the main island of Indonesia. Van der Post reminds us that the notion of suicide-rather-than-surrender was the linchpin of the Japanese religion. Every Japanese was sworn to die fighting rather than give up. What changed in that early part of August 1945?
For the Japanese, it’s fair to say that everything changed – at least everything involving their obligation to fight to the end. The nuclear explosions were seen by the prevailing faction as much more than the visual signature of a new and awesome weapon. The nuclear explosions were seen as nothing less than the “flash from heaven” that said to every single Japanese: “You are hereby released from your duty to die for the emperor. You are released from that pledge because this is not just a new weapon. It is a new kind of weapon and one that changes the rules for all time.”
And Donald Trump is a new kind of person.
We’re familiar with the concept of a “prodigy.” Mozart was a musical prodigy. Bobby Fisher was a chess prodigy. Van Cliburn was a piano prodigy. And Donald Trump is a political prodigy. He’s admittedly no moral prodigy. Nor is he a “people person” in the Dale Carnegie mode. He is, however, most definitely a political prodigy! I feel awful watching Sen. Schumer stand there and try to best or even equal a Trump barrage. It’s cruel. High-school football teams play other high school teams. They don’t sacrifice themselves to the pros!
It’s absurd to let yourself get morose at all the unkind algebra here. Trump is to ordinary politicians what the atom bomb is to ordinary weapons. That’s why boxers and wrestlers fight in their own weight class. You can get hurt going up against an opponent who has muscles where you have just thin air. If you doubt you are “outweighed” by President Trump, just reflect for a moment on all Trump had to overcome to become the Republican nominee for president, and how much he’s accomplished despite all the destructive distractions arrayed against him by those who suppose they can bring him down through conventional means.
Republicans are right to fight complacency. The Democrats’ big hope is to win big in the mid-terms this November by “out-passioning” the GOP. They’re banking on the idea that without Trump on the ballot their dream of a passion-driven “giant blue wave” might materialize. I don’t think so. The Dems, with their message of blanket detestation of Trump and all his good works, are coming across like a 4 year old trying to move a fire hydrant.
Trump is limited to two terms. Why don’t the Dems get smart and try to contain Trump by cutting out the undisguised obstructionism, offering Trump occasional guarded congratulations and waiting it out?
Sorry. The Dems just can’t. They’re letting Donald Trump’s superiority in the political ring drive them to the point where they can’t think straight.
And they’re, therefore, self-sentenced to the fate of those who keep dropping honeysuckles down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo.