The life of a politician’s kid can only be weird, and I say this as someone whose locker at Yorkville High School was three down from Ethan Hastert’s. In most lines of work, it would be bizarre for a child to show up and tell her dad’s professional contacts how great he is. When Ivanka does it, people get so crazy cheering that they don’t even notice when she’s recycling statist talking points.
We saw the same from Chelsea in Philadelphia (at which point the statism made more sense), because the endorsement of the political kid is, for whatever reason, something we’ve decided to like. But Chelsea has her work cut out for her. She’s just one-woman kid against the Trump kid machine, which is hardly a fair fight in numerical terms.
At the Republican convention, Tiffany’s filial devotion glowed as beautifully as her complexion. Eric filled the everyday downtrodden with good rhetoric and sent career politicians empty away. Donald Jr. intrigued us with his father’s Dagny Taggart-like ability to sniff out a philosopher king on the basis of a hamburger sandwich. Ivanka proved her own construction skills as she erected in listeners’ minds the image of Trump the Builder. After all that was Barron—Barron!—still there to be nocked when the time is right. If Trump is trying to improve his standing with evangelicals, there’s some comedy value in his full quiver.
Money Makes the Family Go Round?
One unspoken rule of American culture is that parents are not necessarily to be blamed when kids act bad, but parents always get credit when kids turn out good. The accomplished, well-spoken, and nice-looking Trump children are an easy way for Trump to score points with the moms and pops of America (and for running mate Mike Pence to score points by pointing out). Say what you will about Trump as robber baron, bully, and blight; dangit, his kids have turned out great, and they all like him.
Well, I’d like him too if he recognized the philosopher king in me and made me a shareholder for life. If anything could go pretty far toward helping two exes, a current wife, and all their progeny get along, it might be worlds of money. How hard can it be for Trump to keep his people happy, right? Maybe we should ask the Orkins.
In truth, lot of Ivanka’s stuff about building was kind of convincing: “Competence in the building trades is easy to spot, and incompetence is impossible to hide.” If there’s anything harder to build than golf courses and luxury hotels, it’s a family of people who genuinely are okay and get along.
Trump isn’t the only guy who has learned that one way to fill a quiver is to marry several women, each of whom would like at least one little arrow of her own. Trump as Quiverfiller is probably not his best route to evangelical acceptance. Trump as Decent Dad, against significant internal odds, has more apparent truth and wider appeal anyway.
Moreover, if we want a hero of personal morality as president, Jimmy Carter still has a term coming (somebody call Amy). But if we want a shrewd manager, the way is clear. What’s less clear is to what extent Trump would be managing shrewdly for us. That’s the risk we take every time we elect someone who is totally going to protect our interests, man.
Get Us Into the White House and You’re the Best Dad Ever
You know what might be a good idea, though, is “a president who has real people’s families and livelihoods dependent on his success and the success of his company for decades.” Sure, Donald Jr. would say that, plus a bunch of other stuff anybody could read on a World’s Best Dad mug. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior have been the children born in Trump’s youth (and not so youth), but did I hear someone say Nock?
It is a primary instinct of human nature to satisfy one’s needs and desires with the least possible exertion; everyone tends by instinctive preference to use the political means rather than the economic means, if he can do so . . . . Every manufacturer would like this privilege of robbery if he could get it, and he takes steps to get it if he can, thus illustrating the powerful instinctive tendency to climb out of the exploited class, which lives by the economic means (exploited, because the cost of this privilege must finally come out of production, there being nowhere else for it to come from), and into the class which lives, wholly or partially, by the political means.
No one should be surprised by Trump. As an enormous manufacturer by economic means, his interest in political power is the most predictable thing that could have happened.
But there are also these big words from Eric: “To whom much is given, much will be required. This is the very belief that compelled my father to make this great sacrifice, to run for the most powerful yet unforgiving office in the world.” Who knows? When a guy as big as Trump needs to take over a yuge government so he can run his own business better, it’s possible that a proven builder and employer could be good for everybody, whatever his own motive. With his 1,000,000 sesterces well in hand, we know Trump can’t be bought. Whether that seems good or bad depends upon who one is.
Gorgeous, eloquent, devoted children notwithstanding: Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Trump has built his personal house on a foundation only he knows, and from the outside it appears to have some spots that are profoundly iffy. What this could be said to mean for his building practice in general will keep us all fighting with our own families for the next few months.
The nature of the Trump family foundation will be shown when the rains come down and the floods come up. But as long as it is our lot to trust mortal princes as our builders-in-chief, it couldn’t hurt to keep our yachts in good repair.