Politicians are a breed of their own. Nothing seems to be sacrosanct when pursuing a certain objective and consistency is an alien world to them. To be manipulated at will, to suit a given opportunity or an expediency not to be missed.
Donald Trump insisted last Friday that at heart he is a ‘big thinker’ saying there might be ‘two Donald Trump’s – a brash public persona and a private individual who spends his hours outside the spotlight deep in contemplation.’ One is inclined to disbelief as a first impression but with a character like his of multiple colours perhaps an understatement would be a more accurate description of a man who changes track so often as to make his credibility more suspect than ever.
The Republican front runner made the comment as he received the endorsement from his former rival Ben Carson, amid efforts to project a more thoughtful presidential air. The smiles and compliments exchanged by Mr Trump and Dr Carson, a retired neuro surgeon turned populist politician, stood in stark contrast to their interactions as they battled for the lead in the Republican race.
In November, after Dr Carson had surged to first place in Iowa, Mr Trump called him a pathological liar and compared him to a paedophile. Yet a complete change of attitude took place last Friday when, at a press conference in Florida, Mr Trump heaped praise on Dr Carson calling him ‘a great guy who had been an unbelievable candidate.’ Dr Carson, who dropped out of the race a week earlier, said in turn that he and the property magnet had ‘buried the hatchet’ calling the attacks ‘political stuff’ that both man had moved past. ‘First of all, I’ve come to know Donald Trump over the past few years. He’s actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America,’ he said. ‘There are two different Donald Trumps. There is one you see on the stage and there is one who’s very cerebral. Sits there and considers things very carefully.’
It was certainly a more thoughtful, subdued Mr Trump who took the stage for the recent Republican debate. Like a well-trained actor, he declined opportunities to engage directly with his rivals, speaking in a near whisper at times and offering platitudes like: ‘We’re all in this together.’ Midway through the contest, when there had been no punches thrown, the property mogul put into words what many were thinking: ‘I can’t believe how civil it’s been in here!’
Controversy has continued to pursue Mr Trump despite his new found tranquillity.
His campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, was accused of assault last week by a reporter who filed a criminal complaint. Meanwhile, a senior security official from Dubai said that a Trump presidency would lead to ‘a clash of civilizations of the kind sought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.’
Mr Trump, however, seemed relaxed at the event in Florida, attributing his own change of attitude to an emphasis on his other, less confrontational side. ‘I think there are two Donald Trumps. There’s the public person and people see that and I don’t know what they see exactly but it seems to have worked over my lifetime, but it’s probably different from the personal Donald Trump,’ he said. ‘Certainly you have all of this and you have somebody else that sits and reads and thinks and I am a thinker.’
In either a sudden reversal or a confirmation of his split personality, Mr Trump changed course moments later. ‘I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps,’ he said.
Whatever one thinks of him, Trump has perfected in a short space of time a political masquerading that will probably land him in the White House, to the consternation of those who mocked his candidacy in the first instance.
God Bless America, the land of opportunity when even a lunatic could aspire and become the tenure of the highest office in the land. Perhaps then his victory will demonstrate to the nation that hypocritical democracy is ultimately the enemy of the cause.