A White House Named Desire

Ironically, Donald Trump’s passion is not for power, which would seem the reason for his wanting to be president. Nor is it for sex, which would seem the appetite for which he once sought to be best known. Rather it is for money. Trump’s insatiable appetite, his unquenchable thirst, his relentless drive is for money, and more money. No amount of money in the world will ever, can ever, satisfy him.

To his credit, he is not without insight. He once described himself, before becoming president, as “greedy, greedy, greedy.” The remarkable thing is that after becoming president he remains the same. Greed – increasing his and his family’s already enormous personal wealth – remains his driving force.

On one level this comes as no surprise. Why should a man, especially perhaps a man of a certain age, change when he comes to Washington? Change just because he went, overnight, from being a carnival barker and real estate developer to being chief executive? We know, or we should, that in matters of character, past is prologue. If we thought once Trump became president he would morph into someone different from what he was lifelong, we were fools.

But, on another level, his inability to change even a little bit, to adopt even a smidgen the standards associated with the presidential office, never fails to shock. Never fails to discourage and dismay.

Trump ran for president without thinking he would win. He ran not because he wanted to acquire more power, but because he wanted to accrue more money. He viewed the presidential campaign as a means to an end. The end in his case being not the White House, but the greater gain associated with greater fame.

Small wonder that when Trump became president his quest for cash continued rather than ceased. Small wonder that he is being sued by Maryland and the District of Columbia, which charged that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which is intended to “prevent the least possibility of undue influence and corruption being exerted upon the President by foreign governments.” It is intended to hold a president like Trump accountable for maintaining ownership of his far-flung business operations, and for continuing to reap the benefits, foreign and domestic, that are in consequence of his presidency.

Yesterday Trump responded to a question about the near certain murder of Saudi journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi not with outrage but with appeasement. He described the relationship between Saudi Arabia – a country to which he has always, for mercenary reasons, been inordinately well-disposed – and the U. S. as “excellent.” And he responded to questions about Khashoggi by asserting that he would not support halting the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia because of the “massive amounts of money” the Saudi’s “pour” into our country and, he might have added, into his, and his son-in-law’s, personal coffers. In other words, even the gruesome assassination of a well-known, highly respected, Washington-based journalist did not stop Trump from seeing everyone and everything through the prism of cold cash. It bespeaks his cold heart – and his chronic obsession with being richer than God.


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