Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair
Although it gives me no pleasure to report this, while growing up in the shady suburban confines of Southern California, in the Sixties, I probably knew half a dozen guys who—other than being middle or lower middle-class rather wealthy, and shorter rather than taller—were otherwise exactly like President Trump.
I’m also certain that I never met anyone quite as polished as Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. In truth, I have difficulty imagining any of these grown men as teenagers whom I would have hung around with (or who would’ve hung around with me).
Richard Nixon as a 14-year old wearing a dark blue suit? Please. These men were self-confident, ambitious, outgoing, and articulate. Even George W. Bush could likely be impressive under the right circumstances, and I say that as a lifelong Democrat. But Trump reminds us of guys we all knew…and not in a good way.
And I don’t consider myself exceptional in this regard. Indeed, I will go out on a limb and say that most American men, after considering these traits in the context I present, would admit to the same thing. We’ve all known guys like him. And it’s no coincidence that they are almost always guys. Men. For whatever reasons, you rarely find women displaying these character traits.
So what is this context we refer to? What specific masculine traits are we talking about here? Specifically, there are four: (1) bullying, (2) bragging, (3) alibiing, and (4) displaying a level of insecurity and neediness that goes beyond what anyone thought possible.
One could make the case that these four elements not only conspicuously reside in Donald Trump, but that they go a long way toward defining him. All of which, using syllogistic logic, combine to render this man considerably more “common” than “uncommon.” To those voters who long for a political leader who isn’t “elite,” but is one who represents the “common folk,” you’ve got your wish, baby. He’s as common as dirt.
We had a neighbor kid, Ricky, to whom my mother comically assigned the well-traveled nickname, “Alibi Ike.” Ricky literally had an excuse for everything—not only for things that he did or didn’t do, and for things that his family did or didn’t do, but even for his dog’s behavior.
He said they didn’t own a color TV because they didn’t want one; they were glad their dog ran away because he “needed to”; Ricky could easily get A’s, but C’s were better because he didn’t want to look like a “teacher’s pet”; his house had a foul odor because him mom liked to cook cabbage; he wouldn’t go out for the team because “sports were boring.” Etc.). His alibis were so numerous, they were actually funny rather than offensive. My parents found young Ricky endearing, and naturally assumed he would outgrow it.
After leaving the neighborhood, going off to college, and entering the forbidding realm of “responsible adulthood,” I never dreamed I would ever come across another person more pathetically insecure and “uncentered” than Ricky. It goes without saying that the last place I’d expect to find so desperately needy a person was in the White House.
Unlike women, men tend to brag incessantly about past deeds, even (and especially) the fictitious ones. They’ll brag about how many women they’ve bedded, about how good they were in high school sports, about how well they did academically, and after being hired someplace, they’ll brag/fib about how much money they make. To their credit, women tend not to do that.
But Trump lies about all those things.
It’s pitiful, actually.