I think Donald Trump is shit. Not the shit. Just shit. Just a shitty, narcissistic, arrogant, shit of a person whom I can’t help but admire.
Donald Trump calls climate change a Chinese hoax, he promises to build a wall that will keep out Mexico, and he takes every opportunity to remind the public that he’s rich.
“I’m really rich.”
“Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.”
“I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.”
He looks like a cantaloupe that’s been spray-painted orange and left in the sun for a week. He calls his competitors losers, morons, dummies, haters, and clowns. Who talks like that? What grown man talks like that? Only Trump. Only Donald Trump.
Sometimes it seems like he says whatever he wants, and by pure willpower, pure confidence, he convinces other people to like it. Not to just go along with it, but to genuinely, I’ll-vote-for-this-guy like it.
On Twitter: “#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”
In conversation: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
On Twitter, again: “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure. It’s not your fault.”
I disagree with almost every stance Donald Trump takes, political or otherwise, and the idea of President Trump terrifies me. But the guy is good at what he does. He’s amazing at what he does.
Donald Trump does confidence.
* * *
I asked my brother once what his favorite sound was.
“An expert talking about his or her field,” he said, and it stuck with me, because I realized I appreciated it, too.
When I turn on NPR and hear two policy analysts discussing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, it’s soothing in a way that I don’t really understand. Maybe it’s knowing that someone understands those things, even if I can barely keep up with a dumbed-down five-minute interview. Maybe it’s seeing the depth of things, that the world keeps expanding the farther I explore in any direction, that as deep as anyone studies, they’ll never reach bottom. Maybe it’s just watching someone do something better than anyone else.
It’s why when I watch movies, I want to see perfect actors. When I watch football, I want to see flawless quarterbacks. The funniest people, the most beautiful people, the most talented people. Some of it might be appreciating beauty. Michael Jackson made some great music, after all. Robin Williams played some terrific roles. But when they died, they stopped accomplishing. Their old art stays around, and I can still listen to Off the Wall and watch Aladdin, but I’m sad for another reason. I wanted to keep rooting for them. I wanted champions.
Part of me always roots for the incumbent, the reigning title-holder. Genghis Khan murdered and raped a lot of people, but there’s a tiny cheerleader side of me that wishes he had kept on conquering. Kept setting new records—terrible records—but extravagant ones. I image Bill Gates’ net worth if he hoarded his money. The albums if Kurt Cobain hadn’t died, or the legacy if the Zodiac Killer had kept killing. The morality of it doesn’t matter, not to this side of me. This side only cares about significance. It only cares about the legacy of superhuman lives, the presence of impossible-yet-living myths. I want bigger trophies, bigger mansions, bigger empires.
Maybe part of the reason I like hearing policy analysts on NPR comes from my own frustration. My own inadequacy. I don’t know about Saudi Arabia. I’m not rich, either. I don’t lead an empire. I don’t have Kurt Cobain’s talent or Robin Williams’ fame or Donald Trump’s confidence. I’m just another guy. Another unexceptional guy. Every morning I shower with second-guesses. I brush my teeth with self-doubt. Half of my personality comes from insecurity. Maybe more. I’m not sure.
Other people are better. Other people accomplish things. Some other people even live the things I dream about, and I like watching them. Not always in approval, or in support, or in an I’ll-vote-for-this-guy way, but in admiration. The respect and enjoyment parts of admiration.
But those living myths stop. Kurt Cobain, Genghis Kahn, Bill Gates. Good or evil, they always, always stop. No one gets as great as that side of me wants them to get. No one stays even semi-great for more than a few decades, no empire for more than a few centuries. Fortunes dry up. Dynasties collapse. Age ends everything. It’s all too limited, and I hate it. I hate it.
And that’s when I start to think about God.