He does his best to look like one of the few men he admires as much as himself. Chin stuck forward, bottom lip pouted, a look of what he hopes signifies toughness on his otherwise carefully coiffed head.
Taken all round it is a reasonable imitation by United States President Donald Trump of Sir Winston Churchill, the great orator and WW2 Prime Minister of Great Britain. But any likeness of what he appears convinced is his Churchillian “bulldog look” disappears the moment President Trump opens his mouth.
President Trump speaks often of his ambition to “make America great again.” He talks a lot in the first person, “I” being the most important word in whatever message he delivers, whether it is building a wall to match the historic one in China, halting immigration to the USA until he can be sure no bad people are sneaking in, or blustering about the military power he now commands and is prepared to use if he feels any other nation even appears to threaten.
He has openly boasted about being a Churchill admirer. In his White House Oval Office, newly decorated with Trump-gold curtains and other royal touches, a bust of Sir Winston stands in clear view from the President’s desk. It has so far failed to remind President Trump that Churchill rarely if ever used “I” in public speeches. One of those rare moments was during the darkest moments of the Second World War when the fate of Britain hung by the most slender threads and all seemed lost.
It was in May 1940, with the people of Great Britain confused, frightened, and wondering if their government was about to be conquered by Hitler’s Germany, that Churchill became Prime Minister. That day he said to one of his military leaders: “Poor people, poor people. They trust me and I can give them nothing but disaster for a long time.” It was a statement he later refined and used in a speech to Parliament and later the same evening in a broadcast to his people and the world.
No “trust me I’m going to make Britain great again,” but words which inspired a nation and can still stir the soul of those of us who heard them spoken via radio for the first time so long ago: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” but that was it for “I’s”. “We” replaced “I” and became the norm for Churchill, as it should be for any national leader desiring to rally an unsure nation to a worthy cause: “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of sufferings.”
A matter of weeks later the German army swept through France and stood poised to invade England. Churchill, as the figurehead, knew only the nation, not he himself, could bring salvation: “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Readers will find most of Churchill’s speeches on YouTube with photographs President Trump’s make-up people and acting coaches must have studied while creating his bulldog look – a look unfortunately not supported by intelligence or understanding of his role as leader of a great but troubled nation in uncertain times.
President Trump says he has great admiration for Churchill. Based on so many of his recent dubious pronouncements it is impossible to say how truthful or sincere that claim may be. But I think it can be safely said that his Churchillian ambition is but a chimera – a thing hoped or wished for but which in fact is illusory and impossible for a man with narcissistic tendencies to achieve.
An interesting word – narcissism – with its simple definition “too much interest in and admiration for your own physical appearance and/or your own abilities….a person who is overly self-involved and often vain and selfish.”
An imitation bulldog look won’t change it.