KING DAVID HE AIN’T
By Paul Merkley.
The New York Times notes that Donald Trump is the “ first standard-bearer of a party since D. D. Eisenhower, a five-star general and the commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WW II, who had not served in elected office.”
Donald Trump at this moment, like Eisenhower at this same pre-Convention moment in 1952, is the clear favorite of the majority of Republicans. Trump can now stop talking about things being fixed.
The Triumph of Incivility
There is likewise no denying that Donald Trump has won hearts and minds by encouraging us all to emulate his attitude towards his fellow-men. In explication and elaboration of this attitude he has given us an autobiographical work, published by Harpercollins with the proud title: Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life. The publisher’s promotion exclaims:
Trump is a living example of how thinking BIG and knowing when to back up your opinions aggressively—regardless of what your critics or opponents might say—can help you maximize your personal and professional achievements. In his first political campaign, Trump defeated his opponents by rallying voters nationwide to “Make America Great Again.” For the first time ever, you too can learn Trump’s secrets to thinking BIG and kicking ass!
During the primary season, Trump seemed at times to be inviting dismissal by everyone with an IQ larger than his shoe-size by boasting, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.” To put a finer point upon that insight: “As Kierkegaard said, ‘The truth is a trap.’ ” There with the left hand is the appeal for recognition as a deep-thinker— one who knows the magic of the name of Kierkegaard (whatever the hell a Kierkegaard is); and with the right hand, brutal dismissal of any need for intellectual endorsement.
Throughout the primary season, Trump displayed a cocky and abusive persona. He frequently crossed the line into Mussolini-Hitler territory by calling on his followers to ”smash the faces” of persons shouting out against him at his rallies. This has done irreversible damage to American public discourse.
One of the harshest judgments on the meaning of Donald Trump came early in the campaign from Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum. (“There’s a name for Donald Trump’s Brand of Politics: Neo-Fascism,” http://www.danielpipes.org/16606.)
Concerning the media, which he despises, Trump said, “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money” …. He encourages participants at his rallies physically to assault critics and has offered to cover their legal fees …. He called on followers to swear allegiance to him, evoking Hitlergruß-like salutes.
Well-regarded conservative intellectuals have been struggling to manage their shock and awe at Trump’s success without giving up altogether on democratic politics. Rich Lowry of the National Review says: “Donald Trump exists in a plane where there isn’t a Congress or a Constitution. There are no trade-offs or limits. There is only his will and his team of experts.” Michael Gerson of the Washington Post concurs: “His answer to nearly every problem is himself — his negotiating skill, his strength of purpose, his unique grasp of the national will.” There is the fascist touch.
There is no way on earth of reconciling Donald Trump’s philosophical bottom line –“Everything in life is luck” – with Christian theology – “Evangelical” or otherwise. Trump views himself bestriding mankind, above bourgeois morality. This is not a Christian viewpoint.
Yet there seems to be no limit to Trump’s genius for winning admiration from people who ought to know better. Writing in the National Review, David French, expresses astonishment at the sight of prominent “evangelical leaders” singing the praises of Donald Trump. For example, Jerry Falwell, jr., President of Liberty University, reflects that
God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer. . . . You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. (“Donald Trump Is No King David: It’s Time for Christians to Take a Stand,” National Review, March 14, 2016.)
Reading this will bring to the mind of any serious student of Scripture Second Samuel 12 —where the Prophet Nathan confronts David over his “sin” in the matter of Uriah the Hittite and his wife Bathsheba. And serious students will follow the marginal reference to “Psalm 51, where David cries out:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I acknowledge my trtansgression; and my sin is ever before me. (vv. 1-3.)
Donald Trump is tone-deaf here. The notion of contrition escapes him. His utterly shocking reply to the notion that a man like himself should feel less than triumph about sexual conquest can be found in the pages of Think Big and Kick Ass: “Beautiful, famous, successful, married — I’ve had them all, secretly, the world’s biggest names.” Asked by a reporter whether he ever asked God for forgiveness, he responded: “I don’t think so . . . I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
He makes it right, that is, with HIMSELF.
Clearly, Trump’s supporters among the evangelical clergy deserve David French’s harsh verdict:
To them, Trump’s might makes right… And as they follow the mob, they engage in ever-more bizarre theological and intellectual gymnastics to justify the unjustifiable. They’re sacrificing their integrity — and harming their reputations — for the sake of a dime-store demagogue’s vile, doomed cause.
Well, “vile”, it may be.” Doomed” it clearly is not.
It Takes One to Know One: A Signal From Kim jong-un
As noted, some commentators with knowledge of Scripture have been conjuring with the theme of Donald Trump as King David. And, as we have also noted, Trump has expressed impatience with the example of King David. A much more apposite biblical analogy for Donald Trump than that with King David the Wimp would be one with any one of the tyrants who governed the greater world outside the Land of Israel and whom the Prophets of Israel denounce in the Name of God.
See, for example, Isaiah 10, where Isaiah denounces the Tyrant-King of Assyria, who imagines that
“By the strength of my hand I have done it … I have gathered all the earth; and there was no one who moved his wing, nor opened his mouth with even a peep” (v.14.)
North Korea’s tyrant-ruler, detecting a kindred-spirit in Donald Trump, has recently reached-out to lay the groundwork for a meeting of the Giants. (North Korea praises Trump as a ‘prescient presidential candidate,’ Globe and Mail, May 31, 2016.) It would, presumably, be on the model of the meeting between French Emperor Napoleon and Russian Emperor Alexander I on the River Nemen – in the absence of all the other rulers of the day. From this meeting issued the Treaty of Tilsit (1807) – the deal that determined the political future of Europe.
Kim praises Donald Trump as a “wise politician, ”the right choice for American voters,” who, as Kim believes, are “living every minute and second on pins and needles in fear of a nuclear strike” by North Korea. In truth, Trump has publicly declared his readiness to resolve the big issues of the Far East by talking directly to the Dear Leader. Trump has further suggested that, as a first step towards the reunification of Korea that everyone desires, the United States should pull its troops from South Korea until Seoul pays more for its own defense. This is, in the eyes of Kim, absolutely the most urgent issue in the world and thus can only be resolved by a direct engagement between Kim, the Dear Leader and President Donald Trump.