The New York Times Magazine had a really interesting interview with Harry Reid. I hadn’t realized that Reid is dying from pancreatic cancer.
One particular paragraph is getting a lot of attention. Let me quote it in its entirety.
(Harry Reid speaking) “Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience.” There was a hint of grudging respect in Reid’s tone, which he seemed to catch and correct. “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve had some bad ones, and there’s not even a close second to him.” He added: “He’ll lie. He’ll cheat. You can’t reason with him.” Once more, a hint of wonder crept into his voice, as if he was describing a rogue beast on the loose in a jungle that Reid knows well.
I feel sad for Harry Reid because while he’s absolutely right, he still has no idea why he’s right.
Donald Trump signed up for an eight year gig to be President of the United States with a specific and very well articulated agenda. This makes him very different from “good presidents” and virtually guarantees that anyone with a different agenda sees him as “the worst president” ever. This is at the heart of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
President Trump is also amoral — when it comes to business. In politics, being moral has to do with how you treat fellow politicians as well as “the political” system. There is no sense of morality from the standpoint of a higher purpose except that there is no higher purpose for a politician than gaining and wielding power.
For President Trump, politicians are the obstacles to accomplishing moral principles such as ensuring the safety of our citizens. Accomplishing this is completely an amoral activity involving defeating opponents and delivering a solution.
At the end of his tenure, if all the politician’s in Washington D.C. hate his guts, that’s fine. If all the career bureaucrats and civil servants hate his guts, that’s fine as well. The “swamp,” as we call it, is at the heart of why the country has lost isn’t moral compass since it primarily exists for its own ends and not the country’s.
In business, it is well understood by the people who run them that the best approach is to take an amoral approach focused on stockholder returns. This capitalistic approach has its own problems because it can lead to what we would now consider highly undesirable secondary effects such as air and water pollution as well as monopolistic behavior among others. These issues continue to be refined and tweaked and generally rightly so. President Trump is not being disingenuous when he sees himself as an “environmentalist” for building beautiful golf courses.
Recently we’ve seen the rise of something new which is the “moral company.” Companies that plied their trade in this arena were almost exclusively non-profits. Today we see Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, primarily in the Internet world, trying to balance their version of what is moral with shareholder value. It’s not a particularly pretty sight as we all know as we’ve seen these companies operated immorally in one area to boost their vision of morality in another.
President Trump brought his business attitudes and realities to the job which are very, very different from a career politician. The true irony is that the vast majority of career politicians are lawyers who lie, cheat, and can’t be reasoned with. This, of course, is “different” since a lawyer’s job is to win the best result for their client. They do their job with “no conscience” as long as they stay within their own ethics.
President Trump is trying to get the best deal for the people of the United States. He’s also dealt with a lot of lawyers over the years and he’s well aware that the best way to defeat them is to “lie, cheat, and not be reasoned with” because that’s what they do.
In the end, the moral result is all that matters and what it took to win will instantly become part of the rubbish of history. All anyone will remember is that it was a hard fought battle but the citizens of this country were the winners.