After the U.S. fiasco led by the late President Kennedy to overthrow Castro in 1961, in what is commonly referred to the Bay of Pigs crisis, Kennedy understood that he needed to have both foreign and military policy advisors that did not necessarily agree with him. This way he would be able to be more objective in his ability to more accurately make the strategic decisions essential to America’s well-being. These changes helped buoy up Kennedy’s actions vis-a-vis foreign policy.
Former President Trump chose a much different path in the selection of his advisors. The manner in which Trump governed reminds me of the parable created in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen about the emperor’s clothes. In this tale, he emperor has chosen two swindlers to weave him a magnificent garment that would appear invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. When the outfit was not delivered in a timely fashion, he sent one of his courtiers to check on the progress. Much to his surprise, the loom from which these two weavers worked had no thread, so, naturally, he inquired where the thread was. The tailors assured him that they were making good progress and not to worry inasmuch as they were creating an invisible suit for the emperor. Not wishing to give the emperor bad news, the courtier reported to the emperor that what he saw matched the emperor’s expectations.
Because after some time the two charlatans still had not completed their work, the emperor sent other officials to give him a report on the making of his royal attire. When each official sent saw the two men sitting at an empty loom with no thread, neither wished to upset the emperor by appearing ignorant or stupid. When the garment was finally completed, the two counterfeit weavers called the emperor in to try on his new clothes. They continued to perpetuate the hoax when they pretended to dress him with his “invisible” raiment.
The emperor, in believing the two swindlers, proceeded to parade his new clothes to the townsfolk. Insofar as the followers of his regime do not want to appear inept or stupid, they praised the outfit of their king. But suddenly a child cried out that the emperor was wearing nothing at all, and the others immediately realized that they had been fooled by what they had believed was an authentic garment. All came to the understanding that the emperor had been tricked and that their leader was the most foolish of them all.
In retrospect, we know how the former President Trump made decisions. He would only listen to those who shared his opinion on strategic issues of the day. If he disagreed with his advisor’s ideas, he often would terminate and replace them with officials that agreed with his ideas, though they may have been impulsive rather than thoughtfully deliberated. Although there were a few “children” ( such as Liz Cheney) that challenged Trump’s leadership, many Republicans feared his power with the American public and did not voice any dissent they may have had.
Republican candidates maintained their support of Trump to a preposterous degree. An example of this was Trump’s insistence that the election results in 2020, determining that Biden had won the election, had been rigged. However, Attorney General William Barr, a man of conservative bent, and officials in each of the 50 states found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election. Furthermore, Federal agencies overseeing election security said it was the most secure in American history. Whether Trump’s supporters believed in Trump’s assertions or whether they didn’t believe in them and were afraid of alienating Trump’s voter base, did not matter. The Republican candidates that supported Trump’s distortions were soundly defeated in their election bids across the boards. The final straw occurred when Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker, who Trump had backed, in the runoff of the senatorial election in Georgia.
I believe that many on the Left, as well as the Right, underestimate their fellow Americans. Trump, like the emperor, refused to believe that under no condition, his flock of followers would sever their ties with him. Just like the emperor, the more that Trump paraded around speaking obvious falsehoods, his loyal adherents began to see through the nakedness of his rhetoric. The public eye had reached a point where it no longer could accept the alternate truths that Trump had put forth.