Character vs destiny - GulfToday

Character vs destiny

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


President Joe Biden and Donald Trump. File

According to the ancient Greek philosopher Herclitus, “Character is destiny, meaning the inner qualities, or the values, of an individual determines who he or she is. Character is formed by a combination of genes, early contacts, environment, and education. “Character is destiny” also applies to nation states where behaviour is determined by values, money, resources, and power projection which can promote or negate values.

The character of former US President Donald Trump should be examined anew following his conviction for 34 felonies connected with a conspiracy, orchestrated by him, to defraud voters. He succeeded in depriving them of knowledge about an extramarital episode with adult film star Stormy Daniels. It is significant but rarely mentioned that this took place when his current and third wife was in bed recovering from the birth of their son.

Trump’s character has long been the subject of study by political commentators, business associates and rivals, and psychologists. While he was in the White House (2017-2021), key advisers — some being retired military men — were referred to as the “adults in the room” when he was making policy. He has been diagnosed as obsessive, narcissistic, bullying, and uncaring by numerous psychologists. The most important and impressive of these experts was clinical psychologist and niece Mary Trump, daughter of Fred Jr. the eldest of the Trump brood. She revealed how Trump’s character was formed in her book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

She wrote that from birth Donald Trump was deprived of parental love and care as his mother was in poor health and his father was largely absent at work but when at home was cold, demanding, demeaning, and spoiling with material goods. Nevertheless, the boy saw his father as the person to emulate and took seriously his admonition, “Don’t be a loser,” which has compelled Donald Trump to deny reality, like his 2020 loss of the presidency to Joe Biden.

Trump bullied his younger brother, and at 13 was dispatched to a military academy which specialised in dealing with troublemakers. At 18, he avoided the Vietnam draft and attended the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated without distinction while claiming he was first in his class. While his business career was characterised by ups-and-downs and he became a celebrity through his carefully choreographed appearances for 14 years on the popular reality television show, “The Apprentice.” This portrayed Trump as a highly successful billionaire and gave him an enormous advantage in the 2016 presidential election. He defeated former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who also had widescale recognition. She won the popular vote but Trump won the Electoral College which gives weight to sparsely populated states. Having spent a turbulent four years in the White House advancing conservative, disruptive policies, Trump was defeated by Biden in 2020. He faces trial for encouraging his followers to try to prevent Biden’s Congressional confirmation by rioting at the Capitol on Jan.6, 2021.

When asked why he has agreed to two television debates with the noisy, assertive Trump, 77, the more restrained, occasionally vague Biden, 81, replied that he would be debating with a 6-year-old. This feisty response was typical of Biden.

Biden is also afflicted with a history which has negatively impacted his long political career and presidency. Born in November 1942 into a working class Irish Catholic family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden spent his early years in war-time prosperity due to his father’s employment in a military industry. This changed after the war ended and his father had to take whatever jobs he could find. Joe was afflicted with a stutter and mercilessly bullied, toughening him up for the trials he had to face later in life. His father found employment selling cars in Wilmington, Delaware and moved his family there, making the city and small state the eventual launch pad for his son’s career.

During high school Biden adopted sports to deter stutter bullies and became a star player on the American football team. He married his first wife Neilia Hunter in 1966 and they had three children in quick succession: Beau, Hunter, and Naomi. After taking his law degree, he became a public defender who dealt with cases of the disadvantaged, primarily members of the Black community. This propelled him into politics and he was elected in 1972 to the Senate, becoming the youngest member of the upper house. Before his inauguration, his wife and daughter were killed, and two sons injured in a traffic accident. Although he married his second wife, Jill Jacobs in 1977, and they had a daughter Ashley, Biden has never recovered from this tragedy which was followed by the death of Beau from cancer in 2015.

During his 36 years in the Senate, Biden presided over the judiciary and foreign relations committees where he influenced policies, negatively and positively. In 1991, he voted against the Gulf War and in 2003 for the unprovoked US war on Iraq, which he later regretted. Biden served as President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009-2013 and ran for president in 2020, defeating Trump. During his years in politics, Biden has been a conciliator who strove to provide healthcare for the poor and combat racism.

However, he has been among the staunchest supporters of Israel in Washington. He has benefitted by receiving more than $4 million in campaign funding from pro-Israel interests. His connection with Israel was forged by his father who was horrified by the Holocaust and backed the founding of Israel in 1948. Biden has emphasised the US “ironclad commitment” to Israel while urging the establishment of a Palestinian state. This became Biden’s personal “ironclad commitment” to Israel on Oct.7 last year when Hamas attacked Israel. By arming Israel and providing political support to Israel’s horrifying Gaza campaign, Biden — blinded by his love for Israel — risks losing the November presidential election to deeply flawed Trump.

Photos: AP



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