Across the span of almost fifty years, I still recall the awful moment when I learned I was a pompous ass. I wasn’t told directly, nor in those words, but rather through an overheard remark from one early-twenties lady to another—both of whom I had earnestly been trying to impress.
The actual statement, I believe, was, “You know he’s full of shit, right?”
Had I not stopped unexpectedly just after leaving their company, bending out of view to tie a shoelace, I might never have known.
There I was, a handsome young man (if I may say), gainfully-employed, socially-acceptable—though, perhaps, a tad taken with my own opinion—hearing for the first time that my efforts to ingratiate myself in their favour were unappreciated.
Even worse, mocked.
Surely not! I raged.
It took me some time to digest that unwelcome revelation; in fact, my first instinct was to reject it. Further attempts to win over the winsome duo proved fruitless, however, and that fact finally forced me to re-examine my approach.
Whatever I eventually changed must have been enough, thankfully, for I have been happily married for fifty years to a lovely lady who apparently did not share the opinion of the others.
I mention this episode now, not because it still bothers me—for I have long-since accepted that, sometimes, I am indeed full of shit—but because I have been watching a relatively-new actor on the world’s political stage strut his stuff. And I wonder what those two young ladies would have thought of him.
There are words that come to mind: charlatan, popinjay, imposter, fraud, narcissist. None of which would matter in the slightest if they were applied to me. Alas, I am writing of the president of the United States of America, and whoever occupies that office does matter.
He, in my opinion, is a pompous ass. And it pains me to think I might ever have been regarded in that same light.
He poses theatrically when the mood strikes, tiny eyes narrowed to what he must assume is a steely gaze, lips pursed, chin thrust forward aggressively. And he holds the pose for as long as his attention span will allow—seconds only, but enough to engrave it on the public consciousness when repeated often enough.
He reminds me of nothing so much as a fascist leader of the 1930’s who affected such Caesar-like poses.
He boasts openly of a callous, abusive approach to women who are not significant to him, except insofar as they might mollify his carnal desires. He grabs them at will, and….wait for it….according to him, they like it!
What are we to make of this mountebank?
More importantly, what do other world leaders make of him? At a recent gathering of G7 leaders, as he was pontificating over a statement about his country’s changing stance on the Paris climate change accord, those leaders were seen rolling their eyes and smirking at his buffoonery. Openly.
Did he even notice?
At a recent Arab-Islamic-American summit in Saudi Arabia, he was feted in a manner which he must surely have deemed his due. Among the kings, emirs, and sultans of fifty nations, he primped and preened like a man to the manor born.
But how do those eminences really regard him? As a competent and effective leader, their equal in diplomatic affairs? As a trusted ally? Or as an easily-duped patsy, susceptible to flattery and fawning, and groomed now to help them accomplish their own geopolitical and economic goals?
We shall see in due course. But his colleagues on the world stage remind me very much of the lovely young ladies who gutted me so expertly those many years ago.
A pompous ass? The president of the United States of America?