I don’t know if the word is “immune” or just “resistant,” but whichever it is it comes close to describing my reaction to what others call ”charisma.” I realize that of all the assessments, self-assessment is the trickiest, but I cannot recall a time when I was taken in by someone or a group of someones because of that mysterious (to me) quality of almost magical personal charm.
Hitler is a classic example of someone who was touted to possess oodles of mesmerising charisma. I don’t see it. To me he was an absurd little wild-eyed zealot with a silly moustache and a kind of incoherent fanaticism that was not only not “fascinating” but viscerally repellent. He was fascinating to me only in that he managed to do so much damage with so little natural talent.
The same goes for Donald Trump. Yet I have to conclude based on what I am told that, like Hitler, Trump has a certain amount of this charisma thingy, at least according to some people. But I suspect that particular talent skipped a generation, as far as the Trump children are concerned. It may explain why, for example, Ivanka has never been able to mount a convincing campaign for Florida Senator, despite there being a lot of flaccid talk about it at one time. She lacks the charisma to pull it off. And then there’s Eric, who everyone knows instinctively to be as dumb as sack full of rocks.
Which brings me to Donald Trump Jr. Whatever charisma is, I deduce that Donald Trump Jr. also has not a shred of it. Trump Jr. missed the roll call altogether when they were handing out charisma. Again, I’m assured this is true despite my apparent immunity to it, because it seems obvious to me that he is almost as lacking in convincing personal charm as his utterly bizarre girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.
What Trump Jr. does have going for him, however, is his name, an active Twitter account and (allegedly) a lot of inherited wealth. He’s the kind of guy who is otherwise so devoid of talent and ambition that he couldn’t have been successful any other way. He’s popular among the MAGAs not because of anything special about him but because he’s just about all they’ve got. In the words of historical novelist Robert Graves, he is loved, just not well-loved.
He’s also deeply bitter and resentful and redolent of perpetually aggrieved victimhood most of the time, qualities that probably stem from his sick and dysfunctional relationship with his evil father and his largely accidental excursion into politics. But those qualities also have their uses in MAGALand. It’s a virtual prerequisite for Republicans these days to be perpetually pissed off about something silly.
I doubt that Junior, as I like to call him when addressing him on Twitter, would have gotten involved in politics at all had his father’s ego not driven him to run for president of the United States. It may explain his pitiful attempts to be political, or why he has “written” (i.e., hired someone to write for him) a book. Junior probably would be happier cheating people on real estate deals or discriminating against economically and racially disadvantaged tenants, if the real truth were known.
Junior also might possess what Orwell called “a saving stupidity.” He may in fact be so bad at what he does that he wasn’t given enough responsibility within the Trump Organization to see him to prison. We’ll have to wait and find out about that.
Anyway, Junior recently addressed a Turning Point USA gathering. Among other impotent things he did and said, he led a chant of “Let’s go Brandon.” Junior doesn’t seem to understand that “Brandon” is too busy being the adult President of the United States to notice or care about Junior’s sophomoric rantings. Like Junior himself, that chant really doesn’t work. This banal, damaged child really is the best they have to offer. We must always remember that the people arrayed against us are not only bad at what they do, most of them lack the necessary charisma to pull it off. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.