John F. Kennedy's speech "On Poetry and National Power" once explained what real leadership requires and shows how failed and lacking Donald Trump has been.
On October 26, 1963, less than a month before he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy gave an extraordinary address at Amherst College in Massachusetts called “On Poetry and National Power,” in which he discussed the need for a president of the United States to have not only a political vision but an artistic and moral one too.
His words could have been aimed at Donald Trump across the decades, “
"When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitation. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as a touchstone for our judgment...
"I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral strength, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty...
"And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.”
President John F. Kennedy stated it beautifully, like him the best presidents were well-rounded men, They know the arts, they know history, they knew the story of civilization and the extraordinary importance of democracy. They knew their place in the ever-changing canvas of American life. All were men to feel intellectual and moral strength.
Incumbent President Donald J. Trump is a cretin, much happier tearing down structures and civilization like Genghis Khan of the Mongols.
President Abraham Lincoln, for instance, was an inveterate theatergoer and had an intense interest in astronomy, history, storytelling, music and song.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his New Deal didn’t just build highways, he created thousands of jobs for art and artists. Towns in rural America suddenly had thousands of theaters and performing spaces. He and his wife, Eleanor, were not just interested in economic good but ensuring that the place of the artist was restored in American life.
It is doubtful if Donald Trump ever read a book or recited a poem for pleasure. His contribution and involvement in the arts since his time in office was zero.
His Medals of Honor were farcical, given to racist and vile men like Rush Limbaugh to poltroons like Congressman Devin Nunez, who was Trump’s messenger boy in Congress.
Trump's sole purpose in life seems to be the accumulation of wealth and power. His two ambitions came crashing down when the riot he ordered turned bloody and murderous last week. Trump knew well the carnage he was setting up. There was no internal debate, however for this man without morals or empathy.
Perhaps if he even had a shred of arts education, even a reading of Macbeth to understand how a tyrant ends up, he might have hesitated and walked away accepting his defeat and ended a national nightmare.
“Something wicked this way comes” say the witches in Macbeth, and indeed Trump was that wicked man, cold as the grave, cunning as the fox, convinced in his righteousness. His only objective was to sate his gargantuan appetite for power.
Kennedy's words are stirring and prophetic, predicting the terrible flaws in a man like Trump who sees no need to engage with the moral dilemmas of how to handle untrammeled power. There has been no grace or beauty during this president, as there was with JFK, merely a grasping kleptocratic grifter whose talentless family clung to his every word and promised retribution to anyone who failed to listen.
How did we elect such a man? That will be history’s judgment to make. Suffice to say had he heard or listened to Kennedy's words he might actually have learned somehow to control himself and intuit the broader landscape
But that would mean admitting weakness which Trump would never do, The jackboot president sought to impose anarchy and dictatorship on America, sad to note that he almost succeeded. JFK must be turning in his grave.