TUMBY BAY - Memorial Day is the American version of Anzac Day when military personnel who have died on duty are honoured and mourned.
In 2017 Donald Trump accompanied his then chief of staff, former General John Kelly, to the Arlington National Cemetery.
While standing at the grave of Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, Trump is reported to have said, “I don’t get it. What’s in it for them?”
Possibly more than any other comment made by Trump over the last four years this is the one that points to the essence of his character: one that is devoid of empathy, kindness or consideration for any human being apart from himself.
While Trump’s view of the world and his place in it is horrifying, it is not surprising.
In many ways he is articulating a version of the Great American Dream, the belief that, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, every American can pursue ever upward prosperity and status.
That this dream involves glorious individualism and involve trampling over the bodies of one’s fellow citizens has sadly become an accepted part of the process.
While the Great American Dream is essentially an aspirational slogan, it is a mistake to assume that it is an ethos common to all Americans.
Many Americans, like people all over the world, simply want to be reasonably comfortable and happy over the span of their lives. Not all of them want to become billionaires and occupy the office of president.
When Trump asked, “What’s in it for them?” he was very probably talking about money and wealth.
The satisfaction that those dead soldiers might have sought by serving their country was not something that seemed to enter his mind.
To him they were “suckers” for joining the military in the first place and “losers” for getting killed.
Like many young men from wealthy families, an otherwise fit and athletic Trump avoided military conscription five times. The first four were because he was at university but in 1968, during the worst part of the Vietnam War when being a student was not a get-out clause, he used the medical excuse of having bone spurs in his feet.
In Trump’s mind this was a good tactical move. He wasn’t opposed to the war but he had no intention of becoming another sucker when there was money to be made and a hedonistic lifestyle to be enjoyed at home.
Like many of his peers, what Trump does is conflate the pursuit of wealth with the pursuit of happiness. To him they are one and the same. The idea of happiness divorced from wealth is not something he understands.
Trump is not really a particularly unusual character. There are many Trumps all over the world. Papua New Guinea has one. His name is Peter O’Neill.
What is different about Trump is that he somehow managed to scratch and gouge himself to the top of the biggest and smelliest heap in the world.
With his single-minded obsessions, lack of intellect and inherent cruelty, he is at once extremely dangerous and irretrievably pathetic.
He is dangerous because of the immense power he wields and pathetic because his life has been focused only on himself.
There are men and women and their families sitting in rough shelters all over the world happier and more fulfilled than Trump.
Those people are winners.
Trump, sitting on the dunghill that is his wealth and power, is a loser.
If he wasn’t such an awful human being I might even feel sorry for him.