The attention junkie Donald Trump announced Monday that he would give $5 million to, oh, never mind. That bozo needs more ink like Chris Matthews needs more coffee. But it’s worth remembering that 18 months ago, Trump was leading the Republican primary polls. And his circus of fail, along with Jack Welch’s insane conspiracy theories about the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not to mention the entire George W. Bush presidency, ought to shine a harsh spotlight on America’s misguided but incredibly resilient cult of the CEO.
Trump’s race-baiting ravings about President Obama’s birth certificate and college transcripts have inspired a lot of ridicule about his own bankruptcies and other business woes, but that’s missing the point. Trump has an impressive business record—even if it’s not as impressive as Welch’s or Mitt Romney’s—and an obvious genius for self-promotion. But he’s still a Guiness Book of World Records jerk who knows less than nothing about public policy. There’s no reason his political bloviations should receive any more attention than any other celebrity’s.
Making money is a genuine talent, just like teaching physics or draining three-pointers or, dare I mention it, organizing communities. CEO’s can produce real benefits for society, even though their main objective is maximizing returns for their shareholders, even though some of them create entire reality shows around the enjoyment they derive from firing people. But there is no reason to think that CEO’s have any more insight into the national interest than their workers do. And the Trumpy drumbeat that Obama is an anti-capitalist radical—recently amplified by a self-righteous parade of CEOs threatening to fire their employees if the president is reelected—is somewhat odd given the spectacular profits enjoyed by corporate America over the last four years.
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