WASHINGTON — It’s a good thing to be king, holding court high in a gold tower. And the 45th American president, Donald Trump, reminds me of one English Tudor king, known for his reddish hair, huge body heft, six wives of various nationalities and, um, forceful personality.
Trump is like King Henry VIII revived — without the charm the early Henry famously had. But there are parallels: Henry had France across the water to warily watch and, of course, Trump has Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his reckless wish to start a nuclear arms race. Is he going to make an enemy out of a friend before he takes office? One difference, however, is that Henry set sail to lead his men in battle. That’s what kings did.
The history major in me feels compelled to note this male bonding over the span of five centuries and a mighty ocean.
Let’s get used to it. Donald Trump behaves much like the first American king. With his mean-spirited tweets, threats and contradictions of U.S. policy as president-elect, he’s messaging to the American people that there will be no limits as ruler. What about losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes? No problem! We will all be his subjects, forced to endure outrages at all hours as he tweets from his tower — and when he deigns, the White House.
Trump resembles King Henry VIII in his ferocity and willingness to follow his whims wherever they go. Once the 6-foot, 2-inch Henry cut a fine figure on a horse hunting a hart. Can the same be said of Trump on a golf course? (Let’s not answer that.) Henry also was a lover and player of music, even a composer. Enchanting poetry wafted through the halls of his court, notably that of Sir Thomas Wyatt, author of “To His Coy Mistress.”
Our man has neither poetry nor music to compensate for his rough edges.
A real Renaissance man in his time and prime, Henry VIII is characterized as a “supreme egoist” by the Columbia Encyclopedia. He did pretty much as he pleased, in epic proportions. To marry the clever, witty, beautiful Anne Boleyn, he defied the pope’s decree to keep his marriage vows to the Spanish Catherine of Aragon, setting off the Protestant Reformation.
In my book, headstrong Henry gets credit for breaking with Rome. But as the same source tells us: “He advanced personal desires under the guise of public policy.”
Practicing personal desires and goals in public policy: Would Trump ever do such a thing? My fear is, that’s all he knows. Pursuing his own enrichment, power and glory is all that he’s ever done. Public service is a whole new concept.
Henry had two queens arrested and beheaded in the Tower of London. It was not right or just, but he was king. To show women he wasn’t all bad, he educated his daughter Elizabeth so she was ready to take the crown when he died — morbidly obese and mad — at age 55.
Perhaps this is the most intriguing parallel, that both the once and future monarchs had a daughter that mattered greatly.
Trump is already treating his two sons and son-in-law like princes with security clearances to the court and his personal treasure. Yet he proudly lavishes the most attention and responsibility on his daughter Ivanka, as if grooming her for leadership on the national stage. Sure, Ivanka is no Elizabeth — Elizabethan England still shines as a golden age. But she’s not as bad as her dad.
“King” used to be a hated word, for Thomas Jefferson and other founders of our democracy. But the times, they are a-changin’.
Short may Trump reign.