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The Company Trump Keeps

“A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”

COLIN POWELL, an American politician, statesman, diplomat, and United States Army officer who was the 65th United States Secretary of State

“Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.”

EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, an English nonconformist, writer, biographer, and author

“Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

ESMERALDA SANTIAGO, a Puerto Rican author known for her narrative memoirs and trans-cultural writing

“You are not responsible for what your friends do, but you will be judged by the company you keep.”

LEONARD A COLE, an American dentist, political scientist, and expert on bioterrorism and terror medicine


Introduction: The Company Trump Keeps

The Company You Keep

In the political arena, the adage “you are judged by the company you keep” holds considerable weight, and Donald Trump’s recent victory celebration in New Hampshire serves as a vivid illustration. His choice to prominently acknowledge individuals like Steve Wynn and John Paulson reveals a disregard for public sensibilities and a pattern of associating with figures tarnished by serious ethical and legal concerns.
In this post, I take two examples of Trump’s selection of the company he keeps. Each choice represents a different question of the former president’s judgment of people. But, among his followers, the MAGA minority, they see nothing but their hero surrounded by other rich people. Never thinking about how they got there, who they film-flammed, and why Trump chose them as acquaintances.

The Company Trump Keeps: Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn’s inclusion in Trump’s celebratory shout-outs is particularly noteworthy. Despite a history of credible allegations of sexual assault and a subsequent cascade of investigations and fines, Trump remains steadfast in his association with the disgraced former casino mogul. The fact that Wynn was once the finance chair of the Republican National Committee speaks to the high regard Trump holds for him, seemingly regardless of the serious misconduct allegations.

The 2018 Wall Street Journal expose detailed a troubling account of Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct. They describe a workplace environment steeped in harassment and abuse. The resulting fines on Wynn Resorts and his resignation from political positions should have severed ties. Yet Trump’s shout-out indicates an apparent willingness to overlook such transgressions.

The Company Trump Keeps: John Paulson

The acknowledgment of John Paulson, the hedge fund billionaire who made billions betting against subprime mortgages, adds another layer to the narrative. While some may celebrate his financial acumen, the context is crucial. Paulson’s success was built on a trade that involved selecting mortgage bonds for Goldman Sachs, leading to substantial losses for investors. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s subsequent lawsuit against Goldman Sachs and its $550 million settlement underscores the questionable ethics surrounding Paulson’s financial triumph.

Trump’s teasing about Paulson potentially becoming Treasury secretary upon his return to the White House further underscores a willingness to overlook past financial improprieties when considering key appointments. This raises eyebrows about Trump’s commitment to transparency. It shows a profound misunderstanding of ethical governance but also highlights a disturbing trend of prioritizing loyalty over integrity.

The Company Trump Keeps: Who He Leaves Out

The absence of gratitude towards campaign aides, family, or other supporters during Trump’s victory speech is striking. Instead, the spotlight falls on individuals like Wynn and Paulson, both carrying shadows of ethical lapses. The implicit message is clear. In Trump’s world, those who matter most are not necessarily those who have worked tirelessly for his political triumphs or shared familial bonds. On the contrary, he selects individuals with questionable pasts and substantial financial influence.

A Question of Ethics or Misjudgment: Is there a difference?

The focus on individuals like Wynn and Paulson, both with controversial backgrounds, raises broader concerns about the ethical landscape within Trump’s political sphere. It prompts a critical examination of whether personal connections and financial support eclipse the need for leaders of unblemished integrity and ethical standing.

Trump’s apparent affinity for figures like Wynn and Paulson, despite their respective baggage, contributes to a perception that political alliances and personal loyalties take precedence over accountability and ethical conduct. It invites scrutiny into the values that guide decision-making in Trump’s political orbit and underscores the need for public figures to surround themselves with individuals of unquestionable moral character.

In a political landscape where trust and credibility are pivotal, Trump’s company of choice sends a message that ethical lapses can be overshadowed by loyalty and financial clout. This raises concerns about the potential erosion of public trust in political institutions and leaders who prioritize relationships with controversial figures over the broader interests of the electorate.

The Company Trump Keeps: Political Consequences

The question of whether one is judged by the company they keep extends beyond personal character assessments; it delves into the implications for governance, policy decisions, and the overall health of democratic institutions. The choice to align with individuals carrying a history of sexual assault allegations or financial improprieties suggests a willingness to compromise on principles for the sake of personal connections and support.

As voters, policymakers, and the public at large grapple with these revelations, the imperative to scrutinize not just the policies but also the ethical foundations of political leaders becomes ever more crucial. Trump’s celebration in New Hampshire serves as a microcosm of a larger issue within the political landscape – the delicate balance between personal associations and the broader ethical responsibilities that come with holding public office.

In the Final Analysis

The company one keeps is not merely a reflection of personal choices; it shapes the narrative of governance, accountability, and the values that define a political movement. Trump’s choice to highlight individuals with questionable backgrounds raises pertinent questions about the ethical compass guiding his political journey and, by extension, the trajectory of the movement he leads. The challenge for voters and observers is to discern whether these alliances are mere aberrations or indicative of a deeper, systemic issue within the realm of political decision-making.

The fundamental question persists: Can we truly judge a person by the company they keep? In this instance, Trump’s choice of allies speaks volumes about his values and priorities. It suggests a willingness to align with those facing serious allegations and ethical question marks, even at the cost of undermining the public’s trust. As voters evaluate political leaders, the company they keep remains a powerful indicator of their character and commitment to ethical governance.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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