In 1941, Orson Welles directed and starred in the movie Citizen Kane. The story was loosely based on media magnate William Randolph Hearst, perhaps the grandfather of today’s alt-right news media.
During the movie, Charles Foster Kane is blackmailed over a tryst while running for office and quits the state governor’s race. Such an incident might have resulted in some self-reflection and insight into his own character. But no! Later—through arrogance, intimidation, denial and the inability to listen to his experts and associates—he forces his wife, a mediocre singer, to perform an opera, only to be publicly humiliated.
Adding insult to injury, a scathing review posted by the hired critic for Mr. Kane’s own newspaper results in that employee being fired. The expected loyalty Mr. Kane demanded gave way to the truth.
Are you listening, Mr. Trump?
It was known that Mr. Kane (or was it Mr. Trump?) spent millions on priceless artwork and antiquities from around the world, to furnish his castle/tower and other homes, and “socialized” and traveled and invested in businesses around the world as well.
But as Mr. Trump—I mean Mr. Kane (sorry!)—grew more powerful, his vision became more myopic, his words and behavior more callous, his temperament more erratic, more paranoid. He vanquished rivals and betrayed friends and associates along the way. Perhaps the ultimate unspoken insult and payback is seen as the camera focuses on Ms. Kane reading her husband’s rival’s newspaper at the dining room table. As she walks out, bags in hand, he is still incredulous, clueless, as to what is transpiring.
Finally, all the trappings come crashing down around this lonely, miserable and forgotten man as the tale unfolds to its inexorable end. And the questions remain: What was it he so desperately sought? What was it that drove him to extremes to prove to the world who he thought he should be? (Mr. Trump . . . hello . . . Mr. Trump . . . are you there?)
E.G. Singer lives in Santa Rosa.
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