Of the seven most recent presidents, none had everything going for them, but two had three of the four needed traits: Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.
GERALD R. FORD
Gerald Ford was a policy wonk. Having lived his life in Congress, he knew all the moving pieces of what had to be done and why and what was possible. Remember, Bismarck said that politics is the art of the possible. Ford personified that. He was into the weeds on all of the issues. He could lose you in the details. Ford had many presidential qualities that Trump doesn’t have. His humility, for example. “I’m a Ford, not a Lincoln.” But Ford was not nearly as strategic as Trump.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH
But if he were the president today, like Trump, he would have a deep desire to do it right, and, like Trump, he would know how to merge some of the best of the private and public sectors. He also would have media allies.
GEORGE W. BUSH
George W. Bush was the anti-father son. He was very decisive, although many of his decisions were bad, and he never looked back. I see GWB stumbling into this current crisis the way he did the economic crisis of his time.
There is one other element to understanding Trump. He was on the motivational circuit. I was too. We all expect our leaders to be winners. We want our surgeon, our airline pilot, our accountant, our attorney to all be winners. He wants to be a winner as a president. He wants to live up to the speeches he gave onstage as a motivational speaker.