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The Donald: The man who came to dinner

Written By | Mar 4, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo/, March 4, 2016 — Thursday, Mitt Romney spoke on national television expressly to trash Donald Trump’s run for the Republican presidential nomination. Romney’s appearance and demeanor recalled the time back in 2012 when he himself was a presidential candidate: the slightly sweaty brow, the slick, oiled back hair, the pursed lips, the quintessential traditional male in the worst, patriarchal sense of the term.

As Romney stood before a microphone to hurl hate speech at a man who actually helped him in the past, the difference between the two men could not have been more glaring. The object of Romney’s anger, Donald Trump, would be denied the Republican nomination by Romney and his establishment friends if they have their way. Clearly, the Republican establishment’s attack dogs are out.

Romney is like a wannabe basketball star: too short to make it to the NBA, but still disappointed enough to go out of his way to trash better players. Politically, Romney’s no natural, never was and never will be. Trump, on the other hand, is. There’s clearly more to this reality star than just the TV shows.

“The Donald” wears well precisely because he is real. He’s a man with a drop-dead gorgeous wife and beautiful, accomplished children. He’s a man who has comported himself well, taking life’s ups and downs with a certain aplomb, overcoming obstacle after obstacle to come out on top.

Think about the city where he’s most clearly made his mark, New York. To make it there you need to be a big fish in that very big pond in addition to being politically adept enough to work around or through the political and union obstacles that prevent many from succeeding there in a big way. Impressive. In other words, no one makes it there without cojones, wit and grace. Trump has, and it’s precisely these terms that describe the mogul who is The Donald.

Yet his impressive attributes cannot fully explain Trump’s real appeal to voters. That appeal is far subtler than any of the more traditional machismo descriptions the media and his opponents constantly use to disparage him.

It’s not his money, his accoutrements, his swagger or his boasts that appeal to the increasing number of voters who are coming to support his candidacy. Trump is the first presidential candidate to come to dinner. He sits down at our table with us, places his napkin casually in his lap and starts talking.

He’s a wonderful story-teller, and the other guests at the table immediately realize they are in the company of a worthy companion. He’s a man for all seasons, with anecdotes and thoughts we never thought before. He says what we are thinking, but he says it conversationally, convivially, giving us the sense that we are all on the same footing.

Without losing his cool, he dispatches his detractors quickly and efficiently. One always has the sense he sees naysayers not as enemies, but as distractions on his road to the top. He’s a busy man, too busy for negative subjects or people. He brushes them aside quickly, just as he has dealt with adversity his entire life. He tolerates their vitriol, but only long enough to deal it a blow. Then it’s back to business as usual for Trump, who carries on with an optimistic, winning spring in his step.

The Donald is moving fast because he is a man with a mission. He loves this country and is tired of seeing it lose out to lesser competitors. He wants America to win again. What’s so wrong with such clear-eyed optimism?

There was another happy warrior once who helped bring about the end to the brutally deadly Cold War. Ronald Reagan, like Donald Trump, would sit at our dinner table, tell a good joke and a few anecdotes. He was also a pleasant and gracious dinner companion. He would leave everyone at the end of the meal feeling satisfied and good about themselves. Someone once said of love that it’s not how someone else feels about you. The sign of a true lover is the way that lover makes you feel about yourself: pumped up, confident and happy.

Hopefully, The Donald will be seated at America’s dinner table for a long time to come. The country’s founders would recognize his brand of chutzpah, grace and steadiness under pressure. A president who can make us feel good about ourselves once again? Now that’s an idea to cherish… and act upon.

Karen Hagestad Cacy

Karen Hagestad Cacy, of Colorado Springs, is a former Washington speechwriter and transportation lobbyist. Raised in Portland, Oregon, she holds a BA degree in Russian and Middle East Studies from Portland State University (and American University in Cairo.) Her four novels are available on She is also the author of two plays.