George Washington on "Greatness", Trump, and Hair

I wrote, according to at least one review, the “best book ever written” about George Washington, which gave me the idea to write about what George Washington would think of Donald Trump. I thought about it for a day or two, and had lots of ideas, but none of them really floated my boat.

So I gave up.

Then, this morning, half asleep, I wrote this entire essay. Orson Welles used to do that—go to sleep telling himself to write a scene for his current movie, and wake up with the whole thing in his head. It was slightly different for me, as I'd actually given up on the idea.

But, brains are funny things (or is it just me?) In my dreams (as you will see), something happened. Here, in its somnambulant glory, is what my brain concocted (hey, don't blame me, I was sleeping!) (My effusion is below the ad—hey, I gotta make a "george" or two, too....)

Pass it on, if ya like it, and if you don't, please leave a comment telling me why you don't. (Not being a total masochist, also feel free to tell me why you like it, if you happen to be inclined/deranged enough to find merit in this blather)...(!)

Cheers, and here's a short URL (for copying/pasting—it's the URL of this page)

 George Washington, Donald Trump, and Bad Hair Days Decades

Writing a book about George Washington has given me, I hope, the ability to tell you how Donald Trump stacks up against George Washington. I realise that, to some of you, this might seem like comparing Cheetos with cheetahs, or—speaking of orange things—Donald Trump’s hair with actual hair, or a lemon meringue pie with the embalmed remains of Albert Einstein's brain.

Appreciate the effort that went into this, please :0

Things not worth comparing, as they simply having nothing to do with each other.


But I beg to differ on the Don-O-Rama vs George Washington comparison.

They are more similar than you might think.


On the most obvious level, most people think both Donald Trump and George Washington have fake hair.

In both cases they are wrong.

Sort of.

George Washington did not wear a wig, as was the fashion in his day, even though many people assume he did.  In fact, he powdered his own hair.

White wigs and to a lesser extent powdered hair were in vogue as bathing was so hard that it wasn’t a daily—or even always a weekly—activity.

Cologne and perfume weren’t invented as a luxury, you know.

They were necessities.

In a similar way, and for the same reason, people didn't powder their hair for beauty.

Well they did, sort of.

The powder absorbed their hair’s oil.

Gross, I know.  (Well, less gross than not using it, right?)

But what about Donnie Wonnie’s hair?

Therein lies the rub.

Donald Trump, in case you don’t know—and I’d be willing to bet many of you don’t—saw an ad for this guy:

Edward Ivari has a unique method—maybe it’s patented, I forget—for some kind of hair-plug hair-weave thing.

As I recall, Ivari is not a doctor, but somehow it’s legal to do this. His Beverly Hills practice went kaput, though, after which he moved to Trump Tower, soon after which he—strangely, you might think—took on no new clients. I mean, the rent must be expensive in Trump Tower, right?

Unless...what if the good non-doctor had just one high paying client, who knew a way around paying full rent...or any rent, Trump Tower?

So it is his hair, yet it isn’t.

How Zen.


Some people would tell you that, in a similar way, Donald Trump is the President, and, yet, isn’t.


I disagree.


And what does this have to do with George Washington?


Let us start at the start, and finish at the finish. (Is this Zen, or just annoying tautologies? Okay, I'll stop.)

We'll start with Donald Trump’s theatricality.

It did start with this.

And, like it or not, it’s worked.

George Washington, too, was theatrical.

Mon dieu! Maybe they're brothers from another mother! Well, not so fast.



Donald Trump and George Washington do have a lot more in common than you might think.

My favorite story about uncle George’s theatricality is a time he was travelling, sometime after the Revolution, in his carriage. Every time he got near a town he would get out of his carriage, mount his horse, and ride through the town looking, as best as he could, the way people hoped he would look.

A hero on a white horse.

A horse was an extremely expensive thing back in the day, and a fine white horse was almost like...

Well, George's whole town-horse country-carriage shebang is something like Donald Trump giving speeches in front of his plane.

In a day before even lithographs existed, it’s hard to imagine how important just seeing something was.

So, my great uncle George actively cultivated his image—as has Donald Trump—his whole life.

"Balderdash and poppycock!" I can hear you screaming. How dare you compare George Washington with Donald Trump. It’s like comparing an elephant to a mouse, a packet of crisps to a finely wrought Savoy Truffle, a pen to a painting, dust to a mop.

Shut up and listen. My job is to write, your job is to listen. So, kindly, STFU.


If you think about it, none of the other people running for President on either side, this time, did this kind of theatrical thing. Kennedy did when he ran, by, for example, lying about his war record (at a time when you could get away with that sort of thing.) Roosevelt hid his wheelchair, which was a kind of theatrical flourish. This conscious creating of an image has somehow has fallen out of favor, yet Trump’s theatrics clearly worked.

You might not classify that as intelligence, but this depends upon how you classify intelligence. (I'm still on a tautological roll, sorry.) Ted Cruz, who must seem, even to his most ardent admirers, as repellent as Dracula’s nerdy cousin, didn’t seem capable of fixing this shortcoming. Is that intelligent?


Beyond that, Donald Trump was the only person of any party running who inspired people. (Okay, Bernie did a bit, too. Whatever.) You might look down at the people he inspired, or at what they were inspired about.

But it worked. And it was a very intelligent thing to do.

If you measure intelligence as the ability to get what you want, Trump is a genius.

Trump got what he wanted.

The other guys didn’t.

This makes Donald Trump intelligent in the most Darwinian definition of intelligence.


Nerdy intelligence is only considered the most intelligent intelligence these days because of all the tests that have been set up during the past century to measure this most easily measurable kind of thinking. I submit that Donald Trump is a genius, measured in a more accurate way.
He is inarguably a genius at getting what he wants, as well as at  manipulating the media to his advantage, which, like it or not, is similar if not identical to George Washington’s ability to inspire and unify a nation.

This is clearly quite a useful kind of intelligence.

Okay, maybe Trump didn’t unify a nation, at least not yet. But he at least inspired enough of it to become President. While chances are six billion- to-one you weren’t that clever.  (If you were that clever, um....Donald, throw me a spare billion. You’ve got so many. Please? I promise to take good care of it, and only use it for good. I’m serious. Get in touch.)


What concerns me most, and is the reason I’m writing this, is that Donald Trump, in case you didn’t know, is German (on his father's side). If, in his view, being Mexican disqualifies someone from being a judge, shouldn’t being German disqualify you from being President?

I’m not saying all Germans are psychopathic dictators.

I’m just, y’know, saying…


With a touch less insouciance, though, Donald Trump was, notoriously in my view, interviewed about a large flag that was annoying his neighbors at a California golf course he owned.

He was being interviewed, to repeat, about a flag.

About an American flag. (Him being, y’know, American and all…)

Yet, when asked on camera, he didn’t know, nor even seem to much care, what the thirteen stripes stand for.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s ignorance about what once made America great extends to his misperception about what can make America great again. If you know so little about this country’s founding that you don’t know what the stripes on the flag stand for, can you be thought to have read up on Locke, the Federalist Papers, or the Constitution?

Donald Trump and un-named friend studying a representation
of Donald Trump's brain.
(Note the hair colour of the young Trump...)
Well, it’s never too late. I hope Trump can learn. In fact, as I said, that’s why I’m writing this essay. (That, and the spare billion I’m hoping—you think I’m kidding, I’m serious—he’ll throw my way…)



The anomaly of our success as a world power after World War II is all Trump remembers. As he clearly has never read a history book, it seems to be all he knows. Yet unless he intends to bomb to obvlivion most of the factories of the world again, as happened during World War II, America won’t rise above the ashes of the rest of the world a second time, God willing.

What Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know, but clearly should, is that America was once great in an inspiring way. Scores of nations around the world even copied us, changing their form of government to be more like ours.

We were a shining beacon on a hill.

Funnily enough, bombing them doesn’t seem to work. But back when we just worked on being great, once upon a time, being genuinely great was enough.

In those days, before America became a police state, before the progressive movement managed to make alcohol illegal, start an income tax, and in these and a million other invidious ways normalise government control of everything down to your toothpaste, you could build—and invent—an aeroplane and fly it without government interference (the Wright brothers), work when you were thirteen, getting a head start on your career (Benjamin Franklin,) become President with almost no formal education (George Washington), only accept people into universities who deserved to be there because of their brains and character, along with a thousand million other freedoms long lost.

If Trump knew and understood any of the things which made America truly great—actually, come to think of it, it’s really just one thing: freedom, in the form of individual rights—his job would be much easier, and he’d really stand a chance of success.

Alas and alack Trump, in fact, is an opportunistic life-long New York Democrat, who truly believes government is the solution, and not the problem. Unless and until someone can convince him otherwise, that values matter, that simple virtues are infinitely more important than thirty-thousand-pound government documents purporting to solve the country’s problems, we will continue to devolve, just as Rome did, into an increasingly autocratic bureaucratic police society with the only value being the power of the pen and the police, not liberty. With, it seems, the Mexicans et al taking the place of the Visigoths (who didn’t, mostly, invade Rome, as commonly understood, but more sort of inveigled their way in over the decades and centuries, bringing their corrupt—German, come to think of it—values with them.)


The point, in case it was lost in the forests of my excess verbiage, is this:

Donald Trump is the President, and he’s an unusual one. He seems, intuitively, to understand that something is deeply wrong in our country, and to genuinely want to fix things.

But he clearly misunderstands the solution.

He thinks the solution is fixing this government program or that one, or fixing this deal or that deal. This is all well and good, but only to the most limited of all possible extents.

The thing is, Donald Trump thinks it’s consistent to be in favor of guns for everyone, but in favor of anti-drug laws. He doesn’t know, and it’s clear no one’s ever properly explained to him, how simple it really is to be a real American, as George Washington was.

You just have to believe in, understand, and implement to the best of your ability real freedom and liberty. Specifically—especially in the case of a President—do everything in your power to implement freedom and liberty for every individual.

I hope someone can explain this to President Trump. He is the President of all of us, no matter what some of us may wish. Believing in something that’s not true does not make it so.

Doing something with what is true is the solution for everybody. (While knowing what is true is the start...)



Hi: I really don't know anything about how blogs work. If you can figure out how to "follow" this blog, please  do. If not, but you know how it should work, tell me how in a comment, please? Don't be put off if there are no comments yet. I know I'm supposed to "seed" it with fake comments,  but that's far too much trouble! Thank you...


  1. What a lonely, comment-less page...

    I used to be against comments, me being a whole book author and all, but then I realised—my book had tons of comments, in the form of suggestions from my editor. So...edit, world, feedback, comment, suggest.

    Cheers (!)

  2. Oh, and, happy George Washington's Birthday !!!

  3. Happy Birthday to Uncle George... Question- you say they powdered their hair to absorb the oils- but why then did they powder the wigs as well? Blog more... it will keep you young.

    1. I'm glad you read this so carefully! What an honour...that very thought occurred to me as I was writing. I have a rule, though, that I refuse to look anything when I write one of these...or I'd just feel compelled to double-check everything.

      To be honest, the bit about GW gussying up his own hair I got from Mount Vernon when I was, like, seven, and never forgot. The bit about the powder absorbing oil I got from a hair salon that sold all sorts of strange hair stuff, including retro-hair powder, and someone explained it to me.

      I think I even bought some hair powder, to honour G, but never actually tried it!

      So, I have no idea about powdered wigs. I could look it up, but that would break my rule about posts like this. I just have to live with being occasionally ignorant, sometimes wrong, but not obsessive (in these posts, certainly not elsewhere :D (!)

      Thanks again for the comment :D

  4. Excellent essay! Your point about the ineffectiveness (if that is even a word) of the "fix this or that, one little thing at a time", rather than doing away with gobs of "over-government-ing" (yeah, I KNOW that's not one) is spot-on.

    As far as the powdering, I remember sometime back in the 80s (1980s, rather than 1780s) seeing TV commercials for "dry shampoos", which were used, not in the shower, but anytime, to "clean" the hair. I remember this, because at the time, I had a friend who routinely used Baby Powder on his hair rather than washing it with shampoo in the shower. He used it on his dry hair, and I remember that it did, in fact, appear to make the hair less "greasy" looking and more presentable. Thanks for the article.


    1. Was your friend, um, popular with girls?

      Thanks for the reply. I'm happy to report I earned $1.84 in ad revenue from his post, so clearly well worth my time. Three more with this much success and I can buy my own bottle of baby powder.

      No, but, seriously, thanks for the thoughtful reply!


22 Feb, 2017

I used to have no comments on this blog, as there is something kind of cool about, say, The New Yorker, which doesn't sink to that level (the level to which comments so often sink!)

But I'm gonna try it, just this once, to see what happens.