WATERTOWN — When you examine their lives side by side, it’s apparent there are striking differences between two prominent Americans.

The son of immigrants, Colin Powell worked hard for everything he earned. He was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. In 1954, he enrolled in The City College of New York.

It was there that Powell found his true calling in life: a military career. He joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and graduated in 1958 with a bachelor of science degree in geology, earning the commission of second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

While he experienced racial discrimination during his training in Georgia, Powell persevered. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, becoming wounded in 1963 and in 1969. Powell received the latter injury in a helicopter crash; he saved two other soldiers at that time.

After returning to the United States, Powell earned a master of business administration from George Washington University in 1971. He participated in the White House Fellowship program from 1972 to 1973 under President Richard Nixon.

Powell served as deputy national security adviser and national security adviser under President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to 1989. Steadily rising up the ranks of the Army, he was promoted to four-star general in 1989.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Powell chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that year, the first black American to serve in this position. After 35 years, he retired from the Army in 1993.

Under President George W. Bush, Powell became the first black American to be named U.S. secretary of state. He remained widely admired by many people for his reasonable demeanor and principled stances.

Powell died Monday at 84 from complications brought on by COVID-19. While fully vaccinated, he had multiple myeloma. This is a form of cancer that attacks white blood cells and suppresses the body’s immune system.

Throughout his life, Powell advocated hard work, dedication to our country and service to others. He was deeply committed to Alma, his wife of 59 years, and his children.

Powell will be remembered as a remarkable figure in U.S. history. He exemplified public service in the best way imaginable.

And then there’s this guy.

If Donald Trump mastered one skill, it was finding ways to get other people to do his work for him. His father, Fred, frequently bailed out his failed business ventures — to the tune of millions of dollars.

Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, wrote a book year titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” In it, she wrote that Trump wanted to enroll in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Trump’s sister, Maryanne, was doing his high school homework. But as Mary Trump wrote, she couldn’t take his tests.

Trump had mediocre grades and worried that his lackluster performance in high school would prevent him from getting in the University of Pennsylvania. So he paid a guy named Joe Shapiro to take the SAT for him, Mary Trump wrote.

To avoid being inducted into the military, Dr. Larry Braunstein made a false diagnosis of bone spurs for Trump in 1968. Braunstein did this as a favor to Fred Trump, the podiatrist’s daughters told The New York Times in 2018.

Trump bankrolled his real estate developments to some extent on the backs of contractors. After hiring them to do specific work on projects, he often refused to pay them for their services.

They either gave up trying to collect the money he owed them or they took him to court. Trump’s attorneys usually delayed the proceedings so long that many of the contractors had to settle for a fraction of the total amount of money he owed them or drop their case entirely.

Many residential projects that bore the Trump name weren’t his doing. Trump and his children lured buyers in by showcasing the Trump brand.

But when people who purchased units complained of incredibly shoddy work, Trump would tell them he’s not responsible. He would license his name to other developers. Owners felt duped because they believed they were buying something that he created.

Trump attracted students interested in pursuing a career in real estate with Trump University. They were led to believe they would have in-person meetings with Trump so they could learn from the best.

But the university turned out to be a YUGE fraud. Much of the “training” was representatives of the school hitting students up for more cash.

Several lawsuits ensued, and a judge approved a $25 million settlement in 2017.

It’s obvious that about the only task Trump is good at is conning people out of their money. But when he entered politics, he found he had another specialty: tapping into their biases, fears and insecurities to control their emotions. And now he’s made himself the center of a cult!

I’d point out the horrible damage Trump did to the country after four years as president, but that should be apparent. The fact that so many Republicans are eager to nominate him to run again in 2024 is a clear sign that they don’t care how corrupt or incompetent he is.

After Powell died last week, Trump sent this comment in an email:

“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”

How petty does a former president have to be to publicly attack a renowned individual who devoted his life to protecting us? Trump is seething with jealousy over the favorable treatment that Powell received, knowing that most Americans don’t hold him in high esteem.

But as bizarre as Trump’s statement is, it’s also very instructive. It shows how Trump realizes that all the money he’s amassed over the years won’t buy him what Powell possessed in abundance: a good reputation.

Trump hates the fact that Powell was an honorable man and he’s not. Powell’s legacy will be his commitment to our nation and the concern he exhibited for his fellow citizens’ well-being. Trump’s legacy will be that he took every opportunity to screw people out of their money and continually acted in his own interests, even when doing so has devastated our country.

Powell represented so much of what conservatives used to promote: self-reliance, honesty, hard work, courage, sacrifice and a commitment to a noble purpose. On the other hand, Trump represents so much of what conservatives used to reject: self-indulgence, deception, victimhood, autocratic power, laziness and a need to prioritize his ego above all else.

Given this, the legacy of Trump’s deluded supporters will be their slave-like devotion to someone who does little but wallow in his own grievances. Sadly, this says a great deal about the Republican Party and the emotionally unstable person now leading it.

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to jmoore@wdt.net. They also may follow him on Twitter: @WDT_OpEd.

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(5) comments

Joseph Savoca

Trump is holding rallies, raising money, leading in the polls for his party's nomination for President, and is obviously running for President again. His conduct and his record for his four year term of office, and his whole life, are entirely newsworthy and relevant to the discussion of what a President should be like and the direction that the country should go in.

KRobbins

Given this, the legacy of Trump’s deluded supporters will be their slave-like devotion to someone who does little but wallow in his own grievances. Sadly, this says a great deal about the Republican Party and the emotionally unstable person now leading it.

The GOP had a choice whether to go in the direction of honorable Republicans like Powell and McCain (who Trump also recently attacked again) or in the direction of a demagogue.

Rolling Stone just dropped an article about 2 organizers of the attempted coup on January 6th who are reportedly going to testify to the committee. Reportedly, there were a number of congresspeople and WH officials deeply involved. That’s involved with truly horrible people like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and that ilk.

There’s no indication of Stefanik’s or other leadership involvement. My question though is, if you’re not part of the crime, why work so hard on the coverup? The adage about the coverup being worse maybe doesn’t apply when they’re both as heinous as they are in this case.

Are Cheney and Kinzinger the only two in the party that see this?

Charlie McGrath

Trump has been out of office for 9 months but since there is nothing good to say about democrats Jerry reverts to the default trash Trump to distract from what is really happening to our country.

hermit thrush

how do you write a piece which involves the legacy of colin powell in an integral way and fail to mention iraq? this is the second time it's happened in this paper. it's true that powell was meaningfully better than trump but his legacy was still bad.

Djp29d

Disgusting article once again Mr. Moore. But I wouldnt expect anything different. Why not just write something nice about colin powell and not use it as a chance to degrade President Trump. GO BRANDON

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