As the first leader of a fledgling United States of America, George Washington is universally recognized as "The Father of His Country", Abraham Lincoln earned the nickname of "The Great Emancipator" for ending slavery in America, Ronald Reagan was known as "The Great Communicator" for his skill at delivering a message. Our 45th president, Donald J. Trump has been referred to as "The Donald" when his then-wife Ivana, while honing her English language skills, regularly added "The" in front of everyone's first name.
Trump obviously liked that moniker's ring so much that the divorced the couple fought over which would retain rights to "The Donald" as a brand name.
But since election as de facto leader of the free world, Trump continues to act, in word and deed, more in the manner of the reality television star that he created with "The Apprentice" game show. As such, he for years has closely resembled the title character in "The Wizard of Oz."
Lawsuits (settled out of court) against the diploma mill Trump University could easily follow the Great Oz's remarks to the scarecrow who want a brain, "Why, anybody can have a brain. ... Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.
President Trump's berating the national press corps for questioning his statements and actions, via Twitter and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, is not so different from The Great Oz saying, "Do you presume to criticize the Great Oz? You ungrateful creatures. Think yourselves lucky that I'm giving you an audience tomorrow, instead of 20 years from now."
And how uncomfortably accurate this exchange between the fictional characters Oz and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, can mirror our new president and the American public, regardless of whether or not they voted for the Republican candidate.
Oz: Look, I know I'm not the wizard that you expected. But I might just be the wizard that you need.
Glinda: You said you were just a con man.
Glinda: Nothing but a trickster?
Glinda: A terrible cheat!
Oz: The best there is.
Glinda: A carnival magician's going to put on a show.
Oz: I'll put on the show of a lifetime! The likes of which the land of Oz has never seen! Magic! Mystery! Prestidigitation! It'll be my greatest trick yet.
Though it has been used time and time again in discussions of politics and politicians, the phrase "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" — uttered by Oz when Toto exposes him as nothing supernatural or omniscient but only human — has perhaps been so appropriate as today.
But "The Donald" is not the Wizard of Oz and downplay his far ranging powers at your and our own peril. Don't expect legions of flying monkeys to fill the skies anytime some, but none can recall any government like today's. And we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Mike O'Neal, assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger, can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 706-638-1859.