Jokers Are Wild

Every chief executive, including Trump, should have a staff jester


Life Issues

In medieval times, jokers — also called court fools or jesters — had the dangerous role of counseling a monarch, with the tacit understanding that the joker’s life was sacrosanct and would not be forfeited for honestly doing his job. He could say anything to belittle the king, who believed he had a divine right to rule as he saw fit. That was the fool’s unique role in God’s script. No one else would dare to do it because of the risk. A sharp-tongued Anne Boleyn predictably lost her head by criticizing her husband, King Henry VIII.

The official function of the court jester was to remind a king of his fallibility whenever he started thinking himself a god-king who could do no wrong. The jester would provide an honest appraisal of his king’s character flaws — of the way he addressed Privy Council, or acted before his subjects. Jesters were to keep senile emperors from wearing no clothes.

An exalted regent needs an honest jester because life at the top of any pecking order is lonely. Deflating frequent episodes of narcissistic megalomania requires the skills of a trusted counselor, one who can deliver derisive comments over a few drinks. Shakespeare gave King Lear a confidant who could tell his sire the unvarnished truth.

That’s why every chief executive should have a staff jester. Donald Trump doesn’t have one. In fact, he has become his own fool, which is counterproductive. The media lampoons President Trump’s pro-life stance, nationalism, and strict immigration policy as political buffoonery, not so much because of what he says but how he says it. Since his election, he has poked opponents with nonstop, vengeful, unpresidential mockeries in tweets and press conferences. Ugly stuff.

Why doesn’t he hire an august senior advisor who’s been around and knows the ropes? Because only a comedian wit could get away unscathed after saying, “You sounded like a blithering idiot in that impromptu speech of yours. You know next to nothing about history and make up everything as you go. You believe in ‘telling it like it is’ but won’t allow your closest staff members to do so. Your name-calling, offensive imitations, and unapologetic style all smack of unintelligent humor. If you don’t change your ways, voters with strip you of your official power and prestige.”

Trump has already fired a long list of staffers. So what’s left are yes-men, sycophants frightened for their jobs. They roll their eyes and zip their lips. He’s the joker gone wild in a stacked deck, Trump-ing all other cards.

Daniel the prophet endeavored to advise King Nebuchadnezzar, whose megalomania rejected advice. It’s a difficult, if not impossible, disease to cure, except by the hand of God, who sentenced the king to humiliating madness for seven years, eating grass like an ox on his hands and knees (cf. Dan 4:28-34). It would take an act of God to bring Trump to his knees.

I am worried Trump’s conservative, pro-life judicial appointments will be countered by a 2020 election loss to Democrats. Therefore, I see him as by far the lesser of two evils. I’ll not judge him by his crude manners or his offensive talk. In promoting pro-family traditionalism he has done more than any American president. His actions speak to me louder than his words. I view him as against radical Left extremists intent on America’s demise.

By keeping his own counsel, Trump has a fool for a client. But despite his many faults and the polling odds, with God’s help, Christian conservatives may enjoy another win.


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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