Buffalo developer, landlord, lawyer, activist, political candidate, idealist, and patriot, Carl Paladino met with President-elect Donald Trump last Monday for an hour.
Paladino came and met the great Trump and did not ask for anything.
Some have criticized Paladino for this. Paladino did not lobby Trump for a position in the administration, or for resources for the region, or stances on policy that could benefit Western New York.
Paladino went in instead and offered to help the administration, if he could be of service.
But, he said, he was not looking for or expecting a job or appointment in the Trump administration.
At a time when a literal cavalcade of politicians, lobbyists and wannabes are coming before Trump to flatter and grovel, Carl Paladino came and wanted nothing.
Of course, he had wanted Trump to win. He helped to see that that happened.
Many a coward betrayed Trump at crucial times – ran away when the media howled and came back later as cravens.
But Paladino never flinched when the mainstream media was hysterically lambasting Trump.
Paladino was the only non-cynic in the entire political scene, when he said in effect, “Grow up. All men make sexist comments sometime in their life and so do most women and everybody knows it.”
As lecherous frauds like Joe Biden or Barack Obama and maybe William Jefferson Clinton acted like they were aghast at Trump’s crudeness, Paladino’s widely quoted “so what?” was understood by the people.
So fast forward to the aftermath of the election.
Consider the greatness of the gesture. Paladino meets with Donald Trump and Trump owes him. Based on the normal world of politics, Trump owes Paladino a lot– and Paladino spends an hour with him and doesn’t ask for anything.
All he said was, “Trump, I’m here if you need me.”
Never once, be assured, did it cross his mind, “I’m lower than Trump. I want him to help me be bigger.”
Take away the begging, and Paladino and Trump (like any two men) talk as equals.
They could talk about America based on strength and truthfulness and time honored values. They could talk about smaller, less oppressive government.
And they could be trivial, boastful, ball busting. They could joke or regale each other with fine stories about themselves or others. They could mock each other or swear or tell dirty jokes. Or confess they are mortal and part demon, like all men.
Maybe during that hour of irreverent talk comes one moment of recognition between man and man – that moment of engagement when a man recognizes something of himself in another man.
Like Trump, Paladino is a bull among the herd. He does not tremble at noises. He can get along fine without Donald Trump and vice versa.
Everything you can say about Donald Trump when he ran for president you could have said about Carl Paladino when he ran for governor in one of the most progressive (anti freedom) states in America.
So when the pioneer, Carl Paladino strode into the room where Trump was awaiting, he did more than ask the big man for favors. He showed Trump an American can do a deed and not beg for something in return.
For an hour last Monday, Paladino demonstrated what they meant when they said, ‘all men are created equal’ when he magnificently came and offered service to his country and never once begged for anything from the president elect of the United States who against all odds he helped to elect.
Perhaps that’s what Trump meant when he said “make America Great Again.”