The Return of the Renaissance Pope

Though it may be unprecedented in American history that Donald Trump is considering giving his family members national security clearance while they run his business, it is not unprecedented historically. Now that Donald Trump is president-elect, are we about to witness the return of the Renaissance pope?

Does he not share similar characteristics with Pope Sixtus IV and Pope Alexander VI, both of whom treated the papacy as a family business, giving out positions of power to sons, nephews, cousins and uncles? These popes could do what they wanted, when they wanted, justifying their actions as coming from God. It was, in fact, Pope Leo X who said, "Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." They could enjoy it unimpeded because God in his graciousness (exclusive to them) gave them a "trump" card to use whenever they needed it. Whenever someone didn't agree to pay them what they wanted, give them land they desired, or rub their backs without their having to reciprocate, they could cry out, "Excommunication!" I suppose we should be grateful that Trump does not have such a trump card. Otherwise 60% of us would be excommunicated. Then again, it might be fitting since his policies--including now nepotism--may very well take us to hell.

If there was ever a need for checks and balances this is the time. Someone needs to check the decision making of Donald Trump. Not only is he asking for National security clearance for his family members, he has hired as part of his White House staff Steve Bannon, a man known for nationalistic, racist views and a temperament worse than Trump's. It can't get much worse, can it? Of course it can. Enter Rudy Giuliani as Secretary of State, possibly the most undiplomatic man in America!

"Let's give him a chance" I have heard since he was nominated last week. Well, we have given him a chance. It's been a week, and I am now more apprehensive than I was a week ago. I know, I should look on the bright side: at least Hitler's not alive to join his cabinet.

I should be appeased to know that Bannon and Giuliani, if not Trump himself, will have limited roles, for the cabinet's key decision maker may be Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. How is that possible, you ask? Did not Congress pass an anti-nepotism law in 1967 that prohibits the president from appointing a family member to work in the office they oversee? I imagine Trump laughing at that law, saying, "I have never seen a law I couldn't break. Have you ever heard of tax evasion?" (Oh, by the way, for the record, Jared Kushner's father, Charles, went to prison for tax evasion more than ten years ago!)

Trump won't need to break the law. He can just circumvent it. Here's how: Since Jared Kushner is already a billionaire, like his father-in-law, he doesn't need a paid position. He can be hired as an unpaid advisor, thereby allowing him to advise Trump and side step ethics rules. Put simply, it means Trump doesn't have to comply with conflict of interest laws.

So there we have it. The country should be at peace knowing his son-in-law (lacking like Donald in government experience) will be whispering into the ear of the president, advising on secretive, high-intelligence issues while helping his wife run the Trump business.

My gosh, we really have evolved since the 15th Century! Who could have believed that a leader today could outdo what the Renaissance popes accomplished years ago?

Believe it, for it is happening.

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