President-elect Trump at Valley Forge
Throughout history, people have admired my letters, then my speeches, then my radio addresses and finally my tweets. People have looked to my words for inspiration and sometimes, I think, just to feel better about themselves.
I’m honored to think that just by saying something, I can make other people feel better about themselves. That is, I suppose, the mark of a great man and I recently said as much to my dear friend Dr. Seuss, who I’ve collaborated with on several occasions. I told him point blank, “I am a great man.” You can ask him. He might put it a little differently, but essentially that is what I said, “I am a great man.”
Some of my greatest moments, though, the moments I have been most proud of, and my family will back me up on this, have been those times when I didn’t say anything. I know. It’s hard to believe, but trust me.
One of those times was Christmas night in the winter of 1776. The Redcoats...and I have to say, I’m kind of a flashy guy myself in a non-threatening way but for the life of me I don’t understand bright red uniforms in a war, but anyway, the Redcoats were camped in Trenton and we were on the other side of the Delaware River in Valley Forge, freezing our asses off. You know, now that I think about it, I think they were Hessian soldiers in Trenton so forget all that stuff about Redcoats.
But we were freezing our asses off so I told Washington to stop being so stupid. I told him it was time to turn the tide of the war around. I showed him how a surprise attack would catch the Germans off-guard, which pretty much goes without saying, because that’s what a surprise attack does. Am I right? Of course, I’m right. Why wouldn’t I be? Still, I remember saying it anyway.
Even back then, I had a pretty good success rate so once I put the idea on the table, I was pretty sure Washington would see it made sense. I have this knack for these kind of things—these idea things. Anyway, Washington listened and the decision was made to sneak across the river.
Things were going good until Washington’s inexperience almost killed the whole deal.
I was in my boat, hunkered down so no one could see me when I looked over and saw the general. He was standing up in his boat in that all familiar but annoying, “hey, look at me” pose, flag unfurled behind him and I’m not sure but there might have been someone piping on a fife and someone else beating his drum.
There was another guy in another boat painting the whole scene, for what reason, I don’t know...maybe for the general’s Christmas card. I couldn’t help thinking, why don’t you just send a Currier and Ives over to tell them we’re coming.
Anyway, I signaled over to Washington to sit his ass down and stop showboating, which given that he was in a boat and putting on a show, really was showboating, in the worse way, or the best way—I dunno.
These are my thoughts on showboating. If I’m doing it and it’s called for and it’s done in good taste, it’s okay. But if someone else is doing it—I mean really? That’s just the way I feel.
The good news is that in spite of Washington’s antics, we made it across the river and caught the Hessians with their pants down.
Long story short, I went on to win the war, but the country elected Washington its first president. I think that picture had a lot to do with it because I actually have more bankruptcies than Washington has war victories. Go figure.
As a businessman, I can certainly understand the art of self-promotion. I’ve got to hand it to him. That picture was huge.
Nevertheless, I swore to myself that day that I would never let another man—whether it be some bum on the corner or the father of our country—get the better of me.