By Dale Lucht
A hundred years ago there was an American megalomaniac millionaire that flirted with running for office. His name was William Randolph Hearst. A cursory examination of his life reveals a sick and twisted person who’s only thrill in life was making money and acquiring things, and also breaking people who stood in his way. In 1941, Hollywood’s wunderkind Orson Welles released a movie, Citizen Kane. The movie was loosely based on Hearst, and Hearst, like most megalomaniacs, didn’t like being belittled. Hearst tried to destroy the movie, and although it garnered a few Academy Awards it was by and large forgotten. Welles was primarily forced to make movies in Europe. Some film critics believe that Citizen Kane just might be the best movie ever made.
At the beginning of the movie as Kane dies he mutters the word “Rosebud”. The rest of the movie is flashbacks of his life. At the end of the movie we learn that “Rosebud” was the name written on his sled. Perhaps the last time he was truly happy was sledding down the hills outside of his family’s cabin.
The similarities between William Randolph Hearst, Charles Foster Kane and Donald John Trump are amazing. All three inherited wealth and then worked diligently to expand their wealth and influence over everybody. Hearst ran for governor of New York and failed, in the movie Kane also ran for governor and lost, and in real life Trump ran for president and won. Were the voters a century ago more intelligent?
Another similarity is their homes. I’ve been to the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. A feudal estate comes to mind when I try to describe it. Acres and acres of ranchland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. High on a hill sits the castle with a couple of swimming pools and a statue of Neptune looking down on the frolickers. Many bedrooms for his guests and one for his Mistress near his own. He imported many marble statues from Europe. Charles Kane also imported statues and other artifacts to his property called Xanadu. Xanadu was also a large mansion and his over-consumption of artifacts was displayed; they were kept in crates because he didn’t have the room to display them all. A Hearst contemporary Marjorie Merriweather Post built a vast estate in Florida. It is now owned by Trump and called Mar-a-Lago. Most of Trump’s homes have gold plating that tries to evoke the divine rights of kings; think Trump Tower.
It is hard to figure out exactly what Trump believes in. It seems that he believes in whatever the last person he talked to believes in. Again I’m reminded of the movie, the character Jedidiah Leland, who was once Kane’s best friend, said, “I don’t suppose anybody ever had so many opinions. But he never believed in anything except Charlie Kane.”
It’s not surprising then to find out that Citizen Kane is Trumps favorite movie. However I’m not sure Trump fully understood the movie. He said, “It was a great rise in Citizen Kane. And there was a modest fall.” We don’t know yet if Donald Trump will have a fall; signs sure point to that. Will he have regrets? Will they be regrets in the people he trusted, or will they be in decisions that he made? Will he learn anything in this life? Will he have a “Rosebud” moment?