It is dawning on many Americans that they have never experienced a character like Donald Trump wielding the joysticks of power. The Germans might have some advice for that, for they know how it feels when a man rises to power who combines clownishness, narcissism and nefariousness.
That man is Kaiser Wilhelm II, the political oaf with delusions of grandeur who ruled Germany a century ago. Granted, the Germans never elected their emperor. In the end, however, Wilhelm II, who reigned over the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Reich for three momentous decades until the debacle of 1918, was the nation’s political guardian, its ruler and, ultimately, its destiny.
Like Mr. Trump, the Kaiser loathed political correctness. He once called the Prussian statesman and renowned diplomat Otto von Bismarck a “pygmy” — which was actually an improvement over what he called another of his most senior ministers, Bernhard von Bülow — “a slut”.
The eldest grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Kaiser Wilhelm II also had, like Mr. Trump, a caustic relationship with the press. He infamously referred to journalists — along with Jews and mosquitoes, incidentally — as a “plague from which we will have to free ourselves one way or another.”