Buenos Aires, 2013. At the ripe age of 76, Jorge Mario Bergoglio seems destined to wind down an illustrious career in the Catholic hierarchy as the widely respected and mostly beloved Archbishop of the Argentine capital. But the Holy Spirit (and the College of Cardinals) was destined to intervene, sending the Jesuit prelate to become the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Today, four years into his papacy, Francis, now 80, is on yet another far-flung mission impossible. His two-day visit to Egypt comes three weeks after a terrorist attack on a Coptic Christian church killed 44 on Palm Sunday. The manipulation of faith to provoke violence is one of the great plagues of our times. And though there seems to be little that either religious or political leaders can add to what has already been said, Francis is making the trip to say it again. That's what popes do.
Francis, himself, confessed earlier this year to not really enjoying travel, in an interview with La Stampa"s Vatican correspondent Andrea Tornielli. "When I was in Buenos Aires, I would come to Rome only if necessary, and would avoid going if I could. It was always hard on me being away from my diocese," he said. "Beyond that, I'm mostly a creature of habit."
But in the first months of his papacy, seeing reports of migrants dying trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa, Francis realized he had to visit such places "to encourage the seeds of hope." In 18 separate trips, he has now visited 28 countries outside of Italy since his election. Yes indeed, this is what popes do.
New York, 2015. At the nearly ripe age of 68, Donald J. Trump figures a no-holds-barred run for the White House is the ideal marketing campaign to cap an illustrious career of putting his name and face in the spotlight. A perfect storm of populist anger and weak opponents (and the Electoral College) was destined to intervene, sending the slightly stunned real estate baron to Washington to become the 45th President of the United States of America.
Saturday marks the 100th day of this most unlikely presidency. In a series of interviews, Trump, now 70, has been touting his achievements as only a lifelong adman knows how. Whether it stacks up with reality is a source of hot debate online and off. But another, perhaps more revealing moment in his 100-day sales pitch came when he confessed to feeling, well, overworked.
"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview Thursday. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier. … I do miss my old life. This — I like to work. But this is actually more work."
Trump was also adjusting to the security constraints of being president, including being able to get in his own car. "I like to drive," he said. "I can't drive any more."
As far as longer travel goes, Trump's first foreign trip is upcoming, to Italy, as it turns out, for next month's G7 summit. In the meantime, he has flown down to Florida to play golf at his own private country club 18 times. That's what real estate barons who become presidents do.