To the robber barons of a century ago, this would have been unthinkable. They drew no such distinctions between the moral and the material world. Bailing out would have implied that the institutions they built--the House of Morgan or Standard Oil--were somehow less than sacred. Providence is not the same thing as a happy accident.

In the gaming model of success, there are no limits on resources. There is instead a steadily enlarging jackpot, and almost anyone can get a seat at the table.
The main requirement is chutzpah, and the big winners are the highest rollers. Here the paragon is Donald Trump, whose real estate empire naturally includes casinos. On the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago, he's on top once more, with a new megatower that will leave the U.N. in its shadow and a new supermodel to keep him company in his private plane, which is furnished with a double bed and Impressionist canvases and is stocked with his favorite cream-filled cookies.

When Trump began testing the presidential waters last month, he was asked to cite his credentials. His reply was blunt: "It's success." Measuring himself against his rivals, he said that he might not know much about the minutiae of policy, but so what? "Did they make billions of dollars in a short period of time? No. Could they...? No." Besides, as he pointed out, guys like Al Gore and Bill Bradley are dull. When Trump goes on television--doing "Face the Nation," "Meet the Press," "Larry King"--he gets better ratings than they do. Doesn't that mean the people prefer him?

When Donald Trump was asked to cite his credentials for president, his reply was blunt:
"It's success."

Maureen Dowd has remarked that Trump's White House fantasies are the equivalent of those harbored by the contestants on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." She wonders if the credo of the '80s, "Greed is good," might be creeping back into fashion and fears that we're all becoming characters in an Ayn Rand power novel: "Everybody wants to spin that wheel and make a mil--on TV, on the Internet, on stocks and on the playing field." But of course greed never went away. There's just a lot more loot floating around. The current issue of Civilization magazine includes a photo of a man at a software convention, dollars spilling out of his fists. He had been playing a game, the magazine explains, in which contestants are showered with cash and get to keep all they can grab.

Success has become a synonym for luck. Even Norman Podhoretz, a sage of 70, semi-retired from Commentary, is getting in on the game. Some months ago, after the publication of his latest book, he let it be known that he was interested in doing an interview with Don Imus. A decade or two ago, he told me, he wouldn't have dreamed of such a thing. But hey, he wanted to sell some books. And who was I to criticize? I had gladly done my spot with Imus, too. Still, it makes you pine, at least a little, for John D. Rockefeller's dimes, though not for his sermons.