THE 10th Great Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), had a reputation for knowledge-driven leadership that made him the greatest sultan of the empire.
His reign was so progressive and deeply impactful that historians suggested it took hundreds of years of mediocre and debauched successors to bankrupt it.
That of Alexander the Great (356 BC – 323 BC) barely exceeded one generation after his death before the empire was torn to pieces, but his impact is felt all over the world to this day.
Regarded as one of history’s most successful and accomplished military commanders, he was so enamoured of learning that he said he was indebted to his father for living, and to his teacher, Aristotle, for living well.
History is not ignorant of accomplished leaders, but it is very familiar with mediocre leaders.
Indeed the history of the world is one unending stretch of mediocrity punctuated by a few bright and brilliant hiatuses.
These hiatuses can also be found in industrialised democracies, not just developing nations.
Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who served as prime minister for nine cumulative years, is an example of the modern veneration of mediocrity as he exemplified a regime of lies and sex virtually throughout his leadership.
Should Donald Trump, the business tycoon and frontrunner in the ongoing Republican Party nomination race become candidate of his party, the world would begin to consider whether American politics had not succumbed to mediocrity.
But against all odds, Mr Trump is the man to beat in the Republican Party, despite copious and callous display of irreverence, embarrassing adulation of violence, and insensitive and divisive comments on religion, gender and immigration.
Though he was first thought of as a joke in the race, Mr Trump has cleverly latched on to many popular sentiments sweeping through American homes and communities.
He will ride on that wave until he crests at the convention in Cleveland, Ohio when the party is supposed to coronate its standard-bearer.
Republican Party leaders were at first horrified to even imagine the sexist and anti-establishment businessman could be their standard-bearer.
Now, though they wish for a contested convention, party leaders are not hopeful that if Mr Trump is denied coronation they would still have a united party going into the election in November.
The aspirant himself has made it difficult, through incendiary speeches, for party bosses to countenance pulling the carpet from under his feet.
Given the rebellious mood in America, it is not certain who will win the presidential election.
But Mr Trump has registered enough impact to impress his participation on many minds.
In speeches after speeches, and abuse after abuse, not to say snide remarks after sarcastic remarks, many Americans and the rest of the world are waiting on a knife-edge to see whether the damage to U.S. reputation by Mr Trump would end as a false alarm.
Should Mr Trump go all the way to November, the damage would indeed be substantial. And in the unlikely event he wins, it would be a horrendous spectacle for the leader of the free world, as Americans like to pride themselves, to offer to humanity a man who shoots first and asks questions later, someone who in effect shoots from the hip.
The damage would be permanent, a reminder that great leadership is not only declining all over the world but that poor leadership has in fact been the norm since the dawn of civilisation.