I haven’t wanted to blog about the riots sweeping across America simply because it’s too painful. But, after yesterday I feel a need to write. Not so much about the protesters or the out-of-control cops, but about leadership. Actually, about the lack of leadership at all levels of government. And in particular about the lack of leadership from a very small man in particular.
This very small man would be the person occupying our White House, a man expected to provide leadership during difficult times.
Contempt for Bullies
I grew up being bullied on a regular basis. On occasion I stood up to those bullies and on occasion I won. But most of the time I was overwhelmed when “stand up and fight” only got me beaten down more. Then I was accused of causing trouble and punished by the very people who should have been protecting me.
Those experiences taught me what bullies look like, how they act, and what a person who punches down is really all about. They are fucking cowards. A person who punches down – abuses people weaker than them – is someone who needs to feel good about themselves by making other people weak. These people don’t just grow up and grow out of being bullies. They grow up and find new creative ways of punching down.
They do this because they never grow out of the need to make people around them weak so they can feel strong. These people also attract followers of even smaller, weaker underlings who soak in the image of strength the bully projects.
To this day, I can sense a bully personality the moment I see one. I’m usually able to spot this long before anyone around me can. My reactions typically lead to getting reprimanded for “not playing nice with others” by the very people who should be fucking listening to me.
As a leader, particularly while in the navy, my take on leadership was to protect the people I was in charge of from being bullied. Navy life gives weak people many avenues for punching down other people. I am proud to say the bullies around me – fellow Chiefs, commissioned officers, even the occasional civil service type – typically hated me. However, most of the people I was responsible for respected what I did. This was really the only thing I cared about as a leader.
Anyone can look good to their superiors. A true leader is respected by the people under the person.
A leader is also someone who can act effectively in a crisis. Anyone can function in day-to-day handling routine stuff and look effective. It’s when shit hits the fan, when everyone turns to the person “in charge” and asks “what do we do?” that the leadership abilities come out. Or they don’t.
A Very Small Man
Which brings me to the current occupant of our White House. I make no secret about despising trump. I was never a trump fan even back when he was a private citizen. In fact I considered him somewhat of a failed clown. As a New York City expat, I was also somewhat embarrassed by him; even though I recognize even native New Yorkers have a few bad apples.
I was horrified when trump announced he was running for president. Unlike many people I never considered his campaign a joke. From the moment trump announced his candidacy I was scared – because I suspected he could win. I saw the bully in him and knew too many other people either wouldn’t see it, or wouldn’t care. Worse yet, I knew too many other people would become followers who soaked in the illusion of trump’s strength.
Everything I saw of trump on the campaign trail confirmed my initial impressions that he was a bully. Everything I saw confirmed my impression of a very small man who acted tough. Trump also acted rich, and acted smart, and acted competent – and I could see through all those acts as well. I was mocked for being “partisan” by too many people, but in reality I would have opposed trump regardless of which political party he ran under.
Leadership Challenges for A Very Small Man
Which brings me to now. Trump was pretty lucky his first three years occupying our White House. He surrounded himself with scads of small weak people who willingly allowed themselves to be used as his playthings. There were enough small weak underlings in the Senate and House of Representatives (Republicans) who covered for him. Because of these people, sacrificial offerings to the Gods of Illusion, trump seemed destined to get away with being small. He even looked to get re-elected, possibly even with a majority of the popular vote. Then COVID-19 happened.
For the first time in his life, trump went head-to-head with something that can’t be bullied – COVID-19. Which ends up leaving trump looking small as thousands of Americans die. In his first crisis, American’s looked to trump and collectively asked “what do we do?” Trump’s response was “I’m not responsible. Ask someone else.”
To add crisis on top of crisis; on May 25 a cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, murdered an unarmed American citizen who was already handcuffed and lying face down on the pavement in front of three other cops and people openly videotaping. Then the cop tried to lie about how the man died. Unfortunately for the cop, the videotape found it’s way to this newfangled thing called “Social Media” and spread across the US even faster than COVID-19.
A Very Small Moment for a Very Small Man
No one could have predicted that seeing a completely defenseless man murdered by a cop in broad daylight, in public, would infuriate millions of Americans who still have their soul. Protests started almost immediately. With the all-too-predictable knee-jerk police response of adding fuel to the fire by trying to snuff out American’s rights of free speech, the protests grew larger and more violent.
This was where trump really needed to step up and grow into his role as president. As protests grew larger and more widespread, people looked to trump, asking “what do we do?” Trump answered this question by – hiding in his underground bunker with the house lights off.
Yesterday, Monday June 1, trump finally exceeded all expectations by responding to this latest crisis on top of crisis. He started the morning by talking to his best friend Vladimir Putin. Then followed by talking to all state Governors about the current protests and how to deal with them. Calling the governors weak, demanding a show of force, and threatening to use our military against fellow Americans, was part of the call. By evening, even that wasn’t enough toughness for our coward-in-chief.
Yesterday evening, trump had federal law enforcement officials use tear-gas and rubber bullets to clear away peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park, across from the White House. Once cleared, trump walked across the street surrounded by his security forces and underlings, stood in front of a church damaged a few days earlier, and had his picture taken holding up a book purported to be a bible.
He was obviously trying to look tough. To look like a leader. To my eyes, he came across as small and weak. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever before seen anyone look so small.
A Small, Weak, Cowardly Man
This was all the work of a bully – a man who has no business filling the role of American President and Leader of the Free World. Some writers are now calling this “the end of the trump presidency.” But, it’s not. We’re stuck with trump until January 20, 2021, at least, maybe longer. But regardless of what happens, trump has proven to all the world that he’s a small, weak, man. A false front hiding an empty shell completely lacking compassion, intelligence, and strength. An empty shell of a man completely lacking courage.
His underlings know this. Even the many sycophants who publicly support him know this. Better yet; trump knows this. There’s nothing he can ever do to make himself more than he is right now.
- Level of World Stupid Rapidly Increasing. An April First post that sadly was too prophetic.
- Stay-At-Home Day Thirty and Counting. A Coronavirus pandemic story.
- A Great Man Praising A Great man. Former President Obama’s eulogy for the late Congressman John Lewis.
June 6, 2020 Editor Notes; Made minor editorial changes.