Bullies tend to surround themselves with syncopates that reinforce and even emulate his or her behavior. If they fail to back him up and agree with him, the bully either pulls them in line or cuts them off.
I have been watching the behavior of our President during his campaign and through these first raucous months in office.
At first I thought that surely this man would soon realize that he held a sacred trust that was entirely different from the positions of television star, business executive, or philanderer that had been his from the early days of his life. Of course, I said to myself, sensible and respected people would impress upon him that instead of being able to do as he pleased, as he had with employees and partners in the private sector, he needed to come to understand that governing a nation comprised of people with diverse needs, agendas, and feelings about him would be drastically different than entertaining television viewers that gleefully watch him verbally eviscerate contestants on his “reality show”. And that, instead of toadying subordinates dependent upon him for their livelihood, he was linked to two co-equal branches of government that jealously guarded their own rights and powers and should respect members of those bodies.
On the international stage, I had hoped that he would realize that he no longer wielded absolute power to make and enforce decisions and personal whims upon whomever he pleased. Rather I saw that when his unfettered gift for hyperbole and demeaning insult was targeted at other countries and heads of state, consequences ranging from cold receptions to possible unfavorable trade and treaty actions came into play. As a result, not surprisingly, many heads of independent states took offense at his boorish and unstatesman-like rantings.
Now as I witness no maturing of his behavior and outlook, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Trump is the epitome of a grown up school yard bully.
You either remember or have heard of those children who delighted in picking on those who were unable to retaliate. Mr. Trump appears to feel that name-calling an adversary and threatening him is the essence of presidential behavior. If that is not enough, he feels it appropriate to use crude language in labelling athletes who have the nerve to exercise their right to free speech by sitting or kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before their games.
Most of these school yard bullies were quick to hide behind bigger brothers or fathers, or just covered up their misbehavior with bluster and denial; Mr. Trump can hide behind his military and his executive privilege. Bullies also tend to surround themselves with syncopates that reinforce and even emulate his or her behavior. If they failed to back him up and agree with him, the bully either pulled them in line or cut them off.
The similarity here is in how I see Mr. Trump dealing with cabinet members and appointees who dare to not fall into slavish step and nod like a cheap bobble head doll; they get demeaned in public and practically pushed out the door or isolated and ignored. Senators and Representatives that do not get legislation written and passed as Mr. Trump demands are publicly castigated in no uncertain terms. And no one can possibly be surprised when cabinet member after cabinet member gets cited for extravagant travel arrangements at tax payer expense or family and staff members have meetings with questionable agendas that would aid Mr. Trump. Why should they feel any restraint in any area when their leader feels none?
The huge and potentially catastrophic difference between Mr. Trump and the school yard bully is that when the bully’s bluff is called he often folds and is humbled and sometimes humiliated. But in the future when Mr. Trump’s bluff is called, we will be the ones that will foot the monetary bill, and, perhaps even more tragic, our children and grandchildren may be called upon to back his irrational actions with blood on battlefields yet undetermined.