Leadership: Bullying

Not a Winning Formula

While we digest Trump’s recent Phoenix rant where he viciously attacked the First Amendment, we should also keep our eyes on what is happening in the Senate.
“In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, and berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.” (NYT)
Trump, instead of building a legislative team to enact his agenda, is publicly bullying them at every turn.
He desperately needs McConnell’s total support for budget matters and tax reform yet he openly attacks him and other Republicans.
It’s odd, but perfectly in keeping with his character: he readily deploys anger as his first (and perhaps only) leadership tool, a nasty and counter-productive trait in the real world.
And not just to members of Congress.
It’s reported that his generals were shocked last week in a Situation Room meeting over Afghanistan at how angry Trump became.
Trump’s anger is designed to intimidate opponents, even when the person it is directed towards is neither your enemy nor likely to be intimidated.
The generals are pledged to serve the country, so leading with anger gets Trump nothing and they will suck it up because they have to, but not so with Senator McConnell–he has his own shop to run, with the power to do it.
Trump is so apparently lazy and indifferent about governance that he fails to recognize that the Senate and Congress are endowed with their own significant powers, indeed the founding fathers planned it just that way.
There have been times in our history when Congress clearly led the country when we had either an especially weak president or a dysfunctional one, John Tyler is just one example.


┬áMany people speculate about Trump’s “imperial”, nasty and angry behavior.
Trump didn’t rise to the top by working with and for people, learning to develop constructive and healthy relationships, he was born there and developed a leadership style of either simply issuing decrees or berating all those beneath him.
But even the “silver spoon set” can learn the rules of civility and human nature — Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind.
Roosevelt is so complicated that any single observation runs the risk of getting lost in the maze of his titanic personality, but he was born rich and entitled, enjoying a life of wealth and charm in Manhattan.
We know he stepped away from all of that, living in the West when it was still wild, and then rushing to serve in the Spanish-American War.
He forged enduring friendships borne of hardship and danger.
We also know him as the progressive “Rough Rider” but Roosevelt learned as both governor and president that playing nice with the other side, including Tammany Hall and less progressive Republicans, was the way to get things done.
For many the visual memory of Teddy is always with that gigantic toothy grin suggesting mirth rather than malice.
Theodore Roosevelt was the man, the leader, the president, that Donald Trump could aspire to emulate if he had the human decency and graciousness that Teddy often displayed.
Roosevelt could host a White House dinner, sleep next to a dying campfire on a bitter Dakota night, lead his men into the thick of battle or read the classics on a Sunday afternoon.
He experienced hardship and tragedy; his character surely reflected it.
Perhaps in the future we will be more critical of those who seek to lead but so obviously lack the character to do so.
Woe is the party of Roosevelt and our country.


  • Spot on analysis. Still, I would not rule out the possibility (admittedly remote) that the President may yet learn from his mistakes. Most people do.

    David B.

  • Joe blow says:

    I must have missed the part where he attacked the First Amendment. Of course the Press is free to say whatever they want about Donald Trump, he’s a public figure. But somehow the Press has decided that any criticism of them is an attack on their first amendment right. Here’s news for you, even the President of the United States has First Amendment rights. He would be foolish not to defend himself against what any rational Observer must admit is an onslaught of one-sided criticism from the Press.

    If you don’t think the Press has it in for Trump, I invite you to compare the following two sites. Look at the New York Times, which is hardly pro-trump. Then compare it on the same day to the coverage he receives in the Washington Post. That once respected publication has turned into nothing more then the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.

    I would bet my ‘Make America Great Again’ hat that there were many of our fellow IAFF members in that crowd in Arizona!

    • Eric Lamar says:

      An American president recklessly calling the free press “enemies of the people” is attacking not just the First Amendment but destabilizing our country with his fascist behavior.

      I couldn’t care less how many IAFF members were (or were not) in Phoenix.

      Trump is a cancer on our country.

  • Smitty Connolly says:

    Well said, Eric. Trump has been in fully-bully mode for all to see since he came down the escalator two years ago. We have seen him bully all of his opponents or adversaries even using their families as a tool for bullying, e.g., Ted Cruz’s father and wife. Being a woman is reason enough to be humiliated and bullied by this uncivilized, poor excuse for a man.

    His bullying of the press is even more worrisome. Regardless about how anyone may feel about the “liberal” or “right wing” press, the information provided by and the discussion generated by a free press is critical to the preservation of democracy. Trump has repeatedly attacked the press as an “enemy of the country” and an “enemy of the people.” Such language was prominent in pre-WWII Germany. I pray we are not headed there.
    I would ask that, before we vote again, we first determine if a candidate behaves in a way that is acceptable for an adult, and not in such a way that would cause us to punish our fifth-grade children, and that he/she has a working knowledge of the constitution, the role of the branches of government, and at least some knowledge of seminal periods of human history.

    Thanks to you for your ongoing thoughtful posts.

  • Joe blow says:

    Keep it coming Donald! Your people are with you. They were against him fro the start.
    Is there one pundit on the Sunday shows who is pro Trump? NO. Does any major newspaper have a pro Trump columnist? Not That I know of.

  • Joe blow says:

    No Eric, calling the press the devil incarnate is NOT an attack on the First Amendment. The pedestal that Cronkite and Murrow sat upon has crumbled. They earned the respect of everyone. That respect was NOT their First Amendment right.
    Yesterday, the hot topic was if Trump was crazy. The press that spews that cannot expect to be immune from the harshest criticism.
    Bashing the press does not ‘abridge’ their freedom. Perhaps tapping their phones would be, But that was done by another President named Obama.

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