Leadership: Liars, Cheats and Thieves

Wishing for Incompetence

Oh, for the good old days when the misdeeds and blunders of our leaders were policy-related and borne of incompetence.

The worst disasters were errant and stupid wars where presidents led us into military quicksand even when the writing was on the wall.

Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Johnson didn’t start us on the road to ruin in Vietnam, but he was at the wheel when he pushed the gas pedal to the floor.

This, after the Vietnamese had already defeated the French, causing them to walk away in 1954 with over 75,000 killed.

We fared little better with 58,000 dead, 21 years later.


George W. Bush committed one of the most egregious foreign policy blunders of the last 100 years when he  de-stabilized all of the middle east and much of Asia by toppling Saddam Hussein without a back-up plan, creating ISIS along the way while leaving Iran triumphant and the undisputed regional power.

At least George H.W. Bush knew how to conduct a limited war with allied support.

G. H. W. Bush

Even Ronald Reagan’s Iran/Contra fiasco, coordinated by that bumbling fool Oliver North, had a policy objective though it was a comic opera, complete with a baked cake and stinger missiles.


And then there was Bill Clinton and the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi, where we stood back as 800,000 people were hacked to death.  Secretary of State Madeline Albright forbade her staff from even using the word “genocide” because doing so would trigger mandated action, a nice little bit of moral abdication.


It’s been a longtime since a U.S. President surrounded himself with shills who lied for his personal gain.

You have to rewind to Richard Nixon to find a president who lied and cheated and had lawyer lackeys doing his dirty work, including his Attorney General, John Mitchell.

(Except, of course, Clinton’s appalling pardon of Marc Rich, aided and abetted by then Attorney General Eric Holder.)

If Donald Trump read, even at all, he might know that the lawyers are often the undoing.


Nixon’s White House council, John Dean, is the one who finally decorated the tree with the details after Alexander Butterfield let slip (on purpose?) that Nixon was taping his communications.

But even Richard Nixon, as venal and nasty as he was, managed at least to usually play the public part as president, while he cursed and fulminated in private.

Donald Trump’s personal and presidential persona and his objectives, if they can be called that, are the same, unmoored, for his personal benefit and narcissistic.

If you ever wondered what a Ross Perot presidency might have been like, perhaps this is it.

Some boardroom billionaire latches onto public discontent and winds up in the Oval Office faced with a Constitution, co-equal governmental branches and checks and balances.

Those barriers, very purposely included by the Founding Fathers, are what will save American Democracy, little by little from the crisis we are in.

The Fathers understood that one day we might find ourselves with a leader lacking in both principles and conscience and they engineered a fix for that.

Long live the Founding Fathers.

Let’s get back to good old policy blunders and gross ineptitude. 



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