By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
Okay, before we all get high and mighty about Donald Trump’s erratic and unpredictable behavior, let’s admit there is a little bit of Trump in all of us.
Have you ever lost an argument on the facts and refused to admit it? Have you ever tried to prop yourself up with assumptions of greatness based on vanity? Have you ever been caught in a lie and refused to acknowledge it? Have you ever thrown a temper tantrum or have been needlessly nasty with some person? I plead guilty to all of the above. How about you?
The difference is that the president of the United States does not have the luxury of such shallowness and self-absorption, and certainly not on an ongoing basis. The consequences can be terrifying. It is immature, but more to the point such mercurial unsteadiness is dangerous.
With age and experience comes some degree of wisdom, introspection and hopefully compassion. Adolescent children and especially teenagers can be mean spirited, cruel and impulsive. But most outgrow such juvenile traits over time and evolve into better selves from a life of successes and disappointments.
But President Donald Trump has shown no such personal growth or predilection beyond the immediacy of his ego gratification and seemingly obsessive need to be boss and always right.
Last week alone, Trump lied about his campaign’s contact with Russian operatives and blamed the “dishonest news media” for reporting the story, which resulted in the dismissal of his senior intelligence advisor, General Michael Flynn. Trump can never admit to mistakes or own up to failures. This is a serious psychological flaw in any adult, but deadly for a president. For Trump’s fragile ego, every setback or error, every criticism of him is attributed to either the system being rigged against him or somehow “fake.” This reply has become his mantra.
In President Kennedy’s first months in office he made a colossal blunder in approving the Bay of Pigs invasion but not protecting the Cuban freedom fighters who tried to initiate an insurgency against the Castro regime. The reneging of U.S. military support, as promised, resulted in the capture of hundreds of Cuban nationals and the death of dozens.
Kennedy owned up to that mistake and accepted full responsibility, and arguably learned from it. That is what a mature and confident presidents does. It’s President’s Week and these are things that we should think about.
At one time or the other, all of us behave irrationally, dishonestly or petulantly… just not all the time, and not for all our lives.