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PRESIDENTS: THE LOVED, THE FEARED AND THE IGNORED: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 28, 2021 at 12:13 am

American Presidents—like politicians everywhere–strive to be loved. There are two primary reasons for this.

First, even the vilest dictators want to believe they are virtuous—and that their goodness is rewarded by the love of their subjects.

Second, it’s universally recognized that a leader who’s beloved has greater clout than one who isn’t. 

PERCEIVED WEAKNESS INVITES CONTEMPT

But those—like Barack Obama—who strive to avoid conflict often get treated with contempt and hostility by their adversaries.

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling.

Barack Obama

In Renegade: The Making of a President, Richard Wolffe chronicled Obama’s successful 2008 bid for the White House. Among his revelations:

Obama, a believer in rationality and decency, felt more comfortable in responding to attacks on his character than in attacking the character of his enemies.

A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama was one of the most academically gifted Presidents in United States history.

Yet he failed to grasp and apply this fundamental lesson taught by Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science:

A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good. And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.

This explains why Obama found most of his legislative agenda stymied by Republicans.

For example: In 2014, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY.) sought to block David Barron, Obama’s nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rand Paul

Paul objected to Barron’s authoring memos that justified the killing of an American citizen by a drone in Yemen on September 30, 2011.

The target was Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric notorious on the Internet for encouraging Muslims to attack the United States.

Paul demanded that the Justice Department release the memos Barron crafted justifying the drone policy.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Imagine how Republicans would depict Paul—or any Democratic Senator—who did the same with a Republican President: “Rand Paul: A traitor who supports terrorists. He sides with America’s sworn enemies against its own lawfully elected President.”

But Obama did nothing of the kind.

(On May 22, 2014, the Senate voted 53–45 to confirm Barron to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.)

USING TOO MUCH FEAR CAN BACKFIRE

But Presidents—like Donald Trump—who seek to rule primarily by fear can encounter their own limitations. 

During a 2016 interview, he told legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward: “Real power is—I don’t even want to use the word—fear.”

As both a Presidential candidate and President, Trump repeatedly used Twitter to attack hundreds of real and imagined enemies in politics, journalism, TV and films.

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, Trump fired almost 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions that had somehow offended him.

Related image

Donald Trump

The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them.

As President, he aimed outright hatred at President Obama. He spent much of his Presidency trying to destroy Obama’s signature legislative achievement: The Affordable Care Act, which provides access to medical care to millions of poor and middle-class Americans.

Trump also refused to reach beyond the narrow base of white, racist, ignorant, hate-filled, largely rural voters who had elected him.

And he bullied and insulted even White House officials and his own handpicked Cabinet officers. Trump:

  • Waged a Twitter-laced feud against Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General. Sessions’ “crime”? Recusing himself from investigations into well-established ties between Russian Intelligence agents and members of Trump’s Presidential campaign.
  • Repeatedly humiliated Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus—at one point ordering him to kill a fly that was buzzing about. On July 28, 2017, Priebus resigned.
  • Tongue-lashed Priebus’ replacement, former Marine Corps General John Kelly. Trump was reportedly angered by Kelly’s efforts to limit the number of advisers who had unrestricted access to him. Kelly told colleagues he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of military service—and would not tolerate it again.

If Trump ever read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, he had clearly forgotten this passage:

“Cruelties ill committed are those which, although at first few, increase rather than diminish with time….Whoever acts otherwise….is always obliged to stand with knife in hand, and can never depend on his subjects, because they, owing to continually fresh injuries, are unable to depend upon him.”

And this one:

“Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred.”

On that point alone, Trump proved an absolute failure. He not only committed outrages, he boasted about them. He aroused both fear and hatred.

Or, as Cambridge Professor of Divinity William Ralph Inge put it: “A man may build himself a throne of bayonets, but he can’t sit on it.”

Trump nevertheless tried—and paid the price for it. On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 fed-up voters evicted him for former Vice President Joe Biden.

And despite committing a series of illegal actions to remain in office, he stayed evicted.

PRESIDENTS: THE LOVED, THE FEARED AND THE IGNORED: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 27, 2021 at 12:05 am

Is it better to be loved or feared?

That was the question Florentine statesman Niccolo Machiavelli raised more than 500 years ago.

Presidents have struggled to answer this question—and have come to different conclusions.

LOVE ME, FEAR MY BROTHER

Most people felt irresistibly drawn to John F. Kennedy (1961-63). Even his political foe, Henry Luce, the conservative publisher of Time, once said, “He makes me feel like a whore.”

But JFK could afford to bask in the love of others—because his younger brother, Robert, was the one who inspired fear.

Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy

He had done so as Chief Counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee (1957-59), grilling Mafia bosses and corrupt union officials—most notably Teamsters President James Hoffa.

Appointed Attorney General by JFK, he unleashed the FBI and the IRS on the Mafia. When the steel companies colluded in an inflationary rise in the price of steel in 1962, Bobby sicced the FBI on them.

In 1963, JFK’s cavorting with Ellen Rometsh threatened to destroy his Presidency. Rometsch, a Washington, D.C. call girl, was suspected by the FBI of being an East German spy.

With Republican Senators preparing to investigate the rumors, Bobby ordered Rometsch—a German citizen—deported immediately.

BEING LOVED AND FEARED

In the 1993 movie, A Bronx Tale, 17-year-old Calogero (Lillo Brancato) asks his idol, the local Mafia capo, Sonny (Chazz Palminteri): “Is it better to be loved or feared?”

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Sonny gives advice to his adopted son, Calogero

Sonny says if he had to choose, he would rather be feared. But he adds a warning straight out of Machiavelli: “The trick is not being hated. That’s why I treat my men good, but not too good.

“I give too much, then they don’t need me. I give them just enough where they need me, but they don’t hate me.”

Machiavelli, writing in The Prince, went further:

“Still a Prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred, for fear and the absence of hatred may well go together.”

Many who quote Machiavelli in defense of being feared overlook this vital point: It’s essential to avoid becoming hated.

To establish a fearful reputation, a leader must act decisively and ruthlessly when the interests of the organization are threatened. Punitive action must be taken promptly and confidently.

One or two such actions can inspire more fear than a reign of terror.

In fact, it’s actually dangerous to constantly employ cruelties or punishments. Whoever does so, warns Machiavelli, “is always obliged to stand with knife in hand, and can never depend on his subjects, because they, owing to continually fresh injuries, are unable to depend upon him.”

The 20th century President who came closest to realizing Machiavelli’s “loved and feared” prince in himself was Ronald Reagan (1981-1989).

Always smiling, quick with a one-liner (especially at press conferences), seemingly unflappable, he projected a constantly optimistic view of his country and its citizens.

Ronald Reagan

In his acceptance speech at the 1980 Republican National Convention he declared: “[The Democrats] say that the United States…has passed its zenith. My fellow citizens, I utterly reject that view.”

But there was a steely, ruthless side to Reagan that appeared when he felt crossed.

On August 3, 1981, nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers walked out after contract talks with the Federal Aviation Administration collapsed. As a result, some 7,000 flights across the country were canceled on that day at the peak of the summer travel season.

Reagan branded the strike illegal. He threatened to fire any controller who failed to return to work within 48 hours.

On August 5, Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers who hadn’t returned to work. The mass firing slowed commercial air travel, but it did not cripple the system as the strikers had forecast.

Reagan’s action stunned the American labor movement. Reagan was the only American President to have belonged to a union, the Screen Actors Guild. He had even been president of this—from 1947 to 1954.

There were no more strikes by Federal workers during Reagan’s tenure in office.

Similarly, Libya’s dictator, Moammar Kadaffi, learned that Reagan was not a man to cross.

On April 5, 1986, Libyan agents bombed a nightclub in West Berlin, killing three people, one a U.S. serviceman. The United States quickly learned that Libyan agents in East Germany were behind the attack.

On April 15, acting on Reagan’s orders, U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps bombers struck at several sites in Tripoli and Benghazi. Reportedly, Kaddafi himself narrowly missed becoming a casualty.

There were no more acts of Libyan terrorism against Americans for the rest of Reagan’s term.

PERCEIVED WEAKNESS INVITES CONTEMPT

American Presidents—like politicians everywhere–strive to be loved. There are two primary reasons for this.

First, even the vilest dictators want to believe they are good people—and that their goodness is rewarded by the love of their subjects.

Second, it’s universally recognized that a leader who’s beloved has greater clout than one who isn’t. 

But those—like Barack Obama—who strive to avoid conflict often get treated with contempt and hostility by their adversaries.

PRESIDENTS: THE LOVED, THE FEARED AND THE IGNORED: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 26, 2021 at 12:25 am

In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of political science, wrote his infamous book, The Prince. This may well be its most-quoted part:

“From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved. 

“For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain. As long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours….when the necessity is remote, but when it approaches, they revolt.

“And the prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined. For the friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is bought but not secured, and at a pinch is not to be expended in your service. 

“And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared. For love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose. But fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

So—which is better: To be feared or loved?

In the 1993 film, A Bronx Tale, 17-year-old Calogero (Lillo Brancato) poses that question to his idol, the local Mafia capo, Sonny (Chazz Palminteri).

“That’s a good question,” Sonny replies. “It’s nice to be both, but it’s very difficult. But if I had my choice, I would rather be feared.

“Fear lasts longer than love. Friendships that are bought with money mean nothing. You see how it is around here. I make a joke, everybody laughs. I know I’m funny, but I’m not that funny. It’s fear that keeps them loyal to me.”

Presidents face the same dilemma as Mafia capos—and resolve it in their own ways.

LOVE ME BECAUSE I NEED TO BE LOVED

Bill Clinton (1993-2001) believed that he could win over his self-appointed Republican enemies through his sheer charm.

Part of this lay in self-confidence: He had won the 1992 and 1996 elections by convincing voters that “I feel your pain.”

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Bill Clinton

And part of it lay in his need to be loved. He once said that if he were in a room with 100 people and 99 of them liked him but one didn’t, he would spend all his time with that one person, trying to win him over.

But while he could charm voters, he could not bring himself to retaliate against his sworn Republican enemies.

On April 19, 1995, Right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh drove a truck–packed with 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane–to the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The explosion killed 168 people, including 19 children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 684 others.

Suddenly, Republicans were frightened. Since the end of World War II, they had vilified the very Federal Government they belonged to. They had deliberately courted the Right-wing militia groups responsible for the bombing.

So Republicans feared Clinton would now turn their decades of hate against them.

They need not have worried. On April 23, Clinton presided over a memorial service for the victims of the bombing. He gave a moving eulogy—without condemning the hate-filled Republican rhetoric that had at least indirectly led to the slaughter.

Clinton further sought to endear himself to Republicans by:

  • Adopting NAFTA—the Republican-sponsored North American Free Trade Act, which later proved so devastating to American workers;
  • Siding with Republicans against poor Americans on welfare; and
  • Championing the gutting of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which barred investment banks from commercial banking activities.

The result: Republicans believed Clinton was weak—and could be rolled.

In 1998, House Republicans moved to impeach him over a sex scandal with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. But his Presidency survived when the Senate refused to convict.

LOVE ME BECAUSE I’LL HURT YOU IF YOU DON’T

Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) wanted desperately to be loved.

Once, he complained to Dean Acheson, the former Secretary of State under Harry S. Truman, about the ingratitude of American voters. He had passed far more legislation than his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, and yet Kennedy remained beloved, while he, Johnson, was not.

Why was that? Johnson demanded.

“You are not a very likable man,” said Acheson truthfully.

Image result for Images of Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson tried to force his subordinates love him. He would humiliate a man, then give him an expensive gift—such a Cadillac. It was his way of binding the man to him.

He was on a first-name basis with J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the FBI. He didn’t hesitate to request—and get—raw FBI files on his political opponents.

On at least one occasion, he told members of his Cabinet: No one would dare walk out on his administration—because if they did, two men would follow their ass to the end of the earth: Mr. J. Edgar Hoover and the head of the Internal Revenue Service.

TRUST MUST BE EARNED, NOT COMMANDED

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on October 30, 2020 at 12:17 am

“He’s got a very good approval rating,” President Donald Trump said of Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, during a July 28 White House press briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic.

“And I like that, it’s good, because remember, he’s working for this administration. And he’s got this high approval rating,.

“So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect—and the administration, with respect to the virus? Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

He made the remark on the same day that Coronavirus deaths in America reached 150,000.

The previous day, Trump had retweeted Twitter posts that accused Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus task force, of misleading Americans.

For months, Trump has been trying to sell the nation on the COVID-curing wonders of hyroxychloroquine, the malaria drug. He seems to be sold on the drug’s effectiveness by such members of his inner circle as trade adviser Peter Navarro and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani—neither of whom has ever practiced medicine.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has pointed out there have been no scientific trials of the drug for its effectiveness against Coronavirus. Given the medical condition of some patients, it could even prove fatal.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

He has also subscribed to theories stemming from medical quackery—such as his belief that injecting disinfectant could prevent or cure the virus.

During his July 28 press conference, Trump refused to answer a question from CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins about a video Trump had shared on Twitter—and which Twitter subsequently removed.

In the video, Stella Immanuel, a Houston doctor, praised hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and maligned the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of the pandemic. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

“Mr. President, the woman that you said was a ‘great doctor’ in that video that you retweeted last night said that ‘masks don’t work’ and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true,” said Collins.

“She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they are trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious—”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump cut her off: “I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”

He then stalked out of the briefing room.

This has been one of his routine responses when confronted with unpleasant truths that contradict his lies or crackpot theories.  The other one is to label such truths as “fake news.”

Since COVID-19 struck the United States in January, Fauci has dared to speak the hard truth about the pandemic—and the Federal Government’s failure to combat it.

Trump, on the other hand, has offered a cascade of lies, ignorance and rosy predictions that “one day it will be gone.”

The result: Fauci enjoys high approval ratings from public polls on his efforts against the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of the country has faith in Fauci, said a July Quinnipac poll.

Just over one-third of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the virus, that poll showed. 

A reason for Trump’s unpopularity: He has shown no sympathy for those who have died or lost loved ones to COVID-19. 

Leaders with a high Emotional Quotient:

  • Understand their own emotions, strengths and weaknesses;
  • Control their emotions and consistently act with honesty and integrity;
  • Have empathy for others;. and
  • Inspire enthusiasm and solve disagreements, often with kindness and humor.

In responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump has shown none of these traits.

Contrast Trump’s egotistical, deceptive, anti-scientific and often dictatorial behavior with that of Fauci—and it’s clear why Fauci is far more trusted.

In 1946, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect and minister of armaments, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for war crimes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

In Albert Speer: His Batle With Truth, Gitty Sereny wrote: “This was an erudite and solitary man who, recognizing his deficiencies in human relations, had read 5,000 books in prison to try to understand the universe and human beings….Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned. So, essentially returning into the world after 20 years, he remained alone.”

Sereny’s words apply equally to Donald Trump: Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned.

One day during his Presidency, Lyndon Johnson—notorious for bullying others—was forced to confront his own repulsiveness as a human being.

“I’ve passed far more legislation than [President John F.] Kennedy ever did,” he complained to former Secretary of State Dean Acheson. “But people still love him, and they don’t love me. Why is that?”

“You are not a very likable man,” said Acheson.

Approaching four years into his own Presidency, there is no evidence that anyone has dared speak that truth to Trump.

It’s a truth that he deserves to hear—and in as public a forum as possible.

TRUST MUST BE EARNED, NOT COMMANDED

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on July 30, 2020 at 12:08 am

“He’s got a very good approval rating,” President Donald Trump said of Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, during a July 28 White House press briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic.

“And I like that, it’s good, because remember, he’s working for this administration. And he’s got this high approval rating,.

“So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect—and the administration, with respect to the virus? Nobody likes me. It can only be my personality, that’s all.”

He made the remark on the same day that Coronavirus deaths in America reached 150,000.

The previous day, Trump had retweeted Twitter posts that accused Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus task force, of misleading Americans.

For months, Trump has been trying to sell the nation on the COVID-curing wonders of hyroxychloroquine, the malaria drug. He seems to be sold on the drug’s effectiveness by such members of his inner circle as trade adviser Peter Navarro and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani—neither of whom has ever practiced medicine.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has pointed out there have been no scientific trials of the drug for its effectiveness against Coronavirus. Given the medical condition of some patients, it could even prove fatal.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

He has also subscribed to theories stemming from medical quackery—such as his belief that injecting disinfectant could prevent or cure the virus.

During his July 28 press conference, Trump refused to answer a question from CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins about a video Trump had shared on Twitter—and which Twitter subsequently removed.

In the video, Stella Immanuel, a Houston doctor, praised hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 and maligned the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of the pandemic. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

“Mr. President, the woman that you said was a ‘great doctor’ in that video that you retweeted last night said that ‘masks don’t work’ and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true,” said Collins.

“She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they are trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious—”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump cut her off: “I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”

He then stalked out of the briefing room.

This has been one of his routine responses when confronted with unpleasant truths that contradict his lies or crackpot theories.  The other one is to label such truths as “fake news.”

Since COVID-19 struck the United States in January, Fauci has dared to speak the hard truth about the pandemic—and the Federal Government’s failure to combat it.

Trump, on the other hand, has offered a cascade of lies, ignorance and rosy predictions that “one day it will be gone.”

The result: Fauci enjoys high approval ratings from public polls on his efforts against the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of the country has faith in Fauci, said a July Quinnipac poll.

Just over one-third of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the virus, that poll showed. 

A reason for Trump’s unpopularity: He has shown no sympathy for those who have died or lost loved ones to COVID-19. 

Leaders with a high Emotional Quotient:

  • Understand their own emotions, strengths and weaknesses;
  • Control their emotions and consistently act with honesty and integrity;
  • Have empathy for others;. and
  • Inspire enthusiasm and solve disagreements, often with kindness and humor.

In responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, Trump has shown none of these traits.

Contrast Trump’s egotistical, deceptive, anti-scientific and often dictatorial behavior with that of Fauci—and it’s clear why Fauci is far more trusted.

In 1946, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect and minister of armaments, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for war crimes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

In Albert Speer: His Batle With Truth, Gitty Sereny wrote: “This was an erudite and solitary man who, recognizing his deficiencies in human relations, had read 5,000 books in prison to try to understand the universe and human beings….Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned. So, essentially returning into the world after 20 years, he remained alone.”

Sereny’s words apply equally to Donald Trump: Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned.

One day during his Presidency, Lyndon Johnson—notorious for bullying others—was forced to confront his own repulsiveness as a human being.

“I’ve passed far more legislation than [President John F.] Kennedy ever did,” he complained to former Secretary of State Dean Acheson. “But people still love him, and they don’t love me. Why is that?”

“You are not a very likable man,” said Acheson.

Approaching four years into his own Presidency, there is no evidence that anyone has dared speak that truth to Trump.

It’s a truth that he deserves to hear—and in as public a forum as possible.

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