What's Tony Thinking

Man Up, Mr. President!


Earlier this week, in my initial comments on the COVID-19 virus, I suggested that one possible upside to the whole situation was that the virus, and our necessary focus on it, was eclipsing our pre-occupation with the interpersonal black hole that is our President.

I was too optimistic. He is after all the President and so inescapable in this crisis.

And what do we see when we look to him? My heavens, it is appalling. Today, he said that he “accepted no responsibility” for the whole mess with testing — really the absence of any system for testing — for the virus. The truth about “Making America Great Again” is fully on display as nation after nation around the world is better prepared and more responsive to the COVID-19 virus crisis. MAGA is a slogan without any substance.

Trump casts about for someone to blame — President Obama, the CDC, Europeans, foreigners. Well, when you’ve been in office for 3 and 1/2 years the statute of limitations on blaming your predecessor has run out. Man up, Mr. President, accept responsibility. Trump is the complete opposite of Harry “the buck stops here” Truman.

In his news conference today he was asked about the part of the National Security Council that was a special office to focus on and prepare for pandemics. It was eliminated in 2018. He said that he didn’t know about it. “It wasn’t me.” The President doesn’t know what his National Security Council does? “Someone in my administration may know about it, I don’t.”

I learned a long ago that the defining quality of the narcissistic personality is to never — never — accept any responsibility when things go wrong. It is always someone else’s fault. One of the problems with so much focus, in our times, on “victims,” is that it enables people like Trump to play the victim. “It was Obama’s fault.” “It’s the Democrat’s fault.”

Trump likes to play the tough guy, the big man. He shrugs off the danger of the virus and says, until now, it’s no big deal. That’s his idea of being a man. Bluster.

My idea of being a man, and an adult human being, is taking responsibility for one’s mistakes or failures, learning from them and making every effort to do better. And when you are the guy in charge you accept responsibility even if it may be some of the people working for you who dropped the ball. After all, you were the one who gave them the ball.

His Oval Office speech, earlier in the week, was stunning for his lack of any genuine empathy or compassion. He was a tele-prompter reading automaton.

Man up, Human up, Mr. President.


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