Anger Management

Author: Gary Hart

Any search for a pattern to Donald Trump’s behavior to this point would reveal only one serious thread—anger.  For someone used to getting his way or confronting those who will not give him his way, the presidency of the United States is not the position in which to be.

One of the reasons, at least up to now, we have wanted presidential candidates to have governing experience is to determine if they have learned the mature lessons of conciliation, concession, and compromise, the art not of the deal but of consensus by negotiation.  Being head of state of the most powerful nation in history does not guarantee that everyone necessarily gives you everything you want the way you want it.

It took World War II to teach us two lessons: we could not go it alone, and we needed the cooperation of other nations of good will for security but also for economic and political stability.  To structure and maintain international institutions requires a certain combination of skills not everyone, even otherwise successful people, may possess.

Mr. Trump claims his policies are guided only by what is best for America.  He seems not to appreciate that an era of globalization requires America’s interests to be protected by cooperation with, not isolation from, others.  America Alone is a weaker not a stronger America.

Thus, his discomfort in the international arena, especially among our European democratic allies.  Their refusal to accept what he deems to be his “strength” makes him angry and disdainful, thus compounding their collective alienation.

Even with both houses of Congress and a majority of the Supreme Court in his Party’s hands, he cannot get a wall, he cannot simply repeal the Affordable Care Act, he cannot describe a massive tax reform program on a single sheet of paper, he will not be able to convince the private financial sector to spend hundreds of billions of dollars rebuilding the national infrastructure unless he privatizes all of America’s highways, bridges, dams, and public works, he cannot plausibly deny the climate is heating up due to carbon emissions.

He has come face to face with reality and it makes him angry.  But he was elected by angry people and they believe, or at least used to, that an angry president would solve their problems.  That belief is being put to the test on a daily basis, especially with continuing turmoil within the inner circles of the White House.

Petulance is not a quality esteemed in a president.

He rode into Washington determined to rid it of “elites.”  But some elites are elite because they have mastered their trade and know what they are doing.  Wall Street represents the financial elite…and occupies half his cabinet.  The career military is an elite.  Its officers have studied and experienced combat.  Scientists are an elite.  They know and understand medicine, nuclear energy, space, and, yes, the environment.  Diplomats are an elite.  They have dealt with virtually all foreign governments and societies throughout their careers.  Former presidents are a special elite.

When a president thinks he knows all there is to know about virtually everything, what happens when he confronts an elite with whom he overwhelmingly disagrees?  He gets angry.

This is not a mature response, to say the least.  And if confrontation with the military elite is in the works, as some believe, it is very dangerous.

As we know from his monument, Jefferson said about slavery: “I tremble for my country when I contemplate that God is just.”  I tremble for my country when I consider that we have an angry man in the White House.

10 Responses to “Anger Management”

  1. Paul G Says:

    “More dangerous than a lion is an ignorant man.” – Kurdish proverb

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Did you witness the press conference today with the Romanian leader?

    This is why Trump will be president for the foreseeable future if not for 7 plus years.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I tremble for America when I consider that there are so many Trump enablers, domestically and internationally.

  4. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    I came across this take on the president’s character and wished to share it. It’s an enjoyable read.

    http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/lear_not_1984_defines_trump_era_20170609

  5. Tim Conner Says:

    I treasure your posts and eagerly await the next – no matter the subject.
    My comment is that I believe that the United States has entered a spiral of decline that will result in its reformation as two or more separate national/confederated states. The inequity of income and productivity exhibited by the Red vs. Blue states is so great that it seems to me to be impossible to continue as 50 united states.
    Nothing lasts forever and that is especially true of empires.
    We cannot sustain a thoughtful, serious democracy with as many willfully ignorant citizens. Trump is a symptom, not a cause of this disease.
    If I were younger, I would leave this country and move to Canada or New Zealand, but – alas – I am not.
    It is disheartening to be a spectator at the decline of such a potentially great nation.
    I do not tremble, but weep, at the spectacle.

  6. Eric Jacobson Says:

    In keeping with my fellow commenters’ new trend I will begin and end with literary references and link to what I regard as a most astute current article in between:

    “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Here’s the article that I think “says it all”: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/09/the-donald-trump-lies-you-forgot/ .

    Ted Rall’s spot-on indictment ironically gives the president a road-map for an about-face. He has driven the Trump train into the right-wing ditch where it is spinning its wheels (and, since he is just leaving the wreck there, it may soon be towed and impounded by the relevant authorities).

    Right now the president is well on his way to the “worst president ever” ranking by historians for ONLY the main reason Ted Rall cites: his utter betrayal of the best interests of his voters who were (reasonably) expecting maverick populism at home (including greater class- and racial justice and fairness) and seeking-a-peaceable-world, to be his governing ethos and mission. And got super-conservative NON-kinder-and-gentler Reaganism instead. In sum, the voters elected Donald Trump and to their shock found that a Ted Cruz doppelganger had taken candidate Trump’s place. (Of course, Trump got most of his senior aides from Cruz’s camp, so perhaps this “bait and switch” was inevitable, at least in the short run.)

    President Trump urgently needs to tell ALL his senior White House advisers “You’re fired!” and start his Administration over again with a new crew of earnest bipartisan ideologically diverse senior aides able and willing to work with the president and all other incumbent elected officials at all levels of government able and willing to put partisanship (and all vested, special and monied interests) aside and govern in the public interest. “Clean the Augean stables” on Wall Street and all plutocratic havens of corruption! “Drain the swamp” of K Street influence in Washington! “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” all across the land! If elected incumbent elites balk, President Trump and his new team (with the help of small donors across the nation) should steam-roller at the ballot-box all such recalcitrant incumbents of both old parties during the upcoming election cycles.

    I wouldn’t bet against the president doing exactly this and leaving his detractors — most of whom are elites who themselves (present company excepted) have little-to-no legitimacy or integrity — with egg of their faces. You heard it here first. I think he’ll do so because nothing short of this will restore the president’s chance of receiving so much as an honorable mention in the history books. I’m sure he aspires to such positive historical regard. And why not? But he has to start earning it, and fast!

    The president has days and weeks, not months and years, to reverse his present feckless (and in any event politically suicidal) right-wing course. If the president does so recognize and correct the errors of his ways, it is even possible that (in Shakespeare’s phrase) the “method in his madness” (all along) was ensuring that his detractors would (in author Robert Roosevelt’s phrase) toss him into his current “brier-patch” in the first place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%27er_Rabbit

  7. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    We have just lost Adam West, the best of all Batman actors and as often, the first.

    Trump in anger would like to be considered as the Incredible Hulk. Remember the late
    lamented Bill Bixby telling us we wouldn’t like him when he was angry ,and then…

    I feel like the late and lamented Senator Lloyd Bentsen, “Mr. President, your’e no
    Incredible Hulk !”

  8. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    p.s.

    Our colleague Elizabeth mentions the Romanian leader , and his meeting Trump .I missed it and welcome her analysis and would like more of it from an excellent fellow poster herein.

    I do not know about Trump and the Romanian leader.

    I do know Trump resembles a Roman emperor … Nero …Caligula … ANG…R… Y…!!!

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Hi Lorenzo,

    Sorry for not checking in sooner to reply to your query and very kind words.

    I just happened to see the press conference held by the two leaders – at the White House, if I recall correctly – where the Romanian leader heaped praise upon the American president.

    I suppose that sort of thing is just common courtesy or, perhaps, has another motive. But, I just wish more leaders who meet publically with Trump would say what they really mean to his face instead of after the event when they are at a safe distance from him.

    Cheers!

  10. Paul G Says:

    ARE NAME-CALLERS DANGEROUSLY SILENCING OUR STATESMEN?

    “When a president thinks he knows all there is to know about virtually everything, what happens when he confronts an elite with whom he overwhelmingly disagrees? He gets angry. This is not a mature response, to say the least. if confrontation with the military elite is in the works, as some believe, it is very dangerous.”

    – Statesman and former US Senator Gary Hart

    Name-calling – the hallmark of the Fox News founder declared “unfit to lead any corporation” by a British parliamentary committee in 2011 – has come full circle to threaten our republic with all major media joining and profiting from their promotion and resulting election of a Roger Ailes style President of all name-callers.

    “It’s bad for America but great for us,” the CEO of a major network gushed In a December 2015 stockholder conference call, adding “bring it on Donald!” But in 2017, his promotion business peers appear “shocked” that the name-caller bully-in-chief is ignorantly bereft of civility.

    Today’s Governing magazine article evidences further what Statesman Hart cites as military style dangerousness of such confrontations: the growing tsunami effect of unchecked and uncivil “leaders” who are normalizing war on the very idea of rational thinking, humility, and civility:

    “Civility is like broccoli, while social media screeds are gobbled up happily like “electronic M&M’s,” says Liz Joyner, head of Village Square, a Florida-based group that promotes interpartisan discussions. “It validates us. It makes us feel like we’re the ones on the right side of everything.”

    “What this is about, and what violence has been about for a long time, especially in the political realm, is not wanting to harm someone but to silence them,” Kansas state Rep. Stephanie Clayton says. “It’s designed to do the least American thing of all, which is to limit speech.”

    http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-politics-watch-political-violence-scalese.html?utm_term=Congressional%20Shooting%20Highlights%20Rise%20of%20Violence%20in%20U.S.%20Politics&utm_campaign=Congressional%20Shooting%20Highlights%20Rise%20of%20Violence%20in%20U.S.%20Politics&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

    All people of good will, especially civic-minded students concerned about the future of our republic need to hear and learn the hard-earned wisdom of our nation’s best stateswomen and statesmen, including our too long silenced Senator Hart, right now.

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