Nixon vs. Trump: The difference is in the bombast

“We must reform our political process— ridding it not only of the violations of the law but also of the ugly mob violence and other inexcusable campaign tactics that have been too often practiced and too readily accepted in the past, including those that may have been a response by one side to the excesses or expected excesses of the other side. Two wrongs do not make a right.”
Without Googling it, you’d probably never know who said this because the speech which this passage came from has been largely forgotten. No, it wasn’t Presidents Obama, Clinton, Reagan or either Bush, nor was it our current President.
 
The man who spoke these words was the late Richard M. Nixon. This speech occurred April 30, 1973, given shortly after the resignation of several key White House officials in the midst of the Watergate scandal. The nation was fractured over Vietnam, still healing over the deaths of John and Bobby Kennedy, and just a few months away from the first “Oil Shock” which would send the nation’s economy into a short tailspin.  Complicating matters was the increasing belligerance of Leonid Breshnev, leader of the former Soviet Union, towards American interests abroad, and it was easy to see why Washington was deep into the “national nightmare,” as it would be later called. Nixon’s supporters decried the leaks of information about the scandal, and later blamed the “liberal media” for forcing Nixon’s hand with a resignation in lieu of impeachment.  Many have equated Trump’s numerous controversies surrounding his campaigns dealings with Russia to Watergate, but doing so is premature only because the investigation is in its infancy.
 
There is one fact to be considered:  we don’t yet know with certainty everything Trump’s folks did, when they did it, and why they did it. What we do know is that Robert Mueller, a former FBI Director and current Special Counsel charged with investigating Trump’s ties to Russian interests, is considered a “straight shooter” by both conservatives and liberals, but has been reported to be in Trump’s crosshairs.  As unlikely as it may appear, if Trump does attempt to fire Mueller, it will be a huge red flag, akin to a CEO firing a trusted, respected corporate auditor in charge of investigating an embezzlement scandal.  Oddly enough, rumors are also swirling of a serious rift between the President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with insiders saying that Trump may fire Sessions or, at the very least, demand his resignation. In a bizarre stroke of irony, the Congressional Black Caucus itself has openly called for the AG’s resignation.
 
In all fairness, Trump could very well pull out of the tailspin he’s in, but it will take some fundamental changes to the way the White House operates. Transparency is a must. Humility is a must. Integrity is a must. None of these qualities are present in the current White House and, considering the President’s very nature, it is rather unlikely they will manifest anytime soon, if ever. Impeachment, a dream of the left and Trump’s opponents, is a mere pipedream at this moment. The Republican Party, despite being the power du jour in Washington, is ill-equipped to accomplish anything short of spending lavishly on dinners and blaming their opposition for things not getting done. If Trump wants to survive, it’s well past time to diverge from “attack” and focus more on “accomplish.”  To make a long story short, it’s time for Trump to stop talking about “draining the swamp,” stop playing crony politics, and be the maverick politician he advertised himself as on the campaign trail.

Trump demands and expects loyalty not out of insecurity or for loyalty’s sake, but because of a sincere sense of unearned entitlement, which has created the bombastic image Trump both possesses and revels in.

The fundamental difference between Trump and Nixon is in the personality.  Nixon displayed a profound insecurity when it came to his position; anyone who worked with him understood that.  Because of this character flaw, he demanded and expected loyalty, and it ultimately undermined him because the cover-up was far worse than the crime. Nixon’s insecurity did not allow him to look at a situation objectively.  Rather, he was a near compulsive manipulator, and surrounded himself with like-minded advisors as a result.  Trump, however, displays the sorts of personality traits consistent not with insecurity, but instead with near narcissism, a term too often misapplied to personality quirks, but completely appropriate for this situation.  Trump demands and expects loyalty not out of insecurity or for loyalty’s sake, but because of a sincere sense of unearned entitlement, which has created the bombastic image Trump both possesses and revels in.  This personality trait will ultimately determine Trump’s legacy – if he is able to show that, no matter the age, one can embrace personal change, he has the chance to course correct.  If not, he may go down in history not as the “strict parent” so many of his supporters see him as, but as the drunk family member who acts like a know-it-all but always manages to ruin special occasions and destroy others.

Has Trump made some smart decisions? Of course he has – every President has made some smart choices if you look deep enough. Even Herbert Hoover and James Buchanan had their flashes of brilliance. The body of work, however, is what history does judge. Buchanan is remembered for allowing South Carolina to secede, and Hoover for allowing the economy to spiral out of control following the 1929 Stock Market Crash. There is a critical difference, however, between the former two and our current President.  Both Buchanan and Hoover were at the tail end of their terms, while Trump’s administration is less than a year old.  The President’s body of work, at this moment, looks more like the aftermath of a train wreck.  Trump has demonstrated that when he isn’t going off half-cocked

donaldtrumpego

Is Trump really Nixon redux?  The scandals would suggest “yes” but the behavior suggests something different.

on Twitter, he’s been listening too much to ideological zealots instead of well-reasoned, intelligent individuals.  To be fair, former President Barack Obama was guilty of the EXACT SAME THING (sans the tweeting), only it was the radical left (Van Jones, Rahm Emmanuel, et al) running the show instead of the alt-right.

Where Barack Obama’s charisma has rooted in oft-misapplied stoicism, Trump’s is the opposite, possessing the fiery passion of a marketing expert.  This is great in the business world when trying to rally employees to reach a financial goal, but is a potentially planet-killing quality when you are a world leader with direct communication with other world leaders who could launch nuclear weapons at your nation and your nation’s allies.  Trump’s “zero filter” approach is a hit with the “average Joe,” but the problem is that Trump’s current peers are NOT “average Joes” – they are individuals who have the ability to send men and women off to battle and die whenever they choose.  This power, combined with a propensity for wild accusations on social media, is a prescription of ultimate disaster.

If there is one thing which Trump’s administration has proven, it’s that not every business leader is cut out to hold high office.  Such power requires a personality which is measured, moderated, and clearly in control.  Leaders such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Carly Fiorina and even Rupert Murdoch have demonstrated a clear ability to conduct themselves in such a manner, even if their underlings have not done so.  Trump, however, has consistently, over the course of decades, demonstrated he is of the same ilk as Jerry Jones, Martin Shrkeli, Hugh McColl and Jeff Bezos; leaders whose “zero filter” mentality may have earned them great wealth and envy, but makes them ill-equipped to tackle the demands and carry the gravitas expected of someone holding an office as powerful as that of President of the United States.

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