Traditionally my newsletters have been about the broader topic of leadership, but I want to dedicate this newsletter purely to Donald Trump.
As I witnessed the events of the last few days a funny old nursery rhyme started playing in my head – you may remember it:
There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse and
They all live together in a little crooked house
If we dissect this story with relation to current times; it becomes:
There was a crooked man (Donald Trump)
Who walked a crooked mile (the campaign trail)
He found a crooked sixpence (the opportunity to do unimaginable business deals as president)
against a crooked stile (the silent GOP)
He bought a crooked cat (a lawyer who would take a bullet for him)
which caught a crooked mouse (the self same lawyer who paid off women to remain silent)
And they all lived together in a little crooked house (a silent congress)
In Trump’s administration ‘spin’ has been turned into an art form; all news which doesn’t praise him is fake news; he unashamedly tells us not to believe what we see or hear and his crazy lawyer (Rudi Guilliani) tells us that ‘truth isn’t the truth’.
If you’ve ever read 1984, then this alternative reality propaganda will be familiar to you; it is classic George Orwell. If you haven’t read the book, I urge you to do so; suddenly Trump and his administration will make perfect sense.
Trump is simply ‘playing’ games he has played all his life: blame; bully; lie; sue. Which is pretty disgusting for a businessman but dangerous in the extreme when it is the behaviour of the person who is known to throw tantrums and has the nuclear codes. The tragedy is the people around him allowing him to get away with the terrible things he says and the outrageous things he does. We are witnessing a ‘Nixon’ moment for sure, and look how that ended up.
So what does this say about leadership?
It says that some people get into power for all the wrong reasons; it says that once they have that power, they will do whatever they can to hold onto it no matter the damage it causes to their followers. From the outside it looks as though the Republican party will let Trump do whatever he wants; as often as he wants just so long as it doesn’t affect them. Shame on them.
There is an adage that says ‘power corrupts; and total power corrupts totally’. Someone needs to remind Trump and his enablers of that. Imagine if John McCain was still fit and able, I wonder how long HE would have stayed silent. Imagine if President Obama had done even one of the things Trump has done.
However, chickens come home to roost, as chickens do.
We’ve just witnessed Paul Manafort being found guilty on 8 charges of fraud and tax evasion. At almost the exact same moment Michael Cohen, Trump’s ex ‘I’ll-take-a-bullet-for-Trump’ lawyer pled guilty to misusing campaign funds to silence two women (and there may be more women who were paid to remain quiet). His admitted purpose was to influence the 2016 election on the instructions of a ‘political candidate’ (Trump).
So have we finally reached the turning point in Trump’s abuse of power? Hopefully.
There are a few possible outcomes:
- Teflon Trump will survive even this scandal with the silence of the GOP and the cult like following of his base. The rest of us will be left as stunned as ever
- The forthcoming mid term elections will see such a swell of anti-Trump back-lash that the Republicans could lose the house and the senate. They surely deserve to
- The Mueller investigation will uncover such damaging information with regards to Russia that Trump will be forced to resign. Ever hopeful
- The Republican party will finally find their back-bone and invoke the 25th Amendment
When I was writing my latest book ‘Leaders Behaving Badly’: why some people ‘enable’ them and how others find the courage to stand up to them’ I found this lovely quote:
‘Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it’
Perhaps it’s the same with political parties.
Ann Andrews CSP