My skin isn’t thick enough to endure criticism trailblazers like Harris, Pelosi, Gandhi, Meir, and Thatcher have had to suffer; but I have been inspired to follow in their footsteps, in my own ways. As Harris told Marie Claire magazine, “I want [young] women to know, you are powerful and your voice matters." Amen, Sisters. Amen.
A crisis reveals a leader’s true demeanor. Think President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”). President John Kennedy during the Cold War (“My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”).
Now think President Donald Trump during the current Coronavirus crisis, which has highlighted one of his leadership traits:
• He is a SALESMAN, not a STATESMAN*.
* Statesman – n. a person who exhibits great ability in dealing with public issues.
(Random House Dictionary)
Trump is a former real-estate salesman. Salesmen/women, by nature, exaggerate the benefits of whatever they’re selling. Some tell you a house has “great views”. You discover if you stand on a chair, and twist your neck while looking out a tiny window, you will barely see a wooded hillside above neighboring rooftops.
Salesman Trump is constantly selling himself and his place in history. As this crisis worsened, that was his focus (contrasted here with the reality). At different times, he:
• Boasted U.S. containment of the virus was “close to airtight”.
(The virus at that time was beyond containment, since cases of its community spread were confirmed.)
• Asserted Coronavirus is no more deadly than seasonal flu.
The estimated case fatality rate of 3.4% is at least seven times the fatality rate for seasonal flu.)
• Stated “we’re very close to a vaccine.”
(Vaccine development and required testing will take one year, minimum, probably 18 months, before widespread use – the way vaccines work best.)
• Declared to Sean Hannity it was safe for infected Americans to go to work. In a later tweet, he denied that, although footage shows he said it.
(Health-care professionals urged citizens displaying symptoms to stay home from work, businesses ordered employees to work from home whenever possible, and many workplaces closed, fearing exposure of employees and customers.)
• Accused Democrats of exaggerating the impact of the disease for political purposes, saying the entire crisis was “a Democratic hoax”.
(The consensus among scientists, health care professionals, business leaders, and governors, among others, was the crisis is real and intensifying.)
Contrast that one with Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD), who said, “we’re not Democrats or Republicans in a crisis; we’re all Americans, and in this TOGETHER”.
Trump and others accusing Democrats of politicizing Coronavirus should study the Ebola crisis of 2014. After a New York doctor returned from helping Ebola patients in West Africa and showed disease symptoms, then-citizen Trump tweeted if the doctor had Ebola, then-President Barack Obama “should apologize to the American people and resign!” When the Ebola diagnosis was confirmed, Trump tweeted it was “Obama’s fault”, calling him “A TOTAL incompetent”.
Wonder if he’ll apply the same standards now? Don’t hold your breath – for an apology OR his resignation.
To be fair, we want leaders to reassure us, preventing panic. But Moderates also demand they tell us the TRUTH.
If our president is NOT telling us the truth, he is either:
• Uninformed or misinformed.
• Informed – and lying to us.
Either is dangerous. The first, because it leads to bad decisions. The second, because it begs the question: what else is he willing to lie about?
We all need to decide – in times of crisis, do we want a SALESMAN or a STATESMAN to lead us?