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.
Crises reveal leaders’ true character. Think British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”
Now think President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 crisis, asked how long it will last: “Some of the doctors say it will wash through, it will flow through.”
Virtually no medical experts agreed with that view.
This crisis reveals Trump’s leadership style:
• He is a NARCISSIST*, not a RATIONALIST**.
* Narcissist – n. a person with an inordinate absorption in himself/herself.
** Rationalist – n. a person who bases their opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than emotional response.
Trump’s narcissism has been obvious through the crisis. As the virus began spreading through the U.S., he touted his action stopping travelers from China entering America, claiming it saved many lives. Experts agreed that might have slowed the spread, but it would have arrived here anyway – and other early actions that should have been taken weren’t, allowing it to spread more.
Trump also restricted travel from 26 European countries, blaming them for not reacting quickly. Saying they didn’t address the “foreign virus”, he claimed U.S. disease clusters were “seeded” by European travelers. Also calling it the “China virus”, he accused the Chinese of allowing it to spread. Is there a pattern here – blaming others while ignoring one’s own role?
Public health and national security experts were incredulous when Trump claimed Coronavirus “came out of nowhere” and “blindsided the world”. They’ve been warning about the next pandemic for years. The truth hurts, and hurts a narcissist most of all.
Similarly, after the World Health Organization reported the case fatality rate increased from 2 to 3.4 percent, Trump falsely stated the fatality rate was less than 1 percent, saying “I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number”. A narcissist doesn’t want distressing numbers increasing, reflecting badly on him.
Public health professionals criticized the Trump administration’s 2018 decision closing a National Security Council office at the White House. Formed during Obama’s administration, it was designed to help future presidents cope with pandemics. No such luck. Trump’s narcissistic style led to his early presidential strategy: undoing everything Obama had done.
Columnist David Brooks, a Moderate Republican, observed Trump is incapable of empathy (a narcissistic trait), citing this example. A cruise ship with many Americans onboard, some experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, was held off the California coast while officials debated whether it could dock and discharge passengers. Trump urged it remain offshore, explaining “I don’t want my numbers to go up” (the number of infected Americans). Unable to empathize with those onboard and their families, he could focus only on political ramifications for himself.
Trump asserts he’s a “wartime president”. While the crisis undoubtedly presents extraordinary challenges, Moderates suspect he craves that designation because historians reserve a special place for wartime leaders, such as Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and Franklin Roosevelt during World War II.
In a press conference, Trump was asked about quarantined Senators, likely exposed to the virus. Told Mitt Romney (R-UT) was one, Trump replied, “gee, that’s too bad”. Questioned by a surprised reporter whether that was sarcastic, Trump said no – but his tone of voice suggested otherwise. Narcissistic resentment over Romney’s impeachment vote overrides compassion, apparently.
We all need to decide – in times of crisis, do we want a NARCISSIST or a RATIONALIST to lead us?