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 former President Harry Truman (D-MO), with a sign on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here”. He accepted his responsibility to make tough decisions – and stand by them.
Now think President Trump, asked about the slow distribution of test kits during the COVID-19 crisis: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.” Instead, he blamed former President Obama (his favorite scapegoat when things go badly).
Trusted Trump advisor Tony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, acknowledged the lack of test kits was an administration “failing”.
Trump’s leadership style is the opposite of Truman’s. His sign might read: “The Buck Stops Here – IF It’s a Good Buck. If Not, Pass It On”.
Trump clearly is a BUCK-PASSER, not a BUCK-STOPPER.
Asked about his administration’s dismantling of the NSC’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense (established by Obama to advise future presidents on pandemics), Trump called it “a nasty question”. He added, “when you say ‘me,’ I didn’t do it. We have a group of people. But I could perhaps ask Tony (Fauci) about that, because I don’t know anything about it.”
Not one to avoid truth or understatement, Fauci told Congress, “it would be nice if the office was still there.”
Asked whether predicted U.S. virus deaths (100,000 – 240,000) could have been lower if mandated social distancing had begun sooner, Fauci replied “probably, yes”.
After Fauci, a public servant dedicated to protecting Americans from pandemics, voiced these scientific opinions (contradicting Trump’s unscientific ones), he received death threats from enraged Trump followers. Those followers appear more cultist every day, defending their Dear Leader and attacking his critics.
CDC reported one-fourth of those infected with COVID-19 could be showing NO symptoms, but still transmitting it to others – making social distancing even more critical. Scenes of crowded Florida and Texas beaches demonstrated many Americans won’t voluntarily practice it, proving government mandates (at state and local levels, if possible; or the federal level, if not) may be our only hope.
Thirty states issued stay-at-home orders (social distancing on steroids), but some big states like Florida and Texas resisted – do we see a pattern? Even when confirmed cases increased dramatically, Trump refused to pressure governors, saying he won’t tell them what to do – passing the buck again.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, conservative Republican, didn’t pass the buck when he finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order – but only after a small-town mayor lifted his, because residents asserted the town was “becoming a police state”. That mayor, of a politically-red town, in a red county and state, found it “obvious a large portion of our public doesn’t want government mandating the recommendations of public health officials”.
The concept of Federalism (states or localities making their own decisions, as opposed to national decisions) is a core principle for many conservatives. But in crises, it increases risks, slowing reactions from national leaders, including presidents – when swift, decisive action is needed.
Trump will not be remembered for swift, decisive action in this one, nor for stopping the buck of responsibility on his desk. He will be remembered for passing that buck to others, hoping THEY take the blame for mishandling the disaster – not him.
Moderates must decide: in times of crisis, do we want a BUCK-PASSER or a BUCK-STOPPER to lead us? A SALESMAN or a STATESMAN? A NARCISSIST or a RATIONALIST?