The BULLY Pulpit

Some thoughts on the Commander-in-Tweets


Being in a position of leadership invites criticism. The higher you ascend, the harder your critics will try to take you down a peg or three. They’ll taunt and mock and meme and gif your every move. But, no matter how tempting, never, ever punch down.

It’s a simple lesson, but it seems elusive for some of our leaders.

Last week, the president took to one of his favorite fixations, Twitter, to claim that Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, was “bleeding badly from a facelift” when she visited Mar-A-Lago in December.

Due to the holiday, I’m writing this earlier than usual, so by now, the quasi-scandal otherwise known as a day in this 2017 American life has probably been replaced by another vile insult or bald-faced lie hurled by the Vulgarian-in-Chief. That, or he’s blown the world to smithereens; in which case, I should’ve gone to the Jumbo Shrimp game instead. #CrustaceanNation

Anyhoo, Trump’s most recent facepalm-inspiring moment is just another in a long list of appalling, sexist and, if the photo circulating the Internet is to be believed, utterly untrue insults the commander-in-chief has lobbed at his fellow Americans. Not that it bothered Brzezinski and her co-host/fiancé Joe Scarborough; they got a Washington Post op-ed plus a buttload of free publicity out of it. Actually, Trump’s propensity for sprinkling glitter dust in the form of ridiculous slights is so well known that it’s become a game to try to taunt him into retaliating. True story.

Another true story: In less than six months, Trump has given new meaning to the word ‘unpresidential.’

It was one thing when a real estate developer turned reality star turned presidential candidate sunk his filthy claws into Rosie O’Donnell, the New York Jets, Arianna Huffington, the Des Moines Register (really), and literally hundreds more. But when the President of the United States, a position that was once—no more, thanks to Trump—known as the leader of the free world, attacks working members of the press, or Meryl Streep, or the cast of Hamilton, or even Hillary Clinton, all of whom are private citizens, he only diminishes himself, not to mention the office.

Maybe no one ever told him to pick on someone his own size. If he had the presence of mind, he’d realize that he’s doing his many enemies a favor by revealing, time and again, how thin-skinned, basic and just plain mean he is. ’Cause when you pick fights with weaker foes, you not only earn a reputation for being a bully, you create a legion of enemies among those who despise unfairness.

Anyone who pays attention to this space knows that I do not always agree with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. But I can’t even imagine him attacking my appearance to get back at me for criticizing his decisions as mayor. Everything I have seen thus far from Curry suggests that he has far too much class for that. As well he should. As our mayor, he should, and does, respect the office by behaving with dignity and poise.

The same cannot be said of Governor Rick Scott. Recall how last year he had his office create an attack ad about the woman who confronted him in a Gainesville-area Starbucks? Admittedly, the woman did treat him poorly in a public place, but she is a private citizen and he is the governor. By stooping to get her back, he only lowered himself and the office he holds. How can we respect someone so prickly that they go after an angry constituent who yelled at them in a coffee shop? Even Folio Weekly has more class than that. (Probably.)

If Rick Scott thinks that ad won’t haunt him during his campaign for the U.S. Senate (if rumors are true), he’s been drinking too much of his own bathwater.

Nobody likes a bully. That’s why even the Gator Nation cringes when their team stomps a mudpuddle in the ass of a school from Podunk, Alabama; and why people who don’t give a fig about sports cheer their hearts out for the Podunk Possums if they come within striking distance of a win.

Trump and Scott seem to have forgotten that everyone loves an underdog. And, when you’re top dog, everyone else is the underdog. Defend yourself, sure, but do not launch a vicious personal attack.

To be fair, Scott’s a one-time offender; Trump seems to consider a week without causing an international incident with his Twitter habit as a personal failure. I can’t be the only one thinking he probably has something better to do. ’Cause, y’know, historically, being president has not been a part-time job. Then again, the more presidenting he attempts, the worse off the nation might be … So, for the good of the country, go ahead and Tweet me, Mr. President. I’ll be waiting @ClaireNJax. I could use the glitter dust.

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