March 23, 2019

Our Petulant President

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

It’s really not funny, nor is it merely Trump being Trump. We don’t use, in our essays, terms like narcissist or pathological or obsessive this or obsessive that or personality disorder because those are terms better left to the Academy. They are diagnoses, and we think diagnosing mental disorders is best left to psychiatrists and psychologists.

Now, referring to President Trump as petulant, and our President is petulant if he is anything, is simply acknowledging that he is bad-tempered, sullen, moody and irritable (we chose not to say ill-tempered). Being chronically petulant is, of course, also being child-like, and there we think we have a major problem.  We seem to have a man-child in the Oval Office.

Not only can’t we think of any other President who would have so aggressively attacked a deceased rival, we cannot think of any other adult who would feel so great a need to vilify a dead man so recently buried—especially one who is so uniformly admired.

And that, of course, is the proverbial stone in the shoe of this President. John McCain was, and is in death, everything Donald Trump is not. And that is a real stone in our president’s shoe. Most Americans think of John McCain and nod respectfully. President Trump thinks of him and grimaces. He cries ouch. John McCain is one, but only one, of the stone’s in President Trump’s shoe.

John McCain was far from perfect, something he readily, and often, admitted. He was, however, by almost every measure an admirable man, flaws and all. He is an authentic American hero, not only because of the years he endured as a prisoner of war (two of which were served in solitary confinement), not only because he was systematically tortured, and not only because he refused to be released before his fellow prisoners were released. The fact is, John McCain didn’t have to be there at all. He requested combat duty when he had already served nearly 10 years as a naval aviator, and could have returned to civilian life. He was a hero prior to the mission in which he was shot down. He was badly injured during the horrendous USS Forrestal fire in which 134 men lost their lives. A bomb exploded while McCain was trying to pull an injured pilot from a plane.

To have John McCain’s status as an American hero sullied by someone who enjoyed (if not arranged) five deferments, thereby avoiding ever having to serve at all, is, well…honestly, one hissy fit too many.  Suffice to say, John McCain, while he was still a young aviator was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Bronze Star for the missions he flew over Vietnam, He also was awarded the Silver Star, two Legion of Merit medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts and two Navy and Marine Corp Commendation medals and, of course, the Prisoner of War Medal. And President Trump broods because the McCain family failed to thank him for “approving” his funeral arrangements. Now, perhaps, a merely insecure man would harbor such resentment, but only a man-child would publicly and petulantly broadcast such resentment over and over again.

President Trump likes to disparage John McCain’s low ranking as an Annapolis graduate, something McCain often acknowledged himself. McCain, reportedly, did well in the courses he liked such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass courses that interested him less, such as mathematics. Given that President Trump openly disparages John McCain’s class standing at Annapolis, one wonders why he doesn’t release his own class standing at Wharton. We certainly know modesty can’t be the answer.  He is after all, according to himself “a stable genius.”

It would be one thing if the trashing of the late John McCain was an aberration. But we all know it is not an aberration. President Trump loudly, publicly and gratuitously trashes and lashes out at everyone and anyone who falls out of his favor. Of course, he’s not the only person who does that. It’s a pretty common occurrence, especially among petulant children.

President Trump trumpets, like clockwork, what he believes are his accomplishments, and we, frankly, have been determined to give him credit where we believe credit is due. But let’s not get carried away. Despite President Trump’s self-heralded, but, we believe ill-advised tariff war, America’s manufacturing trade deficit rose to historic highs last year. While there are multiple reasons for that, one is clearly the tariff war. For example, we did succeed in weakening China’s economy, which partially resulted in a 50 percent decline in goods China imported from us. Ironically, our imports from China reached record highs in spite of the tariffs.

Then there is the matter of our national deficit. You know, how much more we spend than we take in. Republicans used to care about that, or campaign like they did. Under President Trump our budget deficit increased 17% during the last fiscal year coming in at a whopping $770 billion, and is expected to surge to just under a trillion dollars this fiscal year. Let’s hear it for those grand old Republican values like deficit reduction.

And let’s not forget our national debt that no one seems to think matters anymore.  We’re looking at the US Debt Clock, in motion, as we write. We’re at $22,145,445 800,900.00 (it will be billions higher by the time anyone reads this essay). Our gross debt is now 105% of our GDP, that is, of the entire output of our nation, or put another way, about $181,000 per taxpayer. Oh well, you get the picture. The Republicans don’t seem to be too worried about the national debt anymore either.

So, what then are the Republicans worried about? Little more, it seems, than the petulant President on the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Republican Party is in danger of becoming irrelevant as fast as one can say “Whig.” 

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10 responses to “Our Petulant President”

  1. Steve Marcus says:

    Thanks for putting some perspective around the values Americans (hopefully) cherish in John McCain. Hard to believe that we took a “pass” on having him in the White House. Wouldn’t it have been nice for our children to have him as a role model? I think we all too often forget to ask ourselves what values we want our political leaders to represent to future generations.

  2. susan duman says:

    The only way out, I think, is through an election in 2020. Please begin to evaluate the democratic candidates and help, at least ME, to vote for the team that can defeat Trump.

  3. Leonard Sherman says:

    Hal I agree with a great deal of your comments and opinions about our President, I served my country’s for four years in W.W.2 and I find it disgusting of Trump’s ongoing hatred of John McCain and to belittle anyone who has served our country but as imperfect as he is I am personally grateful that he has honored most of his promises before his election both here in my country America and in my homeland Israel.

  4. Perry says:

    The unnecessary criticism of Senator McCain was both insensitive and petulant. While I abhor the POTUS as an individual I believe his policies are still guiding us towards a
    more prosperous nation.

    Among the Democrat wanna be’s already announced to replace
    him I find not a single one worth voting for both in terms of their own accomplishments or their voting records and their policy objectives. I will again hold my nose and vote for Trump
    again.

  5. Joanne Hirschfield says:

    So it is clear u don’t like trump! He is the best chance we have for survival for the USA and Israel!

  6. Tom says:

    For “Perry” please check out John Delaney; a frequently overlooked but a man with great credentials & the first to file.
    For others who find Trump worthy, the greatest source to contradict that judgement is the man himself. He self -defines himself as “unworthy “. We can & must do better.

  7. Andy Lask says:

    I’m just happy this week’s essay was released at the normal time. Last week’s late release threw off my Sunday routine. Glad to see those technical issues have been resolved.

  8. susan duman says:

    We have to move forward. I am waiting to read your sound opinions on the hopefuls entering the race in 2020.
    We must defeat Trump and I am counting on you to help me find a DECENT man or woman who can assist in getting us back on course.

  9. judy says:

    While I appreciate John McCain’s service to our Country, he did not vote with Republicans on several bills that I personally would have like to see him support. One good about Trump is he is fighting to keep his campaign promises. Would I have preferred Kasich ….yes. That didn’t pan out like many others that are jumping into the race this time around. It continues to amaze me that Trump can continue to work as well as he is considering all the bad mouthing. I only hope that his success is as large as his ego.

  10. Janice Marcus says:

    I really don’t like The President’s trash talk of McCain.It disgusts me. But unless there is someone better to vote for (Which doesn’t look hopeful when you see what the Democrats are producing) I will vote for Trump. I will not throw my vote away. He hasn’t brought us to the brink of disaster, or started a world war. He is trying to keep his campaign promises, has done pretty well with that, dispite the despicable behavior of the Democratic Party. No wonder he has so many stones in his shoes.

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