Sunday, April 7, 2019

Aggressive & Mean

I must begin with a disclaimer.  The research on which Colbert's recent monologue is derived from E-Poll ( on whose board I have served for many years.  E-poll does a tremendous job on gathering useful marketing data.  It was their data that led to the New York Times article which came to the attention of Colbert and his writing staff.  Here is the

The problem with Colbert and the New York Times article is not the data which is sound.  The problem lies in the interpretation of this data.

When Americans go into a voting booth they know that they are not going in to select a friend, a spouse or someone they would like to have a beer with.  They are not voting for the person who do best as a clown for  their child's next birthday party.

Americans know that they are selecting the nation's Commander in chief who has principle responsibility for the nation's security.  Americans know that they are choosing the person who must deal with Xi's China, Putin's Russia and, at least for now, Maduro's Venezuela. Most Americans know that a good President must have the characteristics of a good junkyard dog -- they must be aggressive and mean.

Consider some of the great American Presidents in our amazing history.  George Washington, the father of our country, proved his mettle in the American Revolution.  He was an outstanding commander who endured hardships alongside his troops at Valley Forge and aggressively led his forces in an attack the day after Christmas 1776 at the Battle of Trenton.  Lincoln lacked military experience but ultimately emerged as a superb Commander in Chief in the American Civil War.  He even took extraordinary measures such as suspending habeas corpus to safeguard the Union.  He authorized and approved aggressive strategies such as Sherman's March to the Sea.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also an aggressive Commander in Chief who ordered the Doolittle Raid in April 1942 and the assassination of Admiral Yamamoto by a flight of P-38s in April 1942. All of these men aggressively acted to defend the interests of the United States.

The "mean" adjective ascribed to Trump by E-Poll respondents seems initially a bit more problematic.  But, again, consider Washington, Lincoln and FDR.  King George III and the many American Tories who supported him undoubtedly believed that Washington was a "mean" man.  Jefferson Davis and most in the Confederacy felt that Lincoln was a hard-hearted and mean individual.  Hitler and the Nazis were convinced that FDR was a mean guy too.

This is not to imply that Trump now belongs in the pantheon of great presidents.  The mere possibility that Trump might someday earn a high place in historic esteem is anathema to the left.  But the truth is that only time can tell on this score.

History does clearly teach us that aggression and perceived "meanness" are no barriers to presidential greatness.

Winston Churchill famously said: "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."  All those who stand up for anything will make enemies and will, therefore, be accused of being "mean".

Winston Churchill was not "sexy" or "physically fit" when he led Britain during World War II.  But he was a remarkable and inspiring leader.  FDR was, of course, disabled due to polio yet he too was a great President.

The qualities of aggressiveness and meanness lend themselves not merely to war but also to peace and prosperity.  When it comes to international trade negotiations aren't these qualities superior to the passivity and wimpiness that has governed our strategy for decades?  Ditto for border security.

The headline writers at the New York Times got it exactly wrong (Trump Lives by Ratings. He won't like this one).  The E-Poll research shows that Trump owns aggression and meanness and, if he runs on it in 2020 as America's favorite junkyard dog, he will coast to victory.  He should love this research which is, in fact a blueprint for victory! Let the Democrats be the party of Mister Rogers.

We Americans know that we inhabit a dangerous world, a world filled with dictators and tyrants, a world where journalists are executed and American students abroad can wind up brain dead like Otto Warmbier.  We absolutely need a President who will be "aggressive" and  "mean" to those who wish us ill.

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