Does character matter in a political leader?

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Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Braininvat on January 10th, 2017, 1:40 pm 

Recently, the U.S. had an election during which many questioned the character of both major candidates. I don't want to focus on this particular example, but I'm going to insert the following paragraph from a NYT editorial simply to illustrate how this kind of questioning arises:

It happened at a speech in 2015 in South Carolina. Mr. Trump’s target was Serge Kovaleski, of The Times, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that leaves his right arm and hand bent and rigid. “You ought to see this guy,” Mr. Trump told his audience, flailing his own right arm and hand in the air, making spastic movements, disgracing himself. The act was contemptible, and in a way unbelievable: a future president showing the maturity and schoolyard viciousness of an 8-year-old.


This seems like a good example, because when you read this (and see the footage), it does prompt any decent person to wonder about the character of someone who would behave in such a manner. It is jaw-dropping, as we say here in the States. The common definition of character involves personal integrity, respectfulness towards others, honesty, diligence, accountability, grace under pressure, keeping of promises....I think you all can fill in the rest. We seem to believe, most of us, that character matters. And we know it when we see it. It is revealed through words and actions (maybe more in the latter, but in the sphere of politics words can sometimes function as actions, e.g. a president declares war and then certain things start happening).

So, does this cluster of personal attributes matter more, in proportion to the importance of the political office? Or does bad character get more "buffered" by the many layers of personnel who surround those in high office, or by the system of "checks and balances" built into a modern democratic system? How dangerous is a man of poor character when he's got access to the nuclear codes and leads a superpower? Not engaging in rhetoric here - it's a real question, because most of us have such an incomplete understanding of the inner workings of a modern nation-state.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Serpent on January 10th, 2017, 3:31 pm 

I dunno. Ask Papa Doc, or Nebuchadnazzar, Sitting Bull or Elizabeth I.
Me, I think character is history.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Natural ChemE on January 10th, 2017, 3:56 pm 

Braininvat,

I suspect that macroscopic behavioral qualities tend to emerge from systematic operating principles. For example, a natural liar should have trouble understanding physics as well as a compulsively honest person because their internal mode of operation doesn't stick to the straight-and-narrow required for extensible thinking. It's like a game of telephone: a compulsively honest person's train of thought stands some reasonable chance of correctly performing the operation, while a liar's train of thought will tend to fall apart pretty quickly.

I'd expect a politician's mode of operation to affect the larger system in the same way. The President's not the whole country, but as a visible and influential leader, their integrity, or lack thereof, will affect the overall operation.

I've heard people argue that a politician's personal character is moot; that it's what the politician does that matters. And, in principle, this seems correct; if a politician does despicable things in complete privacy, then where's the causal path to adverse public effect? But when a politician's behavior is laid bare as an example for the entire population to see, then providing that example is something that the politician does; whether it's George Washington not lying about the cherry tree or Donald Trump lying about the everything.

It seems unlikely that any particular character flaw on the part of the President will end up destroying the world. The problem with dishonest politicians is that they damage the culture.

PS - Credit to where credit's due, Trump isn't all bad. I'll have harsh words for him because I think that he's almost without integrity, though I suspect that he tries to be a good person in his own way, even if that way's not particularly honest or rational.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 10th, 2017, 4:32 pm 

Braininvat » January 10th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:How dangerous is a man of poor character when he's got access to the nuclear codes and leads a superpower?

I think JFK is a good example, being the joint-first man to come to the brink of blowing up the planet. He was preoccupied with his own status and masculinity, and saw every meeting as a test of those qualities. Having felt Khrushchev got one over on him at the Vienna summit, he was belligerent and uncompromising during the buildup of the Cuban missile crisis (in spite of America's own actions in Turkey).

A closer analogy to Trump's behaviour might be Bush Jr, in an interview while Governor of Texas, mocking the death penalty recipient who had begged on his knees for his life. The administration's callousness and indifference to human life in the way it conducted its wars is only what you'd expect from such a man. I think Clinton is right when she says that a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear button.

And if we were to judge a candidate purely on their policies, we'd be left with the question of how we know they're actually going to pursue those policies when in office. Different leaders do so to differing degrees.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Serpent on January 10th, 2017, 4:52 pm 

What none of them can do is change. What you get is what you're stuck with. What kind of characters they have around them in key positions determines how much good or harm they are able to do, for however long their power lasts.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 10th, 2017, 5:53 pm 

Oh, I don't know. I would say Lincoln changed. But I'm having to reach back pretty far.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby ronjanec on January 10th, 2017, 7:54 pm 

Lomax » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:32 pm wrote:
Braininvat » January 10th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:How dangerous is a man of poor character when he's got access to the nuclear codes and leads a superpower?

I think JFK is a good example, being the joint-first man to come to the brink of blowing up the planet. He was preoccupied with his own status and masculinity, and saw every meeting as a test of those qualities. Having felt Khrushchev got one over on him at the Vienna summit, he was belligerent and uncompromising during the buildup of the Cuban missile crisis (in spite of America's own actions in Turkey).

A closer analogy to Trump's behaviour might be Bush Jr, in an interview while Governor of Texas, mocking the death penalty recipient who had begged on his knees for his life. The administration's callousness and indifference to human life in the way it conducted its wars is only what you'd expect from such a man. I think Clinton is right when she says that a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear button.

And if we were to judge a candidate purely on their policies, we'd be left with the question of how we know they're actually going to pursue those policies when in office. Different leaders do so to differing degrees.


That is not true according to at least one book that I have read about the Cuban Middle Crisis Lomax;

I am probably the last person on the forum to applaud a Democratic President's previous performance while in office, but from what I have read about JFK during this missle crisis, he was actually the one person saving us from disaster from the many "hawks" in his administration, with Bobby Kennedy being by far the worst of the bunch.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby someguy1 on January 10th, 2017, 8:41 pm 

Here is a short video of Trump mocking Ted Cruz in the exact same manner, using the exact same arm gestures. It's something he'd done many times to mock people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4604reEqk0

Is Trump rude and crude? Absolutely. He's been this way for decades. Everyone knows it.

Did he deliberately mock a disabled individual?

No he did not.

That's just a left-wing smear dishonestly reported as fact and repeated by Democratic partisans.

Fake news.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Braininvat on January 10th, 2017, 9:16 pm 

I tried to pick an example that was publicly visible and recorded, to lessen the chance for ambiguity or embellishment. I suggest we both view the footage before invoking smear campaigns or making charges of libel. Seem reasonable, SG? I'm a registered Independent, and not a partisan, so would gladly reflect on examples of lapses from either party. I could have used
Bill Clinton and his dalliances while a sitting president. Or JFK, who was a mess on several levels, as Lomax touched on.

In any case, the point was that politicians display character, or fail to, in various ways. And how this matters in governance. I am sorry you inferred a partisan tone, SG.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 10th, 2017, 9:40 pm 

ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 12:54 am wrote:That is not true according to at least one book that I have read about the Cuban Middle Crisis Lomax;

I am probably the last person on the forum to applaud a Democratic President's previous performance while in office, but from what I have read about JFK during this missle crisis, he was actually the one person saving us from disaster from the many "hawks" in his administration, with Bobby Kennedy being by far the worst of the bunch.

Which book? (There's a long tradition of hagiography about JFK by the way: Dallek, Leaming, Salinger, Schlesinger, Sorensen, and so on.)

The reason I speak of the buildup rather than the crisis itself is that, regardless of how Kennedy handled it, it was a crisis he took the lead in helping to create. He did not need to station nuclear bases in Turkey and Italy the previous year - actions against which the USSR's delivery of nukes to Cuba was likely to have been a retaliation. He didn't need to discontinue exports of oil to, and imports of sugar from, Cuba - policies which ravaged the latter's GDP and threatened a nation's people with starvation, regardless of any detrimental effects socialist reform may have had. He did not need to sanction the training of, and invasion by, more than a thousand Cuban exiles in an attempt to overthrown Castro's regime, but he did so all the same. Just as he delayed any action over civil rights, so he delayed - despite pressures - action over a test-ban treaty. Bertrand Russell's intervention (he sent a telegram to both Khrushchev and Kennedy suggesting the course of action which, eventually, was pursued) was met with assent by Khrushchev and a mixture of ignorance and petulance by Kennedy. His constant need to save face and appear superior led him to insist that his agreement with Khrushchev - to dismantle the Turkish nuclear bases in exchange for dismantling the Cuban ones - be kept secret. This had the effect of making everyone think Kennedy had "won" the standoff (despite the fact that, having run on a "get tough with Communism" platform, he now had to dismantle his European nuclear bases and finally leave Cuba alone, while the USSR lost nothing) and Khrushchev (true to his word and keeping the secret) became discredited in the public eye. This led to his replacement by Leonid Brezhnev, a man closer to the principles of Stalin, and thus the invasion of Afghanistan. So much of Kennedy's behaviour was nothing more than a monomaniacal attempt to improve his own reputation - which makes it all the more depressing that it evidently worked, because he is still admired the world over, five decades later, and praised and patted on the back for narrowly averting a crisis of his own making.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Braininvat on January 10th, 2017, 9:48 pm 

Just a quick follow-up on Someguy's concerns about the accuracy of allegations about Trump....

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=37zvOZ17eSE

This video, which includes Trump's appearing to generate a series of spastic arm motions in a crude mockery of the journalist's disability, also contains 9 other publicly recorded displays that, and I will say I know conservatives who agree with me on this, betray a rather serious character flaw of unrestrainedly delivering mean-spirited and bigoted insults to women, foreigners, Muslims, and POWs. I could have gone with Warren Harding, in the OP, but chose Trump as a recent and fairly obvious example. The consequences of Harding's character flaws may also be worth exploring....need time to do a bit of research. See you later.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby wolfhnd on January 10th, 2017, 9:53 pm 

The fake news outlets created a narrative for the story in the original post.

https://youtu.be/4YwPq60me4E

https://youtu.be/5aYFC_7ZIn4

https://youtu.be/ueCdV_wCVrc

Trump makes fun of every reporter and uses the same jesters. Now maybe they are all being labeled as disabled and maybe the case in point is different but isn't it just as reasonable to assume that he is treating a disabled person the same as anyone else.

I'm not defending Trump I'm pointing out how useless the media is. After all the misinformation the media promoted in the late election why should we believe this story is any different.

The Russians did it is another example of disinformation. If a 15 year old can hack the FBI and steel all their records should the story not be about how horrible security is not who done it? If the Russian had been involved do you really think they would have used an outdated Trojan anyone can download off the internet?

The question I have is why ask if the candidates have character if the fact checkers have none.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Serpent on January 10th, 2017, 9:55 pm 

Lomax » January 10th, 2017, 4:53 pm wrote:Oh, I don't know. I would say Lincoln changed. But I'm having to reach back pretty far.

His character or his view on a particular issue?

Anyway, I've reflected a bit and have to add that the character of a nation at a given moment in its history throws up to the top the man (and once in a blue moon, woman) who most closely embodies its own character. JFK started me thinking on that. The US of the early 60's: youthful, optimistic to the point of brashness, muscular, boastful, progressive, wide open to possibility; hiding its paranoia, superstition, meanness and insecurity. The US has never really had a single national identity. It's always turning one face or the other to the camera, and these - just the dominant two - are very different faces. The leaders that emerge never represent more than half the country - usually much less than half.

Think about other notable presidents - not the dull, caretaker interim guys; just the standouts. What was the personality of the country? What was it they each expressed and made manifest?
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby someguy1 on January 10th, 2017, 10:03 pm 

Braininvat » January 10th, 2017, 7:16 pm wrote:I tried to pick an example that was publicly visible and recorded, to lessen the chance for ambiguity or embellishment.


Nothing personal. That particular slander against Trump was repeated by Hillary and others during the campaign. It's not that it's false; it's that Trump is rude and crude to everyone. He mocks the abled and disabled alike. He's an equal opportunity insulter. I happen to have run across the video I linked just the other day so it was on my mind.

All my life I've voted Dem but lately I'm nauseated by the left's overreach. I'm horrified that the Dems from Obama on down are trying to whip up a war with Russia over this alleged hacking, for which no actual evidence has been put forward. I'm old enough to remember when Dems opposed gratuitous wars. When did the left sign on to this program of endless war and endless profits for the defense contractors? The left used to be on the other side of that issue. I still am.

Anyway nothing personal. We'll all have plenty of opportunity to attack Trump for what he actually does. There's a lot of bullshit in the air lately. I'm for trying to get to the truth of things and not the spin and narrative.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 10th, 2017, 10:10 pm 

Since we're allowing this thread - which has the benefit of being connected to a broader issue - to be another thread about Trump, I'll respond to the defenses presented here.

Natural ChemE,

Don't Trump's paranoia and his victim complex, as well as his pettiness - lashing out, for instance, last night at Meryl Streep - strike you as characteristic of someone who takes it as given that they are good, and instead focuses their energies on trying to get even? It seems to me that for a billionaire president-elect he has the most astonishing facility for considering himself cheated by life.

someguy1,

What do you think Trump's gestures and facial expressions mean, when he mocks in that way? Is it any better if the leader of the free world mocks disabled people in the abstract, than if he picks on one? I ask non-rhetorically.

Wolfhnd,

Trump was treating a disabled person the same as anyone else he doesn't like. Treating them like a caricature of disability.

I don't remember the guy's name, but he switched off the entire British Royal Navy for twenty minutes, back in the 90s, for a bet (for a pint) he made down the pub. He went on to become one of the FBI's chief security advisors. Companies positively scout for amateurs who can hack them - it's known as "Schneier's Law": anyone can come up with a code which they themselves are not smart enough to break. So the guys who run the big creepy institutions will never quite have a monopoly over 15 year old hikikomori with nothing better to do. What is news is who did do it, in this important instance, and why.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby ronjanec on January 10th, 2017, 10:46 pm 

Lomax » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:40 pm wrote:
ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 12:54 am wrote:That is not true according to at least one book that I have read about the Cuban Middle Crisis Lomax;

I am probably the last person on the forum to applaud a Democratic President's previous performance while in office, but from what I have read about JFK during this missle crisis, he was actually the one person saving us from disaster from the many "hawks" in his administration, with Bobby Kennedy being by far the worst of the bunch.

Which book? (There's a long tradition of hagiography about JFK by the way: Dallek, Leaming, Salinger, Schlesinger, Sorensen, and so on.)

The reason I speak of the buildup rather than the crisis itself is that, regardless of how Kennedy handled it, it was a crisis he took the lead in helping to create. He did not need to station nuclear bases in Turkey and Italy the previous year - actions against which the USSR's delivery of nukes to Cuba was likely to have been a retaliation. He didn't need to discontinue exports of oil to, and imports of sugar from, Cuba - policies which ravaged the latter's GDP and threatened a nation's people with starvation, regardless of any detrimental effects socialist reform may have had. He did not need to sanction the training of, and invasion by, more than a thousand Cuban exiles in an attempt to overthrown Castro's regime, but he did so all the same. Just as he delayed any action over civil rights, so he delayed - despite pressures - action over a test-ban treaty. Bertrand Russell's intervention (he sent a telegram to both Khrushchev and Kennedy suggesting the course of action which, eventually, was pursued) was met with assent by Khrushchev and a mixture of ignorance and petulance by Kennedy. His constant need to save face and appear superior led him to insist that his agreement with Khrushchev - to dismantle the Turkish nuclear bases in exchange for dismantling the Cuban ones - be kept secret. This had the effect of making everyone think Kennedy had "won" the standoff (despite the fact that, having run on a "get tough with Communism" platform, he now had to dismantle his European nuclear bases and finally leave Cuba alone, while the USSR lost nothing) and Khrushchev (true to his word and keeping the secret) became discredited in the public eye. This led to his replacement by Leonid Brezhnev, a man closer to the principles of Stalin, and thus the invasion of Afghanistan. So much of Kennedy's behaviour was nothing more than a monomaniacal attempt to improve his own reputation - which makes it all the more depressing that it evidently worked, because he is still admired the world over, five decades later, and praised and patted on the back for narrowly averting a crisis of his own making.


I can't remember which book I read this in(maybe a couple of years ago?) And I am not disagreeing with you that he helped get us into the mess Lomax(Bay of Pigs etc.), I was just pointing out that he may have saved us all from nuclear Armageddon during the actual crisis itself. And it also sounds like he would have saved us from the Vietnam War/fiasco if he had lived out the rest of his term.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 10th, 2017, 11:02 pm 

ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 3:46 am wrote:And I am not disagreeing with you that he helped get us into the mess Lomax(Bay of Pigs etc.)

Then which of my statements are you claiming not to be true?

ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 3:46 am wrote:And it also sounds like he would have saved us from the Vietnam War/fiasco if he had lived out the rest of his term.

We know that in private he had a contingency plan for withdrawal, which is all the meager evidence we have for that piece of received wisdom. We also know that in private he had misgivings about the Bay of Pigs, but that didn't stop him.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby ronjanec on January 10th, 2017, 11:06 pm 

Lomax » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:02 pm wrote:
ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 3:46 am wrote:And I am not disagreeing with you that he helped get us into the mess Lomax(Bay of Pigs etc.)

Then which of my statements are you claiming not to be true?

ronjanec » January 11th, 2017, 3:46 am wrote:And it also sounds like he would have saved us from the Vietnam War/fiasco if he had lived out the rest of his term.

We know that in private he had a private contingency plan for withdrawal, which is all the meager evidence we have for that piece of received wisdom. We also know that in private he had misgivings about the Bay of Pigs, but that didn't stop him.


I was making dinner and trying to post at the same time, and should have pointed out that I was only disagreeing with you about his conduct during the missle crisis...sorry about that.

Who really knows the truth about any history Lomax? :)
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby someguy1 on January 10th, 2017, 11:35 pm 

ronjanec » January 10th, 2017, 8:46 pm wrote:
I can't remember which book I read this in(maybe a couple of years ago?) And I am not disagreeing with you that he helped get us into the mess Lomax(Bay of Pigs etc.), I was just pointing out that he may have saved us all from nuclear Armageddon during the actual crisis itself. And it also sounds like he would have saved us from the Vietnam War/fiasco if he had lived out the rest of his term.


Yes he got us into the mess then got us out. A risky personality. There's a documentary I saw on cable called JFK's Women. If JFK has not been assassinated, a month later he would have been outed as having an affair with a Russian spy. This was at the height of the cold war; and Kennedy was a good Catholic, married to the glamorous Jackie. His presidency would have been toast. So said the documentary, anyway. Reporters had been on the story for months but JFK's powerful father was keeping a lid on it.

Anyway that's all idle gossip. JFK did like the ladies.

What I wanted to mention was that after the Bay of Pigs disaster, Kennedy was reputed to have said he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter the pieces to the wind. Then he was assassinated in an incident with the CIA's fingerprints all over it; and since that day, no US president has dared to cross the intelligence agencies.

Till Trump. When I read about the "fake news" and the Russian hacking and all the MSM stories coming out, the purpose of which is to delegitimize Trump's election and by extension the very integrity of our electoral process -- which, remember, has seen peaceful and orderly transition of power for 230 years, no mean feat on this disputatious planet -- I remember JFK and the Bay of Pigs.

Today Chuck Schumer said that Trump was "really dumb" to attack the intelligence agencies. http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... -community

In other words Trump is doing what no US president has done since the intel community came into existence after WWII. He's calling out the intelligence community as being politicized. He's standing up to them. He's saing he's going to clean house.

And the powerful intel agencies are fighting back. They issue the reports and leak to their friends in Congress whatever they want the rest of us to think.

Trump is standing up to that. I support him in this.

Is he as bad as his opponents say. Yes! We all watched him in action. The 3am tweetstream against the beauty queen. Picking a fight with a Muslim Gold Star family. The pussy grabbing. It's awful.

But compared to standing up to the CIA -- for that, I support Trump.

I think there's a principled position to give Trump a chance. To accept that he's a boor and a bully and terribly ignorant and holds some TERRIBLE positions -- for the record I unalterably oppose the "wall" and favor warm and friendly social and economic relations with Mexico -- but I say give the man a chance.

Our system's messed up, the debt, the wars, the social pathologies, the anger.

Give the man a chance to do the job the people elected him to do.

And when you read that Trump's staff is in cahoots with the Russians and stole the election from Saint Hillary -- please, just use your critical faculties. No president in history ever stood up to the intel community and lived. What Trump is doing on a daily basis right this very moment is historic. And very much needed.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby ronjanec on January 11th, 2017, 12:40 am 

someguy1 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:35 pm wrote:
ronjanec » January 10th, 2017, 8:46 pm wrote:
I can't remember which book I read this in(maybe a couple of years ago?) And I am not disagreeing with you that he helped get us into the mess Lomax(Bay of Pigs etc.), I was just pointing out that he may have saved us all from nuclear Armageddon during the actual crisis itself. And it also sounds like he would have saved us from the Vietnam War/fiasco if he had lived out the rest of his term.


Yes he got us into the mess then got us out. A risky personality. There's a documentary I saw on cable called JFK's Women. If JFK has not been assassinated, a month later he would have been outed as having an affair with a Russian spy. This was at the height of the cold war; and Kennedy was a good Catholic, married to the glamorous Jackie. His presidency would have been toast. So said the documentary, anyway. Reporters had been on the story for months but JFK's powerful father was keeping a lid on it.

Anyway that's all idle gossip. JFK did like the ladies.

What I wanted to mention was that after the Bay of Pigs disaster, Kennedy was reputed to have said he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter the pieces to the wind. Then he was assassinated in an incident with the CIA's fingerprints all over it; and since that day, no US president has dared to cross the intelligence agencies.

Till Trump. When I read about the "fake news" and the Russian hacking and all the MSM stories coming out, the purpose of which is to delegitimize Trump's election and by extension the very integrity of our electoral process -- which, remember, has seen peaceful and orderly transition of power for 230 years, no mean feat on this disputatious planet -- I remember JFK and the Bay of Pigs.

Today Chuck Schumer said that Trump was "really dumb" to attack the intelligence agencies. http://thehill.com/homenews/administrat ... -community

In other words Trump is doing what no US president has done since the intel community came into existence after WWII. He's calling out the intelligence community as being politicized. He's standing up to them. He's saing he's going to clean house.

And the powerful intel agencies are fighting back. They issue the reports and leak to their friends in Congress whatever they want the rest of us to think.

Trump is standing up to that. I support him in this.

Is he as bad as his opponents say. Yes! We all watched him in action. The 3am tweetstream against the beauty queen. Picking a fight with a Muslim Gold Star family. The pussy grabbing. It's awful.

But compared to standing up to the CIA -- for that, I support Trump.

I think there's a principled position to give Trump a chance. To accept that he's a boor and a bully and terribly ignorant and holds some TERRIBLE positions -- for the record I unalterably oppose the "wall" and favor warm and friendly social and economic relations with Mexico -- but I say give the man a chance.

Our system's messed up, the debt, the wars, the social pathologies, the anger.

Give the man a chance to do the job the people elected him to do.

And when you read that Trump's staff is in cahoots with the Russians and stole the election from Saint Hillary -- please, just use your critical faculties. No president in history ever stood up to the intel community and lived. What Trump is doing on a daily basis right this very moment is historic. And very much needed.


The media is only making a really big deal about the Russian's alledged interference in our election because they are still trying to make Trump look bad just like they did during the campaign someguy. Is anyone really dumb enough to believe that instead they "actually care about the integrity of our elections?" The news media did everything in their power to get Clinton elected, and even tried to rig the debates in favor of Clinton by giving her the debate questions in advance for those who have really short memories, and they have probably been doing this for many years without getting caught.

The real guilty parties here are Hillary and her bunch of deplorables who got exposed for the liars and cheaters that they always were during the last campaign. They should actually investigate this bunch if they had any actual integrity, instead of spending all their time crying about whomever is the whistleblower.

To hell with politics because the battle is finally won: In ten days, the Left and their surrogates in the news media, are going to start to get a well deserved wake up call that they will never forget.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Serpent on January 11th, 2017, 12:51 am 

To hell with politics because the battle is finally won: In ten days, the Left and their surrogates in the news media are going to start to get a well deserved wake up call that they will never forget.

There you have it. The face of today's America... Iran... Philippines....Hungary....Nigeria....England....

To hell with everything, except revenge on the nearest accessible scapegoat.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby ronjanec on January 11th, 2017, 1:11 am 

Serpent » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:51 pm wrote:
To hell with politics because the battle is finally won: In ten days, the Left and their surrogates in the news media are going to start to get a well deserved wake up call that they will never forget.

There you have it. The face of today's America... Iran... Philippines....Hungary....Nigeria....England....

To hell with everything, except revenge on the nearest accessible scapegoat.


And hopefully also France, Holland, Italy, and Germany this year.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Serpent on January 11th, 2017, 1:36 am 

Yep. The end of civilization. It didn't work.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Braininvat on January 11th, 2017, 1:54 am 

Guess it's impossible to keep any political topic from derailing if Trump is used as an example. Mea culpa, I should have led with Kennedy and Harding. Ron, your post with the partisan rant is off topic. The media conspiracy thing, ditto. I should just dump the last half dozen posts.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby BadgerJelly on January 11th, 2017, 1:59 am 

I would merely say no more than today a person in the public eye has their character under intense scrunity.

Character is important. Culture dictates what character is good and what kind of character is bad. Successful people are not people who will always have good character. Do successful people have a better character than others? I don't know that.

Serpent -

I have to comment on Philippines. From the outside it looks like Duterte is a maniac. To set the same standards for the Philippines as for western countries is not fair. I have heard people say that the drug problems in the US is just as bad as the Philippines ... get on plane and visit this country. Talk to the people. Talk to those who didn't even vote for Duterte. Visit the poorest areas in Manila and Cebu the visit the poorest areas in Davao where Duterte had been major (a city which was once called Philippines most dangerous city).

Honestly the situation in the Philippines for a long, long time has not been improving and for most people there things cannot really get much worse. No country in the west faces anything like the kind of social problems present in the Philippines today. With Duterte in power the police have started actually doing their job.

When I first visited the Philippines years ago in a popular tourist area I was told about some guy coming into the bar ordering drinks all night, dishing out drugs to all his women and then pulled a gun when asked to pay the bill. He was the son of the major of that province. Also it was quite visible that a large number of the poor locals were on crystal meth (shaboo). The police were easily bribed if they were present or not.

Duterte came won the election (landslide win) and suddenly the police started doing there job, people were no longer afraid to walk in the streets.

I have actually spoken to people, old and young, rich and poor. Some say some daft things for sure. Even those who have lived in western countries understand the problems their country has faced and how bad the drug abuse is. The majority of the people who are not in severe poverty are just concerned that he cannot change anything and that what he did in Davao was a fluke and/or not applicable to the whole nation.

Duterte's character is simple. Stop selling drugs or die. He is willing to be the bad guy for the sake of future generations. Whether or not he makes a big enough impact in his time is another question. There is always the fear that once he is gone the drug lords will come back with a vengeance (that is my major concern). A lesser concern for me are the unlawful killings, executions without trial. I think once the major players in the drug world are broken up enough this will stop. If not, then I would call it a major concern.

I would also say I could be mistaken. I am just offering my general impression and the possible mistake of comparing something happening in a country very different from your own and setting it up against your countries standerds and freedoms. The Philippines is a country of extremes. The vast majority are in poverty. Drug gangs and general corruption has keep the poor poor.

At the end of the day the Philippine people want to hope for a better future and want police corruption and drug lords out of their country. Building a drug rehab unit in Manila is simply a ridiculous idea given that the country doesn't have enough funds to apply this nationally. It is a mere drop in the ocean.

All I can say is good luck to the Philippines. The people there deserve a future, one the vast majority of us take for granted. I genuinely think Duterte is the best thing for the Philippines and I hope I am not wrong about him and that he will reamin resolute in cleaning up the country.

Sorry to ramble on. It just bothers me and people are often too ready to make snap judgements based on bias news reports. It is extremely easy to paint a bad picture of the guy. A lot of what he says I find quite disgusting.

Biv -

By what I have written above you may think I would say character doesn't matter. To me it matters more than anything in politics. The celebrated brit Winston was not exactly a sqeaky clean character! In certain circumstances the unusually and uninhibited choice may just actually be the right one.

In the US the problem faced are not extreme, poverty is not as big a problem as elsewhere. A country spending something like 14% of its money on military expansion when others spend around 4% should paint a clear picture.

I don't think Trump is good. I think that in the long run he may very well change how people approach politics. I remain fiemly on the fence as to whether the change will be for better or worse. If we can hold our shit together I think the next couple of generations to come into power will have a big impact (people now in 20's).
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby BadgerJelly on January 11th, 2017, 2:09 am 

Biv -

It may be worth considering a mechanic. Do you choose a mechanic based on ability or moral disposition? To get the job done you would not trust a liar to fix your car no matter how accomplished he was right?

I would usually argue that if they have the ability to handle the task then I would pick them, but as you can see above what matters is trust. No matter the character of the person, if I judge them trustworthy and able to get the job done I will vote for them.

If a president was to have an affair I would not suddenly label them as untrustworthy. If I knew about their personal relationship with their wife and the circumstances I may well draw another conclusion. I know enough about relationships to understand that people make mistakes and often an apparently "bad" act may not be such a terrible thing given the circumstances.

I think Duterte is also a very good example for this topic. It sums up how we are quick to judge the politics and laws of another country that we may very well have, at best, secondhand information on.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby wolfhnd on January 11th, 2017, 4:34 am 

Lomax » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:10 am wrote:Since we're allowing this thread - which has the benefit of being connected to a broader issue - to be another thread about Trump, I'll respond to the defenses presented here.

Natural ChemE,

Don't Trump's paranoia and his victim complex, as well as his pettiness - lashing out, for instance, last night at Meryl Streep - strike you as characteristic of someone who takes it as given that they are good, and instead focuses their energies on trying to get even? It seems to me that for a billionaire president-elect he has the most astonishing facility for considering himself cheated by life.

someguy1,

What do you think Trump's gestures and facial expressions mean, when he mocks in that way? Is it any better if the leader of the free world mocks disabled people in the abstract, than if he picks on one? I ask non-rhetorically.

Wolfhnd,

Trump was treating a disabled person the same as anyone else he doesn't like. Treating them like a caricature of disability.

I don't remember the guy's name, but he switched off the entire British Royal Navy for twenty minutes, back in the 90s, for a bet (for a pint) he made down the pub. He went on to become one of the FBI's chief security advisors. Companies positively scout for amateurs who can hack them - it's known as "Schneier's Law": anyone can come up with a code which they themselves are not smart enough to break. So the guys who run the big creepy institutions will never quite have a monopoly over 15 year old hikikomori with nothing better to do. What is news is who did do it, in this important instance, and why.


I totally disagree who did it is irrelevant if it is easily done. Who did it is important when the task requires unusual ability. The issue remains poor security, incompetence, and the content not who done it.

If you think the Russian are as incompetent as the narrative suggests you must have a great deal of bigotry toward the Russians.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby wolfhnd on January 11th, 2017, 4:40 am 

Braininvat » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:54 am wrote:Guess it's impossible to keep any political topic from derailing if Trump is used as an example. Mea culpa, I should have led with Kennedy and Harding. Ron, your post with the partisan rant is off topic. The media conspiracy thing, ditto. I should just dump the last half dozen posts.


I disagree that the media rant is off topic because the information you use to judge character comes from the media.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby wolfhnd on January 11th, 2017, 5:18 am 

The point here should be that the character of any individual is sufficiently complex that we have to apply a filter to assess it. What aspects of character are important to you?

I think Badger Jelly hit on the head, judging politicians by the standards we apply to our friends is counter productive. I don't care that JFK, Clinton, and now Trump are misogynists, I care if I can trust them to act in the public arena in the way they promised.

I would not choose to be friends with any of these men. I'm opposed to promiscuity on moral grounds and do not associated with misogynists or misandrists or hedonists.

There are however way to many moral busybodies in the world. We should have learned something from prohibition. I won't associate with drunks or people that use illegal drugs but I think they should be legal.

The final issue is competence. In my career I supported many people I detested personally because the other candidates were incompetent. Sometimes even though it made my own life less pleasant.

Well meaning incompetent people can be a destructive force in any social setting. If you choose someone of low character because of their competency then of course you are accepting the responsibility to monitor them.

All the pieces have to be in place to form checks and balances. The problem with the presidency is that progressives surrendered the constitutional responsibilities of congress. Executives should not be formulating policy but executing it.

We treat the president as royalty because we apes seek comfort in a paternal system. In Britain the constitutional monarchy does set the moral standards for the country but we have elected to place that responsibility outside the political process.
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Re: Does character matter in a political leader?

Postby Lomax on January 11th, 2017, 8:12 am 

wolfhnd » January 11th, 2017, 9:34 am wrote:I totally disagree who did it is irrelevant if it is easily done.

Putin could have intervened to reveal information about either candidate but he did so (if the unclassified cross-intelligence report is true) only in favour of his preferred candidate. That's why it matters. He may be able to sway future elections, even if he did not this one, by this biased technique.

I must say I find your argument rather analogous to "it doesn't matter who stabbed who; what matters is how easy it is to put a knife in somebody".

wolfhnd » January 11th, 2017, 9:34 am wrote:If you think the Russian are as incompetent as the narrative suggests you must have a great deal of bigotry toward the Russians.

You failed to follow the narrative. Schneier's Law applies to everybody, and the point was that 15 year olds will always be able to hack, and this is old news. I hope you know how silly it is to label somebody a bigot for criticising the actions of a nation's government.
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