Don’t Follow Our Leaders. Follow Our Leader.

Photo Source: White House web site file photo.

NOTE: The Korea/America summit is over and so far at least, it looks hopeful.  At the least, the possibility of war is now off the table. 

I hesitate to write this because I’m at cross purposes.

I’ve been praying Rosaries for President Trump’s meeting with North Korea. I’ve prayed that the meeting will avert war, that the President will avoid the excesses of his personality. 

I pray that he won’t be so eager for bragging rights on a “deal” with North Korea that he sells us down the drain to get it. I pray also that he won’t be so eager to use the negotiations to prove his manhood that he ends up increasing hostility. I pray that he will represent America’s interests and not Russia’s. 

I guess I pray for a miracle. I wish President Trump — and all the rest of us — great success in this venture. 

At the same time, I am, as usual, appalled by his recent behavior and lack of statecraft, specifically by the carryings-on at the G7 Summit. I am not attempting to debate the merits of imposing tariffs. I actually think there is something to arguments that America has been used as a cash cow by other nations. I also know that this is an area where we need to be smart about what we do. 

I’m not even going to say that I think the only boor at the table was our president. The reports are written from the outside, and as usual with anything about President Trump, they are filtered through the sieve of whatever agenda the writer has about our president.

But from what I can tell, at least the Canadian Prime Minister used President Trump’s reputation for being a jerk and having a crazy personality against him to grandstand for the home crowds. All I can say, is that this was inevitable.

These are not underlings the president is playing with. They are heads of state who know a thing or two about reading people and holding the reins of government. They read Trump earlier, and now they’re using what they learned against him. His childish behavior is coming home.

As usual, our President reacted in a personal and predictable manner, which will feed further manipulations in the future. Trudeau made his political speech for the home crowd and Trump responded with name-calling, sanctions and tariffs.

What he doesn’t see is that they’ve figured him out. He’s predictable. They know that if they do certain things, he will respond with an idiotic tweet and an immediate flashback. Once that happens in grown-up full-speed politics, once they figure out how to get you to react, you are fair game.

As usual, the President’s personal behavior; his name-calling, childish attempts to out-grip other world leaders in hand-shakes and general uncouth jerkiness; have made more news than his positions on issues. What’s worse, he’s given every world leader at the summit the chance to play to their home crowds about standing up to the bully American.

He’s being played, and us along with him. He not only reneged on an agreement that he had signed hours earlier, he called the Prime Minister of Canada names, and responded to a speech by changing United States trade policy, all in a tweet. 

When Trump bots go at defending this man, it makes me want to repeat a line from Animal House when one of the characters said “I can’t believe I threw up in front of Dean Wormer.” That line is, Face it Flounder, you threw up ON Dean Wormer.

President Trump is an embarrassment. He’s doing harm to America.

Which leads me to another point. This may seem disconnected, but I’m going to tell you why and how it connects, at least in my mind. So bear with me.

Last night, a famous movie star evidently decided to end a totally unconnected-to-Trump introduction he was making with a vulgar slang term for sexual intercourse followed by the President’s last name. This bit of mindless stupidity earned him a standing ovation. 

I’m inclined to think there’s a bit of monkey-see, monkey-do in this behavior. After all, our president is no stranger to cursing, crudity and outrageous, trashy personal insults. His language and behavior are inappropriate in any responsible context, and outrageous for the President of the United States. 

I am inclined to think that people who behave as he does invite other people to behave the same way back at them. This does not mean that one excuses the other. 

President Trump is responsible for his boorish behavior, and the actor in question is responsible for his boorish behavior. Not only that, but the audience members are responsible for cheering this kind of thing. 

I’m not really concerned about any of these people. They are behaving like fools, and I’m not going to worry about them. 

But I would like to caution Public Catholic readers to think once, twice, and then think again before they engage in this kind of behavior. We are not called to follow our national leaders when they behave like this. We are called to follow our Leader.

Remember before you open your mouth that you are a Christian. People judge Jesus by you. You are, just like these other people, answerable for what you say and do. 

Don’t go around talking like foul-mouthed idiot trash. If you support President Trump, that’s ok. If you oppose him, that’s also ok. If, like me, you think he has some good ideas mixed in with some terrible ideas and is a serial sexual predator/compulsive liar/braggart/bully, that is also ok. 

Like him or don’t; that’s your choice. Just please, whatever you do, don’t behave like him. It is truly ironic that many of President Trump’s detractors are behaving just as badly as he does. They seem to be trying to match him, stupid for stupid, crude for crude, mean for mean. 

I challenge all of us, including me, to offer another option with our behavior. Let’s demonstrate what thoughtful, sincere Americans do in public discussion. Let’s behave as if Jesus Christ is our Lord and we follow Him and no one else. 

As for the talks in Korea, I will continue to offer up Rosaries for them. I’m praying for a miracle here. I’m praying that both these men will decide, at least for a while, that this is not about them and them alone. That it is more than another proving ground for  their insecurities about their manhood. I am praying that they, for once in their lives, will work for the common good of all the human race. 

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