Are there any adults in the room?

The child has taken over. Right now, it appears the only adult in the room is the new Chief of Staff. I wonder how long he will last.

pen and ink child throwing tantrumUnless you have buried your head in the sand and intentionally clogged your eyes and ears, you know that the POTUS has brought on John F. Kelly as his new Chief of Staff.

Kelly, a Marine and former Commanding General, has been part of Trump’s Cabinet as the Homeland Security Director. His bio paints a life of discipline, order, and dignity.

From what I can tell, the President and the new Chief of Staff are complete opposites in character, actions, and temperament.

One is an adult, informed by the self-discipline needed in the adult world; the other a child, never thwarted, never matured.

Here’s how an editorial today in the New York Times describes our current child-POTUS.

What but some profound sense of inadequacy could explain the neediness and the nastiness, the pout and the pettiness, the vanity and the vulgarity, the anger and the aggression? This president gets off on the humiliation of others. He is inhabited by some deep violence to which self-control is a stranger. It is almost painful to watch the degree to which he pursues self-aggrandizement. He confounds masculinity with machismo. As J.K. Rowling put it in a tweet: “You tiny, tiny, tiny little man.”

To be an adult

Adults know we can’t always get our way.

Adults know that the world does not center on us.

Adults know that we don’t know very much and will seek out and learn from the expertise of others.

Adults know that self-control and treating others with dignity and respect are the two necessary foundation stones to accomplishing anything worthwhile.

Adults know that keeping things in order makes everything easier and that too much chaos demoralizes even the best of us.

Adults know that screaming, cursing and degrading others will bring isolation and ultimate destruction.

As is written in the Holy Scriptures, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways (I Cor 13:11, NRSV).”

The religious world, eschewing adulthood, chooses to trust in a child.

Mr. Trump has not put an end to childish ways.

Yet, much of the current religious world has chosen to put its trust in this child. A Bible study, apparently attended by most if not all of the current Cabinet members, equates this selfish, uncontrolled man with the biblical character of Samson. Samson, a man of notoriously venial sexual appetites and an inability to exercise self-restraints, becomes a hero because he manages to kill lots of enemies.

But the analogy breaks down quickly. Samson, blinded and imprisoned, i.e., severely limited in the possibilities before him, decides to grow up. He offers his life as a way to bring freedom to others. He becomes a flawed but still intriguing Christ-figure.

Our current POTUS has no limits. For him, power is to be used to make him better and richer and more invulnerable. He will never put down his life or even inconvenience himself in the tiniest of ways for the sake of the oppressed and suffering.

Samson killed a bunch of party-goers in his final and redemptive act. Trump can destroy the world as we know it, as long as he is sure he can keep his hide safe.

I am more than sure that our current POTUS, in his undisciplined, unmatured mind, sees himself as a superhero. Who among us didn’t when we were children? We all wanted to fly, to be all powerful, to be the avenger, to be the victorious one surrounded by the blood and gore of our enemies.

But most of us grew up, learned that our “enemies” are also people, people struggling to find their ways in life and often with profound things to teach us.

Most of us figured out that the more we hate, demean and kill, the more likely we will be hated, demeaned and killed by others.

Most of us figured out that you can’t bomb evil out of existence, but that it is possible to face that which we term evil with a mature love and engage in the hard work of personal transformation.

Most of us have figured out that by offering others a hand up, we help everyone live better lives.

Most of us . . . except for the child who can now make all his childhood fantasies come true by one use of the nuclear codes.

National leaders need to be adults

We have always had extraordinarily flawed people in national leadership. No one can rise to that spot without being severely compromised and without the narcissistic tendencies necessary to envision oneself as the most powerful person in the world.

But most, not all but most, have been adults, acknowledging some restrictions on their behaviors.

Our current POTUS is not an adult, other than in the physical manifestation of age. But his mind and soul stay near the two-year-old level. And undisciplined, unregulated two-year-olds do not like adult-imposed restrictions.

I expect Kelly’s tenure to be tumultuous at best. The child has all the power. When thwarted by the presence of a person willing to act with adult dignity and impose restraints, the too-powerful child will kick, scream and destroy until they get their way.

I believe Kelly can serve as the adult in the room. But I have little hopes of a long tenure for his employment because the child can fire him.

Photo credit: lovelornpoets via Visualhunt / CC BY

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  • charlesburchfield

    I think it is the most interesting time to be alive in America. The best of times and the worst of times!! I am a senior citizen. I’ve almost put in my threescore-and-ten!! Rounding the corner on that is a big issue for me. There’s a little regret for some of the things I can never make right. I wouldn’t count myself one of the most mature leaders of this country and yet I am so much more of an adults now than I ever was!! I have almost no doubt God loves me. I try to stay in contact with him on a daily basis in order to stay sober and Serene. I have very little reason not to be truthful always. I’m not rich but I’m not living on the street either!! I am counting my blessings everyday that I don’t have more on my plate!! So we’ll just see how this thing rolls with Trump. One thing’s for sure satire and comedy have never been more of a tool to lift depression.

  • Linda Coleman Allen

    No doubt that you are correct Christy. I can think of no reason for anything to change at this point. This child just digs himself deeper every day.

  • gimpi1

    I’m trying to remember, did your husband support Mr. Trump while you supported Ms. Clinton? If so, how is your husband doing with him these days? If not, how are people you know dealing with him?

    I’m shocked at how childish, nasty, corrupt and incompetent he is, and stunned at his supporters that can’t see it… so I’m wondering.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Trump’s supporters see him as a strong, decisive, take-charge kind of guy.
      And in a way, they are right.
      That just happens to be the kind of personality that they admire.

  • Brandon Roberts

    eh i also wish trumps fanboys would hold him accountable

  • Chuck Johnson

    Trump is dysfunctional in so many ways.
    I think that his best function as President will be as a cautionary tale.

    Similar to the legacy of Adolf Hitler.

  • George Waite

    “We have always had extraordinarily flawed people in national leadership.
    No one can rise to that spot without being severely compromised and
    without the narcissistic tendencies necessary to envision oneself as the
    most powerful person in the world.-
    I’m shocked-even Saint Jimmah Cahtah, “The One Good Southern Baptist”???


  • Guthrum

    I used to follow the NYT but they are now do removed from professional journalism. Their sports department is still okay, and they have a few good writers. A lot of main stream media has an agenda and puts out propaganda.
    What I am seeing is broad support for Trumps proposals and ideas, especially in the age groups under 50. People want the Republicans in Congress to get on the ball. Tax reform, health insurance improvements, government reform, and immigration. There is an immigration policy and laws. They need to be enforced, or change them.
    We need less government and lower taxes on the middle class working folk.
    People are tired of the centralized Federal government power. There is something being done about it, supported by a broad base of people. It is called the “Constitution of States”. This would do something about the entrenched, unaccountable, powerful Federal bureaucracy that rides roughshod over the citizens. This is not the type of government this nation’s founders envisioned.
    “We are at a crossroads”

  • Chari McCauley

    All that is hidden in darkness will be brought into the light.

    Wonder if Trump is one of the trumpets?