Sat, Mar 11, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Peanut butter on the Trump administration’s chins

US President Donald Trump’s team seems to be acting out an old cabaret song, slathering peanut butter on their chins to brownnose their boss

By Thomas Friedman  /  NY Times News Service

For many years, the famous Crystal Palace dinner theater in Aspen, Colorado, featured a cabaret song that every audience loved: The Peanut Butter Affair.

It told the story of a CEO who had gone to work one day without properly washing his face and still had a lump of peanut butter on his chin, but none of his employees dared to tell him.

When he got home, his wife told him it was there and he was appalled, but he was even more appalled when he showed up for work over the next few days and eventually “every jerk from the chairman to the clerk had a lump of peanut butter on his chin.”

That spoof of underlings who witlessly mimic their bosses came to mind as I listened to US President Donald Trump’s aides and allies justifying his last Twitter rant on Saturday morning, alleging — without any evidence — that former US president Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower phones be tapped during his campaign last year.

It seemed like the whole Trump team was putting peanut butter on their chins. The only question was who had the biggest lump.

My vote goes to White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who told ABC’s This Week that Trump “is going off of information that he’s seen that has led him to believe that this is a very real potential.”

Unspecified information that he has seen? UFOs that he has seen? How is that a standard for accusing his predecessor of a vile crime? Give that woman a four-year supply of Peter Pan.

Sanders is just a flack. More troubling was watching an honorable soldier, US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, dab on some Skippy and defend Trump’s claim on CNN, saying that “the president must have his reasons.”

Then why does the secretary of homeland security not know them and why does the president not share them? Why are you on TV with peanut butter on your chin, saying the president has reasons, but not saying what they are?

That is how a morally bankrupt president soils everyone around him, even such a good man.

Trump ran for office promising to protect Americans from terrorists, immigrants and free trade agreements, but who will protect Americans from him? If he is willing to casually throw the most elemental principles of presidential conduct under a bus— such as not accusing your predecessor of a high crime without evidence, just to divert attention from your latest mess — there is a real problem.

There are so many big, hard things that need to be done, but big hard things can only be done together. That takes a leader who can bring people together to do things worthy of people’s energies and dedication — like proper healthcare reform, immigration reform, tax reform and infrastructure investment, or properly working with China and Russia wherever possible and drawing red lines wherever they must be drawn.

However, it also requires trust in the integrity of that leader — that when things get tough, he will not bail and shoot his aides and followers in the back. There is not a Republican congressman or US ally abroad who today is not asking: Can I trust this guy when the going gets tough, or will Trump lay a fact-free Twitter rant on me? Can I even trust sharing information with him?

Government moves “at the speed of trust,” Stephen Covey says in his book The Speed of Trust.

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy and civilization throughout the world — one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love... That one thing is trust,” Covey wrote.

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