When I was in grade school I was fat, unathletic, studious, and a smart-mouth. All I needed to be the perfect nerd was a pair of glasses and a pocket protector. We all know what happens to unathletic, smart-mouthed nerds. They get bullied. I got bullied. I was completely aware of the conventional wisdom that bullies are cowards, but I didn’t see how it made any difference. Whether the bully was brave or cowardly, the fact that he was bullying me was a pretty good sign that he could beat me up. In the wild even the most courageous predators will go after the weak because they are easy targets. The same can be said for bullies.
A number of things happened to end the bullying. I stopped shooting my mouth off; I went out for football; and I got bigger and stronger. I don’t know how things are now, but back in the 1960’s high school football was a wonderful game. You didn’t have to be athletic to play the line. You just had to be big and strong. Although fat, unathletic smart-mouth nerds make prime targets for bullies; big, strong, taciturn football linemen do not.
Having had so much firsthand experience with bullies, I can readily recognize a bully when I see one. Barack Obama is a bully. That fact became evident early in his first term when we were about to go over the fiscal cliff. The Republicans came to him seeking a budget compromise, and he told them "It's my way or the highway." He was in a win/win situation. If the Republicans caved in, he would win. If we went over the fiscal cliff the press would blame the Republicans and he would win. He won and our credit rating took a hit. I won’t catalog all the examples of his bullying tactics, but I will mention one of the latest. He said the Washington Redskins ought to change their name. They refused, and he had their trademark rescinded.
On the domestic front Obama is a formidable bully. But remember the conventional wisdom? Bullies are supposed to be cowards. Obama lives up to the conventional wisdom in foreign affairs. Although he bullies Israel because he sees them as dependent on the U.S., he knuckles under to other bullies like Vladimir Putin. As ISIS grew into a formidable threat he bullied al-Maliki into resigning as prime minister of Iraq by withholding aid to the Iraqis. Now that ISIS has matured into a serious threat, he can’t seem to decide upon a strategy for dealing with them.
What we need in the White House now is a courageous leader, not a bully. I sincerely hope that we can survive relatively unscathed for the next two years, and I will welcome the next president whoever he or she may be. If we are lucky (or wise) our next president will be courageous enough to confront and defeat our foreign enemies.