When the Buck Stops

As the leader of his powerful Western democracy, he had been elected on a sizeable margin. His governing style was described as flamboyant, opportunistic and populist. A thrice-married man and serial adulterer, he was a larger-than-life personality – a celebrity in his own right. Rules didn’t apply to him because when you’re a star, you can do whatever you please. He was a groper, and defended other sexual harassers loyal to him. He was a showman who could be humorous, entertaining or intimidating and bullying. His audacity to say whatever came into his mind was hailed as a sign of honesty and guts. His supporters praised his combativeness projecting the image of swift, decisive action.  His detractors accused him of lying, cronyism, bigotry, and amorality. He tore up international agreements negotiated in good faith. During COVID, his response to the pandemic “ranks among the worst public health failures in the country’s history” with many thousands of avoidable deaths. And yet, he flaunted lockdown restrictions.  He was by no means a religious person, but mouthed enough of the right words to win over the religious crowd. He led a charmed life, always coming out on top in fights that would doom another politician. Then came a day when he was out of office. Still, he tried to cling to power, and remained the center of political attention.

Lies? Yes, too many to count. But the core of the matter was “the abuse of power that preceded them.” He made crony appointments based on personal loyalty rather than suitability for the job. He was indifferent to allegations of sexual harassment in his staff, because his only concern was shoring up his own position. His administration had “no public interest, no moral principle or governing priority that could ever trump one man’s appetite for power and his personal vanity”. One article said his party “should hang its head in shame for foisting on us a man so wholly unfit for office that he had to be dragged from it kicking and screaming and threatening to burn everything to the ground.”

Who is this man, Donald Trump? Yes, but here I’ve referred to Boris Johnson. “The Tory party subordinated its history, its judgment and its political identity in service of one man’s monstrous ego,” The Guardian commented. Steve Benen of MSNBC put into the American perspective. British conservatives, confronted with a scandal-plagued leader, concluded they could no longer tolerate the constant stream of disgraces and indignities… [t]hey concluded that their leader’s record of dishonesty and misconduct was something they could no longer even try to defend.”

They call him Britain Trump,” the former President ineloquently once said of his British peer. The knives are out now for BoJo. With the J6 Committee’s probing and forthcoming Justice Department referrals, we can only hope the comparison remains consistent. Except that BoJo’s downfall was being a clownish fluffer.  Trump’s downfall was in spite of him being a criminal blowhard. At least in his case, hopefully the buck will stop in jail…

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