Jun 10, 2019 Editorial
When the leader of the free world, the global head of expected excellence, of an exemplary set of personal standards, and of the associated comportment that goes with those standards, comes in for ridicule and scorn then it is time to sit up and listen even more closely.
The president of the United States of America is usually not the object of what came to the fore in Great Britain, of all places.
Great Britain is friend, partner, and sturdy ally. Search the memory and it is difficult to find a parallel to what is happening to the current US president. There has been public ambience through wars and competition and sharp disagreements on visions, policy, and practices in multiple overlapping and fiercely competitive theatres.
Aside from the requirements of diplomatic protocols, where all involved usually follow rigid formalities and hard hypocrisies, the courtesies expected and belonging to a visiting Head-of-State have been lacking, and embarrassingly so, at the level of the street.
In the street is where the naked acrimonies, so long stoked and tweeted and perpetuated from the top came full circle and before the gaze. It was neither averted nor cool. Just intentionally hostile and offensive. Those negatives also pervade many a leadership conclave. Who is this newest version of the obnoxious American?
The Mayor of London bristling; outrage over POWs; palpable chilliness during, of all occasions, honoring the memory of D-Day sacrifices. Richard Nixon made his own sacrifice, when he came in for barrages of the abusive, obscene, and also endangering in Venezuela several decades ago. But he was only a Vice President; he took one in the face for Uncle Sam.
Senior leaders must manifest this unflappable reserve: under pressure, from partisans, before the world.
That adversarial world includes the bitter territory of the Middle East and opposing ideological camps. Finesse not foolishness; statesmanship not brinksmanship; and the contemplative not the bizarre are demanded.
When leaders hurry heedlessly to display a confrontational machismo, then those edges and bludgeons are sure to accumulate in the minds of others, with reciprocity premeditated and waiting for any moment to repay in kind. That was what reigned in London.
Leading a state is not the same as leading a prison gang; the former is a different kind of hood. Unruffled. Dignified. Becoming of people and place and projecting the might and security of a world power and its vast reach without having to increase volume or effort.
Too much ego and recklessness at work; the appeal and applause of sections of the audience bring the belief that this is the way, and the recklessness to continue untroubled and unabashed.
That was what a former local leader had to learn the hard way; through the humility of forced prostration. Incoming government ministers took long to adjust to the new realities of power, and the sharp limitations of their believed unfettered freedom to demean and to go chest to chest and blow for blow with those who question and corner them.
Rarely comes thoughts of pausing, stepping back and taking stock, sacrificing the time to conduct needed post-mortems to bring learning. Recognition of personal ignorance and limitation is the beginning in self-education.
Very doubtful as to whether cultivated authentically. Rather tellingly, the media reported months ago that foreign sources looked at that American chieftain and beheld a “preening, clueless clown.” Just as accurately, and even more regrettably, local folks look at local chiefs and see the similar preening and cluelessness.
America can afford the luxury of many such failures, since it has the fat and flab to absorb such troubled creatures. Unfortunately, Guyana is too small to afford the many prancing and preening around in the public spaces that is parliament, politics, papers, and passageways.
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