My mother, and probably yours, was fond of all sorts of sayings, among them “pretty is as pretty does” and “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Mrs. Trump, the mother of our president, apparently was not fond of such sayings. Or, if she were, those lessons did not take with her fourth-born child, Donald, in any way, shape or form.
One moment our president talks about unity and all Americans, and two seconds later he calls people names and spews divisiveness and venom. He uses what another Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, called his “bully pulpit” literally and perversely.
Political talking heads have debated the Trump style on national civility and public discourse since the 2016 campaign, and more recently, how the Trump style may or may not be pushing some among us into violent, even lethal, behavior.
Chances are we will never know the answer to that question, much less agree on it, but recent and ongoing gun violence points toward the “chickens coming home to roost.”
The United States has been blessed for more than two centuries in that our presidents have been more statesmen than bullies. Think Abraham Lincoln addressing national unity: “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Think John Kennedy acknowledging his responsibility for the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs invasion: “There is an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
Remember, too, the profound common sense of a military man and another Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings has decided to fold her tents and decamp back to Texas after working only three years of a 5-year contract. She reportedly began negotiating her early exit last month and is the second president to depart in fewer than five years.
Tom Ross was inexplicably muscled out in 2015 by a highly partisan board of governors whose chair was unable to explain the move, calling Ross was a great leader. What he also was is a Democrat, apparently a disqualification for a big job under the total control of Republicans.
Spellings is a Republican who worked for George W. Bush, but she is also a woman and one who marched to her own drummer, not partisan politics, when it came to doing her job in higher education.
Spellings does not depart until March, but her announcement catapulted her into lame duck status, and it is unclear what more she will be able to accomplish for North Carolina’s once-fabled university system.
One thing is clear, however. The position of UNC President, once held by the likes of Bill Friday and CD Spangler, is now a political appointment, not a respected and sought-after leadership position in our nation’s world of higher education.
Who on earth is going to put himself or herself forward to follow Spellings under these cut-throat circumstances?
If it is true that size matters, India is winning the contest in at least one department.
India is now home to the world’s largest statue, a massive 600-foot depiction of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhia Patel, and is called the Statue of Unity. It is twice the size of our Statue of Liberty, not counting her pedestal.
The Statue of Unity takes the world’s biggest title from China, home of a 420-foot statue of the Buddha.
India apparently intends to hold on to its title. Another statue is under construction off the coast of Mumbai that will soar nearly 700 feet toward the heavens.