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The Bully Pulpit

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

For me, watching the most recent Republican debate before the South Carolina primary was like being back on the playgrounds of my youth.  Back then as now there were bullies, and there were the victims of bullies.

The bullies were generally the most spoiled little kids who always stamped their feet and whined if they didn’t get their way, and then they took the ball away from the others and refused to play.  Or the bully threatened to break away from the group and go play by themselves. 

The rules of the game didn’t matter, only getting their way was what counted.  Playing by the recognized rules of the game was done only if it benefited the Bully.  And if he needed to, the bully would just make up new rules.  All the while claiming that others were being unfair.

The bullies were always the ones that yelled the loudest, complained the most, and would run home to mommy and daddy and whine that the other children weren’t playing nice.  Often times even threatening to ‘sue’ their playmates for whatever the perceived transgressions might be. 

Since the bully usually isn’t able to defend their own actions they will always try to divert attention onto others.  Bullies will usually change the subject, obfuscate, and point at what other people may have done as though that is some sort of defense for the bully’s own bad behavior.  Often times accompanied by grimacing, making faces, and other sophomoric and juvenile behavior on display for all to see.

Bullies rarely mature, most often growing up to just be bigger, older bullies.  Bullies and also braggarts.  They love to boast about their supposed achievements, even making up achievements to boast about.  And never do they show any humility nor admit to any mistakes.  They explain away any mistakes as simply “a strategic move”, or “someone else’s fault”.  Humility simply isn’t a part of their vocabulary.  

Bullies have a tendency to lash out at anyone who confronts them or questions their behavior, or anyone who might present an obstacle to the bully getting his way.  Attacking the character of another person and then blaming them for the bully’s own short-comings is a common tactic bullies employ.

A bully rarely has any true friends, most people simply don’t want to have anything to do with them.  Bullies generally are just not very much fun to be around.  So bullies use bribery or intimidation to surround themselves with sycophants.  People who will do the bully’s bidding or proclaim the bully’s virtues simply to avoid themselves becoming a target of the bully’s wrath.

Often times a bully will pick out one individual who becomes the focus of the bully’s attention.  Name-calling, insults, innuendo, and even lies become the weapons of choice for the bully once he identifies who his target is.  And once selected, the poor target comes under a barrage of attacks from the bully, to the point that the truth becomes secondary and only the bully’s attacks are heard.

Unfortunately for all Americans we have been witnessing ‘Bully-ism’ at its best in recent months.  Bully-ism that has overshadowed the critically important issues facing this country.  Bully-ism that has disrupted the political process and created confusion, and in many cases outright disgust among many potential voters.

For whatever reason, some have even suggested for nefarious reasons, a bully has elbowed his way into prominence among the candidates.  A lack of character and common decency on full display for the world to see.

One can only hope that as usually happens with bullies, that this bully will eventually be the one to end up with a bloody nose.  And hopefully then he will just go back home and whine to mommy and daddy, while threatening to sue anybody and everybody because he didn’t get his way.


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