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The Bully in the Pulpit



To President Theodore Roosevelt, the term "bully" was an adjective meaning something was wonderful. As such, he coined the phrase "bully pulpit" to mean the country listens to the president when he speaks policy. Unfortunately, President Trump has some difficulty with this. First, he often changes his message from day to day, which leaves his real meaning unclear. This can be seen in his inconsistent views on the health insurance efforts (Mailbox, July 27), his multiple comments on the Charlottesville riot ("A Work in Progress," Aug. 24), and his on-again off-again threats to North Korea.

At other times, his message is clear but the message itself is just bullying. He has attacked a number of cabinet members and elected Republicans when he thought they were acting ineffectively or did not support his programs well enough. And similarly, he has made threats to Democrats for their lack of support overall. His most current threat is in retaliation to Sen. John McCain for a speech he gave recently. Without naming Trump directly, McCain made reference to a country with "half-baked, spurious nationalism" and added that the USA "will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent."

Trump's comment to this was a warning to McCain; you have to be careful because "at some point I will fight back and it won't be pretty." Because of Trump's meandering advocacy and threats, I conclude there is little "bully pulpit" right now but, rather, a "bully in the pulpit." What is truly ironic in all this is that First Lady Melania Trump is a strong advocate opposing bullying. She even gave a speech at the United Nations last month, saying how important it is to teach world youth that bullying is unacceptable. Unfortunately, it appears her advocacy hasn't rubbed off on her spouse.

Sherman Schapiro, Blue Lake

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