Sound and fury, egomaniac-style

 Whatever happened to Theodore Roosevelt’s “Walk softly and carry a big stick”? Portrait of Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent, oil on canvas, 1903, the White House.

Whatever happened to Theodore Roosevelt’s “Walk softly and carry a big stick”? Portrait of Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent, oil on canvas, 1903, the White House.

So one narcissist has decided to call another narcissist’s bluff.

Mess with the U.S., President Donald J. Trump told his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un from his Bedminster, N.J. bunker, er golf club, and the threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen….”

Ooh, did Steve Bannon – Mr. Apocalypse, Senor Armageddon – write those words for Trumpet? I’m sure Kim is quaking in his little boots. Whatever happened to the words of another famous, at times high-handed Republican, President Theodore Roosevelt, who adopted the West African proverb “Walk softly and carry a big stick”?

At one time, we wore our superpower lightly, rationally. Think President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. No more.

We are, my friends, at the crossroads of wounded male pride. Check that. Make that wounded white male pride. The fury of white males at their loss of power in a country in which they will be a minority by midcentury fed Trumpet’s rise. They still think that you have to huff and puff to be strong, because that’s the way they always dealt with their wives, kids and others who were physically weaker and that’s the way they wished they could’ve dealt with their greedy bosses. They are so filled with impotent self-loathing that they have to explode lest they implode.

They have to lash out, because that’ll show a bully like Kim, right? And what if he decides to call their bluff? “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind,” Mahatma Gandhi said.

But these people have no understanding of Gandhi or Jesus. They think “Turn the other cheek” means “become a doormat.” What does it really mean to turn the other cheek? Most people are right-handed. You strike someone with the open palm of that hand. If you turn the other cheek, the person now has to hit you with his backhand or the open palm of the left hand – in other words, from a position of weakness. Thus “Turn the other cheek” means to play to your opponent’s weakness. This is something any tennis player understands. Guess tennis is not Trumpet’s game.

President Barack Obama understood this, but he – and, by extension, Hillary Clinton – remain the boogeymen. Oh, Syria. Oh, Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, North Korea. Oh (my favorite), Benghazi.

What happens on a president’s watch is his responsibility and that of his advisers. And no one is suggesting that we shouldn’t stand up to Kim or any bully.

But there is a way to do it rationally, lucidly so that the whole world will understand the rightness of our cause – and be allied in it.

The Repubs, however, have always preferred the Shakespearean “sound and fury signifying nothing.” Remember how President George W. Bush – ah, how Churchillian he seems now in contrast to Trumpet – wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive”?

And yet, it was Obama – cool, intellectual, seemingly effete, wan, weak Obama – who got Bin Laden.

By walking softly and carrying a big stick, and turning the other cheek to his enemies.