The recent revelation that the White House tried to get the U.S. Navy to “hide” the destroyer USS John McCain during President Donald J. Trump’s visit to Japan — lest he be disturbed by a reminder of his late adversary — coupled with Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Mexico into stepping up border security by imposing a five percent tariff on our biggest trading partner continues the prez’s narcissistic narrative. Trump doesn’t care whom he hurts — the senator’s grieving family, the people who will ultimately pay the price for the tariffs (you and me) — because, hey, that’s the way he rolls.
The fact that he said that he knew nothing of the White House machinations to disguise the ship but called the act “well-meaning” tells you everything. I’m sure he didn’t know about it. Narcissists operate in the vacuum of me, myself and I, counting on those around them to internalize that behavior and act accordingly. Which is what happened.
Actually, there are three ways to react to a narcissistic boss. You can meet him or her head-on, the approach of John McCain himself. But that’s always an exit strategy. McCain knew he was dying and so had nothing to lose by voting his conscience for Obamacare. If you chose this approach with your boss, remember: Pick your battle carefully and be prepared to walk.
The second way is kiss up, kick down — the Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ method — which is what we’ve got here with the Navy squeeze. You anticipate the boss’ narcissism and so you suck up by throwing others under the bus.
The third alternative, highlighted in Bob Woodward’s “Fear,” is the most dangerous approach but really the only way. You have to pretend to do what the boss wants while all the while striving to use the situation to improve your lot and that of others and preserve your dignity, ethics and sanity. This requires you to become something of a double agent and to scope out allies.
It’s tricky. You could be exposed or betrayed at any moment. But it’s the only strategy for survival.