This is the formulation coined years ago by Ralph Whitehead of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, describing voters’ yearning for a chief executive and commander in chief who is tough on economic and security issues but compassionate on social and cultural issues.
Voters don’t want someone with a hard head and a hard heart. Or a person with a soft head and a soft heart. Or someone with a soft head and a hard heart.
Narcissists Need Not Apply: In a nutshell, this defines the divide between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. She actually has proven that she has a hard head (resilient) and soft heart. He has a demonstrated record as a man with a soft head and hard (cold-blooded) heart, who pretends just the opposite.
When measuring the Commander in Chief dimension of the presidency, most people gravitate toward the candidate who seems more hard headed. That doesn’t mean most extreme. Voters have rejected extremism at least since 1964, when Barry Goldwater extolled its virtue in the pursuit of freedom.
As a prime example of a man with narcissistic personality disorder (as Calbuzz was first to report in May of 2015) Trump can sound like he’s hard headed with great ease, but because he has no empathy for other human beings, he fails even to sound like he has a soft heart.
Moreover, when he ventures into the military dimensions of hard-headedness, he often comes at it with such ignorance combined with certainty, that his stances are often absurd.
Matt Lauer Fail: Last week’s MSNBC’s Commander in Chief Forum, absurdly and incompentently hosted by the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, offered up a new doubling-down on one of Trump’s absurdist military hard lines. (Picking Lauer to host the interviews further demonstrated that the MSM refuses to learn from its mistakes: He had demonstrated his inappropriate and ignorant talents in the 2010 governor’s debate between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, but we digress.)
Trump glibly not only stood by his assertion that he knows more than the generals about ISIS, but said the generals, under Barack Obama, “have been reduced to rubble.” He argued that his plan to defeat ISIS has to remain a secret so that he won’t tip off the bad guys. Oy.
And he insisted, despite actual evidence, that he always opposed the invasion of Iraq. [The facts on this are simple: Trump told Howard Stern he would support invading Iraq on Sept. 11, 2002 -- before and during debate in Congress which approved Bush's war authority on Oct. 16, 2002.] Instead, Trump told Lauer, “I’ve always said, shouldn’t be there but if we’re gonna get out, take the oil. If we would have taken the oil you wouldn’t have ISIS because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.”
“You would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil,” Trump said. “People don’t know that about Iraq but they have among the largest oil reserves in the entire world. And we’re the only ones, we go in, we spend $3 trillion, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then, Matt, what happens is we get nothing. You know it used to be that to the victors belong the spoils. There was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor, But I always said take the oil.”
This is as brazen a statement of U.S. imperialism as we’ve heard since the notion was last openly floated in the 1950s, when President Dwight Eisenhower argued that the U.S. had a national interest in securing the natural resources – tin, rubber, oil, etc. – of Indochina, which gave us cause to intervene in Vietnam.
Even the neocons have argued, not for U.S. expropriation of Middle East oil, but for ensuring that oil flows to regional allies that possess it who will then sell it to us and not the Russians or Chinese. Few on the far right continue to suggest that only U.S. oil companies should have total control over Mideast oil.
How Many Troops, Donald? But did Lauer pick up of what Trump had just suggested? Of course not. He didn’t note that Trump had just suggested using American troops to seize and hold Iraq’s most important natural asset. He didn’t respond with incredulity: “How many troops are you will to commit to the capture and holding of Iraqi oil fields? 10,000; 20,000; 200,000? How many would it take and how long would the mission be?”
Neither did he note that this sounds like advocacy for outright American occupation of a foreign country. Nor did he then ask Trump how he justifies stealing appropriating another country’s natural resources?
The point was not lost of Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe and Iraq war commander, who later told Anderson Cooper:
“[Trump’s plan] implies the American military is a mercenary force … It is not the American way of war to go and occupy a land, steal its resources, rape its women and do the kinds of things that Mr. Trump is saying. It is a simplistic approach that is appealing to a certain percentage of Americans.”
Now we don’t know that Trump is advocating raping Iraqi women in oil-rich areas, but Hertling’s point is well taken. And while the Indian Wars, the Mexican-American War and many others suggest that the U.S. military was, for more decades than not, a tool for U.S. imperial interests, we have, as a society, in modern times, rejected the notion that the U.S. has a right to appropriate other country’s resources by brute force.
In fact, our claim to American exceptionalism rests in part on the notion that we believe in and will support national self-determination of peoples and nations throughout the world. We self-righteously oppose countries that invade and occupy or control other sovereign nations.
The Donald and Vlad show: Roger Simon tweeted out a lovely summation of Trump’s twisted narcissistic world view in which praise from Vladimir Putin is a good thing.
So it makes sense that Trump longs for the day when “to the victors go the spoils” – an argument with which Joseph Stalin surely agreed, following the Allied victory in Europe in 1945.
If Trump truly believes that “to the victors go the spoils,” he will surely urge his party pals in the U.S. Senate to rubber-stamp Hillary Clinton’s appointments in 2017 to her cabinet and to the United States Supreme Court. That’ll be refreshing.