Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and the contrasts of leadership in the 21st century – 5

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on April 8, 2018

This is my 32nd installment to what has become an ongoing series of postings in which I seek to address politics in the United States as it has become, starting with the nominations process leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. See my series: Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2, posting 244 and loosely following.

This can also be considered to represent my 59th installment to an ongoing series that I have been offering here concerning Xi Jinping and his still emerging and expanding leadership role in China. See China and Its Transition Imperatives, as it can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation, as postings 154 and loosely following. I began writing about Xi in this series after his elevation to a position of supreme leadership in the Communist Party of China and of China’s government and military.

I primarily focused on Xi Jinping in the two most recent installments to this posting progression: Part 3 and Part 4, as I did in its Part 1. I turn here to focus more on Trump again, and his side of this comparative discussion, as I did in Part 2.

I wrote in Parts 3 and 4 of Xi Jinping’s all but apotheosis within his nation’s ruling Communist Party in China and over his government, military and essentially all else there. And my goal here is to at least briefly make note of and discuss an equally profound but very differently directioned change in status and stature that Donald Trump is heading into. And I begin by posing an at least seemingly simple question: what is an anti-apotheosis? What would most definitively and genuinely qualify as the true antithesis of an apotheosis?

Different people conceive of that in different ways with some, for example assuming that if an apotheosis is an elevation to godhood or its equivalent, then its anti-counterpart should be an elevation to satanic stature. I would argue that a better way to approach this would be to flip around and reverse essentially all of the defining terms and conditions that would be presumed to hold true for an apotheosis: elevation per se definitely included there.

• Xi has worked very hard and very systematically to achieve his current shift in status and stature in his country’s power structures. And he has achieved this as the cumulative result of careful planning and ruthlessly systematic execution.
• Trump never realistically (or even unrealistically) believed that he would actually be elected president of the United States until he was. And he has floundered in office since his election, drowning in his flighty attention deficit disorder and in his blindered narcissism. He never actually plans out anything before acting, and when he does say or do something: however spur of the moment or unconsidered, he is owned by it and stuck with it and regardless of the consequences that emerge from it. The absolutely unacceptable alternative to that would be that he, Donald Trump, might have to admit that he might have been wrong on something – that he might have made a mistake, however small.
• Xi would arguably and I add correctly claim that he has achieved an elevation in power and position, and while facing forward towards his particular transitional change.
• Trump, as I will at least briefly discuss by way of selective example here, is descending from where he was and in what is an essentially entirely out of control manner. He continues along a path of progressively more and more diminished stature and authority, that his election as president of the United States should have conferred upon him. And he has been backing into essentially everything that he does and into everything that arises as consequence to that. He continues along that blind path every single day and without any realistic likelihood of change to that in the offering.
• Xi’s has been and remains a calculated elevation upward; Trump’s has been a slow but seemingly inexorable drift downward.
• And as a possible point of similarity that I would raise in the midst of all of this difference, I would leave both godhood and satan-hood out of all of this discussion and for both of these men and for both of their countries. Ultimately they are both just power hungry mortals whose egos will always proclaim that they deserve more and better than they could possibly achieve or merit. And will just continue along, each on their on their particular path and regardless of the consequences that might result from that. They will both continue on in their efforts to achieve their mirage-like, quicksilver goals. And that is in fact what I write of in this series conjoining progression of shared postings.

But to bring this installment in that into focus, it is mostly a posting about Donald Trump and his United States presidency. So I turn here to address that phenomenon, and to briefly update his particular status and stature transition as it is currently unfolding as of the time of this writing, as promised above. And I begin that with some thoughts concerning his inner circle and his most powerfully placed staff and administrative team. Leaders lead, and one of the truest measures of that can be found in in who they bring into their inner circles to help them carry out their overall plans and designs. One of the truest measures of their leadership ability is in who agrees to, and even seeks out opportunity to be led by them in fulfilling their guiding vision and mission. Who is in Trump’s inner circle, and how and why? And what has been happening and both within and around that team, as its members seek to fulfill their duties as members of it?

Let’s begin at the beginning, in addressing those questions and their answers. Donald Trump ran for office, and from his initial run for the Republican nomination on, as a self-proclaimed expert at and in fact genius at business and at leadership. And one of his ongoing refrains once nominated to be the Republican candidate for president, was that he would bring in the very best people – “tremendous people” into his administration. He would bring in the greatest experts and leaders in all of the key areas of expertise that a presidential administration would need. He would bring in genius doers – just like him. And he continues to proclaim that, and to boast that that is what he has been doing.

Arguably Donald Trump has in fact brought people into his administration and its inner circle who are a lot like himself. But his only litmus test as to their capability or qualifications has been that they show absolute personal fealty and loyalty to him and that they never, ever question or in any way contradict or challenge anything that he says, and even just as an off the cuff, spontaneous late night tweet.

It might be argued, at least outside of his immediate circle, that this could limit his actually securing the support of, or the participation of the very best at anything in his White House staff or as senior appointees in office. But however one would view that presumption, it is hard to deny that the Trump administration has been roiled by turnover and from among the highest ranks of the Trump team, and from cabinet officers and similarly powerfully placed appointees on down.

The Trump administration has always been chaotic, and his chief spokespersons have even admitted that, generally in the context of proclaiming that president Trump thrives on chaos. Setting aside the fact that effective leadership generally involves setting a clear path forward and in a way that would bring others to follow in its fulfillment, Donald Trump thrives on chaos. And that is fortunate indeed, and especially considering how many significantly important government positions that a president and his office would be expected appoint people to, have yet to see even just a single possible candidate for those important jobs. But let’s focus on the positions that he has filled and that he has sought to fill, and on what has happened there.

As a telling in the news reference that highlights this side to the Trump administration, I would cite:

No Chaos in White House, Trump Says, ‘Only Great Energy’.

President Trump’s administration and at less than a year and a half now, has already set a new standard for the scale of the flood of turnovers that have taken place among his senior White House staff and from among his senior appointed officials. And that scale of uniqueness continues when considering how many of those key people have left under a cloud of accusations of malfeasance and impropriety, and how many have been forced out simply because they might have disagreed with the president and challenged him to reconsider on at least some issues.

Sadly enough, the above cited news analysis piece was not based on sarcasm as coming from the politically motivated; it was based on a self-supporting and self-justifying statement coming from president Trump himself in support of and defense of his approach to office. And he offered this self-evaluation as a defense of his self-presumed effectiveness in office!

There is a biblical admonition about not building your house upon sand (Matthew 7:24-27.) Judging from his inability to attract even just as good as the simply mediocre into his inner circle staff and leadership team, I would argue that president Trump has forsaken building on nice firm beach sand, down by the surf, for building upon quicksand. And that is the foundation that he has built his presidency upon, and that he would approach any attempted transition to greatness from.

I am going to continue this line of discussion in a next series installment, where I will consider how and why so many of the key figures in the Trump administration have left. And I will also discuss the Mueller investigations in that context, and the question of how the Republican and Democratic parties have fared in recent special elections in this country too, where they have in fact been de facto referendums on the Trump administration and at least as much as they have been state and local elections.

Meanwhile, I am certain to continue adding new installments to both China and Its Transition Imperatives, as can be found at Macroeconomics and Business and its Page 2 continuation (as postings 154 and loosely following), and to Donald Trump and the Stress Testing of the American System of Government, as can be found at Social Networking and Business 2 (posting 244 and loosely following). And some of that, like this posting and others of the set discussed here, will belong to both of those series.

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