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Giorgio: From the Bully Pulpit to Bad Bullies

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

 

Paul Giorgio

Last Sunday the Boston Globe wrote a lengthy piece on Jeb Bush's formative  years at Philips Andover the posh prep school where generations of the Bush family have been educated before, in the fine Yankee tradition, they went onto public service.

The point of the bio piece was to give us a glimpse into those things which shaped the young Bush. The gist of the article was that he was a pot smoking rebel who rode his bicycle around campus. It also focused on the fact that he may have been a Bully.

The Globe also wrote the same story about another child of privilege, Mitt Romney.  In my opinion Romney never has gotten over being a Bully and it extended to his public life.  I saw him in action in Massachusetts.  The case can be made that he “bullied” Jane Swift, the Acting Governor out of the race for re-election.  In fact, in my opinion, Romney surrounded himself with bullies.

Bush has exhibited no such behavior.

TR  created the Bully Pulpit

It appears that being a Bully may be the 21st century equivalent of being a racist in the 1960s. It is something that will haunt you in later life.

But the question that troubles me is how we went from President Teddy Roosevelt who coined the term “bully pulpit” to where we are today.

In fact Teddy Roosevelt s favorite expression was
“bully".

Roosevelt used his position to "drown out other voices".  This is the definition of bully pulpit.

Today, in America, we have a campaign against bullying in schools among young people. Has bullying gotten out of hand or are we more sensitive to it.  When I was in high school, it seemed that everyone was bullied at some point.  We shook it off.  Why has it become an epidemic?  It is a problem.  Is it a problem because no one has friends anymore except Face book friends?  I don’t know.

But do we judge a presidential candidate because he was accused of being a bully when he was 14 or 15 years old? Or should we judge him by what he has done since then.

Jeb Bush deserves a pass

I believe that Jeb Bush has grown and learned from his experiences.  Having said that, I don’t believe that we can afford a third Bush presidency or a Third Bush recession.  Aren’t two enough for our time? But I digress.

What is the proper use of the Bully Pulpit in American politics?  Teddy Roosevelt once remarked that “You speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

We don’t need a bully who picks on the weak   such as Mitt Romney, but we certainly need a President who stands up for America.

We need a President who can judiciously use the Bully Pulpit without bullying.

Chris Christie is a bully

I think there is a big difference between Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, who to me seems like a bully.  He exhibits this boorish bullying behavior every time he opens his mouth.  Whether it is Bridegate or telling a voter to shut up-Chris Christie is a bully.

As we begin to focus on the 2016 presidential election, we must be vigilant on what we allow the media to get away with.  We can’t afford for them to disqualify candidates a year ahead of time for some youthful indiscretion or youthful stupidity.

Let us judge the whole record.

How has this nation gone from Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of the Bully Pulpit to bullying as a child or young adult being a disqualifier for president?  It doesn’t seem to make much sense.  Let’s not be bullied by the media on this one.

 

Video wall courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr

 

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