‘Nobody disobeys my orders’
I had a boss in the mid-1990s I’ll call Mr. X. He was very similar to President Donald Trump in talent and temperament. In other words, he was incompetent and narcissistic.
Mr. X believed, as Trump does, that he knew everything about everything, so it was very difficult to actually discuss ideas that would help the organization. Instead, Mr. X would give an ignorance-based order on how to do something and then expect us to do it.
In the recently released 448-page Mueller report, there are 180 pages describing Trump’s many attempts to obstruct justice. Much of Trump’s obstruction, such as intimidating witnesses, happened in public, so Trump’s followers think, “That can’t be obstruction because he did it right in front of us.” However, a crime committed in public is still a crime.
What prevented a lot of these attempts from succeeding was that Trump’s people wouldn’t follow his orders. The Muller report said, “The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” Trump’s people knew the president was asking them to break the law, so they refused.
By refusing to obey Trump’s orders, his people were protecting him, but when asked about this, Trump said, “Nobody disobeys my orders.” (Politico, April 22, 2019) Thus speaks a man whose role models are some of the world’s most ruthless dictators: Kim of North Korea, Putin of Russia, Xi of China, etc. Trump would love to have the absolute power they have.
At the organization where I worked, one employee had been there for over 20 years in a very specialized position, long before Mr. X arrived. She knew her job well. One day, Mr. X came in and told her how he wanted her to do a certain procedure. She tried to explain why that wouldn’t work, and he got angry. She ignored him and did the job the correct way. He never checked back.
This is similar to Trump insisting his people do something illegal. When they explain why they can’t, he doesn’t accept their answer. Instead, he becomes furious. Like Mr. X, he thinks he can compel whatever actions he wants. That’s the combination of ignorance and narcissism at work.
Remember how Trump bragged he knows more about health care, or taxes, or debt (he might be right there!), or trade, or the military, or everything else than anyone else? Mr. X was the same.
Our organization was going to buy some computers and I was in charge of purchasing the software. Mr. X called me into his office to tell me that the computers were ordered. I asked him what kind of computers were bought so I would know what type of software to buy. His response was, “The software determines that.”
I’m not a technological genius, but I knew that the software had to be the right type for the computer, so I asked him again. He began shouting at me, and after about 5 minutes, he finally hollered, “They’re IBM compatible, if that’s what you want to know!”
I thanked him and left. I then called our technology department to confirm this and found the computers were configured for Windows, which required a different type of software. Mr. X was so certain he knew everything, his fragile ego couldn’t handle even a simple question that implied he didn’t. This is exactly how Trump responds when he is challenged on anything.
Trump has boasted that he has “one of the great memories of all time.” Since Trump refused to testify to Mueller in person, he was given written questions to answer, with no tight timeline. Trump could use any help he wanted, including his lawyers and any written records.
In spite of that, on the questions about obstruction, Trump answered “I don’t recall” 36 times. Remember how he mocked Hillary Clinton for saying that, when she was under endless investigations? What happened to Trump’s “great memory”?
Working for Mr. X was horrible. I finally quit rather than continue to work for a man who was so inept and causing so much damage. The organization suffered until he was finally removed. This is what Trump is doing to America.
We the people must not let him continue to destroy America just to soothe his ego. We must insist that he follow the Constitution or resign. We have no other choice if our democracy is to survive.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.