The true character of people


I’ve been writing a series of articles for Moneyinc entitled A Boomer’s Guide to Millenials: the ABC’s of Leadership, which highlight an A to Z array of various leadership qualities, which will become a book retitled ‘Profiles of Character’. Last week before Senator McCain passed away, I wrote ‘U is for Unifier’. Unifier is arguably the most important characteristic, because a unifier must embody all of the other characteristics identified in this series of articles.

When I compare the characteristics from A through U, John McCain scores high as opposed to the current occupant of the White House who scores incredibly low on all of these traits. Trump’s diminutive response to McCain’s death validates the low score. 

This morning on CNN, John Sununu criticized CNN and other media outlets for highlighting Trump’s reaction. CNN quite rightly pushed back stating that they were merely reporting on what actually happened and that they didn’t make up that news. 

This reminds me of when Bette Davis received word of Joan Crawford's heart attack and subsequent death in 1977, she allegedly said, "My mother taught me never say bad things about the dead, only good. Joan Crawford – dead - good.”

It may be inappropriate for me to add levity to this solemn occasion, but in essence that’s how Trump reacted because that’s what’s sadly in his mind. McCain crossed him, and like everyone else who crosses the man, he wants them gone. And indeed, if the allegations related to his mafia connections are true, he wants his opposition dead.

If McCain were to have had to react to the death of Trump, he would have responded with grace, class and dignity much in the same way that he responded to the woman, referred to in this Washington Post article. The bedrock quality of John McCain’s character, captured in a single moment during his 2008 campaign run, when he took the microphone from a woman spouting false statements about his opponent, Barack Obama. Her remarks revealed an unsettling core of right-wing conservatives that served as a warning shot for Trump’s populist rise. 

The measure of a man can often be found in how he behaves under adversity. John McCain was steadfast in his quest to always do what he felt was the right thing to do for the greater good. Selfishness was not in his wheelhouse, and he inspired others to develop positive leadership qualities through example as they faced their own challenges. The tributes that have poured in about his incredible service to the people of the United States bear testament to the great legacy he has left behind – one where thinking of others was his first priority, and by his humility and innate sense of what was right for the country, never putting personal gain ahead of human decency.

So tragic is Trump’s character in sharp contrast to McCain’s that today, as a nation mourns, this Washington Post article reveals how the White House – the people’s house – could not bring itself to issue an appropriate message honoring Senator McCain as a widely acclaimed national hero.  Another article from the Post suggests that Trumps delayed reaction to the passing of McCain was calculated to appeal to his core who dislike McCain. 

As we look back over the Senator’s decades of service, we cannot help but hope that the current occupant of the oval office reflects on how he will be remembered and perhaps take a page or two from McCain’s playbook.