In Tagalog street talk the term “Iwas pusoy!” means avoiding – or ducking – responsibility. Another Tagalog term is “Hugas kamay” which literally means washing one’s hands.
In Americanish, the colloquialism is “Passing the buck!” This brings to mind the classic declaration of President Harry S. Truman: “The buck stops here!” It means taking responsibility as a leader.
If you are president of a country, the buck stops with you. You take full responsibility for the decisions that you make and for the orders that you give.
That is the essence of leadership. When a general sends his troops into battle, he must be willing to acknowledge the consequences of his decision. A true leader does not DUCK the bitter fruits of defeat, even while he must generously share the laurels of victory.
A leader who incites his followers to rush into battle, to risk their lives in the process, but washes his hands of any responsibility for the dire outcome is the worst kind of creature.
A coward. A rat.
Perhaps comparing Trump to a rodent – even Walt Disney’s Mickey – is too uncharitable. But what Donald Trump did brings to mind another Disney cartoon character.
We all witnessed the sorry spectacle of thousands of fanatical Trump followers converging in Washington DC on January 6. We all listened as Trump incited them to march to the Capitol Building to block the joint session of Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States. And we heard him tell the horde, armed and primed for violence, to “fight like hell,” ostensibly for the cause of “clean elections.”
It was an insurrection, a defiance of law and order, an attempt to destroy the democratic principles that their “leader” claimed to be upholding.
They were told to fight. And fight they did – some of them ready to give their lives for their Commander-in-Chief. But when the sh—t hit the fan, Trump left them to bear the blame for following his orders. He threw them under the bus.
We are aware of the terrible aftermath: the death of six people, three of them police officers, and injuries sustained by hundreds of others, as well as the defilement of America’s sacrosanct seat of government.
The past few days, hundreds of Trump’s die-hard followers have been tracked down, arrested and charged for the insurrection. Doubtless, hundreds more will be taken into custody.
The outcome of the insurrection could have been worse. Much, much worse. The rioters were out for the blood of Vice-President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They screamed, “Hang Mike Pence!” and “Kill Pelosi!”
Scores of legislators and Congress staffers could have been killed if they had not been rushed to safety by security personnel, just a few minutes ahead of the onrushing horde. The killings would have reverberated throughout history like King Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.
For inciting the insurrection, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate. Yet during the trial Trump denied any responsibility for the actions of his followers. His legal counsel and several Republican members of the Senate, who had taken an oath to render an impartial verdict, supported his dubious protestations of innocence.
Trump’s defense strategy was to duck all responsibility and to pass on the blame to his followers. It was an act of cowardice.
While 7 Republican Senators joined 50 of their Democratic colleagues in pronouncing a verdict of guilty, the remaining 43 GOP solons voted to acquit, thus depriving the trial of the two-thirds required for conviction.
It was another act of cowardice.
And then, the former Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnel, after having voted for acquittal, delivered a scathing speech that contradicted his vote.
McConnel confirmed that Trump was accountable for the crime and could yet face charges for it.
It was classic double-talk.
How many leaders in history can be as cowardly as Trump and his Republican enablers? In the annals of the United States, President Herbert Hoover was blamed for the Great Depression, mainly because of his flawed economic policies.
To quote an online account: “President Hoover has gone down in history as a totally uncaring chief executive who, while he presided over economic disaster, cared little about his fellow citizens, accepted the Great Depression as inevitable and something to simply be endured regardless of the level of suffering it caused, and who refused to do absolutely anything to alleviate the incredible suffering all around him for three and one-half long years.”
Donald Trump is far worse than Hoover.
Trump’s earlier accountability was for mishandling the coronavirus pandemic, a tragedy much greater than the Great Depression. That mishandling resulted in the loss of more American lives than the combined casualties of the wars that the US has fought – that, plus the severe economic dislocation that followed and which millions continue to suffer up to now.
And yet, as bad as those are, the storming of the Capitol and the near-massacre of America’s leaders would have been a disaster of unmatched proportions. The thought of it should be enough to cause nightmares among anyone with a sense of decency.
But not Trump. Donald Ducked.
It was disgusting enough that Trump refused to accept any responsibility for mishandling the government’s response to the pandemic (although he generously praised himself for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine).
The past few days, as the world watched the Senate impeachment trial and heard the damning recounting of the horrific January 6 insurrection,Trump denied any responsibility and heaped all the blame on his followers.
And last February 13 the world watched (conceivably with dismay and contempt) as the Senate once more failed to muster the two-thirds vote needed to convict Trump and had to grudgingly declare him not guilty – making him the only President in history to be impeached twice and acquitted twice.
Indeed, for America, it was another Day of Infamy.
DONALD DUCKED – and left his fanatical followers to suffer the consequences.
The majority of Republican Senators also DUCKED with Trump. And worst of all, their leader, Sen. Mitch McConell, DUCKED and then PASSED THE BUCK.
For sure, the white supremacists, the armed militants, the Proud Boys and the deranged believers of QAnon who participated in the insurrection should be held accountable.
Of course, a few have come to their senses and have expressed disappointment in their “leader” – but it seems that the majority of the insurrectionists continue to be deluded, vowing to continue the “struggle.”
Thus, if Donald DUCKED, what does that make of the fools who continue to believe in Trump and those who voted to acquit?