Donald Trump is finding the US presidency a complicated job. Our own President Duterte says he doesn’t need or relish the office.
The first is naive to think the presidency would be a picnic. The second’s reaction is mystifying; why run for the office if you don’t need it in your life?
The presidency is the toughest job in any country. The US presidency is the toughest in the world because it’s practically being the leader of the entire planet. The job causes its incumbents to age in no time and their hair to turn gray prematurely.
Mr. Trump is an egotistical person. He always wants to win in any endeavor he undertakes. He honed his deal-making skills in his life-long work as a big-time real-estate developer. To Trump, everything is possible as long as one knows how to make deals. In fact, he wrote a book called “The Art of the Deal.”
Trump is arrogant, high-handed, and often rude to people. That’s the kind of personality he brought to the US election last November. He bulldozed over his rivals, insulting them and calling them names without regard for their feelings.
In the campaign proper, he did the same to opponent Hillary Clinton, throwing at her all kinds of unsavory epithets. He also used subliminal messaging that awakened in a lot of people visceral feelings of having lost social and economic entitlement, which became key to his winning the presidency.
Mr. Duterte also used demagogic rhetoric that resonated among many Filipinos who had traditionally felt left out of mainstream society. The underprivileged and the forgotten masses saw in Duterte someone who would save them from the predations of the ruling elite.
Thus Trump and Duterte ascended to the highest position in their respective nations, using bullying and demagogic tactics, including inappropriate language that was somehow effective with certain segments of the voters.
But now they’re both finding the job intractable. They’ve both turned back on promises they made as candidates. The world they saw as candidates is different and much more complicated now that they’re incumbents.
Their exaggerations during the campaign are now catching up with them. Both have flip-flopped on bold statements when they were candidates. And they’re experiencing setback after setback.
Trump by nature has always felt a certain amount of entitlement because of his wealth and fame, or notoriety as the case maybe. He thought the job would be easy. After 100 days in office he’s not feeling so confident anymore.
Duterte has been experiencing his own problems. His foreign secretary was rejected by the Commission on Appointments for being truthful. Recently, he left his environment secretary twisting in the wind as she fought resistance in the same powerful commission that vets presidential appointees.
He has had to fire a couple of senior members of his official family. A number of his appointees, fraternity brothers to boot, are on the dock for corruption. News has it there’s infighting among Cabinet secretaries. An impeachment complaint has been filed against him.
The international community has been cautioning Duterte about his rash decisions and his profane language from the beginning. And now the International Criminal Court may accept a case of crime(s) against humanity filed against him over the extrajudicial killings taking place in the country. Domestic opposition against his peculiar style of governance appears to be growing.
The presidency is a tough job. It can humble even a big-time deal-maker like Trump and tame a lifetime bully like Duterte. They can’t fake or bully their way in and out of the toughest job, the presidency.