There was a time when a bullying or threatening remark from Donald Trump could strike fear in the heart of his intended target. But those days are long over. In fact, as everyone involved has gradually begun to figure out that there was no bite to his rabid bark, Trump’s threats and demands have only served to prompt the opposite of what he was looking for.
There was no more apt microcosm of Trump’s inherent weakness than during the course of Sunday. He demanded that NFL players stop protesting. He demanded that NFL owners fire players who protested. In response, more players protested, and the owners took their side. It was a clear statement to Trump: “We don’t fear you. You don’t control us. We know you’re a paper tiger.” Remarkably, this same exact situation has been playing out on the world stage.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has always been unhinged. But when Donald Trump began threatening him, and Kim responded by testing Trump’s resolve, it became clear that Trump had no resolve. At this point, Trump’s tweeted threats toward Kim have a ring of “…and this time I mean it.” Trump’s attempt at bullying Kim into submission have only resulted in Kim ramping up his efforts to thumb his nose at Trump.
In fact, Donald Trump is now firmly established as a weakling in ways that we’ve never seen from the office of the president. LeBron James, arguably the biggest star in sports, called the President of the United States a “bum” this weekend and he didn’t even face any real controversy or pushback for saying it. Other athletes in less secure positions called him far worse, and no one flinched. Trump is so inherently weak that he’s turned the institution of the presidency itself into something weak. Maybe the next president will bring respect back to the office, but Trump is simply weakling-in-chief.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report