Thursday, 29 September 2016

U.S.:Understanding Donald J Trump

The First presidential televised debate 2016, on Monday ( like all the debates), exposed something about Donald J Trump, the Republican nominee. Donald Trump's debate performance demonstrated that he is naive; he does not do his homework; he is ignorant about basic facts; he lacks self-control;

Trump is not eloquent speaker; he uses few words, he constantly loses his train of thought and seldom finds its again and he often gets carried away in anger. He will repeat a half sentence he seems to like two or three times, but there is nothing intellectual about it. Simply put, Trump lacks the temperament to be President.

Trump is a proven pathological liar. There are innumerable examples: Trump has said there 30 million illegal immigrants in the US, though the actual number is 11 million. He said that the unemployment rate was 42 percent, when it is only 4.9 percent. He flatly denied on Monday's debate that he supported the Iraq war. However a TV interview in 2002 revealed that he did support it. On ''Birtherism'', he shamelessly blamed Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign team.

In fact, the Institute ''PolitiFacts'', which checks the veracity of claims made by politicians, looked into 160 statements made by Trump and found 70 percent of then to be mostly false, false or ''pants of fire''. Never before, the Institute says, has a politician lied so often. Trump suggests that his political style is verbally robust, but his policies are immaculate. his biggest lie is his claim that he is telling the truth in the service of the greater good.

No wonder why 50 former national security officials who had served at high level in Republican administration from Richard Nixon to George W Bush, saying that they would not vote for their party's presidential nominee.

Trump's success is the story of an outsider who has broken with all the rules of the world of politics and has done so very successfully. But there is also a second narrative to be told: a story of an emotional intelligence deficit.

In the terminology of modern leadership theory, Trump is deficient in emotional intelligence--the self-mastery, discipline, and emphatic capacity that allows leaders to channel their personal passions and attract others. Contrary to the view that feelings interfere with thinking, emotional intelligence-which include two major components, mastery of self and outreach to others-suggests that the ability to understand and regulate emotions can make overall thinking more effective.

While the concept is modern, the idea is not new. Practical people have long understood its importance in leadership. In 1930's, former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a crusty old veteran of the American Civil War, was taken to meet Franklin D Roosevelt, a fellow Harvard graduate but one who had not been a distinguished student. Asked later about his impressions of the new president, Holmes famously quipped: ''second-class intellect, first class temperament''. Most historians would agree that Roosevelt's success as a leader rested more on his emotional that his analytical IQ.

Psychologists have tried to measure intelligence for more than a century. General IQ tests measure such dimensions of intelligence as verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning, but IQ scores predict only about 10-20% of variation in life success. The 80% that remains unexplained is the product of hundreds of factors playing out over time. Emotional intelligence is one of them.

Some experts argue that emotional intelligence is twice as important as technical or cognitive skills. Others suggest, it plays a more modest role. Moreover, psychologists differ about how the two dimensions of emotional intelligence-self control and empathy-relate to each other. Bill Clinton, for example, scored low on the first but high on the second. Nonetheless, they agree that emotional intelligence is an important component of leadership. Richard Nixon probably had a higher IQ than Roosevelt, but much lower emotional intelligence.

Leaders use emotional intelligence to manage their ''charisma'' or personal magnetism across changing contexts. We all present ourselves to others in a variety of ways in order to manage the impressions we make: for example, we dress for success. Politicians, too, dress differently for different audiences. Ronald Reagan's staff was famous for its effectiveness in managing impressions.

Successful management of personal impressions requires some of the emotional discipline and skill possessed by good actors. Acting and leadership have a great deal in common. Both combine self-control with the ability to project. Reagan's poor experience as Hollywood actor served him well in this regard, and Roosevelt was a consummate actor as well. Despite his pain and difficulty in moving on his polio-crippled legs, FDR maintained a smiling exterior, and was careful to avoid being photographed in the wheelchair he used.

Humans, like other primate groups, focus their attention on the leader. Whether CEOs and presidents realize it or not, the signals they convey are always closely watched. Emotional intelligence involves awareness and control of such signals, and self-discipline that prevents personal psychological needs from distorting policy. Nixon, for example, could strategize effectively on foreign policy; but he was less able to manage the personal insecurities that caused him to create an ''enemies list'' and eventually led to his downfall.

Trump has some of the skills of emotional intelligence. He is an actor whose experience hosting a reality-television show enabled him to dominate the crowded Republican primary filed and attract considerable media attention. Dressing for the occasion in his signature red baseball cap with the slogan ''Make America Great Again'', he appeared to have gamed the system with a winning strategy of using ''politically incorrect'' statements to focus attention on himself and gain enormous free publicity.

But Trump has proven deficient in terms of self-control, leaving him unable to move forward the center for the general election. Likewise, he has failed to display the discipline needed to master the details of foreign policy, with the result that, unlike Nixon, he comes across as naive about the world affairs.

Trump has a reputation as bully in interactions with peers, but that is not bad per se. President Lyndon Johnson was a bully, and many Silicon valley entrepreneurs have a bullying style. But, unlike Trump, these figures bullies had vision that inspires other to want to follow them. And Trump's narcissism has led him to overreact, often counter-productively, to criticism and affronts.

It is this deficiency in his emotional intelligence that has cost Trump the support of some of the most distinguished foreign policy experts in his party and in the country. In their words, he is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood, He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism. Trump has been disqualified by his second-class temperament.

By Jennifer Birich
Political Commentator

Photo-Credit:CNN photo of; Republican Debate-Donald J Trump