Tough guy

I don’t have a lot of experience with people who settle differences with their fists, but I grew up in New York with my eyes and ears open, and even had some amount of practical enlightenment. If you present yourself as a tough guy in that society, you are likely to have to back it up at some point, and maybe have your precise toughness index gauged experimentally.  I was surprised to hear Trump going on about how hard he was going to hit Michael Bloomberg, and some other people, for two reasons. First, Bloomberg is a little guy, and Trump acknowledged it; everybody knows from movies and popular culture that real tough guys usually make a point of picking on someone their size. In fact, one way you recognize the heavy is that he beats on smaller people.  Second, I am unaware of any occasion in which Trump has demonstrated any degree of physical courage; no football, no water polo, no skiing black diamonds, no fistfights; no military service, nothing. Not part of his known history; well, except for that little tiff with Ivana.

A day or two later he walked it back, saying of course he meant hit with words and his rapier wit. Master of metaphor, and the smirking walkback, our Donald. But I’m still a little surprised at the original threat. I realize he’s spent his life in private schools and safe places, and I recall how quickly he dove behind the Secret Service agent when a guy jumped on the stage at a rally.  But does anyone know of anything that could dilute the ridicule entailed by this improvisation? He didn’t say, “I’m going to borrow a couple of my friend Vladimir’s goons and have them hit these people”, he made it clear he meant to clench up his little fists and do it himself.


Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

6 thoughts on “Tough guy”

  1. The Democrats have this video clip. Next time they need a TV ad for some market or other, they can play it and then immediately segue to the most devastating line of the night in question: where a retired admiral said "Donald, you are not fit to polish John McCain's shoes!"

    It will not be "fair" but that did come from one of the speeches from the night in question. Fair enough for me.

  2. Firefighters are tough guys too.

    File under BLUE LIVES MATTER:

    The Republican nominee for President has torn into the Colorado Springs fire marshal for doing what fire marshals are supposed to do: enforcing safety regulations concerning capacity of public venues. The candidate in question invited thousands of people to come to an event in an arena with a capacity of 1500.

    Look at the two men in the video: an out-of-control spoiled brat who thinks that he can disrespect our firefighters. Our FIREFIGHTERS, for crying out loud! Then look at the professionalism of the fire marshal calmly explaining the circumstances of his actions. He was named Citizen of the Year in Colorado Springs last year for his handling of the shootings at Planned Parenthood. He is a member of a profession which puts its lives at risk just like the police do every day.

    Someone tell me how much better for our country this little toad of a man is than his opponent. Hillary would never, never, never act like this toward a man like Mr. Brett Lacey, because she gets it that Blue Lives Matter.

    This local story needs to go national. Voters need to see what they are buying before making their final purchase.

    Still have any Trump supporters to come to his defense on this one?

    1. Won't you please leaves toads out of it? What have they ever done to you? (Great post, otherwise!)

      1. My bad. An eminent researcher once pointed out to me that skin of toad is a source of bufotenine, which is 5-hydroxy DMT. DMT is a potent hallucinogen but the 5-hydroxy part of the molecule makes it relatively lipid-insoluble and therefore not able to cross the blood-brain barrier. However, mixed with eye of newt (assuming this means the "third eye," or the pineal gland of the newt), that gland has the enzyme hydroxy-indole O-methyl transferase, would methylate the hydroxyl moiety to form 5-methoxy DMT, which is more lipid soluble and therefore better able to cross the blood-brain barrier and exert hallucinogenic effects in the brain.

        Still waiting for the national media to pick this one up. I have heard of "hug a firefighter" but "flip off a firefighter" is a new one on me.

        Can't deny that it is politically incorrect, though!

        1. I've heard the same thing about toads, from … – well, I guess you could call them researchers, and maybe eminent too.

      2. A comical addendum to the above. Trump was stuck in an elevator in downtown Colorado Springs yesterday afternoon in an old structure, the Mining Exchange Building, which was one of the oldest buildings in town when I was a kid. The candidate was due to speak in a different part of the city in a half hour but was stuck between floors in an elevator along with several other people. Firefighters came, secured the elevator, opened the top hatch, and lowered a ladder which allowed the occupants to climb to safety. Having been rescued by the fire department, he went to his speaking venue and lambasted the city fire marshal for doing his job by enforcing the regulations on maximum occupancy.

        This happened too late for this week's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," but if they need material for next week they have it right here. I was hopping mad this morning but feel better now.… for the story.

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