Good leaders needn’t be “pogues”

U.S. ARMY infantry unit marching in a operation in Poland (U.S. Army photo).

Pogues – we’ve all experienced them. They’re the bad managers who get in the way of the job getting done. From the feckless supervisor to the CEO, the term pogue is actually scornful military slang, an infantry slur. It means “people other than grunts,” and pogues were best described to me as “those in their air-conditioned offices who make life a living hell for those on the battlefield.”

They certainly also flourish in civilian life. On the battlefield against the insidious coronavirus enemy, for instance, they’ve led the charge — a charge that, thanks to them, looks oftentimes like a retreat. It starts at the top, with Donald Trump, POTUS – Pogue of the United States. His daily pronouncements have been both feckless and reckless, fatally downplaying the danger until it came crashing down upon us all. All of his administration’s incompetence was described by The New York Times, laid out in a lengthy article called “The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19.”

It describes in painstaking detail how Trump-appointed public health agencies were overwhelmed by the early warnings and engaged in one incompetent miscalculation after another. The nation is now paying the price as a result, with nearly a quarter million deaths projected as the best we can do. We are running out of personal protection equipment to shield the valiant medical providers who are trying desperately to treat the victims coming to them in overwhelming numbers.

Meanwhile, the pogue in chief takes full political advantage of the crisis by holding daily briefings, which are mainly devoted to his self-serving pretenses, before he finally turns it over to the heroic experts who he assigns to deliver the bad news after he has completed his dog-and-pony show. Drs. Tony Fauci and Deborah Birx have revealed themselves to be standouts in this mess. They are the anti-pogues, partly because their statements are such a contrast to the streams of unconsciousness from Trump.

In fact, there are plenty of other anti-pogues who need to be acknowledged, those who have cast themselves in true leadership roles. There are governors from coast to coast who have made the hard decisions to clean up the mess. New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo has millions of fans with his intense advocacy for his state’s interest, as it undergoes monstrous attacks by the killer organism.

Gretchen Whitmer has done the same in Michigan. Like so many females, she has gotten under Trump’s thin skin. He refers to her as “Gretchen Half Whitmer” and more tellingly as “that woman from Michigan.” He’s not only the pogue in chief, but misogynist in chief.

This is a man who leads his nation by bad example. His administration is not fulfilling its assigned role of coordinating all the logistics, leaving it to the governors to negotiate on their own for protective gear and test kits and making the hard decisions about partial quarantines in their states, along with school shutdowns and the dealings with suddenly unemployed citizens who are swamping their systems.

It’s not enough to say that rescuing the nation is not a job for pogues. Rather, it is a job for pulling together against the common enemy, which, by the way, should be the coronavirus, not a rogue pogue like Donald Trump.

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN. (c) 2020 Bob Franken.Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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