6 Global Politicians Who, Believe It or Not, Are as Petty as the Trumpster
Given all of his antics on the campaign trail, Donald Trump might seem like he's in a class by himself when it comes to pettiness. This is a man, after all, who narcissistically patted himself on the back for predicting terrorism would happen again, even as the bodies of the Orlando victims were still being identified, who celebrated the sharp drop in value of the British pound because it helped his golf course, and who has hissy fits when reporters point out his foibles and lies. He has openly talked about all the people who will regret “mistreating” him once he becomes King…uh, President…of the United States. There is little doubt that, should the unthinkable happen, President Trump would go down in history as a serial abuser of political power, hammering the final nails into the coffin of the Party of Lincoln (or the ghost of what remains of it).
But petty politicians are certainly not a new phenomenon. They existed in the past, and carry on today. And abuses of power need not always mean history-shaping acts of evil. Sometimes they can just be…well…small and petty. Here are some acts of political entitlement, some just bratty, some actually evil, committed by politicians that The Donald would, and in at least one case, does, feel right at home with:
1. Richard Nixon, President of the United States
Richard Nixon was a lot of things, and being petty may just be one of the least unsavory of them. Or maybe not. Besides Watergate, and Vietnam, and “Enemies” lists, Nixon instituted the so-called War on Drugs. According to one of his closest advisors, John Ehrlichman, the entire War on Drugs was the result of Nixon’s pettiness. Nixon’s main opposition while President were the anti-war left, and the African-American community. He hated both, and to get back at them, Ehrlichman claims that Nixon created the War on Drugs, out of whole cloth, as a means to associate hippies and black people with dangerous drugs. “We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did." And so, to settle Nixon’s petty grudges against his opponents, over a trillion dollars (and counting) and hundreds of thousands of lives have been wasted.
2. Mohd Azam Khan, Senior Minister, India
When seven buffaloes from the Rampur farm of Minister Mohd Azam Khan were stolen, Khan did what any reasonable government official would do. He called the police. That is, he called ALL the police. Khan sent out the entire police force, reportedly hundreds of officers, to search for his property. Dogs were called in to sniff out the trail. Slaughterhouses and meat stores were raided. In the end, the buffaloes were recovered in a couple days, but not without three officers being disciplined for “dereliction of duty” for allowing the daring theft to take place. Once the media got wind of Khan’s actions, he was bombarded with criticism for his pettiness. "That day is not far when the UP Government will offer Z category security to buffaloes whilst human beings die in riots and cold waves," tweeted one disgusted citizen.
3. Mitch McConnell, Senator of Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader
Of course no list of petty power abusers would be complete without the current Senator from Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. McConnell rather famously stated, after the election of Barack Obama, that his and his party’s top political priority (in the midst, remember, of the Great Recession) was to “deny President Obama a second term.” And so, despite all the severe economic issues facing the country, McConnell led the transition of the Party of Lincoln into the Party of No. If Obama asked for it, the answer, even if it was something the Republicans previously supported, was “no”. After Obama’s reelection in 2012, having failed in his one-term goal, McConnell continued to oppose Obama at any and every turn, for no other reason, apparently, than the fact that he was Obama. Contrast McConnell’s pettiness with Abraham Lincoln, who, when he (incorrectly) was sure he was going to lose the election of 1864, pledged in a memo, for the good of the Union, to assist his successor in winning the Civil War. "This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards. – A. Lincoln."
4. Humberto Benitez Trevino, Attorney General for Consumer Protection, Mexico
Humberto Benitez Trevino received a call from his daughter Andrea in 2013, and got an earful, as she complained how Maximo Bistrot, a trendy Mexico City eatery, was being mean to her. It was lunchtime, she wanted her favorite table, and they said it was not available. Daddy sprang into action. Trevino was the official in charge of Profeco, Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency, and clearly his daughter, a consumer, needed protection. Soon several officials from his agency showed up at the bistro, and, in short order, they found several “violations,” such as incorrect reservation policies, and mislabeling of mescal. The restaurant was closed down. Sadly for Humberto, his daughter decided to brag about the incident on Twitter. Consumer outrage at such corrupt pettiness ensued, earning daughter Andrea the nickname “Lady Profeco”. Internet memes even began to pop up. The restaurant was reopened. Oh, and Humberto was fired.
5. Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela
In 2015, at the Copa America Games (South America’ soccer Super Bowl), Colombia played Venezuela in a hard fought contest. Too hard, apparently, because Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, on Twitter, accused the Venezuelan team of playing dirty. “What a pity, what a dirty game from the Venezuelan team. It appears that Maduro trained them.” Such an accusation is pretty standard fare in sports rivalries, and in fact Calderon actually congratulated the Venezuelan team after it won. “Vinotinto’s win is very deserving. In the end, the Colombian stars couldn’t do it. Congratulations to Venezuela.” Too late! In the affairs of men, we all know where soccer is ranked. Far above diplomatic relations with your neighbors, of course. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro dealt with the accusation in a perfectly appropriate manner. He went to Congress and had Calderon declared “persona non grata”, forever. His crime was declared to be “aggression.” Calderon was banished from Venezuela, forbidden to ever enter the country for any reason. Calderon, it seems, was not properly chastened by Madura’s petty banishment. He laughed it all off and remarked that it was an honor to be labeled an undesirable by a “despot”.
6. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Donald Trump’s onetime rival for the Republican presidential nomination, and now his close ally, sycophant, and, at least in his own fevered dreams, maybe-vice-presidential running mate, Chris Christie has a well-earned reputation for political pettiness matched only by Trump himself. The New Jersey Governor is well known for being a bully, and his list of petty acts is miles long. He has berated teachers in public for daring to question his wisdom regarding the teachers union, written vaguely threatening notes whenever he has felt slighted, cut college education funds, and has insulted the former Governor of New Jersey by removing the state trooper assigned to accompany him to public events (a courtesy afforded all former New Jersey governors). “Every organization takes its cues from the leadership as to what’s acceptable and what’s not, and this governor, in his public appearances, has made thuggery acceptable,” New Jersey Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski told the New York Times. Most notoriously, though, was the act of supreme pettiness that may have cost him any chance at the Republican nomination, the so-called Fort Lee “Bridgegate” episode, in which a New Jersey bridge was all but shut down by Christie henchmen for four days, causing massive hours-long traffic jams. The shutdown was allegedly for a “traffic study”, but, in suspected reality, was done as retribution against the Fort Lee mayor, who had declined to support Christie in the previous gubernatorial election. Pettiness, thy name is Christie.