Cavalier charge in Cleveland

Cavalier charge in Cleveland

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A friend of mine recently shopped for a dishwasher with son, age 8. He checked out all the specifications from one to the next, examining the price, checking out the Energy Star rating and comparing the colors to the other appliances in his kitchen.

The salesman gave the father and son team an overview of all the features. When my friend asked about the energy efficiency, the salesman suggested he could get one with a particular rating, but it was not that big of a deal.

My friend’s son insisted, “Hey, it protects the environment. You need to tell people that when they’re buying it.”

My friend does energy research, where he tries to find the most efficient way to produce energy, although not for dishwashers necessarily. He spends his days designing, developing and refining plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping down the cost of supplying the energy.

When he told me this story, he said he realized that his son, who didn’t always seem to pay attention to what his father said, was listening.

When our kids were young, my wife and I used to say, “The recorder is on.” That was a reminder that we might be venturing into conversational areas that weren’t appropriate for our children or that we might want to avoid saltier language.

Did treading lightly around difficult subjects and avoiding curses help our children at all? Well, we’d like to think so, at least back then. Still, the way we speak to, about or in front of our children matters.

That brings me to the recent Republican presidential debate at the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There was a candidate, Donald Trump, who made some pejorative comments about a moderator for the debate, Megyn Kelly of Fox News. He continued to go on the attack, even suggesting that Kelly should apologize to him for her tough questions.

Even in the moment, when challenged by a woman about his perspective on women, he insisted, with some effective humor, that he didn’t have time for political correctness and that he wasn’t referring to all women, only one, with whom he has an ongoing public feud.

But wait, a politician, who wants to be the leader of our country and of the free world, doesn’t have time for political correctness? Yeah, I get it, he’s barnstorming around the country, full of bluster and self-importance, blending entertainment and outrage in one big, hairy ball.

What happened to the notion of nuanced negotiations? Shouldn’t our leaders demonstrate the kind of statesmanship that enables them to discuss important matters with the leaders of other nations, without running the risk of alienating them and damaging our negotiating position?

Maybe Trump, the latest guy running for president, has a corollary to President Theodore Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” ideology. Perhaps he believes he’ll be more effective if he speaks loudly and brashly and carries a big stick.

Whatever his philosophy, it seems like the manner in which he delivers his messages isn’t exactly what we might like from a role model for our country and for the world.

Does attacking the moderator of a debate in which he’s trying to demonstrate his leadership skills underscore his effectiveness as a leader?

Perhaps Trump, and we, might want to consider the lessons we teach. If he was in a store buying a dishwasher with a younger relative, would he really want the next generation to insult the salesman and then demand an apology?

Whatever, Cleveland was rocking and the rest of the United States watched in record numbers.