Here’s one unanticipated version of Minnesota Nice presented last night from the Democrat who hopes to trade off of it in the 2020 primaries. In essence, Amy Klobuchar’s philosophy seems to be: When your interpersonal office skills hand you lemons, make paranoid lemonade. In an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow yesterday, Klobuchar tried to recast her reputation as an abusive boss as a qualification for international relations.
Doesn’t that sound … familiar?
Klobuchar cast the reports of staff mistreatment as a positive for her ability to operative on the international stage as president, namely when dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If you are a boss, you have to have high standards, and that is what I have always had. And that doesn’t mean it’s a popularity contest all the time,” she said. “And so I’ve had high standards for myself, high standards for our staff, and mostly I’m going to have high standards for the country.”
She added: “One can always do better, and that means you want to be sure that you are listening to people if they felt that something was unfair, or they felt bad about something. But I still think that you have to demand good product. When you’re out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who’s tough. You want someone that demands the answers and that’s going to get things done, and that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
Nice spin, but no. That would make sense if anyone believed that bullying bosses actually have that kind of toughness. Usually it indicates someone who feels so insecure that they force underlings to humiliate themselves to cover for that, but then accommodate those with equal or greater authority. The only reason Klobuchar feels the need to explain this away now, mind you, is because she’s entering a popularity contest among Democratic voters. Otherwise, Klobuchar would be freezing out any questions about her office behavior, and the media would likely not be asking them in the first place.
Even without that context, though, this answer makes little sense. Does that mean she’ll stand up to Putin by throwing a binder at his head? By forcing him to surrender his comb so she can use it as a utensil for her lunchtime salad? I’m trying to imagine World War III being started by mixing Grecian Formula and Green Goddess dressing, and it’s too horrid to consider for very long.
I wonder if it occurs to Klobuchar that this argument almost completely negates the Democrats’ presidential arguments for 2020. After all, if bad behavior equated to toughness on the international scene, we already have the baddest of bad boys in that position right now. That was actually Donald Trump’s entire reality-TV schtick — that he liked to fire people and humiliate staff soooooo much that they built an entire television show around the concept and called it The Apprentice. It was a dumb argument at the time and it hasn’t exactly panned out as advertised, but here comes A-Klo to assume that mantle in Trump’s place, legitimizing it all over again. And for what purpose? Why choose a piker that only tosses the occasional binder at people when America already has the most famously obnoxious boss in place now?