Modern ‘Maturity and Leadership’? Lower Your Expectations!

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on July 12, 2014

Many years ago at a previous job, a former co-worker had wrecked a company truck. When asked what happened, he replied, “Dude, I saw a giant rat!” Given that this individual was a pseudo-Dead Head, it was assumed that he had indulged in the stereotypical activities that Dead Heads are synonymous with; as to whether or not those forms of artificial joy are meant to create the necessary pain threshold required to tolerate listening to the Greatful Dead, is a topic for another day.

Well, a few months after the giant rat incident, I happened to drive past a picket line – and there in the background was an inflatable rat.

As these rats have found their way onto more picket lines, two questions came to mind:
1. How are striking workers supposed to appear mature about workplace disagreements with management/ownership when the picketers utilize a grotesque rodent – and now a cigar-smoking, worker-choking cat, which is supposed to symbolize said employers, or even non-union co-workers?

2. After comparing their employers to greedy, grotesque rodents, how do those workers return to the workplace, face the leaders whom they tried to demonize in the name of trying to raise public support, and pretend that no harm had occurred between the two?
In the age of the creepy balloon-as-a-bargaining-tool, the slow demise of maturity isn’t surprising.

In seventies-era grade school, name-calling was passed-off as acceptable when trying to raise awareness in regards to social issues; if we were to see someone throw litter on the ground, we were encouraged to call him or her a “litterbug.” If someone sped by, call that person a “leadfoot.” As for big cars, tell the owners to “get rid of their ‘gas-guzzlers.’”

Today, many members of the Obama Administration — and politics in general – have graduated from the Progressive Leadership Academy — otherwise known as the modern public school system. Alumni such as Tommy “Dude” Vietor and Eric “Don’t go there, buddy” Holder have learned well. The most recent graduate to proudly display his contempt for maturity and decorum is Democrat congressional candidate, Mike “She’s garbage” Dickinson – a one-man warrior against a teenage girl whose only crime appears to be a love of hunting. Of course, it’s hard to forget Nancy “teabagger” Pelosi, a pioneer in taunting and disrespecting those whom she had taken an oath to defend.

The individual who is supposed to represent unquestionable maturity and leadership: the President of the United States, has definitely taken the lead in fundamentally transforming the two.

From taunting conservatives who want greater border security – “they want a moat, and they want water in the moat. Now, they want alligators in the moat,” to a cruel jab at the Special Olympics during an appearance on the Tonight Show, to taunting an American citizen over a question about the high price of gas – “You bought a Suburban? Why do you need a Suburban? You have eight kids? Why do you have such a big family?”

Oddly enough, the same folks who casually ridicule others in public appear thin-skinned when faced with similar behavior from others.

After the appearance in Congress where Attorney General Eric Holder made his “Don’t go there, buddy” comment, he spoke to a group of supporters where he complained about being mishandled by the Congressmen who had questioned him. As for his boss, Barack Obama once told a group of his supporters that his critics were “working me like a dog.”

After throwing out a first pitch at Wrigley Field in 1994, Hillary Clinton was greeted with boos and heckling. And according to a caller on Kevin Mattherws’ WLUP radio show, a plane flew overhead with a banner stating, “Hillary, you have the right to remain silent.” Despite the anguish of actually facing a ballpark full of critics, the greatest act of poetic justice was yet to come.

Shortly after her revolting encounter with “those little people,” a crying Hillary publicly asked why she and her husband were so disliked? With a history of publicly attacking political enemies, critics – and even a twelve year-old rape victim — a logical conclusion would be that she could withstand public criticism.

Perhaps it was the Taunting 101 classes in first grade that helps today’s political leaders vindicate themselves when ridiculing those Americans who had made their jobs possible. Maybe the “everybody’s a winner” campaign sucked the last ounce of self-esteem out of our present-day elected officials and bureaucrats, causing them to perceive criticism as hostility.

A wise individual once described a few athletic co-workers with similar intellectually-deprived traits with this phrase, “body by Nautilus, brain by Mattel.” However, I can’t imagine Mattel entering the inflatable rat business.



Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for