Scott Tibbs

Lack of discipline is not manly or tough

By Scott Tibbs, December 10, 2021

One of the things I used to hear as a negative description is that someone is a "pop off." Someone who just said whatever he wanted to say was seen as undisciplined and unprofessional. This, of course, was before 2015, when much of the Right started seeing trolling and nastiness as virtuous. That coincided with the rise of Donald Trump, a man whose primary character feature is his complete and total inability to discipline his mouth - a trait that was largely responsible for putting Joe Biden in the White House.

With that in mind, David French makes a great point about Trump, his alleged "toughness" and the Trumpian Right's mistaken definition of "toughness" over at The Atlantic:
Saying what you think or what others seem afraid to say isn't inherently "manly." Speaking your mind isn't even inherently virtuous, much less inherently masculine.
In some cases, "saying what you think" is extremely weak. That is why we teach our children - or at least we should teach our children - that some things are not appropriate to say in certain situations and sometimes not at all. Part of being an adult is learning to discipline your mouth. That is why in the business world the ability to discipline your speech is considered a key part of professionalism. Discipline of one's speech is also something taught in the military, and few people on the Right would dispute that soldiers are emblematic of toughness and masculinity.

One example of Trump's weakness is when he smeared Lori Klausutis - a woman who had died suddenly 19 years earlier - in order to take some cheap shots at a MSNBC host. It was a classic example of "punching down" - the most powerful man on the planet using the Presidential bully pulpit to torment a widower by calling his dead wife a whore. A strong man does not punch down and bully people who are far less powerful than he is. That is what a bully does, and bullies are not manly. They are cowards, and Trump's effeminate behavior on Twitter was an example of pure cowardice.

There are many more examples, of course.

True manliness and true toughness is not always speaking one's mind. Yes, it requires courage to say things that are true. We should not refrain from speaking the truth, and we should understand that much of the finger-wagging about our "tone" is actually an attempt to stifle truth. But manhood also involves the discipline and restraint to hold one's tongue and not just spew angry rants. Sometimes we should be reluctant to say out loud what others only whisper. On that score, Trump fails dramatically.

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