Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 January 2017


I accept that this is very small and narrow-minded of me, but I must say that I would rather be in the Philippines contending with a narcissistic-personality-disordered man like Rodrigo Duterte than in the United States contending with a narcissistic-personality-disordered man like Donald Trump. What are the odds of the two countries electing similarly afflicted personalities? I cannot venture to say.

It is a close call, but in the end, Trump loses. How or why? Read on.

First, on the choice of Cabinet members and advisers. This is where Mr. Duterte appears to be better than Trump. Of course, there are cases where it is close, as, for example, his choice of justice secretary  compared with Trump’s choice of attorney general (the rough US equivalent). Sen. Jeff Sessions, the nominee, reportedly has “a nasty civil rights record” and has been “dogged by claims of racism and bigotry throughout his career.”  His “history and present positions make it undeniably clear that he cannot be entrusted to uphold equal justice, civil rights, or the right to vote.”  Wow.

Trump has exposed himself to charges of nepotism, with the appointment of his son-in-law as senior adviser.  Mr. Duterte’s two sons and daughter are nowhere in sight as far as positions in his administration are concerned. Good.

Further, his choices have not met with nearly as much criticism as Trump’s choices (especially from civil society, since the Democrats seem to have lost their tongues… Does that sound familiar?). And rightly so. I agree with those who think that Mr. Duterte’s choices (especially of the Cabinet members who deal with the economy and social justice) are the saving grace of this administration.

Take, for another example, Trump’s choice of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is considered a “climate change denier” and does not seem to believe in global warming or its effects. Plus he has sued the EPA on its Clean Power Plan and on its regulations on methane emissions.   And Trump chooses him to be EPA administrator. Good grief. Contrast that with Mr. Duterte’s appointment of Gina Lopez as environment secretary. See the difference?

Next, let’s talk about their relations with the media. Both men have at some point accused the media of biased or false reporting. And Mr. Duterte has been known to be boorish and insulting to the media. But he has accommodated reporters, and never followed up on his threats to limit his accessibility. Trump, on the other hand, is extremely reluctant to meet with the media, relying mostly on tweets and such social media devices (no face-to-face interaction). And when he finally met with reporters, he refused to answer questions from CNN’s senior correspondent Jim Acosta, and his press secretary threatened to have Acosta ejected if he persisted in asking questions. I don’t think

Mr. Duterte has done that. Point for him.

The third point of comparison has to do with their exaggerations, their outrageous statements, their lashing out at others, which, experts say, are an indication of the personality disorder.

Mr. Duterte has lashed out at Sen. Leila de Lima, calling her the Philippines’ drug queen, or words to that effect. De Lima’s error? When she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights, she called him to task for the Davao Death Squad activities (which he had publicly admitted, by the way, as he had admitted to various killings).

Trump’s latest lashing out is at Meryl Streep, whom he called “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood”—which shows how disordered people can totally ignore facts in making their conclusions. Streep has been nominated for and has won more Academy Awards than any other actress, plus Cannes Film Festival awards, Emmys, and Golden Globe Awards.  She has been called, by experts, as the “best actress of her generation.” Overrated?

What was Streep’s “sin”? She called him to task for using his power and position to bully others.

But isn’t that what Mr. Duterte does? That’s why it is a close call.