President Trump’s Visit to East Palestine Demonstrates a Mantra of Bully Pulpit Leadership that Biden Can Never Deliver

By Don Brown

Teddy Roosevelt once described the presidency as a “bully pulpit.”  With that phrase, TR described a president’s capacity and ability to lead, encourage, inspire, and unify in an inspirational way that can come only from the heart of the man occupying the office.

The bully pulpit, in matters big and small, to unite Americans, and to demonstrate confident, resolute leadership that inspires across party lines is a concept foreign to the current occupant of the White House.

Reagan displayed it in “tear down this wall.” JFK got it with, “ask what you can do for your country.” FDR comforted with “nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

Joe Biden, over three weeks after the tragedy, still refused to visit East Palestine Ohio, where on February 3rd, a massive Norfolk Southern Train derailed, spewing apocalyptic-like black toxin fumes in the air. As of February 23rd, CBS news reports that toxins from the derailment have killed more than 3,500 aquatic animals and more than 43,700 animals within a 5-mile radius of the derailment site.[1] 

In a word, something is wrong.

After three weeks, still, no Joe Biden. Schmoozing with Zelensky in Kyiv means more to Biden than Americans suffering in Ohio and Pennsylvania. While he kisses up to Ukraine, Biden “can’t remember” if he’s even talked to the mayor of East Palestine. [2]

By contrast, President Trump’s recent visit to ground zero, where Trump brought bottled water, supplies, and encouragement for the people and local firefighters, stands in stark contrast to the rudderless swirl exemplified by this pusillanimous phenomenon known as the Biden Administration.

With toxins saturating the air, with reports of animals dying en masse, and with a local population shell-shocked from the uncertainty that poison might be in the water, President Trump, as with past cases of tragedy, traveled to ground zero to offer comfort, encouragement and brought supplies in a gesture of goodwill and unanimity. “You are not forgotten” Trump told the people, as he donated thousands of bottles of cleaning supplies and bottled water, and bought food for police, firemen, and first responders.

On a grand historical scale, it wasn’t a Berlin Wall moment. Yet, Trump’s actions send a strong message to the struggling East Palestine citizens, to the people of Columbiana County, and the neighboring counties in northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, that “we are with you” that “America has not forgotten.” By his very presence, Trump reminded us that red-blooded, blue-collar Americans living outside the political swamp in Washington and beyond the woke ash heaps of big blue Democrat cities, will stand with the town, no matter the cost.

In one visit, Trump put Roosevelt’s bully pulpit on display in a way that is impossible for Biden, because Biden isn’t cut from a mettle of real presidential leadership.

On February 23rd, responding to President Trump’s visit and humanitarian mission, Biden dispatched Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to the scene, who muttered a few utterances and then returned to the Swamp, bragging about the Administration’s response. 

It’s a good thing Mayor Pete wasn’t celebrating a months-long paternity leave, like when hundreds of cargo ships were log-jammed off the California coast, jamming the nation’s supply chain to a crawl. This time, his diapering duties completed, Buttigieg arrived a day late and a dollar short, with dull, kumbaya-ish words of assuagement. “Let’s give them all a hug” he said, or words to that effect, mirroring Rodney King’s pretentiously philosophical “can we all get along?” moment, circa 1992.

Oh please. In the wake of Trump, Pete fell flat as a pancake.

Query:  Would Buttigieg visit East Palestine if President Trump had not one-upped Biden by visiting firefighters and citizens, just days before, in a confident show of strength and courage? To quote the “big guy” himself, “Come on, man!”

But as of this writing, still no Biden. Why not?

Maybe the fumes scare Biden.

Or maybe it’s because the community is Republican.

Whatever the reason, if Biden could learn one lesson from the 45th president of the United States, it is this: Reach out to the hurting, without delay. Speak encouraging words, offer help, and let them know that they aren’t forgotten. That’s the bully pulpit.

Perhaps Biden can’t learn anything at all, given his on-again, off-again, dementia state that clicks and clacks like an annoying signal light at an intersection before another left turn. But even if Biden could learn, the notion of extending a hand, of uttering encouraging words, of letting hurting Americans know he has their backs, even those not sharing his political beliefs, is a virtuous, biblical quality, something the Democrats abandoned long ago.

Sun Tzu in his famous Art of War in Chapter 11, depicted a sublime leadership where troops will battle for a leader in thick and thin, and march to the gates of hell and back for that leader, all because the general shows devoted benevolence, and concern for the troops, which attracts devotion from the ranks.

President Trump gets it.

The clueless Biden, on the other hand, inspires people with the magnetism of a cardboard box.

Though not in office Mr. Trump displayed real presidential leadership, while Biden captains a rudderless Democrat kayak swirling down the drain, increasingly irrelevant, and oblivious to the American middle class.

To Biden, the good people of East Palestine don’t advance the cause of the globalist deep state. They aren’t woke and don’t race-bait.  So why should Biden bother? Biden’s callous indifference to hard-working Americans in need says it all.

In this instance, President Trump is to be commended for reaching out to the people.

Mr. Biden could learn a lot from 45.

Unfortunately, that likely won’t happen.




Don Brown, a former U.S. Navy JAG officer, is the author of the book “Travesty of Justice: The Shocking Prosecution of Lieutenant Clint Lorance” and “CALL SIGN EXTORTION 17: The Shootdown of SEAL Team Six,” and the author of 15 books on the United States Military, including three national bestsellers. He is one of four former JAG officers serving on the Lorance legal team. Lorance was pardoned by President Trump in November 2019. Brown is also a former military prosecutor and a former Special Assistant United States Attorney. He can be reached at and on Twitter @donbrownbooks.