Cal Thomas: The problem with ‘yes men’


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 14th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. There’s the saying: a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. Commentator Cal Thomas says humility should infuse all of it.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: If you’re over 50, no doubt you remember the name Jim Bakker. He was a high-flying TV evangelist in the 1980s. 

Bakker ran into legal trouble after his “Praise the Lord” (PTL) associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships” to people who were promised annual three-night stays at his Heritage USA luxury hotel complex. But prosecutors revealed that Bakker sold tens of thousands of these memberships for a hotel that had only 500 rooms planned. And it was never actually completed. Bakker allegedly kept $3.4 million of the money for himself.

Shortly after Jim Bakker’s release from prison in July 1994, I invited him to my home. There was an important question I wanted to ask him. 

“When did you start to go wrong?” I asked Bakker. His answer was instructive: “When I began to surround myself with people who told me only what I wanted to hear.”

I thought of that statement when I read a recent comment by former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. He was speaking at a Washington Examiner event in Sea Island, Georgia. He recounted the last thing he said to President Trump before leaving his position. Quoting now: “Whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth. Don’t do that, because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.” End quote. 

The latest White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, sounded like a “yes-woman” when she said—quote—“I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.” End quote. 

It’s fair to note the army of opposition arrayed against the president. Many have sought to impeach him since the day he took office. But that doesn’t negate good leadership principles. 

The key to great leadership is to not overly regard yourself. It means understanding you don’t know everything and realizing you are flawed and can make bad judgments—just like everybody else. 

A good leader surrounds himself with people who are willing to speak honestly, even when that honesty means disagreeing with the leader’s perspective. 

Some of those evangelical “advisers” to President Trump might consider a verse with which they must be familiar. It is from Proverbs 15:22: Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success. They owe it to the president, themselves, and God to speak the truth. 

Generals require committed privates in order to achieve success in warfare. Presidents need the same, along with staff who don’t always tell them what they want to hear, but sometimes what they need to hear.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.


(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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