The Yiddish word chutzpah first made its appearance in English in 1867, and it’s seen a lot of use since. Various dictionaries define it variously, but most agree that it means unmitigated effrontery, audacity, nerve, gall. Some speakers of Yiddish believe that the word has been diluted in English use and no longer properly conveys the monumental nature of the gall that is implied.
Might this word apply to the leader of a nation who has no experience in governing, offers delegates from 150 other nations a speech at the United Nations advice on how to govern better? Addressing the opening session of UN’s annual General Assembly meeting, the real estate developer and former TV star told these delegate that bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement have prevented the United Nations from reaching its full potential.
On the mismanagement scale, how has our president performed so far? He has fired a bunch of people from important positions, among them the director of the FBI, the acting attorney general, White House chief of staff, press secretary, and White House adviser, to cite a few that come to mind.
His appointments to his cabinet and other key positions include the leader of a major oil company as secretary of state, a treasury secretary known for his aggressive foreclosures and offshore tax havens, an education secretary who hates public education, an Environmental Protection Agency head who is a close friend of the fossil fuel industry, an energy secretary who said that he wanted to dismantle the Department of Energy, a former surgeon to run Housing and Urban Development, and a billionaire investor to run the commerce department.
Being president is hard work, he is reported to have remarked during his first week in office. More work than he expected. Some might argue that he is in over his head. Now, he is giving advice on how to govern to representatives of 150 nations. Is this the definition of chutzpah?