The lesson Justin Bieber could teach Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Article Image

After backlash against President Trump for using an apparently altered map of Hurricane Dorian's trajectory showing the storm affecting Alabama, he took to Twitter to defend himself. CNN's Allison Chinchar and Joe Johns discuss why Trump's messaging and those models are so problematic.

Posted: Sep 5, 2019 6:00 PM
Updated: Sep 5, 2019 6:00 PM

By most people's standards, Justin Bieber has lived a full and -- to put it kindly -- experience-rich life.

At just 13 he was catapulted onto the music scene and became a pop star, quickly accumulating the kind of money and fame many twice his age wouldn't dare to dream of. Superstardom saw him transform from a poor 12-year-old who busked singing hymns in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, to a wealthy but troubled young man who has had multiple run-ins with the law. He is still just 25. Had he attended, Bieber would not long be out of college. Now, four years since he first toyed with the idea of saying sorry in time to a preposterously catchy beat, Justin Bieber is doing it for real.

The boyish superstar posted a raw essay on his Instagram page on Monday, amounting to a catalog of his past wrongdoings. These included "heavy" drug use, disrespecting women, abusing his relationships, and letting his extraordinary fame and wealth at a very young age go to his head. It was an emotive and sincere outpouring of remorse, a sentiment too often left unexpressed.

By facing up to his faults -- and correctly identifying their genesis, he has shown more humility than men of twice his years. In fact, he's demonstrating more personal responsibility than two of the most powerful people on the planet.

It may seem extreme to compare a pop superstar like Justin Bieber to prime ministers and presidents -- that's because it is. To do so also makes a necessary and warranted point about what so many of us have grown numb to -- the lack of accountability for those in power. Bieber lives in the world of entertainment, but his willingness to apologize for his actions in a highly public way shines a spotlight on the fact that too often, in the world of politics, a refusal to say sorry is admired, even rewarded, in those who hold high office.

Consider the UK's current (things aren't looking great) leader, Boris Johnson. Johnson, whose shock of blonde hair and nonchalant exploitation of power are almost as iconic as they are unkempt, pushed energetically for Britain to leave the European Union in 2016. His Leave campaign was as deceitful as it was obnoxious, and his debunked claim about the amount of money that the UK would save on EU membership -- and that it could be spent on the National Health Service -- likely swung the vote in its favor.

Johnson, who is 55 years old and therefore -- at least numerically -- a seasoned adult, rarely expresses a shred of remorse for the myriad slip-ups, indiscretions, and outright lies which have peppered his entire professional career. And why would he? Unlike Justin Bieber, who as a child relied on food banks and the care of a struggling teenage mother, Johnson's entire life has been buttressed with privilege. And in his case, that privilege has fostered a monstrous sense of entitlement.

This week, Johnson fired his hero Winston Churchill's grandson from his own Conservative party, after said grandson -- MP Nicholas Soames -- defied Johnson in Tuesday's Brexit vote. Not only did Johnson lose the vote, which could ultimately lead to a no-deal Brexit being blocked, he also lost his parliamentary majority, and with it the last shred of his fledgling premiership's legitimacy. (To put Johnson's tenure in an American context, one law professor tweeted: "Congrats to Boris Johnson, who was a prime minister for 4.1 Scaramuccis before losing his parliamentary majority.")

Then, in the grand tradition of politicians who'd rather cut their noses off than give their face a break, Johnson threatened to call a general election two weeks before the official Brexit date. It's a distraction that neither his country nor his government can afford. Luckily, he lost that vote as well.

On the subject of imprudence enabled by massive economic privilege and power, you could carpet a luxury golf course with the things Donald Trump hasn't apologized for in his 73 years. A whistle-stop of the last week or so might include his cavalier attitude and spread of misinformation as Hurricane Dorian continues to devastate the east coast, "congratulating" Poland upon its commemoration of the Nazi invasion and the new findings that his family separation policy traumatized kids on the border.

As always, Trump has met criticism with venom, even railing against his media booster Fox News, which he complained isn't "working for us anymore!" The notion that not working for him might be an option -- not to mention necessary -- for an independent news network is so anathemic to his way of thinking that it seemed to Trump not only impossible, but offensive. For a president who has always been surrounded by yes-men, praise and indiscriminate support are not a bonus, they are the bare minimum.

In a related vein, one of the catalysts Bieber identified for his fall from grace was that, from the age of 13, he was surrounded by people who said that he was great. This was so ubiquitous that as he put it, he "never learned the fundamentals of responsibility." As a result, he found himself at 18 "with no skills in the real world, with millions of dollars, and access to whatever I wanted."

For Justin Bieber, the difference between his expectations as a child born into poverty and the reality of superstardom was so jarring as to scare him, and turn him into someone he found alien and disappointing. If such a stark change can come about in just a few years, what on earth are we to expect from men such as Johnson and Trump, who have received similar treatment since birth, and for decades longer?

One of the most heartfelt lines in Justin Bieber's essay is:"Humility comes with age." But that sentence rings with the naivety of youth. As the most powerful men on either side of the Atlantic are proving, when you've always known privilege, the prospect of accumulating more isn't just manageable, it's a birthright. In their eyes, they have nothing to apologize for.

Terre Haute
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 52°
Rockville
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 45°
Casey
Scattered Clouds
50° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 50°
Brazil
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Marshall
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Decreasing clouds to sunshine and cool
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Truck hits house in Greene County

Image

Fifth person facing charges in a local murder investigation

Image

Police are looking for Putnamville inmate

Image

Death investigation in Knox County

Image

NORTH DAVIESS SECTIONAL

Image

NORTH KNOX SECTIONAL

Image

LINTON SECTIONAL

Image

WASHINGTON SECTIONAL

Image

VIN LIN SECTIONAL

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 368740

Reported Deaths: 9688
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1714375392
DuPage22100605
Lake20157508
Will17862426
Kane16211346
Winnebago9857179
St. Clair7814217
Madison7021154
McHenry6049120
Champaign594528
Unassigned4765270
Peoria443368
McLean404134
Rock Island388990
Sangamon374563
Kankakee331379
Macon283251
Kendall259528
Tazewell255953
LaSalle232063
DeKalb225142
Coles186438
Williamson183259
Boone179025
Adams176716
Clinton170926
Vermilion165310
Jackson151126
Whiteside132125
Randolph123815
Knox123116
Ogle11477
Effingham11394
Marion97617
Grundy9367
Franklin9308
Monroe90128
Stephenson9007
Jefferson89446
Bureau88117
Morgan86824
Henry8317
Christian80329
Macoupin77110
Union75125
McDonough72017
Lee6691
Fayette66622
Crawford6456
Shelby63812
Douglas6168
Livingston60810
Montgomery59515
Woodford58014
Logan5684
Saline5399
Warren4878
Bond4849
Iroquois47519
Fulton4731
Wayne47312
Jo Daviess4727
Jersey46721
Cass45911
Perry42116
Moultrie3965
Carroll3849
Johnson3400
Richland33016
Lawrence3248
Pike3234
Clay30213
Clark29811
Hancock2984
Mason2981
Washington2971
Greene28115
Cumberland2706
Jasper26010
White2594
De Witt2515
Mercer2446
Piatt2340
Pulaski2331
Wabash2185
Ford18711
Menard1731
Edgar1518
Marshall1483
Massac1472
Henderson1210
Alexander1171
Hamilton1142
Gallatin1062
Brown1050
Edwards1050
Scott1020
Putnam880
Schuyler881
Stark832
Calhoun670
Hardin530
Pope411
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234