Kiss up kick down (sometimes with a comma, becoming kiss up, kick down) is a neologism used to describe the situation where middle level employees in an organization are polite and flattering to superiors but abusive to subordinates. It is believed to have originated in the US, with the first documented use having occurred in 1993. The concept can be applied to any social interaction where one person believes they have power over another person or believes that another person has power over them.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists described Robert McNamara, an American business executive and the eighth United States Secretary of Defense, as a classic case of the kiss up, kick down personality in August 1993.
On day 2 of the Senate confirmation hearings, April 12, 2005, for John R. Bolton, a Bush nomination for the US representative to the UN, the Senate panel focused on allegations that Bolton pressured intelligence analysts. Former State Department intelligence chief Carl W. Ford Jr. characterized Bolton as a “kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy”, implying that he was always ready to please whoever had authority over him, while having very little regard for people working under him.
Journalist, author, and podcaster Malcolm Gladwell joins Tyler for a conversation on Joyce Gladwell, Caribbean identity, satire as a weapon, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Harvard’s under-theorized endowment, why early childhood intervention is overrated, long-distance running, and Malcolm’s happy risk-averse career going from one “fur-lined rat hole to the next.”
.. In my reading of the Pentagon Papers Case, here’s what really struck and astonished me, and I’d like your view on how it’s changed. When the Pentagon Papers became public in, I think, 1971, first they were incredibly boring, but when you did read them or read excerpts, one thing that startled so many people is, it came out that there were accords dating back to 1954 where, it turned out, America had broken the accords and not North Vietnam. And this shocked people and caused them to reassess their whole sense of the Vietnam War. And that’s 1954, which was then, from 1971, a long time ago.
So there was a sense of history embedded in how people understood that episode that seems to me entirely lacking today. To get someone to care that much about something done under other administrations 17 years earlier seems virtually impossible. And what is it about America that’s changed so that history now doesn’t matter the way it did then?
.. So, step back — what is the Pentagon Papers? It is Robert McNamara saying, in whatever, ’69 or ’68, whatever, “What we really need is to get the smartest historians in a room to write me a 10-volume set on historical analysis going back 20 years on this conflict we’re involved in.” So, right from the start, we’re in a rarefied academic realm. He gathers a bunch of PhDs who slave away on this thing and produce this massive, turgid . . .
.. he’s trying to get everyone to read it. And by reading it, he means, “I need you to go away for however many months it’ll take you and work your way through all 10 volumes.”
There’s these hilarious conversations he has with [Henry] Kissinger where Kissinger just wants a summary. It’s like, “No, you can’t do a summary. You gotta read the whole thing. You gotta get a couple of thousand pages in before it makes any sense.” There’s no contemporary . . . it’s like history . . . 2017 and 1971 viewed through the lens of the Pentagon Papers controversy — they belong on different planets. And when the New York Times gets the copies — remember, it takes them a year or whatever to photocopy all of it because it’s just enormous and the copiers are really slow.
.. I think of the history of American life over the last 150 years as just one period of prolonged backlash after another.
You have a backlash to the Civil War that basically lasts 75 years. Then you have the Brown decision. Then you have backlash to the Brown decision that lasts 25 years. Then you have a little moment for feminism in the ’70s and you have a backlash that lasts until . . . might still be going on. There’s a gay rights backlash, which dwarfs the little moment of gay rights — pops its head into the public discourse, and the backlash goes on for years and chases every Democrat out of Congress and distorts two election cycles. I feel like we’re in the middle of another one of these.
If a novelist were imagining the Trump presidency, this book, a case study in what can go wrong from the outset of an administration ushered in by a change election in uncertain times, is precisely what Mr. Bannon would be reading.
.. But the implied irony was not that the advisers weren’t impressive men (always men, usually men who had attended Harvard). They were. Rather, Mr. Halberstam’s caustic title and the nearly 700 pages that follow indict the notion that society’s smartest are necessarily the ones best equipped to tackle society’s biggest problems.
.. President Kennedy chose his men based on general wits, rather than on specific knowledge. Perhaps the most famous example was Robert McNamara, an ingenious scientist of managerialism, a president of Ford Motor Company, who as secretary of defense, said Mr. Halberstam, “knew nothing about Asia, about poverty, about people, about American domestic politics.”
.. “The book speaks to a concern about having a government run by technocrats,”
.. He has also advocated “a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam,
.. If “The Best and the Brightest” is a brief against the East Coast meritocracy, though, its proposed alternative is not pure ideology. It is expertise.
.. Time and again, in Mr. Halberstam’s telling, lower-level government officials who understood Vietnamese politics, sentiments and even geography assessed reality accurately and offered correct policy
.. “You’ve got these guys that are so brilliant, but they’re generalists,”
.. “There’s a distinction to be drawn, he concludes, between this abstract quickness, this verbal facility, and true wisdom, which he says was missing.”
.. an order that, according to reports, was written by Mr. Bannon and the Trump adviser Stephen Miller, neither of whom are counterterrorism experts (or lawyers).
There are few countries in the West where anti-Americanism is as vociferously expressed as in Argentina, where a highly politicized culture of grievance has evolved in which many of the country’s problems are blamed on the United States.
.. The documents revealed that White House and U.S. State Department officials were intimately aware of the Argentine military’s bloody nature, and that some were horrified by what they knew. Others, most notably Henry Kissinger, were not.
.. The latest revelations compound a portrait of Kissinger as the ruthless cheerleader, if not the active co-conspirator, of Latin American military regimes engaged in war crimes. In evidence that emerged from previous declassifications of documents during the Clinton Administration, Kissinger was shown not only to have been aware of what the military was doing but to have actively encouraged it.
.. During the Dirty War, as it became known, as many as thirty thousand people were secretly abducted, tortured, and executed by the security forces. Hundreds of suspects were buried in anonymous mass graves, while thousands more were stripped naked, drugged, loaded onto military aircraft, and hurled into the sea from the air while they were still alive. The term “los desaparecidos”—“the disappeared”—became one of Argentina’s contributions to the global lexicon.
.. Immediately after the Argentine coup, on Kissinger’s recommendations, the U.S. Congress approved a request for fifty million dollars in security assistance to the junta; this was topped off by another thirty million before the end of the year. Military-training programs and aircraft sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars were also approved. In 1978, a year into Jimmy Carter’s Presidency, mounting concerns about human-rights violations brought an end to U.S. aid. Thereafter, the new Administration sought to cut the junta off from international financial assistance. In early 1981, with Reagan coming into the White House, however, the restrictions were lifted.
.. One of his foremost critics was the late Christopher Hitchens, who in 2001 wrote a book-length indictment entitled “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.” Hitchens called for Kissinger’s prosecution “for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offenses against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture.”
.. generals habitually denied that anything untoward was occurring. Questioned about los desaparecidos, the coup leader, General Videla, explained with chilling vagueness, “The disappeared are just that: disappeared. They are neither alive nor dead. They are disappeared.” Other officers suggested that missing people were probably in hiding, carrying out terrorist actions against the fatherland. In fact, the vast majority were being brutalized in secret prisons by government-salaried employees, and then, more often than not, executed. As happened in Germany during the Holocaust, most Argentines understood what was really going on, but kept silent out of a spirit of complicity, or fear. A see-no-evil national refrain was adopted by those Argentines who witnessed neighbors being dragged from their homes by plainclothes men, never to return: “Algo habrán hecho”—“they must have done something.”
.. Kissinger, the longest-lasting and most iconic pariah figure in modern American history, is but one of a line of men held in fear and contempt for the immorality of their services rendered and yet protected by the political establishment in recognition of those same services. William Tecumseh Sherman, Curtis LeMay, Robert McNamara, and, more recently, Donald Rumsfeld all come to mind.
.. Unlike McNamara, however, whose attempt to find a moral reckoning Kissinger held in such scorn, Kissinger has shown little in the way of a conscience. And because of that, it seems highly likely, history will not easily absolve him.