Kevin, Maybe They’re Just Not that Into You

Mark Goulston
3 min readJan 5, 2023


Greg Nash

If their dysfunction were not so destructive to the American people, America’s political establishment could be seen looking like the Keystone Cops when compared with the leadership demonstrated by Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky is the leader of his time because he embodies the internal and behavioral characteristics that engender these feelings from his people and people around the world who believe that freedom is not a right but something you have to fight for:

  1. Trust — he does what he says he’ll do
  2. Confidence — he has demonstrated a track record of being able to do what he says he’ll do
  3. Safety — you don’t get the sense that anyone working for him or under him would dare do something immoral or corrupt
  4. Respect — he stands for the non-self-serving values he espouses and stands up for them
  5. Admiration — he stands up to and against anyone that would try to compromise those values
  6. Likability — he takes his mission and commitment seriously, but doesn’t take himself that seriously (we haven’t had much of a chance to see that side because, after all he is in a war)
  7. Inspiration — he inspires anyone he speaks with and to stand up for something beyond their selfish personal tendencies

Regarding the above feelings Zelensky evokes, here’s what has happened regarding our leadership.

When Obama was elected he caused many Americans (especially the underserved populations) to trust him and be inspired by him. Over time and in running into the harsh realities of American politics, it seemed that what he promised and we trusted, hoped and felt inspired that he would deliver, he didn’t. Yes there were breakthroughs including the Affordable Care Act and the final capture/death of Osama Bin Laden, but many people, included many in the Black community felt disappointed compared the hopeful euphoria he evoked on that cold night on November 4, 2008..

Next came Trump who we didn’t trust, but he caused many people to feel confident in him and that he was going to finally get things done the way only a businessman vs. politician could. Many even privately admired his chutzpah and brazenness at daring to say whatever he chose to say and what many people believed but wouldn’t dare say. Regarding respect and standing for something other than his own nearly exclusive personal agenda and actually deserving (i.e. having earned) everything he felt entitled to. Nah, I don’t think so.

Then comes Biden who was/is easy to trust. And we have confidence that he would certainly try to get the things done he promised, but he was reminiscent of Cicero who people listened to, but not Caesar who caused them to march. Regarding respect and admiration, it’s complicated. Suffice it to say that — and this is not to take away from the word — Biden feels more like a “manager” and operations guy than a leader and just doesn’t feel like the kind of visionary we need. Maybe he is acting his age something many wished Trump had done more of.

Now we come to Kevin McCarthy and the Speaker of the House conundrum that at the time this writing has still not been settled.

And by the way that morass in the middle of the House of Representatives that can’t get their act together, is the reason I have written this piece.

Maybe what that “avatar” of the Republican House is saying is, “Kevin, we have confidence that you’ll keep trying to win even in the face of what is such a huge rebuke, because you’re like a dog with a bone and you’ve been obsessed with being the Speaker so nakedly and obviously like forever. And to your credit we even believe that if you miss out that you won’t stage a coup and claim it was rigged. That said, we don’t believe you will go gently into that good night, but will instead go sullenly into the dying of the light.”

“Here’s the deal. In the age of Zelensky, we need someone we can trust, have confidence in, respect and admire. And Kevin, that’s just not you.”



Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is the world's #1 listening coach and author of "Just Listen" which became the top book on listening in the world