Few things in Washington are as sacrosanct as the unspoken rule to not disparage an opponent’s character or family or to engage in outright ad hominem attacks. Specifically denigrating a person’s physical appearance in a blatantly sexist Tweet goes far beyond the bounds―written or understood.
The rule has been broken from time to time. Shouts of “liar” from the House floor comes to mind, along with Harry Truman’s 1950 public defense of his daughter’s singing ability, which was criticized by the Washington Post’s Paul Hume:
I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”
It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.
Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!
Pegler, a gutter snipe, is a gentleman alongside you. I hope you’ll accept that statement as a worse insult than a reflection on your ancestry.
As a father, I tend to give Mr. Truman a bit of a break, but even so, it is reasonable for Americans to expect our leaders to rise above the temptation to “punch back 10 times harder,” no matter the pressure, by striking opponents with inappropriate, hurtful, and undignified language. We do not have time to cope with playground bullies, and we don’t have time to put up with the childish behavior of a man who should be grateful for every day he wakes up as the leader of our country. Instead of that gracious approach to leadership, Mr. Trump chooses to tweet upon rising.
There is no question the President is tired of being a punching bag, and it’s no secret that Joe and Mika have hit Trump on many occasions. I don’t always agree with their approach, but I can, as can the President, change channels and ignore the morning duo. Whenever he tweets a reaction to some slight to his fragile character—and I refer to any of his tweets, be they mean, bombastic, self-promoting, or agenda-building—the President is squandering precious time—Americans’ time—that could be better spent shoring up our international posture, making serious inroads on health care, tackling our crumbling infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, de-conflicting racial tensions, building bridges of political and social trust.
So much to do, so little time with which to get it done—or at least get started. Every Presidential tweet eats into our time.
There is, in Mr. Trump’s tweeting and general demeanor, a pattern of instability and incivility that should trouble all Americans. Mr. Trump’s definition of “strong” as applied to the presidency is dysfunctional and dangerous.Truly strong people—men and women—don’t use their advantage—physical, intellectual, political, or emotional—to participate in petty street brawls, no matter the provocation. And by not rising above the fray of cable television’s morning slugfests, Mr. Trump is only reinforcing a petulant bad-boy image that hardly serves as a role model for America’s young people. It certainly does not promote confidence among our allies.
With respect to Mr. Trump’s specific tweet concerning Mika Brzezinski, his whole continuing issue of women and blood and genital-grabbing as expressed in Trump’s boorish, childish, sadly limited lexicon, is troublesome in so many ways. Melania, who says she supports a campaign against cyberbullying, and Ivanka, who clearly wants to appear to be a strong model for women, are two enablers of the President’s vile behavior. What some of us see in their actions or inactions are signs of battered women who have no will to fight their own in-house bully.
The defense of his behavior (Melania and the White House Press Secretaries) or silence in its wake (Ivanka and still too many members of the Republican Party) in this and other examples, only encourage Mr. Trump to continue to engage in this unacceptable, ugly, and embarrassing tawdriness.
It has to stop, but I fear it won’t. The clock is ticking, and Trump is tweeting while Washington burns. Sad.