Ethics Takeaways From Donald Trump’s Reply To Jake Tapper’s Question About “Traditional Marriage”

TrumpBoorish, arrogant blight on the American landscape that Donald Trump is, he has his uses.

Trump is that amusing if tragic anomaly, the low information Presidential candidate, kind of like Michele Bachmann. On Friday, right after the SCOTUS gay marriage decision was announced, he sent out a tweet blaming Chief Justice John Roberts for it, even though Roberts was one of the dissenters. Today, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him to explain his stated support for “traditional marriage” by explaining Trump’s own non-traditional marital conduct in that context:

“What do you say to a lesbian who’s married or a gay man who’s married who says, ‘Donald Trump, what’s traditional about being married three times?’”

Trump’s marvelous response….

“Well, they have a very good point. But I’ve been a very hardworking person. And actually, I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now. My [first] two wives were very good..I really don’t say anything. I’m just, Jake, I’m for traditional marriage.”

….is a cornucopia of ethics-related information:

1. “Well, they have a very good point.” Translation: “I haven’t actually thought about this issue very much, I’m just asserting a position that seems to the one I think Republican voters who have thought about this as little as I have will agree with. Don’t expect me to be consistent or profound.”

Take-away: Trump has no respect for the public, his party, the office he purports top be running for, or the people who care deeply about the gay marriage issue, so he has literally devoted no time or effort to understanding the issues of the day, including this one. That attitude is, of course, an insult to all of us.

2. “But I’ve been a very hardworking person. “ The King’s Pass!

Take-away: Trump has worked hard and is successful, so the rules he wants to impose on lesser citizens do not and should not apply to him. This is real privilege, as well as a deadly tell: a man who thinks like that cannot be trusted with power, or, for that matter, in a marriage. “Hey, honey, I work hard, so I get to have some hookers live in the guest house. Deal with it.”  Trump also is suggesting that members of the gay community don’t work hard enough to deserve his exemption from a “traditional marriage.” That’s appalling arrogance and bigotry.

3. “And actually, I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now.” Translation: “A good marriage and an acceptable marriage is defined as what makes me happy. I don’t give a damn about anyone else’s needs, or what they might think is a good marriage, because I’m a narcissist, and things are only important as they affect me. Don’t you get it? If I have a non-traditional marriage, it’s OK because it’s my marriage. I don’t care about anyone else.”

Take-away: Trump lacks fairness, integrity, respect, humility or comprehension of equity or justice. And, refreshingly, he doesn’t appear to care who knows it, or is too dim-witted to realize what he’s revealing.

4. “I really don’t say anything. I’m just, Jake, I’m for traditional marriage.” Translation: “I don’t have to actually be able to explain or justify my positions, because I know that the average voter couldn’t win a game of Trivial Pursuit with a sea slug. It’s just sound bites and bumper stickers—you know that! How many voters care about consistency? Hillary Clinton is attacking rich people and running as a feminist when she owes her career to helping her husband crush his mistresses and harassment victims, and Democrats don’t care that she’s lying through her teeth or are too stupid to notice! Don’t ask me to explain positions, because the fools who will vote for me don’t have the attention span to listen to it.”

Takeaway: Trump understands his base: ignorant morons. Any citizen who tells a pollster he or she supports this guy is abusing his or her rights of self-determination.

29 thoughts on “Ethics Takeaways From Donald Trump’s Reply To Jake Tapper’s Question About “Traditional Marriage”

  1. “What do you say to a lesbian who’s married or a gay man who’s married who says, ‘Donald Trump, what’s traditional about being married three times?’”

    Trump’s marvelous response….

    “Well, they have a very good point. But I’ve been a very hardworking person. And actually, I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now. My [first] two wives were very good..I really don’t say anything. I’m just, Jake, I’m for traditional marriage.”
    __________________________________

    Your whole critique seems predicated in imagining that you (and the one who interviewed him and tossed out the question) have ‘nailed’ him in hypocrisy. Yet he may have failed terribly at his marriages and yet he may still be right, and in integrity with himself, in his belief that ‘traditional marriage’ is best.

    Based on this red-herring, you say: “Take-away: Trump has no respect for the public, his party, the office he purports top be running for…”

    But shouldn’t I consider those statements bias on your part? They are, also, non sequiturs of a sort.

    To say he has been a ‘hard-working person’, in my read, is not the King’s Pass but a confession of how it happened that he failed in his marriages: he’s a workaholic.

    I get the impression that you don’t respect Donald Trump much? I have to say that I (often) like his choice in ties.

    • 1. Anyone who does respect Trump knows nothing about him, and isn’t worthy of respect themselves.

      2. Lazy and dishonest comment. The Marriage vows call for “til death do us part”—there is nothing traditional about divorces, and multiple divorces. Who is more in concert with the ideals of traditional marriage, a long-standing, faithful same-sex marriage, or a serial married and divorced heterosexual? It’s not even a close call.

      3. “Right”? Right about what? He makes no argument, registers no substance. He says he’s “for” traditional marriage…what does that mean? If he’s for it but doesn’t feel that obligates him to have one, then he’s not really for it in practice, only theory. Yes, that’s called hypocrisy.

      4. You apparently can’t discern a rather clear point. The disrespect is that he doesn’t respect his audience enough to have a coherent explanation for what he’s “for” and why when he’s being interviewed on a major news show. He is obligated to have both. That you can’t follow my argument means you have trouble following, not that what I said is a non sequitur.

      Here, I’ll spell it out: it is disrespectful and irresponsible to make statements while running for office without sufficient thought to elaborate on them, explain them, or answer obvious questions about their apparent inconsistencies. Got it now?

      5. You take “I’m a hard working person” as meaning THAT? That would be worse than what he did mean, which was to change the subject while asserting special dispensation from his own standards. He was asked how he can insist on traditional marriage when he is incapable of having one and doesn’t, and you think that’s an answer? “I work hard and that’s why I can’t stay married?” Then “I’m gay, that’s why I must have a non-traditional marriage” is also a good answer.

      6. Are you really defending Trump, which is ridiculous and impossible, or are you just trolling? My guess: trolling. I don’t appreciate it. Do it again and you get sent to the spam pile. I AM hardworking, and I expect real arguments and comments, not static just to be obnoxious.

      • “…it is disrespectful and irresponsible to make statements while running for office without sufficient thought to elaborate on them, explain them, or answer obvious questions about their apparent inconsistencies.”

        Oh come on, Jack…you know Donald’s not capable of “sufficient thought” full stop. Don’t discriminate against mentally-challenged Americans. Kidding, kidding, kidding!!

    • 1. Classic #22 argument: read up on the Rationalizations before displaying your ignorance.

      2. Also factually wrong. On the worst day of his life, Barack Obama was not the vulgar, crass, low-life, inarticulate huckster Trump is.

      3. And guests here do not tell me what to “get over.” Next time, you get banned, and I am being generous not to do it now. I do not hate Trump. I resent his using the Presidential election as a promotional opportunity for his business. That’s disgraceful, and harmful to the country. If you don’t see anything wrong with that, you are his dupe, and being fooled by a fool, especially such a blatant one, is humiliation indeed.

  2. He could have just said, “I failed to practice traditional marriage, and my life has been worse for it.” That wouldn’t be inconsistent with his position. It would have required him to be humble though.

  3. This is an interesting piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-gay-marriage-and-straight-aaliberation.html?_r=0

    I’m not sure exactly where Douthat comes down but he echoes some of my confusion. Maybe I’m too old. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I remember gay pride parades that spent all their time mocking bourgeois breeders. Now I’m supposed to be thrilled gay people are dutifully recognized by society as bourgeois breeders. I guess I’m just not nimble enough.

  4. Translation: “I don’t have to actually be able to explain or justify my positions, because I know that the average voter couldn’t win a game of Trivial Pursuit with a sea slug.

    If Trump himself were in a Trivial Pursuit game with a sea slug, my money would be on the sea slug — or the average voter if the sea slug couldn’t make it.
    My take on Trump is that there are many better candidates on the Republican side than him. In fact, were the sea slug eligible and declared its candidacy, I think I’d be more likely to vote for it than Donald Trump. This man is a near-perfect negative ethics example.
    Having said all that, I think having Trump in the race is a net positive, even if it reflects badly on the Republican party to have such an ethically-challenged person in the field to some. I think he is a valuable foil to other, more qualified candidates, and his extreme lack of compassion and unrepentant narcissism provide a useful contrast. Some will find it compelling, to the detriment of their credibility. But not too many, I trust; although these days, one might legitimately challenge that.

    • Close call, Glenn…you may be right; I’ve thought the same thing myself at times, but if they let him in the debates it will be a disaster. Was it Jean Kerr or Erma Bombeck who observed that it’s impossible to argue with a 6-year old without sounding like a six-year old?

  5. I am new to this Blog and, I admit, I was a bit taken aback by your comments. My understanding is that it is part of the intention of the blog to elicit thought and analysis and to provoke conversation. I cannot myself see how that could be taken as “trolling”. In any case, I do not troll.

    I do not know much about Trump except that he is a figure from the entertainment world. I suppose that he could be endlessly criticized. But this is not my interest.

    My first posting to this Blog was:

    A journalist asked him: “What do you say to a lesbian who’s married or a gay man who’s married who says, ‘Donald Trump, what’s traditional about being married three times?’”

    Trump’s marvelous response….

    “Well, they have a very good point. But I’ve been a very hardworking person. And actually, I have a great marriage, I have a great wife now. My [first] two wives were very good..I really don’t say anything. I’m just, Jake, I’m for traditional marriage.”

    I further wrote—and it seems to me a fair comment and one couched in an argument—that:

    * * * * * * * *
    “Your whole critique seems predicated in imagining that you (and the one who interviewed him and tossed out the question) have ‘nailed’ him in hypocrisy. Yet he may have failed terribly at his marriages and yet he may still be right, and in integrity with himself, in his belief that ‘traditional marriage’ is best.

    Based on this red-herring, you say: “Take-away: Trump has no respect for the public, his party, the office he purports top be running for…”

    * * * * * * * *
    So, while I have no great knowledge of Trump nor much interest in him, I only note that there is integrity in his comments. It is my sense that your comments move toward condemnations of him that are based in your own bias. I mean you know disrespect if I say that. I only say that in regard to his statement about marriage, and his marriage, that he appears to be in integrity. It seems to me thereofr fair to say, to politely suggest, that you seem to perform a hack-job on him. It seems to me that this expresses “bias”. And again I mean you no disrespect.

    You further wrote:

    “The Marriage vows call for “til death do us part”—there is nothing traditional about divorces, and multiple divorces. Who is more in concert with the ideals of traditional marriage, a long-standing, faithful same-sex marriage, or a serial married and divorced heterosexual? It’s not even a close call.”

    I respectfully suggest that this is a flawed argument. Why? I will make an effort to explain but only have a few minutes available before I have to peel away for a Monday morning meeting. I did look up the origin of the “marriage vow” which you cited: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriage_vows

    To correctly point out that Trump failed in his marriages and is, as you indicate (and rightly quite possibly), a generally failed person and no good example for emulation, has no bearing or relationship to the importance, or in a religious context, of the sacredness and the duty-aspect of marriage. If Trump has failed at all levels and still says: “I believe that the marriage union should be limited to the union of a man and a woman”, and though he has failed in all senses that responsibility, it does not change the structure of the philosophy underpinning the declared value.

    It is certainly possible to argue that a lesbian, or a lesbian couple, have succeeded in maintaining their union (their marriage between them) in a superior manner. But this does not (it seems to me) therefor justify that that union should or must be recognized by the State and accepted by people generally.

    If you are going to hold “traditional marriage” up as an ideal, or to refer to the religious vows and the structure of understanding expressed through those vows, to ask:

    “Who is more in concert with the ideals of traditional marriage”.

    Must be answered by saying, “Very certainly not a lesbian woman”.

    • 1. Do you understand that running for President is important, that elections are critical to the future and well-being of the nation, and that using it for “entertainment” while pretending that the “entertainer” is a serious candidate, and spending millions of dollars to support the charade, is a very tangible act of disrespect to the public and the nation, potentially warping election results, and thus despicable?

      Apparently not. The fact that I assess his comments to Tapper in that context is not based on “Bias,” but knowledge. Trump is not a figure from entertainment—he is a real estate and hotel mogul who inherited his wealth and business from his father, an innovator in the field. Do you know that he is a birther—still? Do you know that he regularly writes tweets that you would, I hope, reprimand your 11 year old for writing, attacking female celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell based on the weight and looks? Did you read the first part of the post noting that this entertaining Presidential candidate commented publicly on the same-sex marriage decision by mistaking which Justice was responsible for it? (I did not mention, but should have, that he subsequently lied that he was referring to the decision of the day before, though his tweet’s timing says otherwise.)

      My point is, as you should be able to discern, that your effort to bend over backwards to give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he was being thoughtful, which his words belie, is contrary to a very long established record of not being thoughtful as a fetish. With a knowledge of Trump’ character and patterns of behavior, which I have, correctly diagnosing his conduct on CNN is not difficult. Doing so with near total ignorance of the man and accusing me of bias is, then, unfair, and I called you on it. And rightly so.

      2. I was wrong to say that Trump has no integrity. Leroy Fick has integrity; Harry Reid has integrity; Dick Cheney has integrity. Sure, Trump has integrity: he’s an unapologetically crude, not too bright, egotistical self-promoting jerk who talks and acts like exactly that. The fact that he announces himself as a jerk is, I agree, better than being a secret jerk, like, say, the President, but it is hardly reason for praise.

      3. “If Trump has failed at all levels and still says: “I believe that the marriage union should be limited to the union of a man and a woman”

      But he didn’t say that, explain that, or argue for that in response to Tapper’s question, did he? That was my point, and remains so. The SCOTUS decision wasn’t about religious marriage, but what the state calls marriage while handing out benefits. SCOTUS can’t tell a religion what to call marriage, and didn’t, but Trump is hardly a theologian either. He’s been reported to have been a Catholic, a member of the Dutch Reforme Church, and a Presbyterian. He married his third wife in an Episcopalian church. He once said that he attends church “as much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion. And during the Sundays. I’m a Sunday church person. I’ll go when I can.”

      Trump does what he wants to do, and whatever he wants to do is great. That’s him. That’s what his answer indicated. That is not a competent or fair defense of a statement criticizing a Supreme Court decision of import by an alleged presidential candidate.

      I am glad to know you are not trolling. I apologize for the accusation.

  6. “My point is, as you should be able to discern, that your effort to bend over backwards to give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he was being thoughtful, which his words belie, is contrary to a very long established record of not being thoughtful as a fetish. With a knowledge of Trump’ character and patterns of behavior, which I have, correctly diagnosing his conduct on CNN is not difficult. Doing so with near total ignorance of the man and accusing me of bias is, then, unfair, and I called you on it. And rightly so.”

    and

    “1. Do you understand that running for President is important, that elections are critical to the future and well-being of the nation, and that using it for “entertainment” while pretending that the “entertainer” is a serious candidate, and spending millions of dollars to support the charade, is a very tangible act of disrespect to the public and the nation, potentially warping election results, and thus despicable?

    Apparently not.”

    Actually, I am not really concerned if he is or is not “thoughtful”, and I suspect that most thoughtful people see him for what he is: a corrupted individual. While I do not know a great deal about him, I know something about him, and you seem right in your overall analysis of his character.

    I focussed only on the comments made to the journalist in regard to his marriages.

    I spent a good deal of time reading about Confucian ethics and philosophy. One of the ideas that has influenced my thinking, and the way I see the world, is through the Confucian idea of corruption and decadence. According to these ideas, once a society becomes corrupt ‘good men’ are blocked by ‘bad men’ from having influence, and so ‘good men’ retreat from the public sphere. Unchecked, it continues towards final corruption which at a certain point passes the “tipping point” and becomes irremediable.

    I would have to agree with you that Trump represents a very corrupt state of man and of society.

    But I have asked myself, too, if the general state of culture is not also “corrupt” and if gay marriage is not also a manifestation of this corruption (along with general corruption in “sexual morality” in all sectors, including heterosexual).

    I know that this moves beyond the SCOTUS decision, and I do not want to launch into or provoke an unrelated polemic, but it is a question I have.

    In any case I see more clearly where you are coming from in relation to Donald Trump.

    • Thanks for bringing Confucian ethics into the discussion: that doesn’t happen often enough, and it is useful and germane.

      Corruption is relative and along a spectrum. Any relatively free society will foster some corruption. The US has a less corrupt culture in part because it acknowledges that corruption is wrong. Many cultures just accept it, and are doomed as a result. Corruption has to be assessed in ethical rather than moral terms, or cant takes over for analysis. Thus attaching gay marriage to the corruption argument is a mistake. I would argue that the US is on a continuing effort to meet the high ethical standards laid out as its mission in the founding document, and that including blacks, women and LGBT individuals as equally deserving of all rights enhances society’s integrity and thus lessens corruption.

  7. A couple of notes (this is distracting me from my work!)

    The corruption that a Confucianist will speak of, as a Confucianist, will likely be predicated on tenets that are in essence religious, or perhaps I should say metaphysical or cosmological. You seem to use the word ‘corruption’ in a limited sense: cheating on one’s taxes, or excepting favors for some offered benefit. However, I would mention that in Confucian terms the idea of corruption is seen as holistic to the entire man. I wonder if the closer corollary we might have would be to use the word ‘spiritual’ and ‘spiritual integrity’ to describe the inner platform of the ‘good man’.

    In this sense, when a man becomes ‘corrupt’ it would mean that he has fallen away from an ideal that encompasses much more than just his ethical day-to-day behavior. He will have fallen away from an integral inner structure, to an uprightness. Chinese/Confucian philosophy is very strict and I wonder if the closest corollary would not in our culture be the Christian model?

    And for this reason I cannot be sure that you are correct when you say that ‘corruption’ (defined in a wider sense) must be analyzed at an ethical level and not a moral level. While I understand, and very clearly, that a religious or moralistic platform will tend toward cant, and among the non-religious be taken as cant, my own tendency is to attempt to understand the metaphysical backdrop to religious structures of thought. It is my view that when a person, and a culture, falls away from the religious conception, that this in itself is an expression of corruption, even though it is seen as being the opposite, or as progressive, or modern.

    So, with this in mind, a society that allows itself to be seduced by sexual desire, and to be corrupted away from strict definitions of family, with the raising of children at the center, and that will desire to ‘recognize’ gay unions and NOT to make moral judgments about them, is to me part of the problem. But I do recognize that my views are traditionalist and that many people do not and will not share them.

    “I would argue that the US is on a continuing effort to meet the high ethical standards laid out as its mission in the founding document, and that including blacks, women and LGBT individuals as equally deserving of all rights enhances society’s integrity and thus lessens corruption.”

    I understand your view, and I respect it because it is your view. I have a few thoughts. One is that a base in more than the Founding document would be required for the ‘truly ethical and moral individual’, and that his ethic and metaphysic would need to be linked to something more timeless and immortal. What that is and how to define it, I am not sure.

    The second thought is very subjective: I am not at all sure if the Gay movement, generally speaking, and linked to an explosion of sexual licence, can be said to have a solid moral base when looked at through, say, a Confucian lens. If it is true (I am not saying that it is) that the “gay lifestyle” began as rebellion against traditional ethical and moral norms, it is possible in my view that it may be essentially ‘contaminated’ and may thus result in increasing social corruption. Though I don’t think anyone could deny that a constitutional interpretation would necessarily protect the rights of gays (and blacks and others) in the social sphere generally.

    But these are two, separate issues.

  8. I think a celeb who promotes his tv show and businesses cannot separate his interests from the rest of the nation. Government actions may be entertaining but that is not their primary purpose. There’s far more to being president than making pronouncements their partisans want, they must serve even those who didn’t vote for them. That’s where the recent administrations have slipped (plunged?) badly. Mr Trump has shown no inclination to look beyond his own crew, and we don’t need someone who’s already that way going in.

    And that means he’s going to have his jollies (and get campaign funding for) and then throw his voters to whomever he prefers… or he makes a deal with. The triumph of capitalism in politics.

  9. Jack, you have been grumpy lately and have been taking it out on new posters. Granted, I don’t see the rivers of crap that pollute your spam box (and probably add to your ire), but you could be a bit nicer sir!

  10. There is an interesting article in today’s NYTs called “The Next Culture War”. Like Camille Paglia, the ‘comments’ section of all newspapers, but I find especially the Times, is a fascinating source for gaining a sense of what people are thinking and in what they base their thinking. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/30/opinion/david-brooks-the-next-culture-war.html?ref=international&_r=0). The comments are often more interesting than the articles!

    I would like to offer this link to a dynamic conversation with Paglia. It takes up an hour but is worth it! She is a ball of fire. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88_3AhU0-B0).

    As an amateur student of religion I think a very worthy area of investigation is the general decline away from the defined ethics and morality that the Christian religion offers. While it can rather easily be argued that the Christian religion, in a narrative sense, in a sense of presenting a specific figuration of events, has been undermined in nearly all minds—for who has still intact the structure of thought that would allow belief in virgin births, in Divine voices resounding out of the sky declaring preference, the resurrection of dead bodies, or the possibility of God incarnating in the human frame? These narratives, except among certain segments, have been decimated and simply do not function anymore)—I would like to suggest that it is my impression that a chief agent in undermining ethical and moral systems is what has classically been called ‘voluptuousness’ and sensuality.

    There has been and there still is a deep resentment of Christianity that it places hard limits on sexual expression, and in a sense one large aspect of the general cultural renovation in the post-Sixties has been liberalization of sexuality by getting out from under all levels of control in this area. My question is: Is this the ‘core seduction’ that leads to dissolution in many other, related and connected, areas? I realize this is a difficult topic. But it is my view that a culture, and cultural values, are subject to seduction, and that we are now living in a culture that has been and is dramatically seduced and ‘debased’ by having fallen away from an inner, a defined, a tangible psycho-physical temperance and that this manifests in dozens or hundreds of other areas.

    And yet the core seduction is at a sensual/sexual level. Is this possible? Is this TRUE? Naturally, the philosophy that opposes this view (Reichian, Frommian perhaps?), is based in the idea that the liberation of sexuality should liberate man on all manner of different levels, and these people (the Frankfurt philosophical school) clearly defined the relationship of the inner man to the larger social forms.

    Am I making a connection that I should not make? I say that our culture is careening toward profound corruption, and that people are becoming corrupt at fundamental levels, that is inside of their own persons. Corruption seeps in through all channels. There is functionally no way to resist corruption as it is being systematized.

    This is a bit unfair but here goes: And the most important symbol of the government, the White House, flashes pride colors in bold lighting, saying in a very real sense (it cannot be received cognitively in any other way):

    “We are a homosexual nation”.

    What is REALLY going on?

    • Great post, Aliza: I’ll make some more comments on this later, when I can come closer to doing it justice. You’re terrific, and a gift to EA: I am so grateful and humbled that you were able to look past my unfair treatment of you when you arrived here: that is a lesson I am taking to heart, and one that will benefit other new commenters, the blog, and me.

      And my family: clearly, I need a vacation.

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