Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]


Donald Trump has no character or trustworthiness. Next question?

Oh, all right, in the interests of equity and fairness, I’ll submit The Donald to the same process as I did with Hillary Clinton, though in his case the verdict is res ipsa loquitur. Trump’s lack of ethics and his unfitness to fill the shoes of Washington, Lincoln, Teddy, FDR, or Millard Fillmore is, or should be, self-evident. Those for whom it isn’t self-evident are either ignorant, devoid of values themselves, or intentionally seeking to harm the United States.

I’ve been writing about the awfulness that is Donald Trump since 2005. He was noted for his dishonesty on my Ethics Scoreboard when I called foul on his marketing “various ‘get rich’ products, including tapes, seminars, and “Trump U,” an on-line delivery system for more of the same.” I wrote in part

There are thousands upon thousands of Americans who started with meager resources and made themselves rich through talent, hard work, creativity, inventiveness, and some luck. …Not Trump. The success of his pitch to the desperate wannabes and clueless is based on their erroneous assumption, nurtured by Trump but not explicitly supported by him, that he can teach them to do what they think he did…make himself rich through hard work and a business savvy. But what Trump is best qualified to teach is how to make yourself richer when you inherit an established business and have millions of dollars plunked into your waiting hands after your Dad has sent you to Wharton.

The fact that Trump doesn’t lie outright about his background but simply allows his marks to jump to the wrong conclusions puts his “get rich like me” marketing efforts in the category of deceit…but deceit is still dishonesty. Trump undoubtedly has useful wisdom to impart about building a successful career; it’s not as easy to stay rich as some people think. Ask most state lottery winners. Still, the most vivid lesson of Donald Trump’s successful campaign to sell himself as a self-made billionaire is the lesson that 19th Century con-man Joe Bessimer pronounced more than a century ago: There’s a sucker born every minute.

So we knew, or should have known, that this was a con artist at least back eleven years. In 2006, I posted on Trump’s misogyny and incivility, writing about the first outbreak of his feud with the equally vile Rosie O’Donnell, and their public name-calling…

Rosie set off the exchange by suggesting on ABC’s “The View” that Trump’s recent assumption of the role of moral exemplar by chastising and threatening to fire the reigning Miss USA for being a party-girl was more than a little ridiculous, given his own well-documented penchant for fast women and extra-marital affairs. Sometimes Rosie’s full of beans, and sometimes she gets it right; this time she was right, but spoiled it by concluding her commentary with some unflattering name-calling. Trump, no girly-man he, immediately said he would sue O’Donnell, and then launched into an extended riff on how unattractive and fat she was, including the charming phrase, “pig-face.” Classy as always, Donald…. Yes, anyone who admires either of these two annoying characters already has a problem, but there is no escaping the fact that both are celebrities, and as celebrities they contribute to establishing cultural norms of civility and conduct. This is especially true of Trump, who despite his low-life proclivities is a successful business executive. Resorting to personal attacks on an adversary’s weight or appearance is disrespectful, unfair, cruel and indefensible. Doing so on national media is like firing a shotgun into a crowd. There are a lot of fat or unattractive women out there, Mr. Trump, who are smart, generous, productive, loving, intelligent people… Golden Rule, anyone? How are we to convince our children not to ridicule the personal traits of others, when those they see as rich, famous and successful do the same openly, shamelessly, and even gleefully?

You can imagine my continued amazement that ten years after writing this rather obvious assessment, without Trump having undergone a complete transformation, and indeed with his conduct and public statements becoming worse rather than better, we are on the eve of a day that may live in infamy as the moment democracy  completely failed the United States of America, inflicting on it, and the world,  as unstable and unqualified a leader of a great power as history has ever witnessed.

How this could have happened will be debated by scholars and other for as long as civilization stands, one hopes with the result that it never happens again. That is not the topic at hand however. No one can accuse me of not sounding the alarm, early and often. As with Hillary Clinton, I reviewed all of the Ethics Alarms posts regarding Trump. There are a lot of essays that criticize false, biased or dishonest criticism of the jerk, a circumstance that did not occur with anything close to such frequency with Hillary Clinton. That’s a news media bias issue, and nothing that reflects well on Trump.  Still, the news media has helped Trump cry victim because it intentionally seeks to interpret everything he says and does in the worst light possible, just as it substantially covers for Hillary Clinton. Removing these posts from the mix, I was surprised to find the volume of damning Trump analysis less than I recalled, and certainly less than the Hillary archives.  This is because Trump character deficits are so crude and obvious, as well as constituting signature significance.

No responsible candidate for high office mocks a disabled reporter in public, or boasts about his penis in a televised debate, or makes a menstrual reference while insulting a female journalist. Ethics Alarms’ mission is to raise ethics issues and assist the public in acquiring skill at analyzing ethics problems. How many times should I have to point out that an inarticulate, ignorant and crude narcissist is an inarticulate, ignorant and crude narcissist?

You will see that by 2016, I am just aghast that I should have to write such posts at all. Almost every one has a sentence like this one, from this post, titled, A Donald Trump KABOOM! How Can A Creep Like This Be Running For President?.

Who thinks like that? Who says things like that on TV if they are sick enough to think it?

With Hillary Clinton, I have to analyze syntax and intent, include background and context, what is heard and what is being said. With Trump, it’s mostly, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, what’s the matter with this idiot?”

You can review the posts here.   I do not advocate trigger warnings, but I do worry that too much Trump combined with the specter of his winning tomorrow may send more sensitive souls to the edge of madness, so here is a representative sample. I confess, I could only get through about half of 2015 before I was overcome with disgust and grief. This does not include the much-linked “A Nation of Assholes,” but if by some miracle you missed it, here it is.

Here is a sample that makes the case against Trump without, I hope, causing too much panic and despair:

August 16, 2015: 40 quotes that reveal Trump’s ethics

“In selecting the 199 juiciest and most provocative quotes from any prominent American, wouldn’t you expect at least one that was articulate, thoughtful, wise or memorable? I’m not looking for Samuel Butler here, or even Barack Obama, but for someone who is at least for the nonce a “serious” candidate for the highest office in the land, it would be reassuring to find some evidence of wit, perspective, reflection, or a vocabulary beyond that of a typical 8th grader, and it just isn’t there. Has Trump  read any literature? Has he ever seen a play? Is he capable of a relevant famous quote or a cultural reference (saying that Bette Midler is “grotesque” doesn’t count, though “grotesque” may be the most sophisticated word that appears on the list)? If so, there is no hint of it.”

October 25, 2015: Trump tries some religious bigotry.

“Earlier I suggested that one of Trump’s debate opponents could take him down with a deft Joseph Welch “Have you no decency?” (unfortunately, the attempt was made by Rand Paul, and hardly deftly), and now I have to ask his supporters, “Have you no decency?” What more evidence do you need that this blustering bully and fool degrades his party, nation, gender, species and the office he’s seeking  by his presence in the 2016 Presidential race? Or more bluntly, What the hell’s the matter with you people?”

November 26, 2015: Trump ridicules a disabled reporter.

One theory is that Trump has chosen this week to go all out to see if there is anything he can say or do so beneath the dignity of the office he is seeking and so repugnant to core American values that the idiots supporting him will finally wake up and say, “What was I thinking?” If so, his experiment is working well.

And yes, it is fair to identify anyone who supports Donald Trump at this point as an idiot.

December 1, 2015: Trump Big Lie, as he makes up an anti-American Muslim demonstration that never existed

“Trump, however, is using a Big Lie to impugn the patriotism and trustworthiness of a group of citizens based on their religion and cultural heritage, and attempting to stir up purely group-based hate. To hell with Hanlon: this is Nazi Propaganda 101, and deserves to be identified as such directly to Donald Trump’s face.”

December 10, 2015: Trump being Trump.

“When asked about comparisons with Hitler, Trump instead argued that what he was proposing was more like FDR’s imprisoning Japanese-Americans, as if this was a rational defense. Trump, I have long noticed, literally cannot make an argument without citing a rationalization or six. He apparently thinks all of them are genuine justifications for unethical conduct. He can’t argue any other way, except that he sometimes throws in logical fallacies too, like constantly citing his poll numbers (Appeal to Authority) as validation of his positions.”

February 15, 2016: The GOP’s obligation to dump Trump

“Finally, it is now undeniable that while there are many irresponsible, values-deficient, ugly and ignorant fools poisoning our culture and society, and while many, especially criminals, may do more tangible damage, none are more deficient in intelligence, judgment and character, and none are worse citizens,  than those who continue to try to put a wretched human being like Donald Trump in the White House, where he can do more harm than any criminal in U.S. history.”

February 27, 2016: Trump vows to gut the First Amendment

So what does Trump’s ridiculous vow mean? As I said, it could mean that he is a Constitutional ignoramus, that he is pandering to those uneducated voters he loves, that he is lying,  that he plans a military take-over, or all of them: Who knows what diseased rats are running around in that skull?”

I still can’t believe I have to post this.

God save the United States of America.

33 thoughts on “Donald Trump: A Pre-Election Ethics Alarms Character and Trustworthiness Review: 2005-2016 [UPDATED]

  1. The choice is between a heart attack and cancer. Trump promises to stand for policies that are more in line with what I believe, but I don’t think he will ultimately stand for anything.

      • I don’t understand that. What good is power, except to implement the policies that you want? Why waste the time and treasure?

        • Because there are these little things like enumerated powers, constitutional provisions, etc. Raw exercise of power sounds like fascism. We’re not choosing a chancellor for life here.

          • What does that have to do with my question?

            I responded to a comment about people breaking principals for power, not one about constitutional provisions. Do try to keep up.

              • That doesn’t explain why one with no principals would seek power. Power’s only value is in what you do with it.*

                *This is distinct from people wishing to spend their time in public service. In that case it’s people sacrificing their time and personal goals for the benefit of their community/state/nation/planet/species. They don’t gain power, they gain responsibility.

                If I were president I’d never want to nuke anyone. If the nukes were flying at me, I’d know it’d be better for the human race to just take the hit and let my people die rather than return fire and burn half the industrial world. And yet I also know that when you’re the president, you no longer have that choice. You’re obligated to launch a return salvo, you accept that burden with the office. In that situation I’d have no power, only obligation.

                • I’m really struggling here valky… Do you actually not understand what he’s saying?

                  He’s saying that Trump doesn’t actually believe what he’s saying, but that he’s saying it to get power, and with that power he can do things that the people he’s snowing don’t necessarily want him to. This should be a phenomenon very familiar to any Clinton voter.

                  I mean…. Let’s be real…. 80% of America wants gun reform, but there’s no real drive to get gun reform passed. A majority of Americans want border and immigration reform and control… There’s no real drive for that to happen either.

                  And why? For the same reason we haven’t cured cancer yet: The people most able to take the actions necessary are more interested in the treatment than the cure, because it is more lucrative for them.

                  This is one of the major downfalls to a two party system: So long as both parties agree that sabre rattling is more important than action, they have the ability to push policies that neither’s voters really want, and to ignore the policies they really do, because the alternative is the people they’ve been driven to really…. really hate. “What’cha gonna do? Vote third party? Hah, THROW you’re vote away! A vote for a third party is a vote for your enemy, whoever that is. They’ll take your guns or deport your abuela… Whichever is the one you care about.”

                  • 80% for Gun Reform? I’m struggling with this remark. I think 90% of people want less crimes committed with guns, but when it comes to reform, any given proposal enjoys a max of 30-40% out of the gates and fights a long arduous process to get over the 50% mark.

                  • It’s hard for me to grasp that as “reform” when I live in a state that has universal background checks. So, okay, you’re right, that one does enjoy a fair bit of support.

                    • @Jack You’re probably right… But my point is that there are positions that enjoy almost universal approval from voters, but for some reason never seem to be enacted. It’s the kind of stuff that reasonable people should be able to agree on and count on their representatives to actually represent them for.

        • valkygrrl both of them want the power for their own sake, not the betterment of our country. Their egos drive them not principals.

  2. Don’t worry. Regardless of the electoral outcome, there’s a decent chance he’ll proclaim himself the legitimate President, and call on his supporters to back him up. Especially the Fraternal Order of Police.

    • So dark. What if he just becomes the next Emperor Norton. For the rest of his life people call him Mr. President to his face and snicker behind his back?

    • Fearmonger.

      Be honest with yourself: violent protest is more common on the left. Protests against Trump becoming violent and protests against Bernie or Hillary not was not an indication of violent tendencies among Trump voters. Hell, half the time the protesters at Bernie or Hillary rallies were Hillary or Bernie supporters.

      • Which is me writing incoherently. My point was that Trump voters more often then not couldn’t even be asked to show up to protest. And “Trumps rallies are violent because we throw rocks at them.” hits me as disingenuous at best.

  3. Our Libertarian ticket this year sounds like the answer to a question that you hope you never have to ask in life or on ‘Jeopardy’.

    Alex Trebek: “And the answer is ‘Johnson-Weld. Tom…”
    Tom: “What do you do when you fracture your johnson?”

        • I am familiar with your objections to Clinton and Trump.

          Think about it. Only 14% of voters voted for either of them. There was up to 86% of the vote up for grabs, and Gary Johnson could not even get a fourth of them to support him.

          • 86% of the vote was never in play. Fear and hate motivates people so much more than actual admiration…. More people voted this last cycle than any other election in history.

            This untruth is pervasive…. It’s like when medical people tell you there’s enough flu vaccine for everyone. No there isn’t. Never has been, never will be. Only 15% of the population gets the vaccine, they only make enough for about 20% of the population on the (wildly) optimistic chance they see that kind of growth in demand, but they’re not quite wasteful enough to produce even half of what they say they have.

            I bet you that in precincts with paper ballots, they didn’t actually have enough ballots for everyone to actually vote.

  4. I suppose this is as fitting a place as any to insert this comment.

    So far, no breaking news of horrors and carnage at polling places. Good. My dread now pays forward, attaching to thoughts of Inauguration Day. Sure: security will be tighter than all but few of us can even imagine. Good.

    Nevertheless, I say: All the more likely that there are fools who are fool enough, resolved enough, and audacious enough, to make some kind of major disruption on that day. Laying America low is a high-stakes proposition; that is a given. But, that won’t deter forever all actors bent on laying America low. The day is coming when life-long American citizens – who were formerly expert killers in U.S. military service, with combat experience but also desiring fulfillment of “their mission” through murderous suicide – will organize and carry out violent and deadly disruptions. The killers will operate much like the foreign enemies who have been killing Americans (along with themselves) ever since that Egyptian guy (Said-whoever) declared Islam’s war on America and the West, long ago. I am not celebrating that eventuality of carnage. I am just putting it out there, as an eventuality, and as a fair warning. Ignoring its inevitability, pooh-poohing it, or shaming-into-silence people like me will not delay it, and sure as hell won’t make the threat go away or become less threatening.

    May peace and safety be sustained, and, may sufficient forces to sustain such within this country – for the benefit of all persons, from those in the highest seats of power to those persons in the most dire and desperate poverty – be fully successful throughout this and the coming days of regime change. (I have a “bad record” of excellent reliability: namely, dreading the most horrific, specific events that haven’t happened yet, but that do happen – sometimes soon after I feel the dread, sometimes eventually. Dating to November 1963. Check my comments in past years here, if you can, if you dare; I was saying “45th president Hillary” before any other commenter, even before Jack ran out of room to dismiss her likely nomination.)

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