The President Elect’s Happy New Year Tweet, With Musical Reflections From Ethics Alarms


It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

The reactions to Donald Trump’s tweet above were so predictable.  Trump-haters are continuing their meltdown, because he used that scary word “enemies,” and imagining political foes being hung by piano wire and shot against a wall…maybe even THE wall. Trump’s fans are cheering, “That’s our guy!” Predictable or not, here is the official Ethics Alarms reaction to what may be Trump’s first tweet destined for the Yale Book of Quotations:

1. Get used to this. He’s not going to stop. I recommend re-reading this post from last year, on the Julie Principle. In fact, heeeeere’s Julie!

2. Oh, let’s get this out of the way: it’s a juvenile, undignified, un-Presidential message, and a deliberately provocative thing to do. It also  made me laugh out loud, I have to admit. Really, if you’re going to let this sort of thing drive you crazy, you’re not going to make it through four years. You’re not even going to make it through one. Reserve a padded room. I’m serious. Think about this song, because this is where you’re headed…

3. It’s at least partially good-natured. The latest theme I’ve been seeing from the Trump-hating pundits is that Trump “never laughs,” which is just part of the “otherizing” plan from the left. Monsters don’t laugh, after all. Hitler didn’t laugh. (Let’s not start on Hillary’s laugh.) Obama is funny. He’s human.

That’s absurd. Trump has terrific comic timing, and the professional performer’s skill of not laughing at his own jokes (like, say, Marco Rubio.) People don’t find him funny who hate him, that’s all; it’s a pretty good tell. Most people will not laugh at someone they genuinely distrust and dislike. If Trump’s humor wasn’t so frequently nasty and sophomoric, it would be one of his strengths. He understands the value of humor…like Debbie Reynolds’ pal, Donald O’Connor:


4.  Regarding “enemies”: This was the message that just about every President who has ever held the job would have liked to send at some point in his political life. To their credit, none of them did, and not just because Twitter wasn’t around. No, Presidents should not refer to their principled political adversaries as enemies, even if they are. It’s unseemly and petulant; the President is obligated to be a role model, and to be a good one he has to be above such characterizations in public.

But we know by now, don’t we, that Trump is not going to be a reliably virtuous role model. He’s a jerk, and the best case scenario is that he will be a mostly lovable jerk, like Bill Clinton was, to some, a lovable rogue. Rogues and jerks, however, still debase the Presidency.

On the other hand, nobody can deny that Trump has real enemies, that the level of personal venom aimed at him before he takes office has been unprecedented, and that his calling, for example, the law professor who have argued for his impeachment already, the critics who have called him the equivalent of Adolf Hitler and the KKK,  those who argue that the election results should be ignored because he was the victor, and those celebrities, most recently the morally unreproachable Charlie Sheen, who have have publicly wished him dead,  are quite accurately and fairly described as Trump’s enemies. It’s just bad form for him to say it, because most people assume that a leader with great power will use that power against his enemies, not that saying the word makes it more or less likely that a President will.

If one is willing to grant Trump some good will, the tweet shows that this is not a man who will be hiding his true self, or his unfiltered thoughts, from the nation. There is something to admire in that….

5.  Gloating, however, is such a repulsive trait. The tweet can be fairly summarized as “Nyah Nyah Nyah!Nobody having likes his face rubbed in failure; this is signature significance for cruelty. The tweet shows, not for the first time, that Donald Trump does not regard the Golden Rule as one of his ethical guiding lights. In the end, that will not serve him, or us, well, as Burt Bachrach wrote in the most recorded song mentioning the Golden Rule…

6. Ann Althouse’s habitually tongue-in-cheek husband commented to the blogger that Trump’s tweet was almost Christ-like. If the President Elect really did love his enemies, this would be a promising sign. Perhaps he has heeded the words of Richard Nixon, before he boarded that helicopter in 1974and flew away from the White House forever…

“Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”

Naaah. Trump doesn’t believe that, and he doesn’t love his enemies. Few Presidents have; maybe none. This was a mockery of love, and that’s ugly…an ugly way to begin a new year.

This is better.

Hit it, guys…

Happy New Year.

26 thoughts on “The President Elect’s Happy New Year Tweet, With Musical Reflections From Ethics Alarms

      • Might want to put in terms Zoe understands.

        When a queen speaks, her every word is a command.

        Which is why you only hear highly scripted bland platitudes out of Liz 2.

        • Stuff that *does* matter.

          “The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.”

  1. I always disagreed with the supporters who said that if Donald won, he would transform into a sane distinguished statesman. Jack is right, this isn’t going away. In half hearted defense, I think he believes he’s got to Dance with the one who brought him.

    • Don’t be forget Obama compared his political opposition to our most extreme enemies, for example his reference to the GOP essentially being like the Iranian Hardliners in their government.

      Obama revelled in the just-clouded-enough language of vilification of the opposing party that no president before engaged in. Clouded enough to spin away, but obvious enough that we knew what he was implying.

      • Obama also used the Jimmy Kimmel show to taunt Trump (before the election, assuming Trump would lose,) an act roughly equal to this in pettiness.

        Then again, by John Adams’ standards this is all pretty tame.

  2. Jack, Happy New Year!

    Don’t you know – doesn’t everybody know by now?! – the new truth for the new year? That truth is this: “Hate Trumps Love.” Expect it. Love it. Live it. Tweet it, if you use Twitter. Strive constantly to perfect it. Make a more perfect hate; it’s all that matters now. Hate makes the world go ’round.

    Adapting what is sometimes said in the military: Hate is a force multiplier. Hate is also the perfect countermeasure for hate. “Love” is merely a lie, a deception of warfare; what is called love is actually sophisticated hate.

    Hate is not only the bigot’s or the sociopath’s way, nor is it the exclusive motive of the Left or Right in the was-United States. Hate is the natural, human way for all humans in all situations. It motivates more than it disarms, energizes more than it paralyzes, accomplishes more than merely “doing something.” Hate is beautiful! It’s so easy to do, too!

    Hate builds up by tearing down. Hate makes love obsolete. Everyone who hates is righteous. Everything that is hated is a mere reflection of human weakness, and therefore must be hated into oblivion.

    Here is to an ever happier, more hateful new year! GO TRUMP! KEEP UP THE HATE!

  3. Hegel: “The great man of the age is the one who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will s, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and essence of his age; he actualizes his age”.

    Karl Marx in ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’ wrote: ‘The class war in France created circumstances and relations which enabled a gross mediocrity to strut about in hero’s garb’.

  4. He will probably go down as the most hated president. Let’s hope that he grows up a little in the next four years and reverses some of the enormous damage that Obama has done to the country.

    • Oh, absent something really horrible, Trump will have a ways to go to get that title. A.Johnson? Hoover? Nixon? 4th most hated is attainable, but after that, the competition gets tough.

  5. I think your third point is extremely right on the money. I can’t count the number of times this cycle I’ve said something to the tune of “Can you really not see the humour in that?” And not just in regards to Trump, Milo is a great example too.

    I’m waffling though, on whether this is because the people who can’t see the humour can’t see it because of bias, or because they’re just joyless. I asked someone recently what they DID find funny… And he actually said Lena Dunham. Lena. Dunham. I wanted to send flowers.

    • Ahem. I believe the conversation went like this:

      HT: Do liberals find anything funny?

      Me: Of course we do: Lena Dunham, the second amendment, late-term abortions…all hilarious!

      You then had to ask if I was being sarcastic (I thought it was obvious that I was), and I explained I’d never actually seen Lena Dunham in anything. (I’ve since started watching Girls, which is funny, but she’s the least funny part of the show.)

      So unless you’re referring to a different conversation with someone else, the Lena Dunham answer was clearly a joke meant to play off of stereotypes of liberals.

      • I forgot about that! No, this was a real conversation so there was vocal inflection, body language and everything. I either got trolled hard or he’d been programmed into thinking Lena Dunham was the funniest thing in his life.

        • Huh. That is weird. I will say she’s growing on me…slightly. Not as a person or a social media icon or a “voice of her generation” or whatever the hell she thinks she is…but as an actress, she plays her character (which is basically a version of herself, or so I’m told?) fairly well. Like I said on Twitter, the show is basically a slow-motion trainwreck, and it’s more a morbidly fascinating look at a certain New York subculture of spoiled twenty-somethings living off their parents while complaining that they can’t find their dream jobs than it is laugh-out-loud funny, but it has its moments.

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