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…