An Ethics Conundrum: What Is The Responsible, Objective Way To Treat Donald Trump’s Most Foolish Tweets?

twitter4Opinions may differ, but today’s tweet-junk was especially idiotic.

The President-Elect felt he just had to gloat about the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger, his successor on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” failed to attract the same number of viewers when Trump was the star.

The ex-Governor of California’s debut as host on NBC was watched by 4.9million viewers compared to Trump’s 6.5million viewers who tuned in to the season premiere in 2015….and if you care about the ratings of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” I don’t think you and I would have much to talk about.

Trump tweeted, in his best junior high school mode,

“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT…So much for being a movie star – and that was season 1 compared to season 14….Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported [Ohio Governor John] Kasich & [Democratic nominee] Hillary Clinton.”

This—of course it did—sparked a brief tweet war between the former Austrian bodybuilding star turned action movie star turned honorary Kennedy turned politician turned shriveled, disgraced, washed-up ex-Kennedy, washed-up action star on-line game app huckster reality show host and the real estate, hotel and casino mogul turned political troll turned reality star turned, HOLY COW! President of the United States:

“I wish you the best of luck and I hope you’ll work for ALL of the American people as aggressively as you worked for your ratings,” the actor tweeted, adding a video from an earlier tweet in which he quoted Abraham Lincoln.

Every time Trump does something this petty, needless, and undignified, he scares people to death, as in their minds they transfer this level of judgment to critical decisions he may face as President and feel like their lives are in the hands of Bluto from Delta House. Nobody, and I mean nobody, deserving of an adult’s respect wants to know the next President’s views about “The Apprentice.” Such a tweet is a 100% loss, and no upside for Trump. The more publicity it gets, the worse off he is, meaning the worse off the Presidency  is, meaning the worse off the nation is….and yet the substance of the tweet couldn’t be more trivial if he had tweeted a recipe for fried grasshoppers.

Does it make sense for the news media to treat every stupid tweet with the same gravitas as past journalists regarded Presidential statements? Obviously this is not traditional behavior.

Should the news media treat it like a Presidential burp or fart, or as one would treat involuntary exclamations if a Tourettes sufferer was elected President? Show some compassion: the guy has Twittermania, or something. Did the news media report every time George H.W. Bush sounded like he was speaking a foreign tongue, or every time Reagan’s head bobbled, or every time Hillary coughed? Is the responsible thing to ignore it? Trump’s narcissism, which really is a disorder, is getting the better of him here. He’s calling out for attention. Maybe the responsible, kind thing is to ignore his tweets, and make him get attention the old fashioned way. Why follow his tweets? I don’t. I’d rather die.

I was watching the Diane Lane movie “Untraceable” again the other night. In it, a disturbed tech wiz kidnaps people and tortures them to death while streaming online, and everyone who logs on the horrible spectacle hastens the speed of the torture. The authorities tell everyone not to watch, and that makes more people watch, killing the victim.  Trump’s tweets are like that. This is going to go on like this for four years?

There has to be a way to convince the man that it’s not just bad form, degrading to him and the office, and guaranteed to make  people sick of him in record time, but that it also plays into his worst enemies’ hands. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that any leader who regularly lowers himself to this kind of discourse undermines his power, influence, and credibility.

And to think I thought Obama giving his basketball tournament brackets was foolish…

32 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Leadership, Social Media

32 responses to “An Ethics Conundrum: What Is The Responsible, Objective Way To Treat Donald Trump’s Most Foolish Tweets?

  1. fattymoon

    All I can think of now is, “…something is happening here but you don’t know what it is…” https://youtu.be/hC4r3QFnmQ8

  2. Like you yourself appear to be, I’m at a loss for ideas. I’ve long since given up on the hope that the mainstream press will begin to behave like reputable journalists, or adults for that matter. Meanwhile, those folks that regularly spend any significant portion of each day living in the “Twitterverse” are just eating the whole thing up. I suspect they see it as some sort of validation for the entire perverse idea that you can actually discuss intellectually subjects of substance in what very often amounts basically to spontaneous sound-bites of 140 characters or less. I mean, what could possibly go wrong when you try to discuss the economy, or foreign affairs in that fashion?

  3. A.M. Golden

    Every day I hope someone in his new administration takes him aside and convinces him to give up the Twitter account…

    Some day.

  4. zoebrain

    Four years? Eight I think. Possibly longer, the GOP is on the edge of having control of enough to ram constitutional changes through.

    The tweets? Stuff That Does Not Matter. Anyone not of the opinion that Trump is not fit to be President now will never be convinced. The rest, ignore the distracting noise and deal with the serious stuff.

    Yes, he’s a loony. We know that. No point tut tutting and clutching pearls, we have to deal with that, and a Radical Republican congress which is ignoring tradition, custom, and past practice, going for broke.

    • Joe Fowler

      “a Radical Republican congress which is ignoring tradition, custom, and past practice, going for broke.”…Hmmm, good luck selling that here to a readership informed enough to recall Harry Reid’s Nuclear Option choice, The Biden Rule, the invention of Borking, and of course, the Obamacare debacle, speaking of going for broke…
      So which of these new, Democrat established, traditions, customs and past practices are you afraid the Republicans will ignore? I’m pretty sure they won’t ignore the Nuclear Option. Thanks Harry!

      • zoebrain

        Let’s look at what’s been happening in state legislatures for a sneak preview…

        Kansas, say, or North Carolina.

        ” Senate Bill 439 is currently set for debate before the state’s GOP-stacked Judiciary Committee. If it is approved and signed by Governor Brownback, it will permit impeachment of any Judge who acts contrary to the wishes of the legislature. In other words, any Judge who strikes down or modifies any law the legislature passes, for any reason– whether the law is blatantly Unconstitutional, violative of existing laws, or otherwise, is thereby subject to impeachment proceedings by the state Legislature. A previous law threatening to cut off all Judicial funding was declared unconstitutional by the state’s High Court.

        Impeachment has “been a little-used tool” to challenge judges who strike down new legislation, said Republican Sen. Dennis Pyle, a sponsor of the measure. “Maybe it needs to be oiled up a little bit or sharpened a little bit.”

        Noises are already being made to eliminate the Senate filibuster entirely, even for SCOTUS appointments. Being fair, I think this is the only way that any far Right justice could get appointed, and the GOP wouldn’t contemplate any other alternative. A moderate, or even somewhat right leaning judge is right out. Alas, the mood of the DNC is such that even a slightly right leaning judge would be rejected, no matter how well qualified, and a moderate only accepted through gritted teeth. The more the GOP adopts a “take no prisoners” stance, the more intransigent the DNC is likely to become. There’s no room for the rational in either party now.

        The GOP have the power now. They will use it to make sure they keep it, in perpetuity if at all possible.

        ” They recognize no limits to their power, no curbs to their desire. There are few frontiers in democratic government that they will not work to violate, or to twist to their own purposes. And they absolutely will not stop. Ni shagu nazad, as Stalin said to his army. Not one step backwards.”

        • Funny, but the judges can strike down the law, and will. It’s grandstanding, and that’s all it is.

          • Joe Fowler

            Political grandstanding?!? Say it ain’t so, Jack!

          • Matthew B

            I think this could easily turn into a thread jack worth its own topic.So far it is only grandstanding since the legislative branch seems to be the side that backs down in these scenarios, at least in the ones I’m aware of.There are plenty of state and federal examples where judges act as legislators. Sometimes there is “grandstanding” and the legislative side does some level of resistance. At the federal level, there is no constitutional authority to override Congress, just 212 years of precidence that Congress has acquiesced to the courts.

            For much of our history, the courts have behaved, staying away from the legislative role. That’s changed, with many progressive judges being activists. Political gains achieved via court fiat that couldn’t have been achieved via the legislative process is what has turned judicial appointments into some of the most tumultuous senate responsibilities.

            Mark Levin has proposed having a constitutional amendment to give Congress the ability to override the courts with a supermajority.

            I advocate making the overturning of a law requiring a supermajority of judges. After all, if Congress really didn’t follow the constitution, nearly all judges would agree. Make it 7 of 9 to overturn law.

            • “I advocate making the overturning of a law requiring a supermajority of judges…Make it 7 of 9 to overturn law.”

              I would support that. Levin’s proposal, too, although it’s unlikely it would ever be used*. *”…unlikely it would ever be used” = famous last words.

        • Joe Fowler

          “Senate Bill 439 is currently set for debate”…um, no it’s not. Kansas Senate Bill 439 died in committee on June 1 2016, according to kslegislature.org.
          “Noises are already being made to eliminate the Senate filibuster entirely”…well, my dog is making noises for more snacks, and that’s not happening either. Noises made by who?
          Honestly, I don’t see that the presentation that you made here advances an argument or makes a point, other than that the Republicans are in power and the Democrats are pretty upset about it.

        • luckyesteeyoreman

          You’re still in panic mode, zoebrain. In American politics, turnabouts (over and over) are inevitable, even if chronologically unpredictable (and frustratingly long and drawn-out). But that never stops Americans from predicting – and doing so accurately.

          “The GOP have the power now. They will use it to make sure they keep it, in perpetuity if at all possible.”

          Yes, but they will fail. Parties always do. Always. It’s only a matter of time.

          I’ll wager you two – no, three – months of complete silence in these comments, that the U.S. House and Senate will flip to PPA* (“D”) majorities by the end of the 2020 elections – if not by the end of the 2018 elections in which they will, at the very least, make enormous gains. Being effective monopolizers of power, the PPA stands to remain a majority much longer than the GOP could ever manage.

          *I am using that acronym now to refer to the “D” party.

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            Wishing good health and safety to you, zoebrain, through the coming years and elections – so that you may see my predictions come true.

  5. Spartan

    The ethical thing to do would be for every American to “unfollow” Trump. But because most Americans are rubber-necking idiots, that will never happen. If he doesn’t have an audience, wouldn’t this turn into “a tree falls in the woods” question?

    The press, unfortunately, has to follow Trump. (Remember when Huffington refused to follow him in the campaign?) But perhaps if Twitter goes away, he will be forced to have actual press conferences.

    • Other Bill

      Would that twitter didn’t exist.

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Can’t Twitter ban Trump?
      Banning him would be delicious! Just think of all the morons who would jump to claim *they* are now the channel for Trump. That might bring him down even faster than he could bring down himself.

      My advice: Ignore his tweets. Don’t even get into conversations about them, except to say, “I ignore his tweets.” Then prove that, by not engaging in discussion of them.

      • dragin_dragon

        First, Lucky, let me issue this disclaimer…I am not now nor will I ever be on Twitter, nor do I care what Trump or anybody else tweets. That said, I’d much rather get it (whatever ‘it’ is) directly from the horse’s mouth than wait for a lying, untrustworthy press in ANY media to keep me informed. I may be that well over half of his posts are foolish in the extreme, and probably no more accurate than the MSM, but at least they come from the primary source, without editing or commentary. And it really irks me to be in this position…Trumps tweets or the NY Times headlines. Ugh!

        • That expresses Trump’s major justification for twittering, and it is not without wisdom, except that unfiltered Trump can’t claim he was misquoted. Given the idiocy of some of his Twitattacks, this is a big downside. BIG.

          • dragin_dragon

            But, that is a downside for HIM, not for me. I really, REALLY want to stay abreast of his stupid moves…you know, find out if I need to run for the bunker?

            • See, I don’t trust Twitter; I distrust it so much, there is no tweet under any name that I will look at and trust that “this is straight from Trump’s fingertips.” I consider tweets at most to be a medium for graffiti that is occasionally funny, and that originates in a non-existent, fantasy universe.

    • Chris

      You don’t have to “follow” someone on Twitter to see their tweets. I keep up with Trump’s tweets without following him, and I’d wager most of his harshest critics already do the same.

      As for banning, other than the Alicia Machado thing (telling people to “check out” her “sex tape”) he hasn’t really done anything that could be construed as harassment or inciting harassment. Twitter is pretty reluctant to ban people; so far the most high-profile person they’ve banned is Milo, and most people don’t know who he is. I can’t imagine them banning the President of the United States.

    • fattymoon

      Unfollow Trump? Ethical? Don’t understand. Take me to your Tweeter.

  6. zoebrain

    Things that matter.

    ” It was, I think, 2004, and I’d been invited to speak at the University of Potsdam, near Berlin, in a series sponsored by the U.S. embassy. My subject was “the Family,” the secretive fundamentalist organization of which Coats, unbeknownst to me at the time, is a member. When I arrived, my German host told me there’d been a little problem: the ambassador — Dan Coats — had blocked funding for my talk. “He said,” my host said, in thickly accented English, “you are an ‘enemy of Jesus.'”

    My host was one of those deadpan Germans. He didn’t smile. I said, “You’re joking.”

    “Yes,” he said, still unsmiling, “that is what I thought, too.” Apparently, the Germans had gone back and forth a couple of times with the embassy, unable to believe this was serious. And apparently the embassy personnel were plenty embarrassed about it, too. But that was Coats’ ruling, so it stuck. Fortunately for me, the university picked up my tab.”

    The New York Times, reporting that former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats is being tapped for director of national intelligence, called the staunch homophobe “a mild-mannered conservative.”

    He has in the past called for christian heads of government departments to purge their sections of “sodomite pollution,” That was awhile ago, but there’s no evidence that his attitude has changed. The second a Religious Freedom Restoration Act is passed, as head he’ll legally be able to accomplish this. Departments have already been asked to furnish lists of employees who are gay or gay supporting.

    Yes, this goes against various OHSA rules, but isn’t actually illegal. A court may reverse this, but given the number of new Federal judges whose appointments will now be fast tracked rather than dekayed interminably, the odds aren’t good.

  7. zoebrain

    True. He has extensive experience on the intelligence committee, is not a russiophile to say the least, is less corrupt than average, only having arranged a few favours for his commercial connections after lobbying for them, and, and this is important, has genuinely helped the needy by personal donations.

    Far above the calibre of most of Pence’s other picks. He knows his onions at least. He’s even more a relic of the Cold War than I am, but seems to have kept up. A Goldwater Republican. Which makes him a moderate in these times. Sane, anyway, and not a kleptocrat. Normal. For 1960.

    I think he’d put country ahead of party, and certainly ahead of his own pocket. Wrong about GLB issues, TI off his radar, rather too many theological connections for comfort, but otherwise qualified. The DNC would have no good reason for blocking his appointment.

    • He’s a conservative Christian, and that informs his views related to LGBT individuals. He’s not a homophobe, but his positions are mostly indistinguishable from those of homophobes, though he also has expressed a “live and let live” philosophy. Naturally the LGBT community will oppose hi, but in the office he is appointed to, I don’t think this bias will have any effect.

      I’d take Dan Coats over Pence in a heartbeat as VP.

  8. Glenn Logan

    The answer to your question is probably like the answer to most of them — wait and see.

    I have no idea of the consequences of an intemperately-tweeting president who apparently has the emotional development of a 12-year old boy with social skills to match. Having said that, I’m also not sure how much of this is an act designed to troll his political opponents (remember now, for good or ill, this is has become “normal” for Trump in the eyes of most) and how much is actual incorrigible élan. Bizarrely, Trump will be able to get away with this sort of brazen childishness, but Americans will expect more temperance from the targets of his spew.

    If this is a deliberate strategy, it is certainly fraught with danger. The thing is, many of his targets are apparently at least as emotionally incomplete as he is, and he surely knows this. To be honest, as a strategy, it could well succeed in making others look even worse than him, even if unfairly so.

    Then again, I could be giving him far more credit than he deserves. In one way, I hope I am, but in another…

    Interesting times, interesting times.

  9. fattymoon

    Trump’s latest tweets reminds me of this. Somewhat scary if it comes to pass. Ok, make that real fucking scary.
    View story at Medium.com

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