The President’s Ethics Grades So Far


Is it fair to grade President Trump on his ethics after less than a month? Of course. If he wanted to pay attention to this area, the President would certainly seek an objective progress report. There has been enough activity in three weeks to give some preliminary grades. Ethics Alarms began this adventure with low expectations; after all, I have never read or heard a single statement from the President, ever, that suggests that he thinks about or cares about ethics at all. His behavior and opinions appear to be entirely governed by rationalizations, emotions, and impulse. However, we do have hope, and three weeks of a presidency is not sufficient to extinguish it. There is plenty of time for President Trump to address his ethical shortcomings

Let’s use the Josephson Institute for Ethics’ Six Pillars of Character for this exercise. All graded categories should be regarded as incomplete, and the offered grades as provisional only. Remember, these are ethics grades only.

I. TRUSTWORTHINESS, including Honesty in communication, Candor, Truthtelling, Reliability, Sincerity, Honesty in Conduct, Integrity, Loyalty

The President and his agents, like Spicer and Conway, have been especially loose with facts and assertions, some of which can be excused a bit as carelessness, but the sheer volume of misinformation is daunting. I suppose one could argue that Trump is reliably unpredictably, but that’s not what the value of reliability is all about. The President’s astounding verbal sloppiness makes it impossible to gauge sincerity (is he really out to ban Muslims, or just determined to keep out Muslim terrorists?) I score Trump relatively high on integrity, as shown by his Inaugural speech. Whatever he thinks he means, he really means it. (The contrast is Hillary Clinton.) Trump is loyal. Loyalty is a troublesome value that can be abused as often as not: he was loyal to appoint Ben Carson to the cabinet, but it’s still an unethical act, since Carson is unqualified beyond belief. But loyalty also covers conflicts of interest, and the appearance of impropriety. The President’s conflict of interest problems have not been seriously addressed, and won’t be.

He hasn’t been trustworthy, so his grade here is..


II. RESPECT, including Civility, Courtesy, Decency, Dignity, Tolerance, Acceptance, Autonomy

Well, this is the worst of Trump’s values, and his tweets alone breach civility, courtesy, decency and dignity daily. If there was a lower grade than F, he would get it, but the grade has to be..


III.RESPONSIBILITY, including Diligence, Pursuit of Excellence, Competence, Accountability, Perseverance, Self-restraint, Prudence

Hmmmm. Maybe THIS is the worst of Trump’s values. No, that’s unfair. Trump is a hard worker, harder, it seems, than his predecessor. Yes, he pursues excellence, by his standards. So far, his competence has been questionable, but then this is a very hard job, and even the best of out Presidents have taken longer than this to become competent. Accountability? Hmmmm. He let his Secretary of Homeland Security take responsibility for the botched roll-out of the Executive Order on refugees. Nobody can say Trump doesn’t persevere.  Self-restraint? Prudence? Uh, no. A mixed bag here: Diligence: Pursuit of Excellence: C; Competence: D;  Accountability: C;  Perseverance: A;  Self-restraint: F;  Prudence: F. It all adds up to a…


IV. FAIRNESS, including Openness, Process, Impartiality, Proportionality, Consistency, Equity.

This President has been more transparent than the last one, which is faint praise. That’s about the only positive in this category. The grade is


V. CARING, which includes Charity, Benevolence, Consideration, Empathy, Generosity

Okay, this is the worst of Trump’s values, obviously. It’s not the most vital set of values in a leader, but it is still frightening when anyone in power lacks the components of caring to the extent that the President does, at least according to what he has shown us so far.  No other grade is possible, other than…


VI. Citizenship

Any citizen who commits to accepting the incredible, killing responsibility of being President of the United States for four years, and all the ceaseless attacks on his motives and character that doing the job entails, making a major sacrifice for the nation, is an exemplary citizen for doing so.

Yes, even Donald Trump.





Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership

35 responses to “The President’s Ethics Grades So Far

  1. Jack,
    That’s a good and very honest evaluation. I agree.

  2. fattymoon

    Seems fair.

  3. VI for citizenship roman numerals. You have an extra I. Feel free to delete this comment.

  4. I think it’s a fair and unbiased assessment. You going to post the link to his Twitter feed?

  5. Patrice

    Finally, a post about POTUS I can agree with.

    • Why don’t you agree on more?

      • Patrice

        Have you ever read any of my posts? Seriously?

        • Patrice,
          Do you really think that answer my question with a question that does not address the content of my question is appropriate? Seriously?

          Your statement above “finally, a post about POTUS I can agree with” suggest that you haven’t agreed with even one of Jacks ethical blogs about the POTUS before now and maybe even when the POTUS was a candidate for POTUS.

          Patrice wrote, “Have you ever read any of my posts?”

          I really don’t give a damn what you’ve posted in the past, the question was about why you are disagreeing with the posts about the ethics surrounding the POTUS.

          Would you rather I make a bunch of wild “non-partisan” based assumptions about why you don’t agree on more or maybe you could take a brief look inside and come up with a line up of reasons as to why you are disagreeing with Jack about the POTUS ethics so often?

          You made a bad choice replying the way you did.

          Try again?

          • Chris

            Pretty sure Patrice has explained why she doesn’t agree with many of Jack’s other POTUS posts…in the comments to those posts.

            • Chris wrote, “Pretty sure Patrice has explained why she doesn’t agree with many of Jack’s other POTUS posts…in the comments to those posts.”

              That’s all fine and dandy, but seriously how would I know which blogs to wade through to obtain this information? Why not answer the question here?

              I’m done with this conversation, it’s bordering on the absurd anyway.

              Never mind Patrice.

              • Unfortunately, she took it hard, and e-mailed me that she doesn’t want to endure abuse for commenting. I’m hoping she will reconsider, as she has a unique perspective, and is always thoughtful.

                • That wasn’t my intent, to begin with I was just curious.

                  I don’t know what to say.


                • fattymoon

                  I’m sorry about Patrice, though I can’t recall reading any of her posts. What I will say is this: Ladies and gentleman, grow some vaginas/balls or whatever it takes. I recall my first post here, and the piling on by Jack and friends. “Fuck you!” I thought. I’m staying.
                  Return with my now to yesteryear as you witness the shame heaped upon me. And yet, I persisted. (Patrice, you must persist, otherwise they win.)

                  • fattymoon

                    BTW, Jack, I still think my initial comment should have been Comment of the Day. It’s not too late…

                    • It’s not too late. I haven’t had a chance to read it.

                    • fattymoon

                      No, I mean this one…

                      Jeffrey Field
                      March 21, 2011 at 7:54 am
                      At first I was with the herd, but, upon reflection, I changed my tune. This morning I wrote the boys a letter. It’s at

                      It reads:

                      An open letter to Casey (The Punisher) Heynes and Ritchard Gale

                      “I’m a victim too,” says Ritchard Gale, the bully boy who got body-slammed by Casey Heynes.

                      Dear Ritchard and Casey,

                      I’ve been thinking about this incident and I now realize you are each other’s angels in disguise.

                      Casey, this isn’t the first time you’ve been bullied. It’s been going on for years. You were so desperate at one point that you contemplated suicide. Ritchard’s actions actually turned your life around.

                      Ritchard, my initial thoughts about you were most unpleasant, however, I soon began having second thoughts. You are correct when you say that you, too, are a victim.

                      You are both victims. And, while Casey is now a celebrated celebrity, you are spit upon and vilified.

                      You helped Casey turn his life around. But the story need not end there. Now it’s your turn to get your life in order. Whether Casey agrees to help you or not, and I hope he will, it is you, Ritchard, who must take that first step. Casey is redeemed, thanks to you. Your redemption depends on no one but yourself, so you must not depend on Casey’s help. However, I intuit that you and he have been around this block before, if you get my drift. Perhaps the roles were reversed and you, Ritchard, were the victim and Casey the bully. For want of a better term, call it karma. And so, I do believe that Casey will help you like you helped him.

                      The time, for action, Ritchard, is now. You can jump on this most holy of opportunities and begin to shine like the diamond you are, or, you can keep on keeping on, trodding the same dismal path.

                      Casey, I submit that you are Ritchard’s angel, and he yours. Boys, think on these thoughts I’ve presented here, and then act on what your heart, not your head, tells you.

                      God bless the both of you!



                  • fattymoon said, “What I will say is this: Ladies and gentleman, grow some vaginas/balls or whatever it takes.”

                    Well sure that’s one way to put it; the other way is you have to have thick skin to play in a online commenting “kitchen”, it get’s hot sometimes.

                    Online comment boards are not a Safe Haven for those with low self-esteem, weak character, or mabe just thin skin although the more you actually participate the thicker your skin gets.

                    I been part of 544 threads on this blog since I began in December of 2015, out of that 544 you have been involved in 16 of the conversations that I’ve been in, but you and I have only actually directly conversed 5 times, I just went back and read all 5 of those brief conversations. You challenged me and I answered you, I challenged you and you answered; then we went our merry ways either agreeing or disagreeing, I didn’t see any major blowups with you.

                    Back on July 27, 2016 at 3:05 pm you said, “I’ve been called stupid and a moron by Jack more often than by anybody here. I’m a little thin-skinned at times” but yet you’ve stuck around. I honestly don’t think you are enduring abuse for commenting, at least not from what I’ve seen on the 16 threads I saw.

                    I asked you “Why don’t you agree on more?” out of shear curiosity, it went down hill from there, I had no idea that simple question would spark what happened. Never mind about the question, I really mean that, I’ve moved on.

                    Stick around.

                    • P.S. I won’t post in this section of the comments unless asked a direct question, I’m really moving on.

                    • fattymoon

                      I apologize for saying what I said yesterday. Zoltar said it the way it should be said. Not an excuse, but, I drank a lot of whiskey yesterday. Also quit smoking yesterday. I apologize to Patrice and everyone here.

                    • Patrice

                      I also apologize. It had been a rough week — my husband ended up in the ER, I’m sick too, plus I had to sing at the funeral for a friend yesterday. I appreciate everyone’s understanding.

                    • Patrice,

                      Politics take a back burner when there are family issues. I sincerely hope that your husband recovers quickly, and that you feel better emotionally and physically.

                      You are a valued contributor to this blog, as witnessed by others asking you to stay. However, sometimes a ‘mental health break’ is needed to get your head back in the game. Not that I encourage you to take a time out, as sometime this can be therapeutic as well 🙂

                      I ask you to stay, with or without a break. If we cannot dialog and learn other’s point of view, we cannot reach understanding (or grow and evolve our own positions!)

                      Praying for you, to the deity of my choice!

  6. Wayne

    Well I don’t think he’ll get into Harvard.

  7. THIS is what I like about EA. Fair (“and balanced,” to steal a tag line)

    Seriously, there are few places you could go where the blogger (and audience) can agree from across the political spectrum.

    (slow clap in 3… 2… )

  8. Sam

    Considering his other marks and your post that voting for Mr. Trump was unethical I believe that the citizenly thing for Trump to have done was not run. Since he did run and has inflict himself on the country he rates an F on citizenship.

    • That makes no sense. He can’t be found uncitizenly, if that is a word, for believing that he is qualified to run for President. Anyone can pass the citizen test by believing that they are a better alternative than Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz…

      If resigning because OTHERS thought you were unfit to serve was the test, we’ve never had a good citizen run.

  9. Karinova

    Seems a mostly fair assessment. I have only a few quibbles and most are so small as to be not worth mentioning. The grade for Citizenship is off, though, in my opinion. The reasoning given there is normative, not descriptive: it *should* be true (it’s a lovely sentiment!), but that doesn’t mean it is.

    I give him a just-under-the-wire B minus there. Primary criteria: what he thinks he’s done or tried to do (A-), what he’s actually objectively done or tried to do (C-), and what he should have done/tried but didn’t (C). Full disclosure, I do hate the guy. But I think a B- is appropriate.

  10. carcarwhite

    I don’t understand how you can rate him an F on caring. He cares about vets, jobs, our safety, I think he cares about our country.

    When I listen to him in interviews I do hear him caring a lot.

    He also has reached out to the left and met with many people including MLK’s son, and Al Gore, and many others to hear their ideas. Steve Harvey, etc. That seems tolerant and respectful.

    He’s sorta hard to grade because he is so different and loud and brash. But I have found when I look at him without all the judgements in my mind, I do see good things.

    Ok be gentle when you beat me for saying this. 🙂 thanks.

    • Trump is a narcissist, and as such he cares about himself and accomplishing goals. He may care about abstractions, but he has no empathy or sympathy, and shows this constantly. The value of caring means caring about people. He isn’t kind, or he would not say such cruel and ugly things. We know he doesn’t care about veterans, after what he said about John McCain and prisoners of war. We know he doesn’t care about women, because he treats them like meat. We know he doesn’t care about human beings when he can talk about a forced deporting of 11 million people, no matter how long they have lived here, and whether they were born here or not. The careless way he issued his Executive order was another example: he could have executed it so as not to strand travelers or cause chaos; he just didn’t care. Nobody who possesses empathy or beneficence endorses torture.

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