From The “UGH! Will They EVER Stop Making Me Defend President Trump?” Files: The Kennedy Center Honors Double-Bind

I really, really wanted to bury this one in the Morning Warm-Up. I’m thoroughly sick of writing about the dishonest manipulation of facts and principle used to attack President Trump every day, many times, in the mainstream news media. I am sick of pointing out how unprofessional the Trump-hating publications are that uncritically publish screeds that they would never accept as meeting basic standards of ethical journalism if it weren’t for the identity their target: this President of the United States. I’m also sick of readding proyests from readers trying to rationalize such miserabl ejournalism and punditry. I know readers are sick of all of this too, but the important point is that gullible members of the public and partisan journalists are not sick of the tactic, or ready to play it straight.  They are counting on those who care about fairness, process and truth to give up before they do.

Well, they will wait a long time for me, especially when they publish opinion pieces as bad—misleading, unfair, and unethical— as this one, by playwright Sarah Ruhl.

Ruhl criticizes the President in inflammatory terms for not attending the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony as its host. The White House announced in August that the Trumps would not participate in the December 3 event in Washington, D.C. to avoid “political distraction.” “The president and first lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,”  Sarah Sanders said in a statement, adding that the president and Melania Trump “extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”

Ruhl criticizes the decision in the most inflammatory terms:

“In dictatorships, the artists are often the first to go. Or maybe they are the third to go, after the press and the intellectuals. The refusal of the president to celebrate them is a chilling and clear departure from American values. Perhaps the Trumps didn’t want to compete with the Obamas, who at the 2016 Kennedy Center awards received the longest standing ovation of the evening.”

What unbelievable gall!  Nowhere in Ruhl’s piece, which unflatteringly compares Trump to previous Presidents who attended the gala, does she mention a material fact. Did you catch the omission? Do you think Times readers and the people who are being primed to detest the President did?

The announcement that the Trumps would not be attending came only after honoree Norman Lear, creator of “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “Sanford and Son,”—and also of the ultra-left advocacy group People for the American Way—said that he would boycott the White House reception in protest of the President’s proposed funding cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His fellow 2017 honorees musician Lionel Ritchie and singer Gloria Estefan also hinted that they were considering making a snub of their host a centerpiece of the event.

If the President had attended, one or more of the honorees would have done a John Lewis and boycotted his reception, and perhaps the event itself, just to get publicity, signal their virtue, and get some interviews on MSNBC and CNN.  (Ritchie and Estefan’s careers aren’t exactly soaring these days.) Lear, the uber liberal, is the only one among the honorees who’s not Hispanic, black, a woman, or some combination thereof. I bet with a little effort, Norman could have talked all of them into skipping the White House reception, and probably into making  Trump-bashing statements about why…maybe a joint statement about how he hates women, blacks and immigrants. You know Ruhl would have loved that.

Meanwhile, the political drama at the performance and ceremony would have made the evening all about Trump and “the resistance,” with everyone wondering which performers would grandstand and make some kind of an insulting comment to the President’s face. And then what would he do?  Such suspense! What great reality show drama! And what TV ratings!

The dilemma created by the honorees–not Trump—was disgraceful, but typical of this whole year from the Inauguration on. The  President was again placed in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for the “crime” of daring to beat Hillary Clinton when he would only be fulfilling the purely ceremonial duties of his office. Never mind: Lear and others on the honors list don’t think he deserves that office. They forced the President to do the only responsible thing he could: bow out, just like he bowed out of the White House Correspondents Dinner, where he was being primed for televised humiliation. Ruhl writes that “Trump didn’t have the nerve, for a single night, to be in a room with artists who have criticized him.” That’s a false characterization. Some of the honorees were planning on carrying that criticism into the event. They dictated that his presence would transform the event into a political show rather than the celebration of the arts she blathers about in her column.

Ruhl probably would have written that Trump was wrong if he HAD attended. You know someone would have.

After what the obnoxious “Hamilton” cast did to Mike Pence, ambushing him when he was a captive audience member  while “the resistance” (and Ruhl, apparently)  cheered, I’m amazed Trump even considered subjecting himself to that kind of insult and potential embarrassment, even before Lear shot off his mouth.  But once the TV producer did, and other honorees hinted that they might not attend, Trump did the gracious and smart thing.

Ah, but this was the perfect trap, you see, for anything Trump did would be wrong, because anything Trump does is by definition wrong.  Ruhl writes that not attending showed a lack of grace.

If the Kennedy Center wants Presidents to host the event, it should make the honors contingent on honorees not making their attendance political—you know, manners. Attend the whole event, including the White House reception, or we’ll find someone else to honor.

I was waiting for one of the female honorees to say that they wouldn’t attend  the event because it was hosted by an alleged sexual harasser—in a theater complex memorial to the worst and most reckless sexual predator in Presidential history.

Sadly, that didn’t occur, but it would have been perfect.

63 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Popular Culture, The Popeye

63 responses to “From The “UGH! Will They EVER Stop Making Me Defend President Trump?” Files: The Kennedy Center Honors Double-Bind

  1. Chris marschner

    Other than tradition, what makes the honorees think they expect attendance by the POTUS. I am sure there are many honors ceremonies across the US for tradespeople, academics, professionals and para-professionals that the President does not attend. Are they less worthy than entertainers and fiction writers?

    What specifically makes the Kennedy Center honorees so special?

    • It is at the city’s arts center, named after a President, championed by the Kennedys. The President has always been the host from the beginning; the Honors were structured that way. And politics never interceded no matter who the POTUS was, or who the honorees were. Until now. Because Norman Lear can’t stay non-partisan even for a night, the jerk.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Your statement about Norman Lear is correct. However, it’s going to fall on deaf ears on the left. To them, Lear is a hero for standing up and speaking truth to power, and Trump is always the villain. The left no doubt applaud themselves for tolerating the presence of GWB and the Republican presidents who came before him, but I think Obama moved the left to the point where only like-thinking folks will be welcome at these events.

      • Glenn Logan

        Now that politics has ruled the day, will it forever rule the Kennedy Center honors henceforth? I can’t see how it could be otherwise. Genie/bottle, etc.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          Afraid so, just like it’s ruling all the other artistic honors. Expect either a blue love-fest or a red hate-fest every year depending on which party is in office. In the meantime some conservatives will just walk away from the arts altogether, and a lot of others will just buy fewer movie tickets, a lot fewer concert tickets (although country may be an exception) and a whole lot fewer sports tickets if this partisanship keeps seeping into sports. You can look the other way on only so much partisanship.

          I can ignore tweets (up to a point) and brush off dumb-sounding interviews (although the interviewers love provoking political commentary from entertainers now). I can’t ignore partisan invective hurled at me from the stage. I seriously had to bite my tongue at Carnegie Hall the beginning of this month to ignore a partisan speech from Al Gore in the middle of an otherwise non-partisan concert about the environment (I went because I wanted to see some of the artists). I will not go to such an event again.

          A favorite act of mine cycles through soloists the way some of us cycle through tires – so long and then replace – and one of the “on deck” soloists for the coming year posted a tweet that was pure US hate and pure Trump hate last election day. If she is pulled from the bench and utilized, not only will I never buy another ticket, but I will, and a bunch of my like-minded friends who are also fans will, make damn sure that tweet makes the rounds on every platform we have access to, and sink their ticket sales like a lead balloon. You can be as partisan as you like. You have no right to expect others to ignore it or to expect there won’t be consequences.

          • Glenn Logan

            If she is pulled from the bench and utilized, not only will I never buy another ticket, but I will, and a bunch of my like-minded friends who are also fans will, make damn sure that tweet makes the rounds on every platform we have access to, and sink their ticket sales like a lead balloon.

            It’s too bad some people make it difficult to ignore their politics and attract boycotts. I try to resist doing that, although I admit I sometimes refuse to watch or continue watching something when it devolves into over-the-top progressive cant, or when some leftist like Tom Hanks makes me not want to watch his latest movie because it’s a paean to a progressive view of the media as watchdog over everyone but them.

            But I can usually ignore the artists comments and focus on the art, even if I occasionally have to smack myself around a bit to do it.. If I didn’t, I’d never listen to Pink Floyd after all the Roger Waters insanity this year. I feel your pain, I just wish we could all ignore the random insane comments and try to focus on the work.

            You have no right to expect others to ignore it or to expect there won’t be consequences.

            No, I suppose not, but my own ethic is to try very, very, very hard to ignore it and let the consequences come in the sphere in which it is offered (i.e. as a lambasting on Twitter) rather than the unrelated sphere of the person’s work, especially when it’s art. I confess, I don’t always succeed.

    • Same user from a Library terminal

      Tradition dictates a lot

  2. Glenn Logan

    I was waiting for one of the female honorees to say that they wouldn’t attend the event because it was hosted by an alleged sexual harasser—in a theater complex memorial to the worst and most reckless sexual predator in Presidential history.

    Delicious irony to be sure, if it had happened. Unfortunately, it would’ve been lost on anyone making the argument. It simply can’t be allowed, you see.

    Apparently, no opposition to President Trump can be wrong regardless of the context or transparency of the double-standard applied, according to people like Ruhl. Only by not boycotting or speaking out against the president can you be found guilty of a sin. Because #Resist, or something.

  3. The anti-Trump resistance is doing their best to set up one damned if you damned if you d, damned if you don’t situation after another to use as propaganda against the President of the United States regardless of what it does to our society or our country. The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony this year was just another lose-lose situation for President Trump and the purveyors of anti-Trump propaganda will milk it for all its worth.

    Open your eyes folks; we truly are in the midst of ongoing intentional sedition against President Trump and therefore the office of the President of the United States. The anti-Trump resistance is using subversion tactics as a propaganda tool trying to incite further sedition. The anti-Trump, anti-President of the United States traitors are slowly destroying the United States by deluding the minds of the population.

    Since it’s becoming very obvious that what the anti-Trump resistance is doing is not going to legally remove the President from the Oval Office, what’s next for these people that are completely obsessed with removing Trump from office? I think the seeds of insurrection have been planted.

    I think that all of the current breed of anti-Trump resistance people are, at some level, clinically obsessed with Trump and this psychological obsession is the driving force behind the anti-Trump resistance and the media (for whatever reason) is intentionally feeding the obsession with anything they can find or fabricate from thin air. If the obsessed anti-Trump resistance cannot legally unseat this evil President of the United States and reverse all of the evil by default things that this evil President has done while in office because the United States government and our legal system are standing in their way then the next “logical” shift for the minds that are truly psychologically obsessed with Trump then what’s next for them. I think their next step is to openly promote via their propaganda media machine that either: 1) Trump has somehow taken over the entire government, so the government is now by default evil, or 2) the type of government that is preventing them from removing the evil from the Oval Office is now, by default, evil because it’s protecting an evil President. We all know that evil and anything that supports evil must be destroyed. Insurrection.

    Obsession can be a driving force that can cause those that are obsessed to justify anything to accomplish their goal. Beware of the obsessed anti-Trump resistance.

    P.S. Yes, I know that went off on a little tangent.

    • Of course that should have read “…damned if you do, damned if you don’t…”.

      Arrgh.

    • Same user from a Library terminal

      It’s not some sort of resistance, the majority of Americans don’t think he’s got for office as evidenced through multiple occasions. No conspiracy at play I assure you. Trump has closed the books on do is requests, cabinet members schedules, reduced national park land solely to appease donors, destroyed the institutions he was supposed to protect, lowered works trust in the American brand, made up erroneous claims of being wiretapped, turned the US state department into a bastion of dysfunction, issued executive orders which time and time again were struck down by courts, and used his Twitter as an open bookfor governments like Saudi Arabia to play us. He’s also encouraged a culture or bullying, hate crimes, and has eroded the concept of truth itself in government. By villainizing anyone who opposes him,being he’s encouraged people to engage in further politicization of all of Americas valuableinstitutions.
      He’s also
      and done nothing for the native American community or rural America which or him into office. There are billions in rural development grants which have gone unusedbecause he’s taken no initiative with do a.

      He also has alienated congress cast enough to make him a lame duck six months into his term.

      On the plus side, he acted decisively in Syria, has some good ideas about keeping industry in the country and maybe did right with Jerusalem although the rest of the worldhates us now.
      I concede that the press ( or rather this opinion columnist) didn’t cover this well but my message is:
      Sure support conservative politics, but
      When it comes to tolerancefor people who have different political views than me, I have to draw line for anyone who thinks Trump is 100% right.
      Not saying that’s you,do but whatever, the beauty off all this is I don’t have to argue because if Doug Jones can win, then we can indeed vote our way around you people

    • Isaac

      Imagine having Donald friggin’ Trump, of all people, living rent-free in your head day and night. Maybe these artists need hobbies.

  4. Julieta Rienstra

    I understand your revulsion and imagine you are bone weary. However, personally I am enjoying the spectacle the Leftists continue to make of themselves. The mask is off and they are revealing themselves Daily to be EXACTLY who they are…and have Always been. I find it Glorious. Imo…eventually, polite & ethical people will stop listening to them altogether and THAT will be Amazing for The Republic!

  5. adimagejim

    Please consider stopping calling these people liberals. The term inappropriately disguises what these people are. Wittingly or unwittingly, they are Alinskyite communists seeking to dissolve most of the US Constitution.

    Real liberals are open to ideas and examine facts. (See Professor Jonathan Haidt’s lenses.) These people are nothing of the kind. They deceive and proclaim their known deceptions as truth.

    This is the root of the mainstream media’s obsession with Russian “collusion”. The media themselves colluded and continue to collude with these anti-constitutionalists and require a public straw man to cover their and their political allies misdeeds.

    Again, please consider dropping the misnomer of liberal when it comes to these people.

  6. GBM

    If it were me, I wouldn’t attend an event named for a serial adulterer, whose paramours included mob molls and Soviet spies while he was President of the United States. Of course this is of no concern to most others, because he was elegant and, of course, assassinated, which made him an instant hero. BTW, where’s the Teddy Kennedy’s honorific event? Negligent homicide, despite a lifelong attempt to absolve himself of his sin, just doesn’t make an honoree — of anything. Bad behavior does run in families.

    Trump did the right thing: for one good reason, and in my opinion, one really excellent reason.

    PS Apparently the Kennedy Center actually thanked Trump for not attending, because in so doing he tried to obviate what would clearly become a negative political event. Nevertheless, it’s “My President, always wrong,” isn’t it? And the constant chatter and accusations of Trump as some totalitarian maniac just prove that ideology continues to override common sense. I don’t see it stopping any time soon. Bad news for the country.

    • Same user from a Library terminal

      We= people who think Trump is dangerous. They include many prominent people on the right as well. Even when he was campaigning for president, nearly half of the most prominent people in the gop wouldn’t support him and it’s only,gotten worse, there are plenty of people in the white house under trump who are disconent or we wouldn’t be getting so many leaks.

      I’d love to find common ground but I feel that this is not a nonpartisan place to discuss ethics but a politically biased space toward conservatism. Are people comfortable admitting that?

      • No, because it;s not true, and if you read more than a few posts, you would know that. If the Left is irrational and unethical, as it has been all year, and I call ethics foul, that doesn’t make EA conservative, it makes those who deny it partisan tools. If I flag the news media’s bias, and the bias is extreme and unforgivable as well as thoroughly documented, that is not a conservative analysis, it is an objective one that weak-minded progressives refuse to acknowledge out of denial and a lack of integrity. Shame on them.

        So “you” think Trump is dangerous. So what? I think he’s dangerous, but I also thought Obama was dangerous, as weak leaders always are. Hillary Clinton was dangerous because she is corrupt . Democrats claimed McCain was dangerous. Reagan was dangerous. I thought Carter was dangerous, again, because he was weak. Nixon was dangerous,. Ford was a boob: boobs are dangerous. Obama’s Iran deal was and is dangerous. His lazy approach to ISIS was dangerous. Nothing you allude to changes the fact that how you “feel” or what you “fear” is irrelevant to a President’s right to do the job he was duly elected to do. What “the resistance is doing is terribly dangerous, and nobody elected them. A non-objective, partisan, biased news media is the most dangerous of all.

        If you want to have an enlightened discussion, you’re going to have to show more substance than you have so far, and I am dubious that you can.The blog commentariat is not ideological for the most part, but it is rigorous, and does not suffer fools gladly. Neither do I.

      • Glenn Logan

        I’d love to find common ground but I feel that this is not a nonpartisan place to discuss ethics but a politically biased space toward conservatism. Are people comfortable admitting that?

        No, because it isn’t true. When a progressive seeks “common ground,” what they generally mean is “Adopt my position or fuck off.”

        Based on your apparent lack of comprehension by concluding this site is “a politically biased space toward conservatism” I have no confidence whatever you intend anything other than demanding everyone agree with you or be labeled a hater, a racist, biased, etc.

        You can’t blame non-progressives for fighting back in kind, so if you want to have a civil conversation, I suggest you quit accusing everyone of being biased. It isn’t really a good way to insist on civility and “common ground” to start off with accusations.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          One of these days someone needs to create a progressive lexicon, if one hasn’t been created.

          “I think we have little common ground:” agree with me or get lost.

          “common-sense gun laws:” restrictive gun laws.

          “undocumented immigrants:” people here illegally.

          “reproductive health:” easy access to abortion.

          “we need to talk;” I need to talk, you need to listen.

        • therealslimshellstropeleanor

          You’re problem is saying that I’m one of those progressives who says “Adopt my position or fuck off.” I spend a great deal of time telling liberals (particularly identity politics liberals or those who generalize about or harshly judge red staters as hopeless) to fuck off.

          I find you guys extreme too, but I suppose you think the media is biased and I could potentially be open to that idea.

          Realizing that Donald Trump, at the very least, has done illegal things or at least being prepared for that idea should be a bipartisan issue. This blog has stated bad things Trump has done but it seems like some Republicans want to rationalize nearly every thing Trump does

          • “but I suppose you think the media is biased and I could potentially be open to that idea.”

            This is signature significance for 1) denial 2) ignorance 3) dishonesty or 4) stupidity. There is no argument to be made that the news media isn’t not merely biased, but dangerously biased. I have documented it, and I am not alone.

            Pick 1, 2,3,or 4, or I’ll assume all 4. If you can’t process facts, there is no hope that you can process ethical analysis.

            “Realizing that Donald Trump, at the very least, has done illegal things or at least being prepared for that idea should be a bipartisan issue.” meanwhile, is even less promising. I’m a lawyer: what “illegal things” do you think you are blathering about? What does “at least being prepared” mean?

            You are rapidly brushing up against the Comment policies, and particularly Stupidity Rule, which holds that some people are just too ignorant or stupid to take part in the discussion here, and interfere with the orderly exchange of opinions and ideas. Don’t come here throwing broad blanket insults about commenters or me being biased. Make your case with facts and cogent, substantive arguments, or shut up.

            • Some friendly guidance: saying Trump is a “bad President” is moronic. I documented that he is an unethical, unqualified leader with a foul character, but that doesn’t make him a “bad President.” I think it’s irresponsible to vote for a bad man as President, but bad men have been successful Presidents. Trump already has shown more leadership instincts than Obama. If you mean by “bad’ that you don’t like his policies, that’s irrelevant. Policies are not the topic here, unless they have clear ethical content. If so, explain what makes them “bad.” In fact, even some Trump foes have had the integrity to admit that he has accomplished more than they expected, and I’d add that this is more impressive given the unethical obstruction of the Mueller investigation and the hostility of the news media.

              “Bad” is a meaningless general insult that adds nothing.

    • Same user from a Library terminal

      Would you hold Trump to the same standard as Kennedy in that case or do you not believe he is guilty of adultery (let alone sexual assault or whatever).

      Most artists were adulterers anyway and this blog has generally advocated for,separating the artist,from,the art

      • Apples and oranges. Kennedy’s sexual predation occurred while in office (1) and involved a mob moll and Mafia contact, a KGB contact, and a likely spy (2), that endangered US security (3), and required reporters to be complicit, (4) and involved multiple government employees in a cover-up (5) while exposing the President of the United States to extortion and blackmail by hostile powers.

        Yeah, I’ll hold Trump to the same standards as JFK based on what he does in office, like JFK. Trump is 71 now, and doubt that it’s very likely. As far as comparing Presidents to Presidents, as of right now, there is no comparison. None.

        And adultery has nothing to do with it. At all. Adultery itself has no impact on the job of the President, nor is it against the law. What Kennedy did was something else entirely, and impeachable, then and now.

        • therealslimshellstropeleanor

          i use that same argument to defend bill clinton though, whos sexual dalliances never impeded his job. I tend to take most sexual assault accusations with a grain of salt, but Trump has a long-standing history of misogyny.. Kennedy I agree is worse.

          Someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger or David Patreus or David Letterman who only had affairs I couldn’t care less about.

          • It’s not the affairs, it’s the abuse of the workplace. Affairs are one thing, sexual harassment is another—the latter is illegal, and a President cannot engage in it. What Presidents do before they were in office cannot be an issue after their election. None of this is difficult. You seem to be mixing it all up, I hope inadvertently.

    • Isaac

      “…where’s the Teddy Kennedy’s honorific event?”

      Coming soon! A-listers will be aching in their loins to win a Waitress Sandwich statuette at the Ted Kennedy Awards! Who will take home the coveted Sandy?

  7. Same user from a Library terminal

    I think the election of the Trump administration has easily been this country’s stupidest moment and greatest self administered tragedy in us history, but I grant you, that this article is wrong and while it is an editorial giving the paper free reign, they skulls not have allowed thks article to beer published. I disagree with you slightly about the pervasiveness of this bias but I don’t think we will find common ground outside the occasional article like this. I also do not believe it invalidates the paper’s front page reporting.

    However, what a this about Hamilton? To put it tactfully I’ll use the word extreme in describing your reaction. The cast of Hamilton was rightfully fearing for their threat of safetyand future of the nation at the prospect of a trump administration and they were extremely diplomatic and respectful to pence.

    • Isaac

      “This country’s stupidest moment and greatest self administered tragedy in us history”

      We had slavery.

      John Adams tried to make it a federal crime to criticize him.

      Roosevelt locked up Japanese people in camps.

      I think last call has long passed in that library.

    • Junkmailfolder

      “The cast of Hamilton was rightfully fearing for their threat of safety…”

      Rather than eviscerate this for either grammar or hyperbole, I’ll just ask you a simple question: What are they rightfully fearing, specifically?

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Greatest self-administered tragedy? What are you, a college English or Sociology major with little real world experience? That’s what you sound like. Only twentysomethings barely out in the world would think that the newest Republican president was a great tragedy. I heard the same talk in 2000 when GWB finally prevailed over Gore and the same talk in 1988 when Bush the elder won. There will always be young liberals who think the fact that their candidate lost was the Devil entering the world.

      9/11 was a tragedy. Carter’s turning the US into a pathetic helpless giant was a tragedy. Watergate was a tragedy. Johnson’s poor handling of Vietnam was a tragedy. America’s staying neutral while Europe fell before Hitler was a tragedy. America’s giving up major cities to gangsters during Prohibition was a tragedy. The election of Donald Trump may well turn out to have been a mistake, but it’s no more a tragedy than the election of the last president.

      The bias is probably more pervasive than indicated above, but I submit it’s a little hard to see it if you are biased yourself. I’m a conservative, and I know darn well National Review and Fox are coming from a biased standpoint. If you are already biased toward liberalism, then of course you’re going to believe there is no bias, and your posts speak for themselves.

      Jack was nowhere near extreme in his reaction toward the cast of Hamilton. The cast is certainly allowed to believe and feel whatever, same as anyone else. No performer is right to use the stage as a political platform, and especially not to single out a member of the audience for shaming. It’s one thing to acknowledge the police commissioner in the audience at St. Patrick’s day, especially if the police pipes and drums are featured. It’s one thing to salute the composer of a piece if he happens to be present. It’s inappropriate to slam a member of the audience in front of everyone else. If you can’t grasp why, then you need to do some rethinking.

      • therealslimshellstropeleanor

        Well, if you can see the bias in your news organizations, that makes me happy. I can see the bias in this report and feel there are occasions where people are hard on Trump but I also feel that he is a terrible and dagnerous man too. One doesn’t invalidate the other.

        I also don’t think Watergate was a tragedy. Politicians did something wrong and the law caught up to them. It was one of the country’s finest moments.

        I’m taking about self-administered stupidity. We didn’t commit 9/11 to ourselves.

        I’m not interested in debating Obama vs Trump. I obviously feel different than you that Obama, McCain, Kerry, Romney, George W Bush, Gore, Clinton, Dole, Perot, and whoever else has run for president all cleared a minimum bar of intellect, intellectual curiosity, decency, and professionalism that our current president doesn’t have.

        I’m just suggesting that Trump is a bad president and people need to call him out on bad things, and if you’re doing that, I’m pleased. I’m more centrist liberal than liberal, but most of the Republican party in power has disliked having Trump in office anyways, and if he can’t rally support for his own party, he’s a lame duck as is.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          What you “feel” is irrelevant. If you are saying this is what you “think” or “believe: then we can actually have a discussion.

          Watergate was a tragedy. It was a failure at the very top of this nation’s leadership. It led to a crisis in confidence and faith in the Federal government when this nation could ill afford one. It paralyzed the ability of the executive branch to function effectively. The law actually didn’t catch up to Nixon himself, since he was ultimately pardoned, but his fall led to the less than well qualified Gerald Ford and paved the way for the incompetent Carter. It was definitely not one of this nation’s “finest moments,” any more than the slimy Teapot Dome scandals, which led to the Secretary of the Interior going to jail, were a fine moment.

          If you’re going to discuss Trump you don’t get to carve out one area of the discussion, like him vis-à-vis the previous chief executive, as off limits. You may think Trump is a bad president, and there certainly is plenty to criticize him on. However, the fact is that we are stuck with him for at least three more years, possibly seven. This talk of impeachment or him being removed for collaboration is a pipe dream.

          • Same user from a Library terminal

            Sorry sir but you’re as bad as liberal snow flakes. What I feel and think and believe and can support with facts, no need to debate my word choice.

            I could defend Obama of course. How many scandals that shook world and public confidence did Obama produce? Zero. Trump is such a laughing stock around the rest of the world that popularity ratings for headsofstate in Germany and Italy go down whenever their leaders kowtow to him, Mexico will soon be working around him, top scientists are going to Europe, and the British parliament has tried to ban him. Obama never caused any,of those head aches. He’s also thinned,out the state department ranks, my parents used to high ranking,state,department officials, they’re seeing,this destruction,firsthand.

            Obama at least made an effort to be inclusive of different demographics. He’s made every effort to work with,congress before issuing executive,orders. He hasn’t been caught in,over 800 lies in his first,year in office. I didn’t want to brimg,those,thimgs, up to politicize but there’s,no comparison as I see it.

            Well, I’ll pray harder that Trump goes down in less then three years. November 2018 is sometging

            • This is garbage, and a fact free political screed. Next comment this poor, and you’re gone.

              There have been no Trump scandals that “shook the world”—you idiot. The opinions of foreign citizens of the US and its leaders are of negligible concern: they are from Venus, we are from our own planet and culture. This is one thing Trump gets. Trump promised to “thin out” the government generally, and that was one of the reasons he was elected. Gee, sorry your parents have a bias there: it’s irrelevant. Results matter, not feelings or past practices.

              “Obama at least made an effort to be inclusive of different demographics.” Debatable ethics issue. A President’s job is to succeed, not meet quotas. Obama had an incompetent and overtly political hack as AG, because he was black. He had a corrupt influence peddler as SOS, because she was a woman. He appointed a poor jurist to SCOTUS because of her chromosomes and accent. You think that’s great leadership? Good for you. It’s not a substantive argument.

              You are counting “lies.” I’ve seen the list. Accepting that as data is proof of hackery. Yup, Trump pays no attention to facts at all, but most of this is “gotcha!” nonsense.

              Be objective and substantive or get lost. Last shot.

            • This is garbage, and a fact free political screed. Next comment this poor, and you’re gone.

              There have been no Trump scandals that “shook the world”—you idiot. The opinions of foreign citizens of the US and its leaders are of negligible concern: they are from Venus, we are from our own planet and culture. This is one thing Trump gets. Trump promised to “thin out” the government generally, and that was one of the reasons he was elected. Gee, sorry your parents have a bias there: it’s irrelevant. Results matter, not feelings or past practices.

              “Obama at least made an effort to be inclusive of different demographics.” Debatable ethics issue. A President’s job is to succeed, not meet quotas. Obama had an incompetent and overtly political hack as AG, because he was black. He had a corrupt influence peddler as SOS, because she was a woman. He appointed a poor jurist to SCOTUS because of her chromosomes and accent. You think that’s great leadership? Good for you. It’s not a substantive argument.

              You are counting “lies.” I’ve seen the list. Accepting that as data is proof of hackery. Yup, Trump pays no attention to facts at all, but most of this is “gotcha!” nonsense.

              Be objective and substantive or get lost. Last shot.

              • therealslimshellstropeleanor

                You’re putting me in an impossible situation here because I have my beliefs and you don’t like them. You’re requiring me to make extra effort to defend Obama, I’m not interested in spending time digging up business discussing the merits of Clinton, Holder, or Sotamayor. Maybe you’re right or wrong

                Is everything my parents say biased because they have firsthand experience? You know nothing about them? If my parents praised Donald Trump would you use that as firsthand evidence that Trump is doing a good job? I admit my bias in treating them as sources but I’ve trusted the research.

                It sounds like you think the state department is of no importance (you’ve just washed away Trump’s role as head of state by stating that that idea of keeping diplomatic good or strategically sound relations is of no significance), there’s very little I could substantially do to convince you of Trump’s ineffectiveness in this area (which is not to say
                I could show articles and data showing the way the state department but you’ll just say that “it’s all biased” because you’ve come to distrust facts, data, and truth, so what’s the point of arguing with you? And this is to say nothing of Trump’s mismanagement of the Departments of Agriculture or anything else?
                https://www.vox.com/world/2017/11/8/16623278/trump-state-department-data-career
                https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/state-department-trump/517965/
                http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/31/how-the-trump-administration-broke-the-state-department/
                https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/08/14/how-president-trumps-state-department-is-sabotaging-americas-future-leadership/?utm_term=.d1baf2254329

                I admit I have my biases, of course. If I didn’t like your blog at some point, I wouldn’t be hear imploring you for my case. I think it’s best to just admit and come to terms with your biases instead of being militant and insisting they don’t exist.

                But I suspect your ego won’t allow you to do that and that will be a sad thing for the country.

                • I replied to this once but lost it. Again:

                  I have to deal with biases all the time. It is hard, and I am not always successful.That’s one theme of Ethics alarms, in fact. If you want to be fair and objective, its a constant battle, and sometimes you lose.

                  This is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation:

                  It sounds like you think the state department is of no importance (you’ve just washed away Trump’s role as head of state by stating that that idea of keeping diplomatic good or strategically sound relations is of no significance), there’s very little I could substantially do to convince you of Trump’s ineffectiveness in this area (which is not to say I could show articles and data showing the way the state department but you’ll just say that “it’s all biased” because you’ve come to distrust facts, data, and truth, so what’s the point of arguing with you? And this is to say nothing of Trump’s mismanagement of the Departments of Agriculture or anything else?

                  If you check, the context was reducing State staff. Your parents, understandably, believe this is per se bad. It isn’t, but that is a predictable insider perspective. Any idea how big the State Department was during WWII and the post war years? They did a pretty good job. Bureaucracies grow, and if they aren’t pruned, they grow out of control. Those on those organizations, of course, think more is better. That’s all. Trump said he was going to get rid of excess personnel.

                  From the Post:

                  Nearly a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy, a shift long sought by conservatives that could eventually bring the workforce down to levels not seen in decades.

                  By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by The Washington Post.

                  * * * * * * *

                  “Morale has never been lower,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers at more than 30 agencies. “Government is making itself a lot less attractive as an employer.”

                  Well, the pupose of government is to do the job as efficiently and cheaply as possible, not to be “an attractive employer.”

                  Look: I don’t know if the cuts are the right ones, but your comment assumed that cutting staff itself was inherently incompetent or sinister. That’s what I was addressing, and the fact that in judging that, career bureaucrats are not the most objective sources.

                  Clearer?

    • Glenn Logan

      However, what a this about Hamilton? To put it tactfully I’ll use the word extreme in describing your reaction. The cast of Hamilton was rightfully fearing for their threat of safetyand future of the nation at the prospect of a trump administration and they were extremely diplomatic and respectful to pence.

      There was nothing diplomatic about upbraiding Pence and his family in front of a host of people, most of them hostile to him and his family, while he was still a private citizen. If the cast were concerned about “[the] future of the nation,” the proper forum for expressing that concern is not to force the patrons of a play, who paid for a ticket to be entertained and not lectured to, to listen to a jeremiad to which they can offer no response.

      What Hamilton’s cast did was transparently unethical. Yes, it was within their rights as citizens, but the forum was totally wrong, they should’ve known better, and every person present should’ve been offended. How would you like to come to a play, find yourself outnumbered 100-1 by Trump supporters and be forced to listen to a one-sided conservative harangue about the evils of electing leftist congresspeople while the speakers called you out by name?

      I suspect you wouldn’t care for it, and neither would I, and neither would the cast of Hamilton that delivered it. They violated the Golden Rule, at the very minimum, and many other ethics considerations as well. If you had been reading this blog long enough, you would’ve read Jack’s piece about this event, and hopefully saved yourself this comment.

      • therealslimshellstropeleanor

        I’d argue that it’s undiplomatic but not unethical.
        The play itself is about social change and democracy so it’s in line with that.
        Mike Pence is a public figure so “shaming” is part of the contract he signed up for.
        Also, worth noting, Mike Pence wasn’t offended by it, so this beef is solely yours. What’s the ethics of taking your frustrations with liberals and transferring it to a stuation that doesn’t invite your comments? By this I mean, you’re falsely claiming one party is insulted by the other.

        “How would you like to come to a play, find yourself outnumbered 100-1 by Trump supporters and be forced to listen to a one-sided conservative harangue about the evils of electing leftist congresspeople while the speakers called you out by name?”

        That’s pretty much what’s happening here. People have said that I’m an illiterate 8th grader when I have a master’s degree in public policy. I don’t give a shit. It’s freedom of speech. I welcome the principle. If it happened in a play I was at, I certainly wouldn’t be traumatized. I would perhaps respond on my own.

        Besides, you’re implying that they said something to him that was insulting.
        They thanked him for coming and asked him to keep the idea of the play in mind. Quit you’re whining.

        • I’ve covered this thoroughly. You have no argument. Search for “Hamilton” on the blog. I ran a professional theater company and am a professional director. Any cast that did that should be fired. No, a public figure going to a play must be treated like any other audience member, and a cast lecturing a captive audience member us unfair, abusive, grandstanding, unprofessional, a deep, deep breach of theater ethics.

          As you will find in one of the posts on this, I explained what I would have done if I had been in that audience, and the cast would have wished it had never been born. “Undiplomatic”? Is a grocer being fair and responsible to accost a shopper and lecture her? An airplane flight attendant mid flight? Can a cop stop you and give you a a lecture about how you are doing your job?

          Your opinion is ill-informed and indefensible by tradition, ethics, or professional standards, and yes, I know a hell of a lot more about this than you do, as a professional actor, director, producer and theatrical writer for many decades. I have no patience for this position: all it is is the same “we can mistreat these officials in ways that we have never tolerated before, because we’re really really upset” that has fueled the resistance for a year.

          As director I would have personally intervened, fired the actors on the spot, and apologized to the audience. How dare they? They are paid to perform. They can make their political statements outside the theater, out of costume, off the stage, in their own persona. They cannot trap a ticket holder for abuse.

          Drop it. You’re wrong, and nobody who agrees with you has ever made even a half-coherent defense of it other than “we like it.”

          • therealslimshellstropeleanor

            I wanted to come to this site once more today just try to extend an olive branch: I actually am here not to troll you because I’ve admired and liked your site for a while. I don’t always agree with you but at least you put forth an ethical analysis towards event.

            And yes, I will give you credit for calling out Trump on misdeeds.

            However, I do feel that you’ve become biased towards the right and now you’re becoming sensitive to arguments that disagree with yours when I think it would be wonderful if we can find space to agree to disagree and respect that the other person put forth a good argument. I just think it’s unfortunate that we as a society can’t do that any more, and if you want to be part of that trend, I just feel it’s sad (not in a perjorative way) that we’ve reached that point that we can’t share that space if discourse anymore which is what these discussions are all about..

            Yes, I feel like points I’ve previously made such as:
            -The play itself is about social change and democracy so it’s in line with that.
            -Mike Pence is a public figure so “shaming” is part of the contract he signed up for.
            -Mike Pence wasn’t offended by it, so the issue is solely with the commenters on this board
            …are not trolling or baseless. Feel free to disagree with me on them or respond to them in a civil manner, if you want to villainize people who make those points, you’re contributing to this massive polarization.

            As for your more recent argument, the comparison to a grocer lecturing a customer is well-taken. Honestly, a solid point.

            I believe that Trump’s conduct, right or wrong, has been more extreme than any of his predecessors in the realm of political theater, and he actively courts that, so he should expect this. I understand the argument that we should respect basic civility towards our leaders and I encourage other democrats in certain areas that are applicable, but I also believe that quantitatvely because he has done things and carried out his message that no one else has done before, the response has been more extreme. When I said “people afraid for your lives” I don’t expect sympathy, but I do expect empathy that there’s plenty to fear in the Trump administration (DACA, changes to health care).
            :
            I would argue that the rules of a theater performance, which you know more than me about, are a contract between the manager of the theater and the actors, more than anything else. You would have fired them, fair enough. Those actors are beholden to their employer who supported the actors in their statement.

            Lastly, I think a lot of this is a matter of degree of harm. There’s nothing overtly duragatory about the speech they made, it was a plea that a specific member of the audience keep in mind the value of the play.

            Maybe you’ll ban me after this comment but thanks for letting me share my opinion in the here and now.

            • I have no problem with this comment. I was probably unduly severe in my last response, and I apologize. Too many provocative comments, too little time. I have to keep reminding myself that on some of these topics, like “Hamilton,” I have been over and over them, while a particular commenter is engaging in the issue for the first time.

  8. Isaac

    Did anyone else just see a highly paid entertainer throw a tantrum over the President because he “refused to celebrate us?”

    It wasn’t just me right? You all read that too?

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