USA Today is not known as a hotbed of political activism. In fact, compared to the pointedly partisan Fox News, it could even be characterized as quite bland, doing what journalists have been doing for centuries — offering news and information in an authoritative fashion. But with Donald Trump’s recent Twitter attack on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the editorial board of USA Today finally had enough of the hate spewed by the alleged president. In perhaps the most stinging rebuke ever published against a sitting president, the board proclaimed, “A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes.”
Here’s the Tweet that pushed USA Today editors over the edge:
Some of you will be asking, “What has any of this to do with cleantech?*” And of course you have every right to inquire. Here’s the answer: Donald Trump perhaps more than any other person alive is opposing the Paris climate accords and championing the further destruction of the earth through the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels. To the extent that his prestige and power are limited by his disgraceful behavior and public shaming, his ability to proceed with his embrace of policies that are inamicable to the environment is reduced. In an ironic version of the Republican’s much loved “trickle down theory,” diminishing himself and his office also diminishes all the underlings and petty henchmen like Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke who advocate for his anti-environment agenda.
Here is the rest of the shocking USA Today editorial.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president’s smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her “wherever,” he didn’t mean her nose.
And as is the case with all of Trump’s digital provocations, the president’s words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.
A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.
This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.” Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.
If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:
He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing — and in one case molesting and in another assaulting — teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: “Roy Moore will always vote with us.”
Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That’s 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post’s fact-checkers.
Trump takes advantage of any occasion — even Monday’s failed terrorist attack in New York — to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife.
Congress “must end chain migration,” he said Monday, because the terror suspect “entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.” So because one man — 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 — is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn’t. It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It’s all the same to this president.
A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn’t even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly.
Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory. He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it’s because he is under audit. He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing.
Not to mention calling white supremacists “very fine people,” pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes. It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.
The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.
That last part is the unkindest cut of all. Trump rose to power by relying on his “Make America Great Again” slogan, a dog whistle if there ever was one to all the white supremacist lunatics he lovingly describes as his “base.” Trump makes no pretense of being a president of the people. He clearly cares only about the minority who represent the worst of America.
Older readers may remember a similar incident in American history when a demagogue was neutered in public. Senator Joe McCarthy once was the most powerful and most feared man in America. His “red menace” brand of virulent anti-communism led to such abominations as the House UnAmerican Activities Committee and the Hollywood blacklist. Like Trump, McCarthy specialized in character assassination, innuendo, and smears.
But he was undone by Joseph Welch, an attorney representing the US Army in a Senate hearing. At one point, he addressed McCarthy and said, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” That question marked the end of Tail Gunner Joe’s reign of terror. Here’s an odd twist some of you may find interesting: McCarthy’s chief counsel was Roy Cohn, who began his ascent up the back stairs of power by prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
A fierce proponent of the “It’s not a crime if they can’t prove it in court” school of thought, Cohn influenced another McCarthy acolyte, Richard Nixon. In fact, Nixon may have been channeling Cohn when he decided to employ a strategy of stonewalling the Watergate investigation. And who was Donald Trump’s attorney during the early days of his business career? None other than Roy Cohn. The gates of history turn on tiny hinges.
Is it possible this USA Today editorial will mark the beginning of the end for Donald Trump and end America’s long national nightmare? No one deserves ignominy more than the despicable, deplorable Trump, whose name will forever live in infamy.
*Editor’s note: This topic also brings me back to sociology and environmental studies classes in college, where a link between disrespect for humans, disrespect for women, and disrespect for nature were illuminating topics. For some people, perhaps even referring to Nature as a mother triggers a negative socio-psychological response. For others, a sociopathic or psychopathic lack of consideration for others can lead to various morally bankrupt actions — such as pro-pollution, anti-health, anti-human policy proposals (like reversing the purpose of the EPA and aiming to become the only country in the world not in the Paris climate accords) as well as sexually assaulting and verbally abusing women.
The links between inconsiderate climate policies, health policies, air quality policies, energy policies, immigration policies, sexual assault, and bullying (of all sorts) may not be direct, but the links are very likely there in the root approach to others, and especially to those who have less power and less ability to harm Trump himself. With great power comes great responsibility. If a person does not have a good record of taking care of the people he or she has power over, we should be very cautious about giving him or her more responsibility for others, including ourselves.
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