In this Boomer Opinion piece, BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes that he should stop being surprised these days when he sees what comes out of the White House.
Just when I think Donald Trump can’t out-ridiculous himself, he surprises me.
The latest? After controversial first-term congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this past week injudiciously indicted the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for “singling out newly elected women of color” to chastise, the president actually came to his sometimes bare-knuckled rival’s defense, not just proclaiming that Pelosi “is not a racist” but adding that Ocasio-Cortez had been “very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time.”
No, that’s not the ridiculous part. Ocasio-Cortez herself, asked if Pelosi is a racist, emphatically answered, “Absolutely not.”
What’s ridiculous is how erratic and unanchored this president really is. For just hours earlier, reacting to news that Pelosi’s predecessor, Paul Ryan, had told the author of a book called American Carnage that Trump “didn’t know anything about government,” Trump dispatched two late-night tweets, calling Ryan’s record of achievement “atrocious” (adding of course, as only a narcissist like Trump can do, “except during my first two years as President,”), calling Ryan’s tenure “a long running lame duck failure,” and capping it all off with, “Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!”
Put aside the fact that when Ryan announced his retirement from Congress, Trump wrote, “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question.” Well, nobody except Trump, all of half a year later.
But, sorry to disappoint; even that is not the best example of how this guy can out-ridiculous himself.
No, the best is that Trump complained about a freshman congresswoman being “very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time” not 12 hours after showing whopping disrespect for a man who himself had served in Congress for 20 years, who had run in fact as his party’s (and Trump’s party) vice presidential nominee in 2012, and who’d been Speaker of the House, right before Pelosi.
But then again, do we expect anything less?!?
I might have let it all go anyway— because being childishly capricious (and a puerile bully) clearly is the norm, not the exception for Trump— except for a column a friend sent me on the same day the president blew his lid about Paul Ryan.
The column’s title is, “He fights,” and the writer— Evan Sayet— tries to make a case that he’s not bothered by Donald Trump’s lack of decorum. “He can be vulgar, he can be crude, he can be undignified at times. I don’t care… He fights.”
That’s why, Sayet writes, when he is asked whether Trump’s tweets are “beneath the dignity of the office,” his answer is, “We Right-thinking people have tried dignity.”
His lead example? “There could not have been a man of more quiet dignity than George W. Bush as he suffered the outrageous lies and politically motivated hatreds that undermined his presidency.”
Yes, I agree, George W. Bush was— and still is— a man of quiet dignity. Compared to Trump, I would take Bush back in a heartbeat.
But excuse me, George W. Bush led our nation into a war we never should have started. By invading Iraq, we opened a Pandora’s Box of rancorous rivalries that we never have been able to close again. I will cut Mr. Bush some slack; given his background, he had no reason to understand the pressure cooker into which he was inserting us. But it never appeared that he sought the advice of others who did. We pay the price to this day.
So no, President Bush did not suffer “outrageous lies and politically motivated hatreds.” Because he wasn’t attacked for what he was. He was attacked for what he did.
You want to talk about dignity? Despite the rancor millions of Americans felt toward George W. Bush for changing the world for the worse, he kept his dignity… and for many like me, who certainly were no fans, he kept our respect.
It would be too much to wish for Donald Trump to show even a drop of dignity as president, let alone a morsel of respect for his adversaries. He is a ridiculous man. It is a ridiculous way to run a country. I dislike him for what he does. But I detest him for what he is.