A harsh president
President Trump made a rare appearance at a church last Sunday. It’s a safe bet the sermon was not based on Proverbs 15:1 — “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If it was, it didn’t appear to have much effect.
Before and after church, the president engaged in a tweet storm that insulted several people, including the late Sen. John McCain. Mr. Trump accuses McCain of being complicit in the leak of the Steele Dossier, a private intelligence report compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele for the political research firm Fusion GPS, which, among other things, alleges that in Moscow Donald Trump booked “…the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. Obama (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia,” and, while in the company of prostitutes, defiled the bed.
According to Newsweek, “…major parts of the dossier have been verified by subsequent investigations into Russian election meddling.” Trump’s behavior at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, however, remains unverified.
The president referred to McCain as “last in his class at Annapolis.” This was too much for McCain’s daughter, Meghan, who said on “The View,” that the president is leading “a pathetic life,” adding, “He spends his weekend obsessing over great men, because he knows it, and I know it, and all of you know it, he will never be a great man.”
This is the problem with insults and anger. They invite similar responses. Nothing is affected by harshness, except a general degrading of the office and of the people who shoot rhetorical arrows at others. Are such things a cause of our deep decline into the cesspool of decadence, or are they a reflection of much of the country’s mood? I fear it is the latter, but good examples can set a higher tone. It is why we instruct our children not to call other people names. Don’t we? If we do, why do so many tolerate it with Trump?
Among the many problems with the president’s behavior is that it is unnecessary. It is also offensive. It is unnecessary because he is keeping most of his promises, including the naming of constitutionalists to the courts and presiding over a roaring economy that has lifted many boats previously thought to have sunk forever. According to a new CNN poll, seven out of 10 respondents say the economy is in “good shape,” a prerequisite for any president seeking re-election.
One can favor the policies of the president while criticizing his behavior. “Uncouth” is one word that comes to mind. It was used in an email to me by a prominent conservative talk show host (not Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, in case you are wondering), who is also tired of the president’s insults. Uncouth is defined as “lacking good manners, refinement, or grace.” Does this not accurately describe this president?
He threatens to sue “Saturday Night Live” for Alec Baldwin’s satirical portrayal of him. He should go on the show, as Sarah Palin did, and demonstrate he can take it as well as dish it out. It might boost his likability.
Kindness, grace and humility go a long way and accomplish more than perpetual anger and demeaning people with whom one disagrees. The president should try it, not in a manipulative way, but seriously.
My grandmother — and I suspect many other grandmothers — used to remind me of an old saying: “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” It means you can accomplish more with being polite and kind than with vitriol and hate.
Perhaps at church Sunday there was a Bible in the pew. The president should have opened it to Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Try it, Mr. President. It works. This advice is offered by one who wishes you success.
This year marks Cal Thomas’ 35th year
as a syndicated columnist.