Saturday, July 1, 2017

Real Presidents Don't Punch Back

Donald Trump can't help himself.  He has to lash out at everything and everyone.  There seems to be a general consensus among rational people that his recent comment about Mika Brzezinski is a step too far.

His minority of supporters are cheering him on.  His long-suffering wife defended him.  This woman who claims to be supporting an anti-bullying project said, "He will punch back 10 times harder."

Is this the kind of behavior we should expect from someone occupying the the highest office in the land?

Being president - being in politics in general -  requires an extraordinary personality.  A politician needs a thick skin.  He needs to be able to take the high ground when attacked.  He needs to be diplomatic at all times.  He has to walk a fine line between being gracious and saying what's on his mind.  When you are president, you must deal with the media, the public, and the leaders of other countries with consistency and class.

In other words, you don't "punch back".

Let's look at some some examples from the past few decades.

Obama was hanged in effigy.  He was pictured on posters and t-shirts wearing a Hitler mustache.  He received death threats daily.  I never heard him insult or demean his enemies.  He laughed it off.

Remember the meme that went around the internet of George W. Bush pictured next to various primates?  We all saw it, but I never heard or saw him react to it.

In 1986 the band Genesis released the video for the song Land of Confusion that featured a grotesque puppet of Ronald Reagan accidentally hitting a call button for his nurse and ended up launching nuclear missles.  I never heard him as much as mention it.

Donald Trump is under the same media scrutiny that every other politician throughout American history has had to endure.  A free and unbiased press is a necessity for a free and democratic society.  Americans need to know everything about our government.  We need to know the good and the bad.  We need to know what policies will be enacted.  We need to know if our public servants are properly representing us abroad.  We need to know if politicians truly respect and serve us, or if they are serving their own power.  It is the job of the media to relentlessly pursue the government in search of facts because the actions of a politician can literally mean life or death to American citizens.

Occupying a high office doesn't just mean you have to face scrutiny from the press.   You must also expect to be lampooned by comedians, criticized by pundits, and grilled by citizens.  You will be criticized and satirized.  It doesn't matter what side of the political fence you are on. Someone, somewhere isn't going to like what you do.  At some point you will make a faux pas or do something embarrassing and it will be all over the news.  The press will fight to keep you honest.

This is part of public life. You are choosing it.  Hitting back is not an option.  Your only option is to do your job and do it to the best of your ability.

So Mr. Trump, it's time you take the advice of Harry Truman: "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen."  You chose this office.  It's up to you to give it the grace and dignity it deserves.  You can't punch back, so start acting like a president.

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