Editorial: President Trump and the politics of derision

Instead of insulting his critics, President Trump would do well to answer the criticism

  • President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention in Chicago: "Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison."

    President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Convention in Chicago: "Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison." AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

 
Posted10/28/2019 5:51 PM

There are many Donald Trump supporters who question why he seems to have been under a constant assault that began even before he took office as president.

No president, they say, has had to deal with such relentless criticism, such disrespectful humor, such ongoing investigation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Certainly, the president gets a lot of flak, being the lightning rod for controversy that he is.

Is some of that due to the polarization of our times? No doubt.

Is a lot of it due to the radical change he is trying to introduce to our government and to some of his controversial positions? No doubt again.

But to a great degree, it seems obvious to us, Trump brings this visceral animosity on himself.

As one of all too many examples: Trump, after all, is the one who publicly derides fellow Republicans who disagree with his leadership as "human scum."

We know many establishment Republicans who are torn by the conflict between his policies (which they tend to support) and his churlish narcissism (which they cannot abide). They are not scum. They are well-meaning people trying to do the right thing.

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Trump and his supporters, meanwhile, have challenged the Mueller investigation as nothing more than politically motivated, an attempted "coup" by those unhappy with Trump's election.

During the campaign, Trump called on Russia to release Hillary Clinton's email files. Perhaps it was just wry Trump humor. But Russia was, indeed, involved in the hack of the Democratic National Committee and proceeded on the same day to move forward with its meddling.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But certainly worthy of investigation. In fact, it would have been malfeasance if the Justice Department had chosen not to investigate.

Now we come to Trump's call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The memo the White House itself released describing the call makes it plain that Trump responded to an appeal by Zelensky for arms purchases by asking him to begin an investigation into Joe Biden, one of Trump's chief rivals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Should the hearings in the impeachment inquiry related to that call be open to the public? Given the importance of the subject matter, it would be better that way, although, it should be acknowledged, Republicans as well as Democrats serve on the panel hearing the preliminary testimony.

But it is important to remember that the open-inquiry issue, hammered home by Trump and his acolytes, is -- like the character assassinations Trump conducts of anyone who opposes him -- a distraction.

The central matter for Trump and for the country isn't who's asking the questions. It's what are the answers?

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