Of late, there has been talk about the “dignity of the Presidency.” So, I have a question: whose job is it to protect the dignity of the Presidency?
First and foremost, the President
Obviously, the president must comport himself in a manner that lends itself to dignity. President Trump has found this difficult to do. He is obviously not a politician. He says what he means. This is both a strength and a weakness.
But at times, I think he could have said what he meant with greater dignity than he has. For example: why is he having a public spat with Jeff Sessions? Jeff Sessions was one of the first senators to support him. He is on President Trump’s side, for goodness sake! Even if Mr. Sessions should have warned the President that he would recuse himself from the Russian investigation, that happened back in February. Why has it become an issue now? And why so publicly? Mr. Sessions strikes me as an honorable man. If he has a problem with Mr. Sessions, why doesn’t Mr. Trump handle it discreetly? If President Trump wants his staff to have his back, then he needs to have their back, too. Loyalty is a two-way street.
But let me be clear, President Clinton might have put a dignified face on the Presidency in public, but his actions with a White House intern and his lies under oath about it didn’t add to the dignity of the Presidency either. Why was President Clinton excused by the media, and President Trump is not?
Next, the members of the President’s staff
And what about Anthony Scaramucci? The man hasn’t been in office for a week, and he’s using (what he euphemistically describes as) “colorful language” when referring to people among his staff. What the %*!@ is going on? How does this add to dignity?
The answer is: it doesn’t. This White House shake up isn’t playing well in Peoria — or at least with me. President Trump can hire and fire a communication manager every month, and the media isn’t going to suddenly fall in love with him. They hate him, and they will do what they can to bring him down. And putting a foul-mouthed man, no matter how competent otherwise, into a communications position isn’t doing President Trump any good.
I doubt the media would agree with me, but they must do at least one thing: they must be honest and as unbiased as possible. When they go after Donald Trump, Jr. for a meeting with Russians in which he hopes to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, then they need to go after Hillary Clinton for her far more extensive contacts with the Ukraine in their attempts to get “dirt” on then candidate Trump. I’ve heard National Public Radio (NPR) leave unchallenged a Democratic explanation of this Ukrainian connection as being done by a “low-level” staffer. Well, is Donald Trump Jr. a politician? Why are we holding him more responsible for knowing the score than a “low-level” staffer who, we might presume, was hired for her political expertise?
It is so obvious to me that media bias exists, that I wonder that intelligent men and women can be oblivious to it. Perhaps we are all playing to our own biases, but I think those who don’t recognize it or acknowledge it are wrong. Since I spoke about this in earlier blogs (Unashamed Hypocrisy, What is truth? Do we care?), I won’t repeat myself here, except to say that poll after poll of media personalities confirms that they vote over 90% for Democrats. If we believe that this doesn’t create its own bias in favor of Democrats and liberals and against Republicans and conservatives, we deceive ourselves.
Finally, all of us
I have always taken care to refer to any politician, particularly any holding the Presidency as “President Clinton” or “President Trump”. Or perhaps as “Mr. Bush” or “Senator Obama”. It doesn’t matter if I agree with his policies or not. There is a respect due to the office. When we refer to someone baldly as “Clinton” or “Trump”, I think we contribute to lessening the dignity of the office. You might disagree, but that’s where I am.
For sure, though, when we engage in profanity or obscenities in relation to any political figure, we denigrate the office that person holds when we think we are only doing so to the man or woman who holds the office.
And when we do it with the President, we are part of the problem.
Criticism can be leveled without disrespect or impropriety.