America, the diminished

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America, the diminished

Post by confuzzled dude on Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:33 pm

At the Washington Examiner, Byron York argues that those who fight Donald Trump on Donald Trump’s terms end up diminished. Trump sprays insults with abandon, mocking everything from his critics’ intelligence to their popularity to their ethics to their plastic surgery, but those who engage with the president of the United States on his own level make themselves look smaller and meaner, and they are never able to go as low for as long as Trump.

“Of course one could say that Trump is at fault,” York writes. Yes, one could. York doesn’t so much reject that possibility as rule it out as a category error. Unlike most people, whose behavior is bounded by shame and thus amenable to criticism, Trump is truly shameless, and thus criticizing his behavior is useless. “Trump is Trump,” York writes. “He does what he does.”

York has a point. Trump takes such glee in conflict, and cares so little for standards of decency or compassion, that his assailants often diminish themselves by betraying their own values out of desperation. But this isn’t just true of Trump’s assailants. It is true of all of us. To consistently engage with Trump is to be diminished by him. And we have all been diminished by his presidency.

We are diminished when our president lies, and even more so when we begin taking his habitual lying for granted. The New York Times published a comprehensive list of falsehoods Trump told since taking office and found it wasn’t until March that Trump went a full day without saying something flatly untrue. The absence of public dishonesty, for Trump, is usually driven by an absence of opportunity to be publicly dishonest. “On days without an untrue statement, he is often absent from Twitter, vacationing at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, or busy golfing,” the Times found.

We are diminished when our president uses cyberbullying as a communications strategy, spending his mornings picking childish fights on Twitter and coming up with insulting nicknames for his enemies. It is impossible to imagine the firestorm that would have followed Barack Obama or Bill Clinton mocking a television anchor’s plastic surgery. But in this White House, press officers justify the president’s insults by saying he “fights fire with fire.” The president is teaching our children that bullies win so long as they never, ever back down.

We are diminished when our president spends his time and energy — and thus the nation’s time and energy — on the wrong issues. At Axios, Mike Allen notes Trump has tweeted the words “opioid” or “opioids” just once — but “loser” 234 times, and “dumb” or “dummy” 222 times. Political capital is finite, and our future is harmed when it is squandered.

This is very true, from Rubio to Mika.

confuzzled dude

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