Trump’s civics les­son

The pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s odi­ous cam­paign has at least one po­ten­tial up­side

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Jules Wit­cover Jules Wit­cover is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and for­mer long­time writer for The Bal­ti­more Sun. His lat­est book is “The Amer­i­can Vice Pres­i­dency: From Ir­rel­e­vance to Power” (Smith­so­nian Books). His email is juleswit­cover@com­cast.net.

As Don­ald Trump presses on with his scorched-earth pol­i­tics, the may­hem he has cre­ated may well be strik­ing a wel­come chord of re­flec­tion and pa­tri­o­tism among many Amer­i­cans. In the end, he may re­mind them of what has al­ready made Amer­ica great, and why they must re­ject his self-de­struc­tive, es­sen­tially un-Amer­i­can course.

In a ma­jor irony, Mr. Trump’s crass den­i­gra­tion of women may prove to be the cat­a­lyst for the re­pu­di­a­tion on Nov. 8 of the man and his ego­ma­ni­a­cal cam­paign to take over a na­tion founded on prin­ci­ples of equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity and per­sonal re­spect for fel­low cit­i­zens.

Women again are ex­pected to con­sti­tute the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers next week, ren­der­ing Mr. Trump’s crude and end­less as­sault on their gen­der a po­lit­i­cally mind­less cam­paign strat­egy. Even worse, he cou­ples it with his bla­tant re­jec­tion of Amer­ica’s proud­est sym­bol as a bea­con to the world’s op­pressed.

In his pledge to build a wall across our south­ern bor­der, he prom­ises to slam the door on more im­mi­grants whose jour­ney to our shores cre­ated a truly het­eroge­nous so­ci­ety — for­eign­ers of all races, re­li­gions, eth­nic­i­ties and even po­lit­i­cal views.

Hil­lary Clin­ton at the Al­fred E. Smith Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion Din­ner in New York en­listed the Statue of Lib­erty in New York Har­bor to nee­dle Mr. Trump about his now-in­fa­mous rat­ing of women by their phys­i­cal at­tributes, or lack thereof.

Em­brac­ing the spirit of the din­ner, at which speak­ers gen­tly toss jibes at their foes, she ob­served that Mr. Trump “looks at the Statue of Lib­erty and sees a ‘four,’ maybe a ‘five’ if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.” The au­di­ence of New York elites laughed at her ref­er­ence to the iconic lady whose pedestal bears the poet Emma Lazarus’ lines wel­com­ing the world’s “hud­dled masses yearn­ing to breathe free.”

Mr. Trump re­mained re­mark­ably ob­tuse con­cern­ing his sex­ist re­marks and be­hav­ior that have dom­i­nated the nar­ra­tive of this year’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He said, “No­body has more re­spect for women than I do,” evok­ing loud guf­faws from the Wal­dorf As­to­ria crowd.

Sub­se­quently, as ad­di­tional women came for­ward with more ac­cu­sa­tions of Mr. Trump’s sex­ual grop­ing and as­saults, he de­clared his in­ten­tion to sue them for slan­der, al­though at this writ­ing he has not put his ac­tions where his mouth is.

More re­veal­ing of the celebrity realestate ty­coon’s low re­gard for the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal process was his re­fusal in his fi­nal de­bate with Ms. Clin­ton to say he would ac­cept the out­come of the elec­tion on Nov. 8.

That com­ment dom­i­nated the post­de­bate tele­vi­sion com­men­tary even on the Trump-friendly Fox News, in re­sponse to the prob­ing of Fox an­chor Chris Wal­lace no less, and Mr. Trump con­temp­tu­ously dou­bled down. He would honor the re­sult, he said, “if I win.”

As he pro­ceeded in sub­se­quent speeches and re­marks, he pro­vided even more ev­i­dence of his cav­a­lier at­ti­tude to­ward the po­lit­i­cal process he at­tempts to seize to as­suage his out­sized self-es­teem.

Per­haps to recharge his per­sonal bat­tery, he de­toured on Wed­nes­day to pre­side over the open­ing of his lat­est mega-ho­tel, the re­designed Old Post Of­fice on Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue in Wash­ing­ton, a few blocks from the White House.

Not sur­pris­ingly, he de­clared it one of the world’s great­est and took re­porters on a tour, per­haps for free ad­ver­tis­ing or to re­mind him­self of his great­ness as a busi­ness­man, a no­tion it­self un­der in­creas­ing scru­tiny.

With a week to go be­fore the vot­ers pass their own judg­ment on Mr. Trump’s self-ap­praisal and de­cide where he’ll be liv­ing the next four years, they also have his own tes­ti­mony of his faith in the process he says is “rigged” against him.

Such ob­ser­va­tions alone war­rant a re­sound­ing re­jec­tion by the Amer­i­can elec­torate of this trans­par­ent char­la­tan. He pro­fesses to love his fel­low cit­i­zens but strives end­lessly to feed on their anger and dis­ap­point­ment, and the big­otry of many of them, to sa­ti­ate his bot­tom­less de­sires.

JABIN BOTSFORD/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

The Trump fam­ily cuts the rib­bon dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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