Ex­ple­tive prob­lems in Trump

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Dana Milbank

“I won’t use foul lan­guage. I’m just not go­ing to do it. ... I’ll never do it again,

ac­tu­ally.” — Don­ald Trump in Fe­bru­ary

“The guy’s a pain in the ass.” — Don­ald Trump at a rally last week

— Here’s a se­ri­ous ques­tion for Repub­li­can of­fice­hold­ers: WTF?

Now that Trump has a lock on the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, many top Re­pub­li­cans — too many — are mov­ing to em­brace this vul­gar man for the sake of party unity. It is a real [ex­ple­tive] show.

The man who would be the Grand Old Party’s stan­dard-bearer has said the fol­low­ing things (among many oth­ers) in front of thou­sands of men, women and chil­dren (and mil­lions more via the me­dia):

On U.S. com­pa­nies re­lo­cat­ing over­seas: “You can tell them to go f—- them­selves.”

On China’s ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands in the South China Sea: “They’re rip­ping the sh— out of the sea.”

On the Is­lamic State? “I would bomb the sh— out of ISIS.”

Ear­lier, on deal­ing with China: “Lis­ten, you mother f—-ers, we’re go­ing to tax you 25 per­cent.”

And on cli­mate change: “This very ex­pen­sive global warm­ing bullsh— has got to stop.” Re­pub­li­cans, this vul­gar­ian speaks for you? Since Trump es­sen­tially se­cured the nom­i­na­tion last Tues­day, a di­vide has opened among Repub­li­can lead­ers. House Speaker Paul Ryan bravely pro­claimed that he’s “not ready” to em­brace Trump. And Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., coura­geously ad­vo­cated for a third-party op­tion.

Oth­ers, how­ever, are sid­ing with Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus, who wishes to rally around the party’s nom­i­nee at all cost. For­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Rick Perry and Bobby Jin­dal climbed aboard, while Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell stiffly said he is “com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the nom­i­nee.”

In mak­ing this choice, they are putting party over con­ser­va­tive ide­ol­ogy: The non­par­ti­san Com­mit­tee for a Re­spon­si­ble Fed­eral Bud­get says Trump would in­crease gov­ern­ment spend­ing more than Hil­lary Clin­ton.

They’re also putting party above de­cency, em­brac­ing a man who shows big­otry to­ward racial and reli­gious mi­nori­ties, im­mi­grants and women.

And, in a sense, they are putting party over na­tional se­cu­rity, by ac­cept­ing a prospec­tive com­man­der in chief lack­ing im­pulse con­trol. Cer­tainly, pub­lic fig­ures are pri­vately pro­fane: Dick Cheney told a sen­a­tor to “f—your­self” and Joe Bi­den called Oba­macare a “big f—-ing deal.” But these were not in­tended for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

Trump rec­og­nizes the im­pro­pri­ety, when oth­ers do it. Af­ter a for­mer Mex­i­can pres­i­dent used a color­ful phrase in Fe­bru­ary to dis­agree with him, Trump tweeted that “Vi­cente Fox hor­ri­bly used the F word” and added, “If I did that there would be a up­roar!” Trump said later: “I would not use that word.”

No? In 2011, Trump com­plained about oil prices in a speech: “You’re not go­ing to raise that f—-ing price.” And na­tion-build­ing: “We can’t get a f—-ing school in Brook­lyn.” And Chi­nese fac­to­ries: “cheap as hell and they don’t give a sh—.”

Among Trump’s pub­lic pro­nounce­ments in re­cent years: “Spew­ing all sorts of crap ... po­lit­i­cal bulls—- ... bulls—-ing for years ... beat the s—- out of them.” In Au­gust, well af­ter declar­ing his can­di­dacy, he retweeted a mes­sage to his 7 mil­lion fol­low­ers from some­body who had “come to f—-ing love @ re­aldon­aldtrump.” The Fed­er­al­ist web­site found that Trump had tweeted the words “a—hole” and “f—-ing” at least 13 times over the last three years.

In this cam­paign, we’ve heard about Clin­ton get­ting “sch­longed,” about Ted Cruz be­ing a “pussy” who may not be a nat­u­ral-born Amer­i­can (“If he gets the nom­i­na­tion they’re go­ing to sue his ass”). When he heard peo­ple might throw to­ma­toes at a rally, he said: “Knock the crap out of them, would you? Se­ri­ously.” When his mi­cro­phone mal­func­tioned, he said of the sound­man: “Don’t pay the son of a bitch.”

Trump has cleaned up his lan­guage con­sid­er­ably since his GOP ri­vals made it an is­sue and an ad fea­tured his f-bombs. But vul­gar­ity has be­come part of the Trump cul­ture. In­tro­duc­ing Trump in In­di­ana last week, bas­ket­ball coach Bobby Knight boasted to Navy vet­er­ans: “We beat your ass ev­ery time we played you.” In­tro­duc­ing Trump in Florida ear­lier, Sarah Palin called demon­stra­tions at Trump events “punk-ass lit­tle thug­gery.”

Classy. “A lot of par­ents are try­ing to fig­ure out how to ex­plain some of the lan­guage they’re hear­ing on the cam­paign trail,” NBC’s Peter Alexan­der told Trump this spring.

“Oh, you’re so po­lit­i­cally cor­rect,” replied Trump. “You’ve never heard a lit­tle bad, a lit­tle off lan­guage. ... Give me a break.” In other words: [Ex­ple­tive] off. Dana Milbank is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact him at danamil­bank@wash­post.com.


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