The Trump let­ters

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— As the first pres­i­den­tial de­bate ap­proaches, fists clench, jaws tighten and in­vec­tives gig­gle in an­tic­i­pa­tion. Game on! To half the coun­try, it’s a sure win for Hil­lary Clin­ton, who will ex­pose Don­ald Trump’s shal­low store of knowl­edge, his in­tem­per­ate habit of in­sult and in­sou­ciance, his divi­sion of di­ver­sity into us and them. To the other half, Trump will de­stroy his foe with a glance of his lance, rip­ping away the shroud of se­crecy in which Her Majesty con­ceals the codes to the miss­ing emails. A- ha! At this point, Trump read­ers are al­ready en­raged and se­lect­ing their fa­vorite ep­i­thets for the email they feel “com­pelled” to write. “You’ve got it in for Trump,” they’ll say. “You give lyin’ Hil­lary a pass,” they’ll ac­cuse. “Why do pa­pers run you as a con­ser­va­tive when you’re an ob­vi­ous lib­tard?” they love to ask. And best: “I used to en­joy read­ing you. What did you do with Kath­leen Parker?”

It isn’t only read­ers who feel this way. Re­cently, a tele­vi­sion pro­ducer wanted me to re­spond to the an­chor’s ob­ser­va­tion — it seems that The Washington Post is against Don­ald Trump. Yes, it do. But not for the rea­sons many peo­ple seem to think. The idea that ev­ery­one on the opin­ion staff at The Post is anti-Trump is prob­a­bly close to cor­rect. It is cer­tainly not the case that ed­i­tors and colum­nists are con­ven­ing at the Keurig ma­chine to plot Trump’s ruin. More likely, such plans are hatched in­di­vid­u­ally whilst star­ing out a win­dow and pon­der­ing with some pre­ci­sion ex­actly how much time can be wasted be­fore dead­line.

There’s no ca­bal, in other words. No me­dia con­spir­acy. No dic­tate from on high. There’s an ed­i­to­rial board that does meet and de­cide what the news­pa­per’s po­si­tion will be on a given sub­ject. And, yes, the Post’s ed­i­to­rial page has de­cided against Trump. But this po­si­tion isn’t bind­ing on any­one. No one in the his­tory of my al­most 30 years of col­umn writ­ing has ever told me what to say.

What you read on a news­pa­per’s ed­i­to­rial page is the pa­per’s po­si­tion. What ap­pears on the op-ed (op­po­site ed­i­to­rial) are the opin­ions of oth­ers. I’m ashamed to ad­mit that I rarely read oth­ers’ col­umns, in part be­cause I don’t want their thoughts in­ter­fer­ing with my own and also be­cause I fun­da­men­tally don’t much care. I’ve never dis­cussed an ed­i­to­rial po­si­tion with any­one — ever.

The fact that many of us colum­nists are in sync about Trump means only that a con­sen­sus has formed in­de­pen­dently around facts to which all are privy. Find­ing Trump un­fit to be pres­i­dent re­quires only a dis­pas­sion­ate view of those facts (a lack of knowl­edge, a du­bi­ous busi­ness record, ques­tion­able for­eign re­la­tion­ships, an al­leged univer­sity scam, con­ceal­ment of tax re­turns) as well as an in­formed un­der­stand­ing of what his an­tics, style and tem­per­a­ment sug­gest about his char­ac­ter and men­tal health.

The mys­tery is how any­one finds him ac­cept­able. The truth is, many who will vote for him don’t. They’ll vote Repub­li­can, not Trump, to pro­tect the Supreme Court and ap­ply the brakes to lib­eral poli­cies. Th­ese considerations ap­par­ently out­weigh con­cerns about a free press, our nearto-boil­ing melt­ing pot, and the harm Trump’s at­ti­tudes to­ward Mus­lims, among oth­ers, can bring to our na­tion.

As I re­cently wrote to a reader: I find Trump so un­in­formed, thin-skinned, volatile and di­vi­sive that op­pos­ing him has be­come for me a moral im­per­a­tive. I sin­cerely be­lieve he’s a threat to our se­cu­rity and our na­tion’s equi­lib­rium, which has been dan­gling by a thread since 9/11. This is what I think and where I stand. Yet, this shouldn’t be con­strued as an en­dorse­ment of Clin­ton, who will have to mud­dle through with­out rose petals from my bas­ket of adorables. It isn’t the colum­nist’s job to en­dorse po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

For the record, I couldn’t care less about wit­ness­ing the first woman pres­i­dent ex­cept as a his­tor­i­cal mat­ter. My father would as­cend from hell and smite me for such ir­ra­tional think­ing. It would be nice (this is me talk­ing), but com­pro­mis­ing logic to meet so­cial goals is be­neath the standard we should use in se­lect­ing a pres­i­dent. If Clin­ton gets my vote, it will be be­cause I think she’s the best qual­i­fied. But I won’t tell you be­cause I don’t have to. When I do, I’m leav­ing.

In the mean­time, I of­fer a bar­ber’s re­mark passed along by a reader who surely speaks for many: “I def­i­nitely don’t want Trump to win and I def­i­nitely want Hil­lary to lose.”

Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact her at kath­leen­parker@wash­


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