I have been trying to avoid weighing in on any of Donald Trump’s pathetic and immature attacks on anyone who dares not kiss his ring. I have said for weeks now that the best way to test Mr. Trump’s electoral influence is not to brand him a meanie, but to demonstrate that he lacks the substantive knowledge to be President (despite his claims about how smart he is and how stupid everyone else is – because he is rich and went to Wharton, and, of course, everyone who is rich and holds a degree from Wharton is qualified to be President).
This is not to say that his rhetoric is an irrelevant consideration. One would have thought that American voters would easily reject as their President a person who engages in the regular practice of calling successful people “losers” and smart, educated people “stupid,” and who questions the heroism of an American POW, among other ignorant and childish insults. And when you combine that history of nastiness with the kind of whiny attacks launched against the talented and popular Mrs. Kelly (even if you accept Mr. Trump’s interpretation of his remarks about her), it becomes impossible to believe that Americans would make such a man their President, even if there are other things about him that one can admire (and if he can’t handle tough questions from the Fox News journalists, how does he expect to handle the Clinton Attack Machine?). That some still support him – and not only support him but actually defend his conduct – is positively mind-boggling. Steve Hayes and Kevin Williamson comment on this phenomenon here and here. Still, I would prefer that the dominant commentary on Mr. Trump have to do with his ability to grapple with the myriad issues a President must confront. And so far, though my mind is open, I am unimpressed.
That said, I will simply make this observation on his rhetorical nastiness, and hope not to revisit the subject. Mr. Trump says America has big problems and so he does not have “time” for “political correctness” (though apparently he has plenty of time to spend insulting people on Twitter, and not a single one of America’s problems is solved by that). It is perfectly acceptable to be against “political correctness” for its own sake. But there is a difference between being “politically correct,” and being decent and respectful toward people. One need not bow to political correctness, nor need one forsake candor, in order to be decent and respectful. Failing to appreciate, or even to understand, this distinction is high on the list of Mr. Trump’s many grave shortcomings.