I was shocked at the recent anti-abortion “March for Life” in Washington — where Donald J. Trump became the first sitting president in the 47-year-history of the event to attend and speak in person. I was shocked to see people on stage smiling broadly and applauding, standing right next to The Donald.
I realize how important the symbolism of the presidency is to most people. He’s The President, the “most powerful leader in the world,” folks say of him. “But he’s Trump,” I say to myself in disgust.
How can these so-called “faith leaders,” so-called “values voters,” so-called Christian evangelicals — pro-abortion or no-abortion — even want to be anywhere in the same zip code with this Dude and his three marriages, during which he cheated on each of his first two wives, and then cheated again while his current trophy wife was nursing his newborn son.
How could so-called religious, “values voters” be happy to stand with a man who described on the infamous “Access Hollywood” hot-mic recording how he approaches and gropes women, grabbing them “by the p—y,” and how if you’re famous like him, women let you do it? How can they fix their mouths to smile in his presence?
How could so-called voters with “values” even let themselves be seen with a guy who has run multiple gambling casinos into bankruptcies; who was ordered to pay $25 million to students he defrauded at his fake “Trump University”; who has paid hush money to keep a porn-film actress and a Playboy model from revealing details of their extramarital liaisons with This Dude?
I wonder how can military personnel grin and take selfies with Mr. Fake-Bone-Spur-Vietnam-War-military-deferment, who never served a day in uniform, and who now salutes every marine who is required to salute him (the commander in chief) as if it makes him appear to be in step with those in the armed forces? I wonder, what’s the trade-off? Because This Guy once called all his generals and top intelligence advisers “dumb,” claiming to know more than them, in an expletive filled briefing, early in his term. It’s after that meeting when short-term Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left, calling His Nibs, a “dumb [expletive].”
And then I realized that the trappings of the White House are enormously seductive. It’s easy to get carried away with yourself, or with your cause, when you get a White House invitation. (I confess, I saved all the holiday greeting cards, and engraved invitations with my name on them, which I have saved … because they’re from the White House, wouldn’t you?)
Clearly those presidential appearances and Oval Office invitations are super-important (even with 45 The Dotard), because it’s the White House! Just ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, lead House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It’s Trump’s withholding of an Oval Office meeting and hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally appropriated military aid to the Ukraine — exposed by a federal whistleblower who overheard the coercion during the infamous July 25 telephone call — which is at the heart of the impeachment charges against this president, though he’s done many, many more even more ill-advised, grossly worded, disgusting acts since taking office, any one of which would get a normal person fired from any and every job.
So, I get it. The White House and its occupant are supposed to be a big deal, and still in the eyes of most people, it remains big, even when the POTUS is the “forever impeached” Donald J. Trump.
Once, when I was a White House credentialed correspondent, with full “hard pass” access for 28 years, once during those years I even struggled to get brownie points with my boss, for whom I arranged a White House invitation, even though the occupant then was Ronald Reagan, who betrayed the U.S. commitment to help buy bank Zimbabwe farmland from whites who stole it under colonialism almost the day he took office; who convinced the Iranian hostage takers not to release the 400-some-odd American captives until after incumbent President Jimmy Carter was defeated; who invaded the tiny island nation of Grenada (population 107,000, about the same as Anacostia in the District) to overturn a legitimate, radical government; and who secretly acquired and sold drugs in Black communities to get money to fund an illegal war in Central America.
I arranged for Mr. L.H. Stanton, then-publisher of National Scene magazine, which I edited, to attend a briefing with other regional magazine publishers. To his credit, Reagan did (reluctantly) sign the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday bill into law. But he was still a scoundrel, but it didn’t matter. That scoundrel was the president.
And so it is today. Not everyone can be as clear as the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, the WNBA champion Washington Mystics, the Women’s World Cup soccer champions, and other teams who’ve said thanks, but no thanks to standard invitations to meet Trump. But not everyone is that clear-minded.
Still, Trump is a special kind of despicable person who should be permanently disqualified from all social contact. Sure, he’s the President, but don’t overlook the smelly detail: he’s still Donald J. Trump, and he’s still the leader of The Deplorables.