Only Trump can turn what should have been a sympathetic call to a fallen soldier’s widow into a week-long (so far), racially charged brouhaha over who said what to who and who can say what to a four-star general.
Americans may not be tired of winning yet. But many, even Trump voters, are getting tired of Trump’s act – and his character. Or lack thereof.
Ultimately, the most important quality in an elected leader is likeability. Likeability is about more than looks, charm and a smile. It’s about qualities like grace and empathy, which Trump totally lacks. His inability to even feign empathy probably is what upset the widow and the congresswoman in the first place.
Trump’s instinct, of course, was to pick a fight with the congresswoman, Frederica Wilson. You can hear him thinking: “She’s black. She’s brash. She wears funny hats. She’s a perfect target! Twitter, here I come!”
Then, of course, he had to attack President Obama. Trump apparently never got over Obama making fun of him at the White House Correspondents Dinner. We pay an ugly price for those jokes.
Then Trump dragged General John Kelly into the mess. Kelly demeaned himself by claiming the Congresswoman said something in a speech that, in fact, the tape showed she never said.
Then Trump’s press secretary suggested that no one has the right to debate a four-star general. Well, yes we do. There’s this thing called the First Amendment, you know. And we could have avoided a lot of deaths and tragedy if somebody had debated generals like William Westmoreland during the Vietnam War.
It was refreshing when George W. Bush and John McCain spoke out against Trumpism, even if they didn’t call him out by name. Some Democrats got whiplash praising (1) the ex-President who plunged us into never-ending Mideast wars, busted the budget and wrecked the economy and (2) the man who gave America Sarah Palin. But we’ll take hope and decency wherever we find them these days.
The question is how long we’ll take this from Trump. Many Trump supporters will never give him up. They love him for picking fights with people they hate – the media, the Washington establishment, and black NFL players and black Congresswomen who get uppity. Not to mention the first black President.
But most Americans are good, kind and decent people. An optimist believes that their goodness, kindness and decency will win in the end.