A Matter of Character

By Dan Schmitt | July 5, 2017 |

“Daddy said: ‘All children must look after their own upbringing.’ Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Anne Frank

I don’t have cable TV, so I can’t say I’ve ever watched “Morning Joe” on MSNBC.  I’ve been reading a lot about it lately though. Apparently, co-host Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski said some unflattering things about the Trump Administration, and the president responded with a Twitter tirade disparaging Mika Brzezinski’s physical appearance. 

This is not the first time Donald Trump has directed mean-spirited, hurtful comments at women who had the audacity to challenge him (think Roseanne Barr, Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina). Misogyny is part of our president’s character. Anyone with at least a half-ounce of decency would find Trump’s banal, boorish, bullying behavior appalling. It’s unacceptable for our president to act in such a manner.  Hell, it’s unacceptable for an inebriated oaf sitting in a local bar to act that way. 

Many Trump supporters justify his immature behavior saying things like “It’s just Trump being Trump!”  Well, they got a point.  Donald Trump is 71 years old, and the expression “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear” probably applies to him.  Or maybe the more appropriate maxim is “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  For me personally, I find people’s acceptance of Trump’s chronically childish behavior at least as troubling as the behavior itself.

Deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, justified Trump’s disparaging comments towards Mika Brzezinski by saying, “This is a President who fights fire with fire.”  

Really! Brzezinski made a comment about the fake Time Magazine with Trump on the cover at one of his golf courses, and Trump goes off with a personal attack on her face! Ya gotta give it to Sanders; she’s standing by her boss. That shows some character! I wonder if Sanders would respond differently if Trump called her an ugly pig or said her face was ugly?

I also wonder about all the men and women who continue to support Trump despite his childishly bullying behavior.  My middle school students, having a penchant for curiosity, often asked me “what if” questions. So, let me personalize our president’s behavior and ask a couple what if questions myself.  To the Trump supporting males out there, “What if he said some awfully hurtful things about your wife or your mother or your daughter?” Would you be good with that? To the Trump supporting women out there, “What if he said some disparaging things about your physical appearance?”  Would you be OK with that? Remember, we’re talking about the guy who is the most powerful, most influential person on earth. We’re talking about the guy who is supposed to be the consummate role model for our children. We’re talking about CHARACTER!      

Two final questions on the character issue: “How is it that a Jewish girl barely in her teens, hiding from the Nazis in a small annex with her family, deathly afraid that she and her family would be taken away at any moment so insightfully understand character development while Donald Trump, our 71 year-old president and a guy who grew up in affluence and privilege, remain so woefully clueless?  Does he really deserve anyone’s support?”

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