In my post last week, I likened Donald Trump to that of the ugly American – the loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens mainly abroad, but also at home. It is a pejorative term. I will continue in that same vein this week and then have a few concluding thoughts.
Not only has Trump made derogatory remarks about Mexicans and Senator John McCain, but also Trump has made an abundance of degrading remarks about women.
For instance, in the first Republican Presidential Debate, Trump was his usual “ugly American” self in his response to Megyn Kelly’s question about misogyny.
“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’” Kelly began.
Trump, being Trump, interrupted with what he thought was a joke. “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” he said. (Strike One!)
But Kelly was not deterred. “You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees,” she persisted. “Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the ‘war on women’?”
Here Trump had a real choice. He could have distinguished himself between his role as reality-TV host and his new role as (Gasp!) GOP front-runner. He could have dialed back. He could have expressed – if not contrition; it is fanciful to imagine that emotion, feigned or real, in the Trump playbook – at least some understanding that what was appropriate on Celebrity Apprentice might not be fit for the campaign trail or, heaven forbid, the Oval Office.
But no. Instead, Trump doubled down in his characteristic fashion – first by changing the subject, and then by lashing out. (Strike Two!)
Trump’s response deserves attention, not simply because of what it tells us about his attitude toward women – who, by the way, account for over half of voters – but about his fundamental fitness for the office he seeks.
“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” Trump said. “I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness,” he added. “And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”
This statement not only is wrong – incivility is a bigger problem in public discourse than political correctness – but also is intellectually incoherent. Truth-telling about Mexico and China, whose threats Trump went on to cite, has nothing to do with, and offers no justification for, being rude and abusive toward women.
But Trump could not/would not stop himself there. He went on to a thinly veiled menacing threat. “What I say is what I say,” he began. “And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”
That is – until he did do just that. Hours later. He shared a tweet that called Kelly a “bimbo” and told reporters that she “behaved very badly.” (Strike Three!)
Regarding the women who have appeared on The Apprentice, Trump said, “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously.” (Gee, it must have been his hairdo that they found so irresistible.) Trump has a history of being a crass, tasteless, and ugly American when it comes to women. He is a man who has made his money on real estate deals, casinos, and bikini-clad women parading as sex objects. (He owns two beauty pageants.) He has called women more insulting names than just “fat pig,” “dog,” “slob,” and “disgusting animal.” And he is proud of it. I will not quote all of Trump’s conquest-laden boasts, but take my word for it, he is the all-time champ in this area.
And then there are his infamous business dealings. Even ignoring how often the word “bankruptcy” and “Trump” are uttered in the same sentence, should he be the Republican nominee, the Democrats will have plenty of targets at which to shoot. Even the shirts and suits for his Donald Trump Signature Collection clothing line are made in China and Mexico, respectively. Those two countries are not exactly bastions of fair labor practices.
Now Donald Trump does not seem to care who he upsets with his “ugly American” brand of arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, loud, and ignorant fear-mongering rhetoric that is so typical of today’s Republican Party. He is so over-the-top odious that the words disgusting, offensive, revolting, repulsive, repellent, foul, vile, abhorrent, loathsome, nauseating, appalling, monstrous, intolerable, atrocious and nasty (Did I miss anything?) do not quite describe this totally unkind billionaire who wants to rule the world.
Trump is, in my humble opinion, a caricature of the “ugly American” – a walking, talking outlandish cartoon character who seems to have stepped right out of Central Casting.
There is one thing more. I find the assumption in Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan to be cleverly catchy, but enormously erroneous. That assumption is inherent in the word “again.” Trump contends that somehow America has lost her greatness because low-paying jobs are being filled by Mexican illegal aliens and American consumers are buying products made in China. Trump measures America’s greatness by her manufacturing capacity, by the number of Americans employed, and by her “first place at the table” in economic and military terms.
But that is not what makes America great. In fact, America is not great because of her people at all. The greatness of America transcends her citizens, her money, and her achievements. I suspect that Donald Trump confuses the trappings of wealth and comfort with true greatness.
America is great because she was founded on principles of liberty, natural law, and an enlightened government. America is great not because of who can be kept out, or how high a wall can be built to keep them out. America is great precisely because of who can be let in – who can be absorbed from the peoples of the world and still remain distinctly American.
America is great because again and again, she stands for what is right, not for her own gain. She is not perfect, but she usually does what is good and right. America saved the world because it was the right thing to do in WWII. America fought the Chinese and the North Koreans in the early 1950s because it was the right thing to do and not to let South Korea fall into the hands of a communist regime that today starves its own citizens to make more nuclear bombs.
America’s greatness lies in her basic goodness. Regardless of what others may think of America, “ugly” is not one of the words that describes her.
But at this critical juncture in her history, it seems to me that what America needs most is an authentic statesman or stateswoman who knows the difference between leadership and management and who will inspire the goodness that is America’s greatness, not some blithering, bullying, bombastic, billionaire bigheaded television personality and wannabe political presidential contender. America deserves better than that. America needs someone to bind up the wounds that divide this great nation. And, the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, she will get that person – and if we are lucky, it will not be Donald Trump.