But first, to Trump.
Any president who attacks a grieving family — for no apparent reason, please note — not just once, but repeatedly, does so at the worst possible time.
And, by the way, name calling and family trashing happens every single day in the White House, but now it is airing on national television. Melania Trump did so after she learned of her husband’s attacks.
Usually, in such situations, the president is perfectly nice. He “apologizes” — or, better yet, just withdraws his ill-advised tweet. He says, in so many words, let us be friends. He says this is an innocent mistake and he is sorry for doing what he did. He says he doesn’t get into his head and was just showing anger. He tells you in so many words that there is nothing wrong with being angry. But instead of getting into his head, he chooses instead to throw you under the bus, insult your intelligence and alienate the people who might vote for him.
Trump’s supporters will say it’s the will of the people that he tweets and retweets so much. But that statement isn’t really true. Sooner or later, people will rebel against the madness. Most people will just tune it out.
Only one aspect of Trump’s attacks bothers me. It seems at times that he doesn’t know any better. Because of his sensitive nature, he has a habit of overreacting to aggression. But when he belittles and insults people, he also demeans the physical shape of the people he’s insulting and belittling. Sometimes he’s just poorly informed, as in this apparently uninformed attack on Fox News personality Laura Ingraham:
Trump’s advisers, and anybody who’s watched a Trump tweet, are well aware that the White House briefings are notorious in the Washington press corps as “Fuck your clients, shut up.” They are about transparency, accountability and civility. Trump lets everyone know that reporters, editors and producers have been trying to get ahold of him for hours. When they do, they show up. Trump doesn’t like that. He likes when reporters ask him questions. He doesn’t like it when they ask and answer questions. He fawns over each as a man of the people, just like he fawns over all his supporters. But the informal briefings take place in the press room. He doesn’t visit. He isn’t going to — yet. It’s a no-win for the president, but someone has to do it.
That person, it seems, is Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Can you imagine Trump slamming a grieving family?
Listen to what he says about his family.
Only last week, he smeared Fredo Corleone, whom he described as a man who “will be outspent by the largest fortune in the history of this country.”
“We will never ever let them get away with that,” Trump declared.
When President Trump is trash-talking the identities of grieving loved ones or telling reporters to shut up, he isn’t just insulting them. He’s insulting his own claim to values and compassion. And he’s insulting the special place he has in the heart of millions.