Trump attacks everybody

Trump attacks everybody September 26, 2017

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Virtually every president has presented himself as, in the words of George W. Bush, “a uniter, not a divider.”  Many of those presidents have been divisive, but their rhetoric has always been about “bringing people together” and building “a more perfect union.”  Presidents have also been supportive, at least in their rhetoric, of American institutions.  Not President Trump, who is willing to publicly attack anybody, everybody, and every American institution.

Peter Baker, in a discussion of the president picking a fight with professional sports, makes those points:

In his brief career as president and a candidate for president, Mr. Trump has attacked virtually every major institution in American life: Congress, the courts, Democrats, Republicans, the news media, the Justice Department, Hollywood, the military, NATO, the intelligence agencies, the cast of “Hamilton,” the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” the pope and now professional sports. He has attacked the Trump administration itself, or at least selected parts of it (see Sessions, Jeff), and even the United States of America (“you think our country’s so innocent?”).

Yes, Baker is writing for the liberal New York Times, but does he have a point?

Are there not American institutions that President Trump has not attacked?  Churches?  The family?  Small towns?  Isn’t it telling that these beleaguered institutions–much attacked by the current cultural elite, including in the pages of the New York Time–tend to be centers of support for the president?

Americans agree that President Trump is divisive.  A recent poll found that 66% of Americans believe that President Trump has divided the country, with only 28% saying that he has united it.  But the two-thirds of Americans who find him divisive must include some of the 39% who, according to the same poll, approve of his performance over all.

So is there anything wrong, as such, with a president reflecting the actual divisions in the society?

Or, since the presidency itself is an American institution, does the holder of the office have an obligation to at least play the role of a unifying head of state?

Or is all of this nothing more than the president’s pugnacious personality coming out?  We hear rants like his from eccentric uncles around the dinner table or while watching NFL games, but we don’t take them seriously and have stopped paying attention to them.  Should we learn to do that with this president?

 

Illustration by Owantana, via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

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