MONDAY, JUL 3, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Meet The “modern-day President”: Donald Trump May Have Degraded The Dignity Of The Office Beyond Repair

Conservatives demonize the press for being unpatriotic, while worshipping a man who is destroying the presidency

It seems like a year ago, giv­en the tsuna­mi of tweets and gib­ber­ish that came from President Donald Trump over the week­end, but it was only Friday when Kellyanne Conway appeared on “Good Morning America” to crit­i­cize the news media’s cov­er­age of her boss as “nei­ther pro­duc­tive nor patri­ot­ic.” Ah yes, the patri­o­tism trope again. You might be old enough to recall how, through­out the com­par­a­tive­ly bucol­ic pres­i­den­cy of George W. Bush, we were repeat­ed­ly told in no uncer­tain terms that crit­i­ciz­ing the pres­i­dent while American troops were in harm’s way was unpa­tri­ot­ic and under­mined the troops. Let’s review:

You don’t crit­i­cize the com­man­der-in-chief in the mid­dle of a fire­fight. That could be con­strued as putting U.S. forces in jeop­ardy and under­min­ing morale.” — Bill O’Reilly, April 2004

I’ve held this in long enough. I real­ly sus­pect that these lib­er­al tac­tics are dam­ag­ing, maybe even killing the morale of our troops.” — Rush Limbaugh, June 2007

The only ideas that they espouse are ways to under­mine the troops in harm’s way and under­mine their com­man­der in chief while they’re at war. Your can­di­dates have no idea how to keep this econ­o­my strong.” — Sean Hannity, October 2006

He’s the com­man­der in chief. And what I find frankly repug­nant about you and some of your fel­low Democrats — you have under­mined our pres­i­dent …” —Sean Hannity, March 2006

You know, Norman, those com­ments while we are at war, while troops are in harm’s way, while he is the com­man­der in chief, do you not see the out­rage in that?” — Sean Hannity, November 2007

I have had it with mem­bers [of the Democratic] par­ty under­min­ing our troops, under­min­ing a com­man­der in chief while we are at war …” — Sean Hannity, November 2005

Through their relent­less, vicious attacks on Bush, they sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly under­mined the public’s con­fi­dence in the war and our abil­i­ty to opti­mal­ly wage it.” — Columnist David Limbaugh, August 2014

As of Jan. 20, 2009, of course, the Republicans aban­doned these rules with whiplash-induc­ing haste, even while American sol­diers con­tin­ued to fight and die over­seas. But now that Barack Obama is out of the way, the rule is back.

We’re not allowed to hold the pres­i­dent account­able, they’re say­ing. We’re evi­dent­ly not allowed to talk about the mount­ing evi­dence that Donald Trump may have engaged in a grow­ing ros­ter of nefar­i­ous activ­i­ties — pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with the Russian gov­ern­ment to hijack the 2016 elec­tion and all the accom­pa­ny­ing obstruc­tion of jus­tice, wit­ness tam­per­ing and abuse of pow­er that may have gone along with it. (There could be myr­i­ad addi­tion­al crimes that inves­ti­ga­tors have yet to uncov­er.)

Journalism along these lines is unpa­tri­ot­ic, accord­ing to the White House. In oth­er words, it’s unpa­tri­ot­ic for a free press to inves­ti­gate and hold account­able a pres­i­dent who hap­pens to be the cen­ter­piece of what may be the most unpa­tri­ot­ic plot by any American, pres­i­dent or not, in the his­to­ry of the repub­lic. If guilty, the pres­i­dent will have worked with a for­eign gov­ern­ment to com­man­deer our demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tions, then abused his pow­er as chief exec­u­tive to cov­er it up. This is the very def­i­n­i­tion of “unpa­tri­ot­ic.” Yet it’s the mem­bers of the news media who are the vil­lains some­how.

When the pres­i­dent tweet­ed a video of him­self clothes­lin­ing a pro-wrestling vil­lain whose head had been replaced with a CNN logo, his syco­phants and dis­ci­ples sucked it down like cocaine. In the wake of the tweet, the right-wing crowd that tried to brand “patri­o­tism” seemed per­fect­ly at ease with a pres­i­dent whose behav­ior is absolute­ly an abom­i­na­tion — a malig­nant tumor on our demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem.

Worse, Trump’s sup­port­ers seem thrilled with a pres­i­dent who, over the week­end before our cel­e­bra­tion of nation­al inde­pen­dence, declared the final demise of act­ing pres­i­den­tial decen­cy and deco­rum. Trump declared in no uncer­tain terms that his use of Twitter is “not pres­i­den­tial.” Instead, in a tweet like­ly to live in infamy, Trump pro­nounced it “MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” The next day we were treat­ed to the afore­men­tioned CNN wrestling tweet, which itself was appar­ent­ly lift­ed from a racist, anti-Semitic troll on Reddit.

It’s not my job to ordain who or what is patri­ot­ic, but it can’t pos­si­bly be seen as patri­ot­ic to excuse and con­done the con­tin­ued vul­gar­i­ty, inde­cen­cy, irra­tional­i­ty and defi­ant igno­rance of the cur­rent com­man­der in chief. As I’ve writ­ten through­out Trump’s ascen­dan­cy in pol­i­tics, his behav­ior is cre­at­ing dam­age to the sys­tem. Is the pres­i­dent being patri­ot­ic? Decide for your­self. Is it patri­ot­ic for the Republican Party to aban­don its “fam­i­ly val­ues” high ground just to piss off lib­er­als and the hosts of a morn­ing talk show?

Trump and his sup­port­ers will ulti­mate­ly be judged by his­to­ry as to whether it’s patri­ot­ic to applaud the pres­i­dent as he lies about his oppo­nents with graph­ic, exclam­a­to­ry phras­es that all too often include bloody imagery. History will decide whether it’s patri­ot­ic to sup­port a pres­i­dent who, by his own account, sex­u­al­ly assault­ed women and then bragged about it. History will decide whether it’s patri­ot­ic for a pres­i­dent to attack a Gold Star fam­i­ly and a POW who was tor­tured in Vietnam. History will decide whether it’s patri­ot­ic to lie to the peo­ple about vot­er fraud that does not exist. History will decide whether it’s patri­ot­ic to encour­age the pres­i­dent to con­tin­ue to destroy the dig­ni­ty of the office, estab­lish­ing that from here on out it’s OK for the sup­posed leader of the free world to behave like a Twitter troll.

Trump sup­port­ers, swelled with vic­tim­hood, will tell you that oth­er peo­ple — the press and the Democrats — start­ed it. Trump sup­port­ers will tell you that CNN and the New York Times are being obnox­ious and unpa­tri­ot­ic, and there­fore deserve equal­ly nasty treat­ment by the pres­i­dent. Trump vot­ers have a right to say all this, of course. But they are bad­ly delud­ing them­selves and they ought to be swift­ly and accu­rate­ly cor­rect­ed.

They don’t seem to accept the obvi­ous dis­tinc­tion that Jake Tapper of CNN is not the pres­i­dent. Michael Schmidt of the Times and Robert Costa of the Washington Post and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC are not the pres­i­dent. I’m not the pres­i­dent. The job of jour­nal­ists in this con­text is to hold the pres­i­dent account­able. Likewise, it’s the job of the “resis­tance” to do what activists do. It’s the president’s job to set an exam­ple of calm­ness, decen­cy and ratio­nal­i­ty — to rise above the pet­ti­ness and the vin­dic­tive shov­el fights occur­ring in the dark­er cor­ners of the inter­net. It’s the president’s job not to act like a wrestling stooge or an unhinged online com­ments troll, espe­cial­ly since he has legions of super­fans online and on con­ser­v­a­tive media to han­dle the trench war­fare for him.

The Rubicon of pres­i­den­tial con­duct has not only been crossed by Trump and his peo­ple, it has been crossed and then used as a gigan­tic latrine. By encour­ag­ing the pres­i­dent to throw down and go Full Trump all the time, they’re set­ting new and har­row­ing stan­dards for the office. Each pres­i­dent puts his stamp on the tra­di­tions of the pres­i­den­cy, and Donald Trump has already done that. The reper­cus­sions may include the slow dis­in­te­gra­tion of America’s rep­u­ta­tion, not to men­tion the respectabil­i­ty and integri­ty of the exec­u­tive branch.

With every insane new chap­ter of the Trump pres­i­den­cy, the floor for how low a pres­i­dent can sink has almost van­ished. Because he’s been allowed to get away will all of it rel­a­tive­ly unscathed, almost any­thing goes — even the mock­ing of a dis­abled reporter, even the repeat­ed usage of child­ish nick­names. Already, the very fact that Trump (bare­ly) won the elec­tion despite his errat­ic and repul­sive behav­ior dur­ing the cam­paign has sent a sig­nal to future politi­cians that Trump’s style is a winner’s style. That is almost cer­tain to breed future Trumps. The take­away will be that it’s both patri­ot­ic and suc­cess­ful to behave like a vicious over­grown tod­dler who incites vio­lence against his fel­low Americans.

I’m afraid we’ve already careened beyond the point of no return. Nevertheless, it’s cru­cial that those who hold some lev­el of benev­o­lent pow­er use it to help unseat this mad­man before the dam­age is ful­ly wrought — before this can­cer on the pres­i­den­cy and our entire polit­i­cal sys­tem becomes inop­er­a­ble. Then his­to­ry will decide which side was act­ing with patri­ot­ic intent and which side was burn­ing it all down in the ser­vice of malev­o­lent, self­ish and ulti­mate­ly destruc­tive ends.  http://​www​.salon​.com/​2​0​1​7​/​0​7​/​0​3​/​m​e​e​t​-​t​h​e​-​m​o​d​e​r​n​-​d​a​y​-​p​r​e​s​i​d​e​n​t​-​d​o​n​a​l​d​-​t​r​u​m​p​-​m​a​y​-​h​a​v​e​-​d​e​g​r​a​d​e​d​-​t​h​e​-​d​i​g​n​i​t​y​-​o​f​-​t​h​e​-​o​f​f​i​c​e​-​b​e​y​o​n​d​-​r​e​p​a​ir/