A tale of two presidents. Here’s President Obama’s statement in the guestbook at Israel’s Holocaust memorial, July 2008:
“I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim ‘never again.’ And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.”
And here is what President Trump wrote this week:
“IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE HERE WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS – SO AMAZING & WILL NEVER FORGET!”
This isn’t about the politics or the policies of the two presidents. I am not intending to make a partisan statement about the political outlooks of the two individuals. That’s a theme for some other time.
No matter how fed up half of the American people are with the status quo, the “establishment,” the “swamp,” we need and deserve decorum and grace in our national leaders. It is the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. Think of the elegance, grace, civility, intelligence, respect of such men as JFK, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. And then think of the style of the individual who now presides over the United States. The president is not just a power broker. He or she is also the principal representative of the United States of America, the world’s most important constitutional republic. The president represents a third of a billion people on the world stage. Does Donald Trump represent your idea of America?
When you shove Montenegro’s prime minister out of the way at the photo op, when you mock a disabled reporter by imitating what you think are spastic gestures, when you call the head of the nation’s most important law enforcement agency a “nut job,” when you browbeat our allies at a ceremonial occasion at the new NATO headquarters, you are not advancing the public work of the United States but terrifying a world sorely in need of thoughtful leadership and reducing America’s soft power in the world.
We deserve better.
That there are people who will defend these stunts is a sign of the ethical degradation of America.