unfit to become president?

 

 

 

Here goes.

I want to make a point or two now, while the topic is totally dominating the news and, it seems, is the main topic of practically every conversation.

I have no doubt that few readers of this post will agree with me and that will most will say, “he’s totally wrong.”

But I hate it when people profess moral outrage over things they probably do themselves in the ordinary course of events — or, one should say, in a lifetime. I hate it when people act morally superior or hypocritical.

Few will be inclined to feel the way I do. But I have found, from my own experience, that when everyone thinks one way, it’s usually not right or true — in fact, it’s often the opposite. This seems to happen particularly when everyone is up in arms about a scandal, one that has led to across the board outrage and condemnation.

 

 

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I tend to be apolitical, but I consider myself to be a liberal. I disapprove strongly of many, if not most, of Donald Trump’s policy positions.

Everyone knows by now that Trump was recorded on an audio tape several years ago making crude sexual comments about a particular woman, and women in general, characterizing them as sexual objects whom he thought would be easy conquests; and that now the audio tape has been made public.

Supposedly, this is the supreme gotcha moment, which everyone — the legions of Trump haters, that is — has been waiting for. The smoking gun that proves for once and for all what has already become a forgone conclusion: that Donald Trump is a misogynist and philanderer who demeans women.

What everyone already knew has been proven. He can’t deny it. It’s like trapping a bear.

 

 

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Bill Clinton was caught in extremely embarrassing situations with women, some of whom he appears to have treated as sex objects without forming any other sort of relationship with them. I suspect if more of Clinton’s private talk happened to be taped (which it shouldn’t be), it would not all be ennobling or admirable.

Taping is not right. Exposing others’ private lives and secrets is not right. That’s what’s wrong here, not what Donald Trump said to his friend.

People have a right to privacy.

Most of us would be in the same boat if subjected to the same scrutiny as Trump, including myself. There would be things we have said and done which, if made public, would embarrass us beyond belief. Does this prove that you or I is a despicable, immoral person? Not really. Practically everyone has been guilty of private behavior that they would not be proud of.

Scads of men of my own acquaintance have made demeaning and “sexist” remarks; used foul, abusive language; insulted others verbally; boasted about sexual exploits. It goes on all the time. And people now are pretending to be shocked?

I have seen it in my own family and personal circle from people who were highly educated, cultured, and well brought up. I have done it myself.

 

 

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“I was sickened by what I heard today [Friday, October 7],” House Speaker Paul Ryan said when the story broke.

Really? Sickened? I would say that Ryan is hyper sensitive. And, I am surprised that he has never been exposed to such talk before, which is to say at least heard it, somewhere, either in personal conversations or in the media. He must lead a very sheltered life.

Maybe he needs some Pepto-Bismol to soothe his stomach. But I don’t know. Sickened? He seems to be having a hard time dealing with the Trump revelations. Perhaps he should see a doctor.

“This is horrific,” said Christina Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton. “We cannot allow this man to become president.”

Ms. Reynolds is paid to make such statements. Who does she think should become president? Hillary Clinton, of course. The wife of Bill Clinton, who — it’s as plain as day — is a serial womanizer who often made crude advances to woman he was attracted to. Did Hillary think that this should have prevented Bill from becoming president? I would aver that Bill Clinton’s behavior with women was actually worse than Trump’s.

 

 

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The bad thing about all of this – the worst – is it’s just plain unfair to judge anyone’s fitness for practically anything based on what they have said in their private moments when they were at their worst. Because we all have had such moments, have said or done things that we would be mortified to see made public.

It’s actually a distraction from the campaign.

I don’t care who it is: Donald Trump, Prince Charles, or the guy next door. It’s cruel, wrong, and unfair to record people’s private conversations and spy on their private lives. It will often not be to their credit, but this does not prove that they are bad or unfit for public service, because — if we are going to apply such standards — no one will qualify. If such standards – which are really impossible to meet – are to be applied, grim faced and sternly, to Trump, then, in fairness, we will have to reevaluate the characters and fitness for public or private jobs of practically everyone based on this type of scrutiny. Few would pass. And, many people we admire, including those closest to us, would not come off well either.

 

 

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My father was a well educated, well spoken, and cultured man. He served in the Army during World War II. I am sure he heard his share of curses and ribald stories. He may have told them himself. As a professional musician, he worked in clubs with other musicians who would swap dirty jokes. Does this make me respect my father less or blanch at his character? Absolutely not. If anything, it makes him seem human.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  October 9, 2016

 

 

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Addendum:

 

My older son, Henry W. Smith, emailed me about this post. His comments included the following:

I agree that some people are judging Trump hypocritically; however, if he didn’t make a lot of misogynist comments, it wouldn’t give people verbal ammunition against him.

What’s unfortunate, to me, is the nature of how it was captured.

Also, not everybody talks that way.

I thought his remarks were very perceptive and that they identified possibly weak points in my argument.

My son’s comment that “not everybody talks that way” caused me to do some more thinking about this.

I said above that “[s]cads of men of my own acquaintance have made demeaning and ‘sexist’ remarks; used foul, abusive language; insulted others verbally; boasted about sexual exploits. It goes on all the time.”

Actually, I have not heard sexual banter or “locker room talk” often. Most men seem to be more restrained and discreet. I have often encountered crude language, vulgarity, talk about women who are considered “hot,” and, occasionally, more frank sexual talk. But, “boasting about sexual exploits” or conquests? Very infrequently.

What I have seen is people saying things — with sexual content or of another nature — that they would they would not want recorded or quoted.

I do think, as my son agreed, that the main issue with regard to the Trump revelations was invasion of privacy, which I believe is wrong. And, I am not shocked by what Donald Trump said.

See also:

“Men Say Trump’s Remarks on Sex and Women Are Beyond the Pale,” The New York Times, October 8, 2016

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/us/politics/men-say-trumps-remarks-on-sex-and-women-are-beyond-the-pale.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

The content of the article is consistent with the assessment that men do not ordinarily engage in such talk.

 

— Roger W. Smith

 

 

 

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Addendum:

 

Note that I said above:

Taping is not right. Exposing others’ private lives and secrets is not right. That’s what’s wrong here, not what Donald Trump said to his friend.

People have a right to privacy.

A relative wrote back to me, via email, that this was different, because it was an interview (of Trump).

It was not an interview.

What my relative is doing is something that Trump haters and PC types like to do when making accusations. Use facts selectively and twist them to support their allegations.

What Trump said does not invalidate my point.

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts a websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin.
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