On Civility and a Sick President

You cannot expect Trump to gain any wisdom, empathy, or compassion for others. Throughout the pandemic, Trump has disdained the hardships suffered by sick and dying Americans, by their families and neighbors, by those who have lost jobs and homes. When NBC’s Peter Alexander asked Trump on March 20 what the president would say to Americans feeling fear because of the disease, he upbraided Alexander: “I’d say you are a terrible reporter.” * * *

It was only three days ago that Trump on a debate stage dismissed Biden’s dead son, Beau, and falsely claimed that Biden’s surviving son, Hunter, had been dishonorably discharged from the Army. * * * ” Now, though, we will hear a lot about how people are not being respectful enough to a president in his time of illness.

Trump has all his life posed a moral puzzle: What is due in the way of kindness and sympathy to people who have no kindness and sympathy for anyone else? Should we repay horrifying cruelty in equal measure? Then we reduce ourselves to their level. But if we return indecency with the decency due any other person in need, don’t we encourage appalling behavior? Don’t we prove to them that they belong to some unique bracket of humanity, entitled to kick others when they are writhing on the floor, and then to claim mercy when their own crimes and cruelties cast them upon the floor themselves?

Americans are dead who might have been alive if Trump had met the challenge of COVID-19 with care and responsibility — or if somebody else, literally almost anybody else, had been president instead. Millions are out of work, in danger of losing their homes, living in fear. * * *

Trump should never have been allowed anywhere near any public office. Wish him well, but recognize that his deformed spirit will never be well — and that nothing can be well for the country under his leadership.

I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.



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