One year of a president with no class

We believe we now have an answer to why Donald Trump has never kept his promise to release his tax forms.

We think he deducted as a business expense the $130,000 he paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford for sex and/or silence.

Do we know for certain that this happened? We don’t know that he deducted it. But we know he paid it, and to know that is to be embarrassed. Think about that sentence for a moment. No one—journalist, lawyer, whoever—has ever had to write such a thing about a United States president. It fits everything we have learned about him in and out of public office. What is most difficult is that if he did deduct it, nothing about it would surprise us.

One year has passed since he took office and the nation is degraded. Among the qualities he lacks: altruism, amiability, benevolence, civility, class, conscientiousness, courtesy, decency, decorum, dignity, empathy, fitness, gentleness, goodness, manners, honesty, incorruptibility, kindness, modesty, openness, patience, seemliness, truthfulness, fairness, honor, integrity, loyalty, morality, openness, patience, principles, rectitude, sincerity, tact, tolerance, unselfishness, veracity.

Few world leaders embarrass their nations like Donald Trump does. They have gravitas. He has insignificance. Only his power gives him relevance.

Each day our citizens reluctantly pick up their newspapers or tune in their newscasts, fearful of what they will read or hear. Lord, what has he done since yesterday? So many of our citizens have had to accustom themselves to a state of more or less perpetual outrage, because the impact of one of his misdeeds hardly fades before another one comes along. One lie tumbles on top of another.

Not in our history has the term lie been used so often to apply to one person. No president, no matter how unredeemable—Nixon, Harding, Grant—has so routinely been untruthful. We used to rank our presidents by their skills and abilities, their intentions and goals, how many of their promises they were able to keep. Trump has broken most of his promises, but we hardly notice because what kind of a president he is seems almost beside the point of how terrible a man he is. And there are still three years to go.

The republic will survive Trump. It has survived other villains. But we will be changed. We are changed. We are more cynical. We suspect each other. The great Republican Party is diminished. The Democrats are still fumbling.

Many of our residents will march on Jan. 20, though it will likely be a less festive occasion than the first anti-Trump march one year ago. Our sense of hope is reduced. We know better now how awful a person he is, how little he is capable of as president. So we suspect that this year’s march will be more mournful than last year. But the march itself is important. We must be heard and seen in opposition to an administration that demeans us all, pits us against each other, limits our horizons.

The march begins at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the downtown federal building at Liberty and Virginia, followed by a short walk to First and Virginia.

Even by the benighted standards of appointed presidents over elected presidents, Trump is dreary and impossible. We should march to say so.