We need a grown-up in the White House
In the third 1960 presidential debate, Richard Nixon said, “One thing I’ve noted as I’ve traveled around the country are the tremendous number of children who come out to see the presidential candidates. I see mothers holding their babies up, so that they can see a man who might be president of the United States. … It makes you realize that whoever is president is going to be a man that all the children of America will either look up to, or will look down to.”
What do children today think of Donald Trump?
Trump has blighted Nevada many times over the years, particularly while he was an alleged businessperson. He once visited Reno while considering buying Bally’s Hotel Casino (now the Grand Sierra Resort). It was easy in those days for his cronies to conceal his flaws. Surrounded by flacks, he was able to perpetuate his Art of the Deal persona. But in the glare of the presidential campaign spotlight and then the presidency itself, his childishness is right there for all to see. He was back in Nevada earlier this year to campaign for Dean Heller, a Republican who Trump once publicly threatened. Heller is opposed by Democrat Jacky Rosen, a candidate about whom Trump knows nothing. In that schoolyard habit of his, Trump made up a name for her—"Wacky Jacky.” How do parents hold up this president to their children as an example of anything? Think of how, say, President Eisenhower inspired children. What must children think of a “president” who is as childish as they are?
And even more, how can a parent with a daughter vote for Donald Trump, given his view of women? This is particularly true of parents of adolescent girls, old enough to understand politics. What message do their parents send to those girls by giving Trump their blessing?
If Trump were at least accomplishing something, that would be something to discuss. Instead, his failures are all around us but ignored by U.S. journalists preoccupied by his gaffes and strange behavior. Policy gets missed except in the journalism of other democracies—such as Britain, where the conservative Economist called the Singapore summit a victory for Kim Jong Un: “The master negotiator seems to have no clue how to haggle with North Korea.”
Trump’s immaturity is doing both the political system and the Republican Party serious damage, which is a source of concern for those who believe that strong, competitive parties lead to good policy.
Former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire is one of the Republicans who opposes Trump: “I am ever more confirmed in my belief that Trump is a sociopath, without a conscience or feelings of guilt, shame or remorse.” We’re not wild about this kind of informal psychological analysis. Still, it unnerves us. Two things we remember about sociopaths is that they are capable of terrible things—and they are immature.
Nixon said presidents should see to it “that whenever any mother or father talks to his child, he can look at the man in the White House and, whatever he may think of his policies, he will say, ‘Well, there is a man who maintains the kind of standards personally that I would want my child to follow.'” Most children come closer to meeting that standard than this supposedly adult politician.