Beneath the Office

In a pair of tweets this morning Donald Trump continued his attacks on the media with an incredibly personal and humiliating attack on Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski that promptly evoked a cascade of criticism. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was particularly pointed in his response calling the comments out as representing “what is wrong with American politics.”

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Graham was quickly joined by Paul Ryan (R-WI), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and other Republican leaders who called the personal attacks inappropriate and indefensible.

But other Americans also feel the tweets subvert fundamental American principles of decency and kindness.

Retired Laconia, MN school superintendent Nancy Floros Rajanan spoke out on Facebook about how Trump’s tweets fly in the face of the anti-bullying efforts of schools and youth programs across the U.S.

As a Superintendent of Schools, I authorized thousands of dollars of expenditures on bullying education, anti-harassment training, and character education. These efforts were mandated by state and federal law and were good efforts to produce thoughtful citizens who respected others. I am devastated that our president continues to undermine our efforts through his abhorrent role modeling. Personal attacks, name calling, and insensitivity are beneath the dignity of his office. School leaders wouldn’t allow this type of behavior from a kindergartner!

In many cases major league sports figures struggle with the challenge of being role models. Many just want to play football and win a Super Bowl, for example, and feel that the responsibilities of being a role model are unwanted baggage on the road to their athletic goals. The presidency is simply not the same. The president is necessarily a role model for the kinds of behavior we value in our society. If Donald Trump sees himself as a role model for America’s youth – or American society in general – there’s little evidence of that on display in his Twitter feed.

It’s also possible that I have played his game today. TrumpAccountable.org posted a piece yesterday about Trump’s war on the media and using the press podium inappropriately as a bully pulpit. Now for two days in a row we’re discussing the media rather than the investigation of possible collusion with Russian officials on the part of Trump campaign officials, health care and millions of American losing their insurance, or enormous tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of Americans who need the most help.

Senator Graham had it right in his response this morning: Donald Trump is NOT encouraging greatness.