PRUDENCE IS A VIRTUE EVEN
IF IT SEEMS LIKE HYPOCRISY
“Hypocrisy is like human waste. It’s obnoxious, but we suffer when it doesn’t come forth with a certain regularity.”
This line springs to mind amid the firestorm currently raging over that crude description of certain Third World countries attributed to Donald Trump. It’s particularly relevant in two ways:
First, of course, is the human waste imagery.
Second is its reflection on the role of hypocrisy (not to mention regularity) in easing life’s discomforts.
One of The Donald’s salient characteristics is his failure to fully grasp the social and political usefulness of hypocrisy.
Now don’t get me wrong. His directness has been extremely effective. I am second to none in my appreciation for how Trump’s blunt talk has altered the geopolitical landscape during only his first year in office.
You can bet the North Koreans wouldn’t be sending athletes to the Olympics and dropping hints about a thaw in relations with the South if it weren’t for Trump’s “big button” tough-guy prattle.
Yeah, yeah, I know Kim Jung Un wants to drive a wedge in between South Korea and the U.S. But that’s a game he’s always playing. The Donald deserves credit nonetheless.
Likewise for Trump’s bold declaration that we consider Jerusalem Israel’s capital. It put Hamas and the Palestinian Authority on notice that we’re no longer looking the other way while they plot the annihilation of the Jews.
Also, Iran’s resistance movement has definitely been emboldened by Trumpian candor. The people are starting to believe real reform is possible — which is scaring the hell out of the Ayatollahs.
But for all that, an endless flush of allegations about Trump’s mental state continues to pour forth from media folks and their cohorts in Hollywood (to which certain scatological imagery might also apply). And now The Donald has provided fresh roughage to bulk up their criticisms.
Trump simply must come to grips with the fact that he’s not free to express himself in the brash way to which he’s naturally inclined. Not even in his non-public utterances.
As I understand the situation, this latest burst of outrage didn’t result from a public statement, or even from one of his notorious tweets. It happened because someone tipped the media to something he’d said behind closed doors (or who claimed he’d said it; Trump has hedged on whether he actually did).
The Donald should know by know that he can’t trust anybody.
Trying to be something other than his unbridled self — curtailing habits of a lifetime — has got to be hard for him. It probably strikes him as downright hypocritical, which he no doubt sees as a betrayal of his base.
After all, wasn’t it candor that got him elected? The voters ate it up. “Let Trump be Trump,” they shouted whenever his crude spontaneity was compared to Obama’s suave disingenuousness.
But hypocritical or not, there are good reasons for a President to guard his personal opinions.
And those reasons have a special immediacy for this particular President, when so many people are toiling fanatically to bring him down.
I understand the inclination to cheer The Donald for giving voice to feelings widely shared but too impolite to say out loud. And make no mistake, those feelings aren’t just the fetid musings of some white supremacist underground. The New York Times has acknowledged that Trump’s remark reflects the unvoiced perspective of other world leaders…
“The Czech president has called Muslim immigrants criminals. The head of Poland’s governing party has said refugees are riddled with disease. The leader of Hungary has described migrants as a poison. This week, Austria’s new far-right interior minister suggested ‘concentrating’ migrants in asylum centers — with all its obvious and odious echoes of World War II.
“So when President Trump said he did not want immigrants from ‘sh**hole’ countries, there was ringing silence across broad parts of the European Union, especially in the east, and certainly no chorus of condemnation.”
But even if world leaders are thinking to themselves, “Thank God someone’s finally being honest,” notice that they aren’t saying it publicly.
Much is made of Jesus’ condemnation of hypocrisy. But The Lord’s criticism was directed at people engaging in ostentatious religious displays or committing acts that contradicted moral principles they would otherwise claim to champion.
Christ never labeled as hypocritical what we would see as prudent discretion, tact, or diplomacy.
These are virtues — tools of leadership that are the stock in trade of Presidents. Trump has to find a way of integrating them into his own authentic voice.
Achieving such a balance without abandoning the candor that is his strength will not be easy. He obviously hasn’t accomplished it after a year in office.
But it’s necessary — even if it seems a bit hypocritical.
*(That play of mine, in which I put words into the mouth of Erasmus’ ghost, was a musical titled “Callin’ to Me.” It was premiered in 2000 by the Theatre Department of Hillsdale College.)
Talk about hypocrisy — this graphic circulating online some months ago neatly expresses the hypocrisy of the Left in their attitudes toward The Donald’s election victory and their behavior ever since…
And if that’s not revealing enough, here’s our high-minded media lecturing the President of the United States on his offenses against propriety…
The New York Times has been as aggressive a critic of the Trump presidency as any major media outlet, so its recognition that The Donald’s words echoed sentiments held by other world leaders is noteworthy. Yes, the Times piece acknowledged the cries of ‘racism’ and all that, but it observed…
“the political reality is that migration has become a salient issue — and not only for right-wing, populist and nativist politicians. Across many affluent societies, people are anxious about technological change, rising inequality and stagnant wages, and they have focused their ire at the global flows of capital and, especially, labor.”
The media may be in high dudgeon over Trump’s remark, but the redoubtable Rush Limbaugh sees it all as predictable anti-Trump hypocrisy…
“I have been in the midst of these kinds of firestorms, folks. And I can tell you this is all faux rage. It is faux anger. It is faux outrage. It is made up. It is for the cameras. It’s for the microphones. It’s for the audience. It’s based on the presumption everybody finds Trump reprehensible and always has and this is just the final straw. And I don’t believe these people are sincerely outraged. They are sincerely excited because it is yet what they believe is another opportunity to get rid of Trump.”
The Federalist quotes Brooklyn-born actor Scott Biao, a staunch Trump supporter, who attributes The Donald’s bombastic style of speaking to his roots in outer-borough New York City…
“‘I’m from Brooklyn, President Trump is from Queens. This is what we do. We mess with people. That’s it.’
“Baio is talking about a way of expressing oneself that is very common in the outer boroughs of New York City, which include the Bronx and Staten Island in addition to Brooklyn and Queens. It is often self-aggrandizing and hyperbolic. There are a lot of playful insults — busting stones, if you will. Trump spent almost all of his childhood in Queens, and still sounds like it. Even his accent and facial posture give this away.”