Just hours ago, The Huntington Post reported on the latest presidential appearance, writing: “President Donald Trump on Friday became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit, an event sponsored by the Family Research Council, a group known for its anti-LGBTQ views.” Today, it was not so much what Trump said as where he said it. Where is the judgment? Where is the presidential?
In examining the communications practices of the president and his administration I am often criticized. “I thought you stayed above this type of fray,” recently commented one Facebook poster. Said another: “Hey, Pence in Indianapolis was exercising his right to express himself, just like the football players who are kneeling.” To a degree and at face value such commentary is not incorrect. However, as a communications professional who routinely counsels top executives on what to say and how to say it, I am going to always call it like I see it – no matter the party affiliation or difference of opinion.
On the second objection, I am all for freedom of expression. However, the highest office in the land and those who represent it have an obligation to all citizens to at least give credence to both sides of an issue and respond with respect if at all. Trump’s calling protesters “sons of bitches” and screaming for boycotts and firings is harmful and unprecedented behavior divisive to the country that is not acceptable. Period.
Ditto Trump’s appearance today at a conference held by an organization many look at as a bigoted hate group. It’s bad judgment by a man apparently without good judgment. Might he next appear at an LGBT conference or rally to update his constituents on various policies he is looking to move forward? Of course not. After all, he has posited through more harmful rhetoric, that group is not fit to serve in our military; a position that plays to his base while contradicting the Department of Defense and most sane and compassionate individuals.
Donald Trump was elected to be a disruptor of the political status quo and gridlocked machine. Instead, he is dividing this country like never before – cyber bullying via Twitter and taking us to the brink of war with ill-advised ‘off the cuff’ rhetoric and bravado. What you say, how you say it and where you say it are forever crucial. Our citizens are watching. The world is watching. And too many of us continue to ask: Where is the judgment? Where is the presidential? Despite the old adage noted in part in this blog’s headline: Words can hurt us. All of us.