Several times this morning the host played this clip of the Tree of Life Rabbi noting the hateful response to what some perceive as President Trump’s hatefulness. That the crazies are at this has, sadly, become par-for-the-course in these troubled times. But this involved elected officials, specifically the mayor of Pittsburgh who refused to meet with the President. It may be a case of a crazy base driving mainstream political action, but this stuff is starting to go mainstream and that is troubling.
First and foremost is the lack of respect for the office evidenced in such actions. Donald Trump was duly and legally elected POTUS, no one contends otherwise. He has executed the job completely inside constitutional boundaries. Therefore, his presidency is completely legitimate and he is due the respect due the office no matter how profoundly you disagree with him on any issue.
Secondly is the lack of respect for the people that voted for Donald Trump. In disrespecting the office you disrespect those that put him in office. You are not just refusing to meet with him, you are implying that the votes of those that voted for him are in some fashion illegitimate. You are simply dismissive of roughly half the country. No politician is going to hold office very long if they consider roughly half their constituency as illegit in some fashion.
But those points are not where decency is dying. But there is an essential indecency in this situation that cannot be ignored.
Now, bear in mind that the President of the United States travelled to Pittsburgh specifically to honor the victims, to pay respect to the survivors on behalf of the entire nation, and to fact find to formulate and offer what he can to prevent something like this from happening again. By divorcing themselves from the president through protest or failure to meet, these people are saying that they do not share in the honor and respect being paid. Further, they are saying that their political beef with the president is more important than the honor and respect due the victims and their survivors. And thus indecency raises its ugly head.
I can have some sympathy with finding the president so distasteful that you might quietly stay sidelined in the face of a photo op like this. But that is not what has happened. People have gone out of their way specifically to make a very public point of divorcing themselves from the White House honoring the victims. To call such “grandstanding” is to give it too much credit – one grandstands at a congratulatory event, not something like this.
Shame and condemnation are due here.
To the families and loved ones of the victims, I offer my deepest regrets that some in this nation choose to disrespect you in this fashion. You can rest assured that most Americans hold you in their prayers and the deepest regard. To my own prayers for the victims and their loved ones, I offer prayers for the nation – we are better than this and it is high time we started acting like it.