“But words are things, a small drop of ink, / Falling like dew upon a thought, produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” –Lord Byron (1788-1824)
After January 6, 2021, I compiled a list of descriptive words used by journalists and op-ed writers to describe Donald Trump’s behavior and character. I posted that list on this blog on January 8, 2021, two days after the violent insurrection against American democracy. In the past eighteen months, however, I have had to add more descriptive language that journalists and others have used in describing the former President. Taking them together, they create a mind-numbingly negative and bleak portrait of a man who was the most powerful human being in the world.
Never could I have imagined in my lifetime that any Presidency could be worse than the criminal enterprise run out of the White House by Richard Nixon. But I was wrong. It seems clear, even before the January 6 hearings are concluded and the Justice Department finishes its work, that Trump outpaced Nixon’s criminality by a wide margin.
Frank Bruni wrote in response to Cassidy Hutchinson’s damning testimony of Trump before the House Committee (“Was Jan. 6 Really ‘Un-American’?” NYT, June 30, 2022):
“…this country is a mix of truth and lie, of generosity and selfishness, of order and chaos. What Hutchinson saw on Jan. 6, 2021, wasn’t ‘un-American.’ It was just an especially sad and scary version of America.”
Bruni was right. Trump does not represent us all or the America as envisioned by our nation’s founding generation. Though that generation of constitutional framers worried that a would-be King might one day seek to destroy the constitutional separation of powers in our three-branch system of government and assume power for him/herself, theirs was a positive vision of America that would emerge because it was governed by law and justice than the dark dystopia in which the lawless Trump lives and breathes.
The question now is this – are we as a nation going to set aside everything the House Committee and Justice Department have learned about what Trump and his henchmen did and tried to do, or is there a legal remedy that can restore the integrity of our constitutional democracy?
I know I am not alone in hoping that Trump and his henchmen will be indicted, found guilty, and incarcerated, as would any criminal and seditious conspirator.
Those concerned about extremist right-wing political push-back should indictments come before the midterms and consequently cause a wave of Trump Republicans to be elected up and down the ballot in many states are possibly right, and they are also possibly right that the House and Senate might flip as a consequence – unless, of course, masses of anti-Trump Republicans, Independents, and Democrats vote; but not indicting Trump and his accomplices will send the message that the American criminal justice system condones insurrection, sedition, and treason and that, in my view, is far worse.
As much as I fear the transfer of control in the Congress from the Democrats to Trump Republicans, I fear more that AG Garland will allow his overly cautious judicial temperament to define this moment in American history with inaction thereby subverting the American democratic experiment.
Perhaps, reviewing this list of 152 words (yes – that many!) describing Trump’s character will have sunk in enough during these past eighteen months to stiffen the resolve of AG Garland and Justice Department officials to do what they need to do on our behalf.
Here are those words:
“Twice-impeached, corrupt, unprecedented, liar, dishonest, deceitful, denier, deceptive, insincere, untrustworthy, duplicitous, hypocritical, angry, argumentative, oppositional, divisive, aggressive, mob-boss-like, cyber-bully, intimidating, threatening, vindictive, rage-filled, controversial, outrageous, arrogant, entitled, intolerant, insensitive, uncaring, indecent, disrespectful, craven, hostile, hateful, ruthless, cruel, mean, malevolent, dystopian, dark, base, low, abhorrent, decrepit, egoistical, egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic, malignant, unwell, mentally ill, delusional, unhinged, nihilistic, self-serving, selfish, chaotic, unpredictable, childish, cowardly, manipulative, ignoble, shameful, deplorable, discreditable, licentious, lecherous, reprehensible, sexist, misogynist, racist, supremacist, Islamophobic, homophobic, poisonous, odious, toxic, evil, bad, criminal, wrong-doer, amoral, immoral, ignominious, worst, catastrophic, calamitous, ruinous, disastrous, devastating, damaging, destructive, back-stabbing, double-crossing, two-faced, unfaithful, faithless, sacrilegious, soulless, disloyal, cheater, thief, fraudulent, scandalous, despicable, rancid, grievous, churlish, rude, ill-mannered, bad-tempered, cynical, appalling, profligate, ignorant, inflammatory, degenerate, debauched, imprudent, alarming, clownish, reckless, dangerous, murderous, violent, extremist, unworthy, unfit, dysfunctional, incompetent, ineffective, ignorant, foolish, stupid, irresponsible, unaccountable, culpable, failed, subversive, illiberal, authoritarian, fascistic, anti-democratic, lawless, autocratic, authoritarian, seditious, traitorous, treasonous, insurrectionist, un-American.”
Susan Adler said:
Thanks John. There are sooo many to add…I have used egomaniacal, sociopathic, amoral…just to name a few.
Ken Ostrove said:
Great list, Rabbi. Here’s a great paragraph from Mark Leibovich of The Atlantic: “Trump said and did obviously awful and dangerous things—racist and cruel and achingly dumb and downright evil things. But on top of that, he is a uniquely tiresome individual, easily the sorest loser, the most prodigious liar, and the most interminable victim ever to occupy the White House. He is, quite possibly, the biggest crybaby ever to toddle across history’s stage, from his inaugural-crowd hemorrhage on day one right down to his bitter, ketchup-flinging end. Seriously, what public figure in the history of the world comes close? I’m genuinely asking.”
JUDITH KAPLAN said:
Thanks for this, John. It will retrain my brain to stop using only 4 letter words. It will feel good to explode with a higher level of invictive.
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