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Columns

Punch-Drunk Trump

July 5, 2017 - 7:00am

As the nation was preparing to celebrate its storied independence from the British crown, the president secured his place as history's greatest jester.

Or America's first toddler president. Take your pick.

Trump did so by tweeting a doctored video clip of himself from several years ago in which he takes down wrestling magnate Vince McMahon and gives him a good pummeling. The new version superimposes the CNN logo on McMahon's head. Get it? In the 28-second clip, Trump walks away from the fray unrumpled with nary a hair out of place.

Bizarre comes to mind. Absurd. Ridiculous. Funny, perhaps, to a certain sort. Embarrassing in the extreme to many Americans who would describe themselves as perpetually appalled. What's next, Trump in his tighty whities atop Trump Tower punching an inflatable Vladimir Putin?

It is baffling to think that Trump is proud of himself and such high jinks, to put it charitably. We get that he's at war with the media, hardly an original concept at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But no one has ever seen a U.S. president behave in such an idiotic manner. Most adults have a pause button in their brains that shields civilized society from impulsive, inappropriate behavior. For the president, every impulse is apparently irresistible.

For good reason, many in the journalism world have expressed deep concerns about the effect the video might have. CNN's response said in part: "It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters."

We've already witnessed one such event this year when Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter for The Guardian, breaking his glasses. In a comedy, the audience might applaud the tough guy punching the obnoxious reporter, but this isn't a comedy. Please, someone tell the president.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., whose recent book laments the absence of people behaving like grown-ups in America, reacted to the video-tweet in strong language, suggesting that Trump is trying to "weaponize distrust" toward the media. It's not as though the country's media-haters need much encouragement to act out Trump's looney-tunes dreamscape. It only takes one.

All is not glum, however. There have been some truly humorous moments in the aftermath of the video's viral reception, principally from those defending Trump's cartoon presidency. The ever-earnest Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president "in no way form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence." How's that? Isn't this the same Trump who offered to pay the legal fees for anyone who got in hot water for punching out a protester at one of his campaign rallies?

To Trump supporters who find the wrestling video unobjectionable or, I suspect, hilarious in some cases, I would ask that they try to imagine the same video showing Barack Obama superimposing Fox News on someone's face, punching him repeatedly and then smugly strutting away.

Very likely these same folks would have stormed the National Mall demanding the president's impeachment.

As an opinion columnist who draws plenty of threatening hate mail, I fear less for my personal safety than for the integrity and security of our country. I've covered politics off and on for 40 years, including writing a thrice-weekly column for the now-defunct Charleston Evening Post in 1980 leading up to the first Republican presidential primary in South Carolina.

Never during that time or since have I ever worried that a president's behavior would embarrass the country on the world stage. Trump's most unpardonable offense isn't his implied threat to members of the Fourth Estate but his minimizing of the nation's stature in the world. Our allies must shudder while our enemies devise new ways to celebrate. Trump may crack himself up, but he also shatters any pretense of our seriousness as a nation. So much for that shining city on the hill, not to mention the president as leader of the free world.

We look like fools because our president so convincingly plays one.

Trump, naturally, begs to differ. To his mind, he's acting perfectly presidential. His Twitter habit is simply a "modern day presidential" way of communicating. To this thought, homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert added that Trump is a "genuine president expressing himself genuinely."

Well, there's that.

But the act of a president using modern technology doesn't necessarily convey presidential, as most define it.

And being genuine in Trump's case simply means he's a genuine fool.

Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Comments

You missed your cue, Kate. The "Trump's an idiot!" headline's time is up. Time to switch back to Paul Ryan.

And now we find out CNN tracked down the 15yr old kid who made the spoof video. They intimidated and threatened him with the release of his name and made him apologize. Who's the bully now? The left has a way of using videos to blame for their failures (like Benghazi). Yet the media can say or do anything they want -- even when they know its a lie -- and expect everyone to accept it. Let's see, in the last month we have Kathy Griffin with a bloody, severed head of President Trump, Reza Aslan called Trump a “piece of shi**” and an “embarrassment to humankind.” CNN admitted that reporter Becky Anderson “staged” a Muslim anti-ISIS protest when video emerged as she directed protesters where to position themselves with signs, CNN ran a story claiming Trump lied because Comey would testify he never told Trump he wasn't under FBI investigation, CNN published, deleted, retracted, and then apologized for, an article that claimed Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump adviser was the subject of a Senate investigation for his ties to Russian bankers. Three key members of CNN’s investigative team resigned just days later for their role in the retracted story, etc.

Kathleen, your hatred is palpable: I suggest you work it off on your nearest doorknob.

The absolutely lowest form of human life(or barely human) is the Trump idiot. You people are so stupid to the point of incredulity. Hopefully, you have caretakers around so that you don't cut off your nose when you shave. It's an insult to apes to say that YOU are of the same lineage. They've evolved more than you have.

"Jackanapes Foster",... I am very sorry for your ignorance and obnoxious attitude: But, rest assured, you a perfect example of your crying, whining liberal Democrat base whose lineage is closer to the treetops than ours...

Please GROW UP and take a joke for a change. You are what is wrong--please be part of the solution instead of whining about what YOU think is a problem. Maybe you will get a ribbon for participating!

It is fitting satire to the uneducated majority that elected the fool. To them, he is still their reality TV hero. To the rest of us, he is the "unpresidential idiot" he has always been and acting like the baby and fool he always has. This is the norm for the "fake president". He has done nothing in the first 6 months and now has the lowest approval rating in the history of the presidency. At -11% net, he is even lower than George W., and Ford...

You really need to educate yourself. Trump has a 50% approval rating. Turn off the lying CNN do a little research and learn the truth. Google the Rassmusen pol. I have two B.A. degrees and Master's degree and I voted for Trump. Also the majority of people that I know who voted for Trump have a college degree. You really don't know the true facts.

Too many of the Washington elite have no sense of humor She is a prime example of a Miss Jean Brody the Scottish prudish teacher who made a terrible mistake God forbid that people like this survive when Trump is re-elected They will go crazier than they are now Not only is Trump for FUN he gets things done Has achieved more in 6 months than any other president in 8 years

why don't you write about the positives going on right now thanks to our president! Unemployment down! The stock market up! Gas prices lowest its been in years! Get off the CNN wagon and get on the trump train!

I must agree!! I am appalled that as an educator I work tirelessly to convey an anti-bullying atmosphere in schools, yet one of my greatest battles is now explaining "non-presidential" behavior to my students who are preparing to be the next generation of Florida teachers. Regardless of party affiliation, how can anyone condone this immature, inappropriate behavior for the head of the Free World? You are bold Kathleen Parker, but you nailed this column.

Oh "Beth", if YOU are preparing kids for our future,.. I am fearful of 'that future' due to the tenor of your 'comments'; I'm sure there's a doorknob for you that isn't occupied by our erstwhile Washington Times scribe...

Wouldn't explaining "non-presidential" behavior - the fact that you believe it necessary to include such an area in a civics or current events context puts your teaching priorities to great question - to your students best be put in an historical context? Beside, just how far past today's pop "artists" and other tabloid figures are you going to get? Don't wallow. Rise above and teach young minds to learn how to think - not what to think.

Hey Beth -- Here's some current events. How did you explain the Shakespeare in the Park play where Trump is stabbed to death? Art or bullying with the intent to cause violence/harm? What about Kathy Griffin and her blood, decapitated head of Trump? Is that art too? How about all the violence on college campuses where they're burning cars, breaking windows, attacking Conservatives to stop people from speaking who they don't agree with? How about BLM looting, burning stores, attacking police officers? Are those peaceful protests? How about the terrorist attacks at home and abroad? Do you tell your students Islam is a peaceful religion? If you think Kathleen Parker is bold, I pity the kids who are forced to sit and listen to you indoctrination and brainwashing every day.

So how did you explain REALLY deviant behavior of oral sex and cigars in the White House to you students? That would require some mental gymnastics about sexual exploitation ?

I started working in this program last year, so I did not have to deal with "oral sex and cigars in the White House," and I am not sure that that topic would be a topic under any of the standards that I teach, but I would not condone that behavior either. Bullying is an issue students face in their own classes in education today. There is enough confusion for kids today, but my students amaze me with their perception, maturity, and awareness of the obstacles students encounter that interfere with learning. Regardless if it is a public, private, charter, or religious school environment, students encounter situations that force them to grow up faster than I believe kids should.

Parker President Trump hater! Take her off the Sunshine News!

Agree - I'm so sick of these liberal, misguided, know-it-all so called journalist trying to tell us how we should think. Message to all of you and the Beltway elites - WE DON'T LISTEN TO YOU ANYMORE!!!!

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