Advice to Trump: Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

President Trump was once again engaging in Twitter warfare this morning with a pair of tweets attacking MSNBC hosts “Morning Joe” Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The tweets were apparently a response to the pair’s insults and criticism of Trump on their show.

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” reads the first tweet followed by the second.

For Trump and the Republicans who are backing the president on this Twitter tirade, I offer the advice that my parents gave me as a child: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

There are many of us on the right who would like to get behind the president. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch and the fine members of his cabinet show that he has potential. The problem is that whenever the president starts to seem like someone I could support, he reverts to his unofficial role as a Twitter troll and his supporters start justifying his behavior by pointing to the poor behavior of people on the left from Barack Obama to Hillary to Maxine Waters or whoever.

I do not want another president in the divisive mold of Obama. I want a president who upholds my values and principles. Among those values are the idea that the president should be more civil and dignified than liberal talk show hosts. I want a president who can rise above the fray and champion civil discourse rather than responding in kind. The best-case scenario would be a president in the mold of Ronald Reagan, a stalwart conservative who could disarm opponents with his quick wit.

If the advice of my mom and dad isn’t sufficient for the president and his backers, there is also the Biblical admonition to “not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

This is also practical political advice for the president. It’s the job of pundits like “Morning Joe” and Mika to talk politics and criticize politicians. The president’s job is to lead the country and the federal government, not to engage in tit-for-tat with his many critics.

When pundits do it, it can be entertaining for their audience. When the president does it on Twitter with the whole world as an audience, he seems unhinged. It’s hard for many people outside of his base to get behind a president whose internet musings seem somewhat, well, creepy.

While Trump’s base may find his antics and insults amusing, many conservatives view it as sinking to the level of our ideological opponents. Those who defend his behavior are forced to engage in a double standard that minimizes the poor behavior of those on the left. Conservatives, many of whom claim to be Christian, forgo objective standards of right and wrong and excuse the president because Obama or Hillary did it too. In fact, many of our elected leaders, who, as public servants, should be held to a higher standard, behave regularly in ways that would earn my kids a swift spanking.

What is certain is that the Republican Party, filled with Christian conservatives or not, has lost the moral high ground. Poor behavior on the part of the left does not excuse poor behavior on the part of the president. When the president behaves poorly, he should be called out by the members of his own party.

If President Trump insists on engaging in a race to the bottom with the liberal left, it will be country as a whole that loses.

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David Thornton

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