Burke: Character indeed counts, Mr. President; let us recount

The president declared last week Character Counts Week. It was also Unintended Irony Week.

By Tom Burke / Herald columnist

I needed a break from the ugliness of Trump’s Mideast surrender to Putin, Assad, Iran’s Khamenei, and Erdogan of Turkey; his abandonment of the Kurds; his blackmailingUkraine for illegal political dirt; his tinfoil-hat-worthy claim Hillary’s server is in Kyiv; and his absurd theory the Russians didn’t hack our 2016 elections.

So when I saw a piece about Trump signing a proclamation announcing “National Character Counts Week” I said, “Thank God,” and figured it was: a) a miracle, or b) the ultimate irony. Spoiler: It’s the irony.

His proclamation is pretty inspiring. Really. Until you contrast Trump’s words with his actions. Then, it gets ironic.

The text gloriously begins, “Since our Nation’s founding, we have recognized that the good character of our people is vital to maintaining our freedom.” Right on Pres! But we can kiss freedom goodbye when we recall Trump’s “good character” on the “Hollywood Access” tape where he says, “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pu**y. You can do anything.”

Next he calls for “moral clarity.” Mr. President, you bet we need moral clarity. Except Trump’s version of moral clarity is his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney morally admitting Trump withheld military aid from a foreign ally to get help with a political investigation. And a string of unimpeachable witnesses who confirmed, with clarity, Trump’s illegal abuse of power.

Trump highlights “virtue and integrity” as vital to the nation’s survival. We’re doomed. Trump’s version of integrity is dissolving his charitable foundation because he unlawfully misused it to advance his 2016 presidential campaign and his businesses, perverting his charitable foundation into a wing of his White House campaign.

He then asserts, “no person or piece of legislation is capable of securing and advancing freedom for a nation that fails to instill moral principles in its people.” Obviously. But also obvious, a key Trumpian moral principle: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” And his attorney, William Consovoy, went further, saying if he actually shoots someone on the corner of Fifth and 48th while president, he cannot be investigated or prosecuted; even for murder. And Consovoy said it last week, in court, and was dead serious.

Trump stresses,“cultivating character is critical for our Nation’s youth,” and paying off porn stars and ex-Playboy bunnies for sex while cheating on his third wife then lying about it is a tremendous “character-cultivator.”

And to put a finer point on it Trump says, “Building strong character in our youth helps provide them with a moral compass.” Damn, where’s my GPS? We’re hopelessly lost. Because all Trump’s moral compass guided him to was making a $25 million court-ordered settlement to victims of his now-shuttered, fraudulent Trump University.

He refers to his third wife, and First Lady, Melania Trump’s BE BEST initiative which says “it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce that when children are using their voices…they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion. Like when her husband tweeted, “The Never Trumper Republicans … are human scum!” or called Speaker Nancy Pelosi “a third-grade politician.” Now that’s respect!

He references American presidents including, “President Washington’s admirable humility,” but contrasted to Trump’s, “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart…a genius, and a very stable genius at that!” or his tweeted claim of “great and unmatched wisdom.”

I’m reminded of Teddy Roosevelt saying, “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

He speaks of “President Lincoln’s strong will and honesty;” versus Trump’s documented 13,500 lies and distortions; and “President Eisenhower’s courage;” versus courage ala Trump: phony bone spurs to weasel out of the Vietnam war.

He calls out “those who extend compassion and kindness to others” as he rips apart brown-skinned families, puts kids in cages, and throws rolls of paper towels at hurricane victims.

He concludes, “Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity,” (after telling three Congresswomen to, “go back…to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came),“ and ending, “NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution,” (except, of course for the “phony” emoluments clause) and calling “public officials, educators, parents, students, and all Americans,” (except, apparently, himself) “to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.”

So it’s nice the House of Representatives is honoring his call with an appropriate activity: continuing the impeachment hearings, as 51 percent of voters polled now want Donald Trump impeached and removed from office.

Tom Burke’s email address is t.burke.column@gmail.com.

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