Donald Trump is not, yet, the worst-ever president. He’s trying to be, but his administration has been too hamstrung by controversy to get much done. Part of this is because, on a personal level, Trump is almost certainly the worst person to occupy the White House. He’s crude, ignorant, abusive, and greedy – just for starters. Whatever he does or doesn’t accomplish in terms of policy, having such a toxic person in the nation’s highest office is already having destructive consequences.
It’s not just liberals who find Trump personally loathsome. Even Ann Coulter, who wrote a book titled “In Trump We Trust,” recently said, “Everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque.” On the campaign trail, Republicans lined up on several occasions to denounce Trump over everything from his Muslim ban to his Access Hollywood comments, in which he brags about using his star power to sexually assault women.
Paul Ryan accused Trump of making “the textbook definition of a racist comment” and said the Muslim ban was “not who we are.” Mitt Romney said Trump’s “vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.” Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley condemned Trump’s flirtatious relationship with white supremacists.
Yet now that he’s the president, Republicans are lined up behind him through every scandal, gaffe and miscarriage of justice. Haley became Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Mitt Romney sought the position of Trump’s Secretary of State. Paul Ryan tries to avoid discussing Trump, but remains committed to his legislative agenda.
Even before Trump commandeered it, the GOP had been declared “the most dangerous organization in human history.” That was mostly due to their reckless foreign policy and denial of climate change. Now, added to that is Trump’s unique brand of vile: his brazen lying, his racial and cultural insensitivity, his need to bully and intimidate rivals, and his pathetic need for aggrandizement.
Conservative media has transformed into Trump’s personal Ministry of Propaganda. Fringe-right allies of Trump like Breitbart and InfoWars now set the tone, so that even cable news pundits like Sean Hannity sound indistinguishable from Alex Jones. The willingness to lie and shill for Trump was perfectly encapsulated by Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker tried in 1998 to impeach Bill Clinton over obstruction of justice, but recently declared, “Technically, the president of the United States cannot obstruct justice.”
Republican pundits’ need to defend Trump has forced them into bald-faced hypocrisy, embrace of conspiracy theories, and coziness with white supremacists. The only honest way to remain on Trump’s side is to express contempt for the Constitution and the working poor – both of which Trump has in spades.
Stories of Trump stiffing workers, from construction contractors to his own lawyers, could fill a book. Shortly after the 2016 election he paid a $25 million settlement to college students defrauded by the sham Trump University. His unscrupulousness as a businessman and employer helped ruin Atlantic City. Recently Forbes detailed how Trump skimmed from a kids cancer charity. Far from coming to the aid of America’s “forgotten people,” Trump has made his living preying on them.
Trump’s hostility toward critics, his penchant for name-calling, and his casual bigotry have also made an impact on America’s most impressionable people: children. Across the country there are reports of children bullying their classmates using Trump’s words. White students threaten minority classmates with deportation and talk about how America will be great again once they’re gone. For some bullies it’s enough to simply chant Trump’s name in the face of a black or brown classmate.
None of this worries conservative media or the GOP. They are a single-issue party: remove any and all obligations to social responsibility currently burdening corporations and the wealthy, whether they be taxes or regulations. So long as Trump stays on board with that, Republicans will follow him down ever-darker, more poisonous terrain. And that’s exactly where he’ll take them. Trump isn’t just one of the worst people to become president. He’s one of the worst people who has ever lived.