Opinion

Opinion

Editorial of The Times

Posted May 26, 2018 6:24 p.m. EDT

Trump’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette

Remember when Barack Obama disrespected the presidency by wearing a tan suit? Or by stripping to his shirt sleeves in the Oval Office? Or by parking those big, impertinent feet on the presidential desk? Republican leaders sure do. And yet they seem not to mind the behavior of Donald Trump, who is in so many ways violating Americans’ expectations of how presidents should act. Yes, Trump has now been compared to Josef Stalin by one senior senator from his party, and, yes, he has been pre-emptively disinvited to the prospective funeral of another. But the traditionally vigilant guardians of Oval Office decorum have remained strangely silent.

So, for the fourth time in a year, we’ve compiled a list of Trump’s more egregious transgressions. These items don’t represent disputes about policy, over which reasonable people may disagree. We find this guide a helpful way to avoid growing numb to what is so abnormal about this presidency, and to remind ourselves that a day may yet come when dignity and decency will matter again, even, perhaps, to Mitch McConnell and his fellow hypocrites.

If you are president, you may now:

— Use your unsecured personal cellphone to call, among others, media personalities who parrot your talking points — and when you’re told this is a security risk, say stopping would be “too inconvenient.”

— Say that professional athletes who don’t stand during the national anthem perhaps “shouldn’t be in the country.”

— Tweet that you “hereby demand” that the Justice Department investigate the FBI for supposedly infiltrating your campaign for “political purposes.”

— Hold a meeting with top Justice Department officials about a criminal investigation into your campaign, seeking to force them to act in your personal legal interest.

— Tell Americans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day “with acts of civic work and community service,” and then play golf at your private course.

— Tell reporters who question your racial views, “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

— Mockingly imitate the accent of the Indian prime minister.

— Call politicians of the opposing party “treasonous” and “un-American” for declining to stand and clap during your State of the Union speech.

— Accuse an FBI official of “treason” for sending a joke in a private text message that you take out of context.

— Be described by your future Environmental Protection Agency chief as likely to be “more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama.”

— Make more than 3,000 false or misleading claims in less than 16 months in office.

— Try at least twice to get your White House counsel to fire the special counsel investigating you, and back off only when he refuses to do so.

— When accused of obstructing justice, say you are just “fighting back.”

— Keep an alleged domestic abuser on the White House staff and promote him, even after the FBI denies him full security clearance.

— Lie about having no knowledge of a $130,000 hush payment that your lawyer made, in the weeks before your election, to a porn actress who claims she had sex with you while your wife was at home caring for your newborn son, then later admit that you paid the money back in full, even though you omitted it on your financial disclosure form, possibly violating federal law — and even though you also didn’t sign the nondisclosure agreement that you now are trying to invoke in order to keep the porn actress silent.

— Blame the FBI for a high school gun massacre because the agency is “spending too much time” investigating your campaign’s possible collusion with a foreign power.

— Suggest that a law enforcement officer who failed to stop the massacre was a “coward.”

— Say, with regard to mentally ill people who own firearms, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

— Attack Amazon and other American companies, causing their stocks to plunge.

— Congratulate the Russian president on his sham election victory even after aides warn you, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” and, when you call him, fail to mention Russia’s meddling in our election.

— Ask the deputy director of the FBI, in a private Oval Office conversation, whom he voted for in the last election.

— Tell your attorney general to pressure the FBI director to fire his deputy.

— Call your attorney general “DISGRACEFUL” on Twitter and “Mr. Magoo” in private, for following department procedure.

— Choose a pastor to lead a prayer at the opening of a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem who previously said Jews are going to hell.

— Resist accounting for more than $100 million raised for your inaugural celebration.

— Require senior White House staff members to sign nondisclosure agreements that are supposed to last beyond your presidency.

— Say of unaccompanied migrant children, “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

— Kick a journalist out of a news conference for asking you a question you don’t like.

— Permit the public release of a sensitive memo prepared by your protectors on the House Intelligence Committee.

— Claim that your State of the Union speech was the most watched ever, when it wasn’t.

— Fire your veterans affairs secretary by tweet, then pick as his replacement the White House doctor, who turns out to have a disqualifying history of alcohol abuse and handing out strong drugs.

— Tell the Pentagon you want a military parade “like the one in France.”

— Call a leading member of Congress “the leakin’ monster of no control” and accuse him, baselessly, of a crime.

— Call the former FBI director, whom you fired for refusing to end an investigation into possible illegal acts by your campaign, a “weak and untruthful slime ball” and accuse him of committing crimes.

— Mock the departing deputy director of the FBI after your attorney general fires him, two days before he would have been eligible for a full pension

— Trade threats of physical violence with a former vice president.

— Hire a lawyer who floats the prospect of presidential pardons to lawyers for top aides of yours who have pleaded guilty to or been indicted on federal charges during an investigation into your campaign.

— Hire a lawyer whose office gets raided by federal authorities, then denounce the raid as an “attack on our country in a true sense.”

— Ask the deputy director of the FBI how his wife, who was defeated in a campaign for political office, feels about being a “loser.”

Stand by your EPA administrator even when he is mired in ethics scandals and everyone is telling you to fire him.

— Go more than 400 days without holding a solo news conference at the White House.

— When asked why you relentlessly attack the press, say, “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

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