BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“My thoughts are whirled like a potter’s wheel: I know not where I am, nor what I do.”
— Shakespeare, Sir John Falstaff, “Henry VI”
There really is “no honor among thieves,” says the Bible in Proverbs 21:10–11.
“Our country is dying,” said the dishonorable Trump during his calamitous talk show appearance on CNN last week. Is he right?
Oh, that hour of infamy.
What does it mean for a country and what does it say about its people when someone who is running for president a third time was found liable by a jury of sexually abusing a woman, whose organization was convicted by another jury of tax fraud and a grand jury indicted him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records?
What does it say about honor, about trust, about respect, about fealty to our institutions, some of them hallowed over two centuries of valued integrity, to allow nothing more than a carnival barker, as Barack Obama correctly tagged him early on, to again run for public office when he has damaged so much of our country and its reputation both at home and abroad?
Ah, yes, honor. To be honorable. Is that merely another one of those attributes to be discarded on the heap of garbage to which we’ve been witness? Falstaff:
“What is honor? a word. What is in that word honor? what
is that honor? air.”
Isn’t that what Trump has made of honor? Air? Nothing.
Falstaff identified, according to SparkNotes on Shakespeare: “Old, fat, lazy, selfish, dishonest, corrupt, thieving, manipulative, boastful, and lecherous, Falstaff is, despite his many negative qualities, perhaps the most popular of all of Shakespeare’s comic characters. Though he is technically a knight, Falstaff’s lifestyle clearly renders him incompatible with the ideals of courtly chivalry that one typically associates with knighthood.”
Just substitute president for knight. Remind you of someone?
“Most popular of all of Shakespeare’s comic characters.” Isn’t Trump the Republican frontrunner for the forthcoming primary elections for the presidency?
Who are we that we let this happen to us? At the very least, there should be a code of honor that would disallow just anyone the right to run for president beyond having to be at least 35 years old and born in America. Almost no restrictions.
Yet this is about one of those hallowed institutions — the presidency and its White House, the people’s house. Amend the requirements for public office to disqualify anyone previously impeached by the House, for starters.
Whatever happened to Mom and apple pie and their concomitant American dream? Whatever happened to the Supreme Court, another hallowed institution, in this atmosphere of anything goes, including bragging by a presidential candidate of his sexual prowess?
What happened to the House of Representatives, which permitted an admitted fraud like Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to be seated. The respected speaker, Sam Rayburn, must be quivering in his grave.
Sex once had its day in the court of public affairs, as it were.
It felled Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., in 1987 because of his dalliance with Donna Rice, when he was the front runner against Joe Biden in the primary for the 1988 presidency.
Or Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who withdrew from the presidential primaries in early 2008 three months after he admitted having an affair with Rielle Hunter, who worked on his campaign.
How times have changed, and so rapidly. It was only more than seven years between Edwards’ withdrawal and Trump’s gaudy escalator ride in 2015 to announce his candidacy for president.
Not only did the voters ignore his “Access Hollywood” tape in which he said, “when you’re a star, you can do anything” to women, but his fellow Republicans swore allegiance to him once he was elected.
Any lessons learned? Nah. This is the New America, where the two main political parties exist mostly side by side in a cold war that has resulted in the absence of gun control while people of all ages, in school and out, shoot up the country.
Fully 13,959 people have been killed this year by guns until May 1, according to the Gun Violence Archive, including 491 teens and 85 children. No strict federal gun laws between the Atlantic and Pacific. It’s all an OK Corral.
This is the country we live in. You think Trump will do anything about gun control? Think again. The Republicans have been bought by the NRA.
There is no Planet B.
If the Republicans were a true political party in the American tradition going back to the Founding Fathers, who risked their careers and lives by standing up to an empire, and had the guts and brains of those pioneers in democracy, they would dump Trump.
Republicans of any stripe can’t let Trump, with more than 30,000 lies under his bulging belt while president and knowing of his recklessness and unworthiness by years of experience, become president again.
Need an excuse? Whip up your dormant sense of doing what is right and tell him he’s got too many legal issues facing him to be a viable candidate for president of this magnificent country.
Like Falstaff, Trump is no knight in shining armor. Unlike Falstaff, he’s a lousy comedian.
Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East, the Pentagon and was foreign editor of United Press International, was the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.