Just when you think President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE can’t behave more un-presidentially, he proves you wrong.
We’ve gotten used to this president’s toxic personality. He has drawn millions of his fellow Americans into his dark vortex, the quagmire that passes for his character. And if they even notice, they’ve made peace with what he’s done to them. After all, they reason, he’s better, warts and all, than what the liberals have to offer.
So when he defamed the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.), a genuine war hero who was shot down, tortured and spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison cell, Trump’s loyal followers allowed him to get away with it.
And when he tried to publicly humiliate a female Republican primary opponent in 2016 — saying of her, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” — the loyalists barely noticed.
And then there was the time he pretended to shake uncontrollably at a political rally in order to make fun of a reporter he didn’t like — a reporter with a physical disability. His fans laughed and cheered.
There is something wrong with Donald Trump, something terribly, terribly wrong.
His most recent target has been Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughScarborough pleads with Biden to mandate vaccines for teachers, health workers Trump ramps up attacks on media Scarborough hosts critical race theory debate on 'Morning Joe' MORE, whose morning show on MSNBC is a nonstop assault on the president. The president understandably is not happy with that. Fair enough. But to imply that Scarborough might be a murderer is, in the words of an editorial in National Review, “grotesque even by his standards.”
In 2001, a 28-year-old female aide to Scarborough, then a Florida congressman, fainted and hit her head on a desk as she fell. It turns out she had a heart problem that caused her to lose consciousness. There was never a hint of foul play — but there were unfounded conspiracy theories. When the president thought those would do him some good, he latched onto them.
The president took to Twitter — not to enlighten his millions of followers, but simply to get even with Scarborough for the nasty things he says about the president on his TV show every day.
First, we got this from President Trump: “When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so.”
But that wasn’t enough for the president. He then tweeted this: “A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida ... and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!”
As vile as this is, what should we make of the president’s many supporters — especially those in the media and the white evangelical clergy who wouldn’t say a bad word about Trump even if he really did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan? They all may think Donald Trump is a better choice than Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE; reasonable people may disagree on that, but it’s not a crazy political argument. Yet, to look the other way, to downplay or ignore this and Trump’s many other needlessly cruel responses to his critics, makes them enablers to his conduct.
When the husband of the woman who died wrote about the pain Trump is causing him, we don’t expect the president to care — he’s incapable of caring; there is no empathy in this man. But shouldn’t those religious leaders who support Trump, who are men and women of God, care? Shouldn’t they say something publicly?
And how would Trump fans react if it were Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) 'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency MORE who tweeted that Trump or one of his close associates may have killed someone? Would they be as sanguine with that as they are with Trump’s barely concealed accusation that Joe Scarborough is a murderer?
If Donald Trump loses in November, his needless nastiness and cruelty will be one big reason. And it will not be Joe Biden who beats him. It will be Trump’s character that finally caught up with him, that finally did him in.
Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist, is a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.