This is an article about the disappearance of basic decency from American political discourse.
Decency comprises the sum of the moral lessons imparted by one’s parents and other influential teachers during the socialization process of one’s childhood and creates a behavioral template that ensures that one’s interaction with others doesn’t lead to social ostracism and isolation.
The shared sense of decency in a society can range from something as basic as following the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to the parental admonition to not speak ill of the dead.
Unsurprisingly, the first signs that this crucial shared sense of acceptable behavior and language was massively deteriorating came with the elevation of Donald Trump from a bankruptcy-prone real-estate developer and reality show carnival barker to the highest office in the land.
After four years of the brutal and barbaric behavior exemplified by Trump, one would hope that some restoration of common standards of decency would begin, but unfortunately, Trump remains unpunished for his transgressions and continues to set a horrific example to his deplorable base by making unbelievably cruel statements that would have disqualified anyone else saying such things from being a member of polite society much less becoming a powerful political figure.
For all of Trump’s standards-breaking behavior, his latest press release — attempting to recreate the power of his now-banned Twitter feed — truly takes the cake as the most socially egregious faux pas he’s ever publically committed.
Trump’s jealous petulance in this statement betrays a likely acknowledgment that his own demise will inspire as much celebratory dancing in the streets and grateful thanks for prayers answered as sober and unflattering analyses of his devastation of American society and governance.
By violating that adage passed on by many a mother to not speak ill of the recently departed, Trump displays his narcissism like a badge of honor.
Yes, Colin Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Secretary of State, has passed away and is the current center of attention for the news media.
Trump, however, simply cannot abide hearing the praises of someone else shove aside mentions of his own name on cable news programs so he exploits the admittedly disgraceful aspects of Powell’s career — most notably his complicity in launching the ill-considered war in Iraq — to squash the threat to his primacy in media attention.
Trump’s condemnable posthumous attack on Colin Powell shows how much worse his always tenuous sense of decency has deteriorated since the death of his major Republican adversary, the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ).
At least when Senator McCain died from a brain tumor, Trump had the decency to post a tweet that conformed to the societal expectations of what a president should say when a senior member of his own party departs the mortal sphere.
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” Trump belatedly posted at the time after an inordinate period of uncertainty about how he would react to the death of the man who frustrated Trump’s dreams of defeating and ending Obamacare.
Trump’s shockingly crude and insulting obituary for the former general generated substantial blowback on social media as the ex-president managed to reach further into the bottom of social acceptability than even his worst critics could envision.
Donald, when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil there will be celebrations.
A firm of hydrologists and drainage engineers will be retained to build a complex system of sluices and pipes to remove the piss that will rain on your miserable pauper's grave.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) October 19, 2021
Just remember that when trump sends out grotesque statements, like his about Colin Powell, he is speaking as the leader of the Republican Party. They own this.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) October 19, 2021
Given the chance to be gracious about someone’s death, or say nothing at all, Trump takes a decidedly different route pic.twitter.com/HMgFAiiRcK
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 19, 2021
Trump’s statement about Colin Powell is vile, evil & disgusting. It’s also often how a person w/ Frontotemporal dementia presents himself. No filter. No awareness. Only rage can provide some focus. A true sociopath would not say it this way. He’s a sociopath who acquired dementia
— Tom Joseph (@TomJChicago) October 19, 2021
Will be heartening to see the GOP come to the defense of Colin Powell, an honorable man who served with dignity, and denounce Trump’s horrible remarks. J/K he owns all those spineless cowards now. @GOP
— NoelCaslerComedy (@caslernoel) October 19, 2021
Reading – but deliberately not sharing – Trump’s statement on the passing of Colin Powell is another reminder there really is no bottom.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 19, 2021
Trump knows no one will mourn his death.https://t.co/EDWEv2h0i6
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) October 19, 2021
Rather than retweet Trump's statement on Colin Powell, further polluting this website, I think I will just tweet Powell's 13 rules, which are helpful rules that Trump appears to have never followed. https://t.co/EmKSUe2hhu
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) October 19, 2021
"As good as my memory is…I don't remember that."
— Benjamin V. Anilla (@BenignVanilla) October 19, 2021
— AZDem (@ResistNonsense) October 19, 2021
The saddest thing about Trump’s deliberately offensive posthumous statement about Colin Powell is the fact that, even after this travesty, a large number of Americans still see fit to support him.
The disappearance of decency is not just a problem restricted to Donald Trump, it is a nationwide pandemic of moral lapse after moral lapse.
Somehow we need to restore a common sense of acceptable language and behavior in this country. although exactly how to accomplish that task is likely going to be the major conundrum of the next decade.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.