Ethics & Public Policy Center

Let’s See Trump in All His Ugliness

Published in Commentary Magazine on April 21, 2016



Well that lasted a long time, didn’t it?

The “that” I have in mind is the New Donald Trump — the one, countless newspaper reporters and political commentators told us, who emerged in the aftermath of the New York primary, which he won in an overwhelming fashion.

We read in story after story that Mr. Trump was pivoting — that he was becoming more mature, more disciplined, more presidential. Gone were the childish attacks, the name calling, the cruelty. Corey Lewandowski was being sidelined by Paul Manafort, who was brought in to recast the candidate and the campaign. Serious policy speeches would even be given!

Mr. Trump was going to be all about message discipline, unity, and dignity. The evidence for this new narrative was Trump’s short victory speech on Tuesday night, when he referred to Ted Cruz as “Senator Cruz” rather than “Lyin’ Ted.”

Mr. Trump’s extreme makeover lasted less than 24 hours.

In speeches yesterday, in city after city, Trump referred to “Lyin’ Ted” around a dozen times. He was back to being the Old Trump.

Memo to the political class and wishful thinkers everywhere: the Old Trump is the True Trump. For more than 10 months during this presidential campaign, and long before it, we’ve seen how Trump conducts himself — the venom, the erratic statements, the staggering ignorance, the obsessive attacks, the crudity and vulgarity, the creepy references to his daughter, the narcism and emotional imbalance. He is who he is.

I understand the campaign has an interest in camouflaging that; in keeping Mr. Trump on a leash, in a box, under control, pretending that deep down he’s a philosopher king rather than a reality television performer who makes the Kardashians look classy.

It won’t work; and more to the point, it shouldn’t work. The American people need to know the real temperament — the man in full — who would be president. Because it is Donald Trump, not a Manafort-concocted image of Trump, who would be sitting in behind the Oval Office and in the Situation Room. Who would be making decisions on war and peace? Who would be submitting actual budgets and policy proposals? Who would be speaking for America and presenting America to the world?

So my view is, don’t try to pretty up Donald Trump. Let us see him in all his ugliness, so we can then decide whether this is the person we want to be commander in chief and the moral conscience of America.

Peter Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

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