It was probably just a coincidence, but I had just finished up a speaking event where I taught on the instruction of James to Christian believers to tame their tongues when I heard the news story about President Trump addressing Dr. Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh at his Mississippi rally.
It provides a startling awareness of the prescience of Biblical wisdom when it is set against the backdrop of man’s imprudence.
“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
And then observe the untamed tongue of the President of the United States as he pointed out Dr. Ford’s confusion over basic facts surrounding her accusation. Those who have defended the president’s provocative riff, including his press secretary, have done so on the basis that what he said was an accurate portrayal of Ford’s testimony.
Whether or not that is the case, are we now resigned to the prospect of having a president for half the country only? Do we not expect the national executive to even attempt a call towards national unity? Please don’t misunderstand this to suggest that I believe President Trump has a duty to compromise on his selection of Brett Kavanaugh. Don’t even think that I’m suggesting he can’t or shouldn’t defend his nominee against unfair attacks or press coverage.
The issue is the manner in which he does those things. It is the way in which he uses his position, his bully pulpit, his tongue.
“We all know that the president cannot lead us through this time. We know that he's dispositionally unable to restrain his impulse to divide us. His mockery of Dr. Ford last night in Mississippi was wrong but it doesn't really surprise anyone, it's who he is.”
It remains astounding to me that so many Republicans who, like me, criticized President Obama for his relentlessly divisive rhetoric, are unwilling to recognize and condemn the same conduct in President Trump. Whereas Obama’s was understated, Trump’s is over-the-top. Where Obama’s was covert, Trump’s is unmistakable.
None of this is about condemning President Trump for his positions. Remember, Sasse is voting to confirm Kavanaugh and he undoubtedly feels as though the Democrats have been engaged in shameful smear tactics against the judge. But he is also sensitive to the fact that standing firm on Kavanaugh and against political chicanery does not have to include words that inflame, hurt, agitate, and unnecessarily provoke others.
For months, Republicans have adamantly rebuked “resisting” Democrats and reminded them that whether they like it or not, President Trump is their president. It would be nice if enough of them would also remind President Trump that he should be acting like it.