If the presidential elections were held today and Donald Trump was running against Hillary Clinton, I would vote for Donald Trump without hesitation. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't embarrass me at times. And when it comes to his recent attack on NBC's Chuck Todd, I side with Todd.
That's not because I agree with Todd's ideology or that I feel his reporting is fair and balanced.
To be perfectly candid, I don't see much of Todd's reporting, and so I can't really comment either way.
But what I do know is that the president of the United States debases himself by getting into juvenile, even profane name-calling. And while he may rally certain elements of his base with this kind of rhetoric, he alienates another part of his base. He also further inflames his adversaries and gives fresh fuel to his detractors. And to what purpose? To what gain?
Speaking in Pennsylvania on Saturday, President Trump referred to Todd as a "sleeping (expletive)" a remark that lit up the internet within minutes.
On Sunday Todd responded: "I bring my kids up to respect the office of the presidency and the president. I don't allow them to say anything negative, ever, about the president. It creates a challenge to all parents when he uses vulgarities like that."
He is absolutely right. The word Trump used is now everywhere, spelled out in full, and repeated on the airwaves, just as another expletive became ubiquitous after the president's alleged comments in January.
Suddenly, that which used to be censored is now acceptable. The profane is no longer profane. Civility (or, whatever is left of it) is further crushed underfoot.
This contributes to a general coarsening of the culture, while the ugly insults multiply exponentially as all sides fire back.
Without a doubt, having Donald Trump as our president has its big plusses and big minuses.
Of course, ardent Trump supporters will lambaste me, accusing me of prudery, of focusing on inconsequential details, of being a secret leftist at heart.
"Just look at what he's done for the economy, for Israel, for the courts, for our religious rights. And he's about to meet with the president of North Korea in what could be one of the greatest diplomatic breakthroughs of our era. Plus, he's virtually destroyed ISIS."
Again, that's why I would vote for him today against the likes of Hillary Clinton.
But the fact is that President Trump could have accomplished these same goals without degrading himself, without debasing the office of the president, without attacking others with crudeness and vulgarity, and without further dividing an already-divided nation. Can anyone tell me how his cruelty helps his cause?
My appeal is that our president step higher, that he be aggressive and bold without acting like a child, that he be fearless without being frivolous. Only the blindly loyal will defend him at every turn, just as those blindly loyal to President Obama could see no wrong in him.
Appearing on Face the Nation on Sunday, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson was asked, "What do you think the evangelicals who support President Trump make of the Stormy Daniels scandal?"
He replied, "Well, I think that it is the height of hypocrisy. ... if any other Democratic president had been guilty of what is alleged in these cases, evangelicals would be, you know, off the reservation."
But Gerson is only partly right since: 1) no Democratic president fought for the things Trump is fighting for, meaning that the overall picture is quite mixed; and 2) there are evangelicals who support President Trump while not endorsing his crude behavior or passing over his marital transgressions.
That being said, I agree with Gerson that evangelicals who downplay Trump's moral failings are guilty of hypocrisy and do compromise their witness. This is something I've addressed many times before.
Gerson further stated that, "Evangelicalism really has had a good tradition. And now they are really undermining that reputation of their faith."
This prompted Margaret Brennan to ask, "But, in that judgment, you are saying the transactional part of this relationship isn't worth the trade-off?"
Gerson replied, "Well, they are acting like, you know, slimy political operatives, not moral leaders.
"They are essentially saying, in order to get benefits for themselves, in a certain way — they talk about religious liberty and other issues—but to get benefits for themselves, they are willing to wink at Stormy Daniels and wink at misogyny and wink at nativism.
"And that, I think, is deeply discrediting, not just in a political sense, but actually in a moral and religious sense."
Are some evangelicals acting like "slimy political operatives, not moral leaders"? Perhaps some are, just as some liberal Christian leaders have gotten into political bed with their Democratic counterparts.
But once again, Gerson is only partly right.
As evangelicals, we're not trying "to get benefits" for ourselves as much we're trying to advocate for what is best for our nation and the world. And when it comes to fighting against abortion, fighting against the genocide of Christians in the Middle East, fighting against the radical left's takeover of America —just to name some of our biggest issues—we absolutely support President Trump. We believe he's the man for the job.
Yet we don't pretend he is a virtuous Christian, while we are grieved over many things he says and does. As for the Stormy Daniels' allegations, if they are true, many of us would not be surprised. But we would urge our president to confess his past sins publicly and ask for forgiveness.
That's what true support looks like, and frankly, I fail to see what is hypocritical in taking a stand like this. As an evangelical leader, I'm often embarrassed by our president, but I voted for him with my eyes wide open, weighing the good with the bad.
So, I will praise him for the great things he accomplishes and share my disappointment when he falls short.
That means that one day I'm celebrating President Trump for his bold and courageous leadership, although the next day I'm regretting his cruel and crude attacks.
Today is one of those days when it's important for me to say, "Chuck Todd, I'm sorry for what our president said about you, and I agree with the sentiments you expressed."
Hopefully, tomorrow will be a different day.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
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