To me, the No. 1 most prominent quality of Donald J. Trump, the current president of the United States, is mendacity. That’s lying and spreading untruths.
Trump’s reckless cruelty is somewhere on the list, but when I think of his shortcomings, as a person and a president, his cruelty usually doesn’t threaten lying for the top spot.
Maybe yesterday it did. Or maybe it’s the double whammy of cruelty while passing along lies.
In case you’ve missed this tale, back when Joe Scarborough (who now has a show on MSNBC called “Morning Joe”) was a Republican congressman from Florida, a woman named Laurie Klausutis, who worked in his Florida congressional office, keeled over, hit her head on her desk, and died.
The Florida medical examiner, a forensic pathologist, examined, investigated and ruled that Klausutis, who suffered from a diseased valve of her heart, fell over because of the heart problem, struck her head during the fall, and died of the blow. There was no suggestion of foul play. Here’s the medical examiner’s report.
Until recently, I had never heard of the incident, nor had you, nor had Donald Trump.
Scarborough, despite a career in Republican politics, left the House and got a morning talk show on the liberal cable news network, MSNBC, where he is now regularly critical of Trump‘s performance as president.
Personally, I would say it’s OK for Trump to dislike a talk show host who criticizes him a lot. But he’s supposed to be a grownup about it. He’s supposed to put his big boy pants on every morning and understand that he occupies the office of Washington, Lincoln and, yes, Barack Obama (whom some Republicans accused of being “unpresidential” because he wore a tan suit one day in the White House, complaining publicly that a tan suit was not an appropriate presidential wardrobe choice when there were serious matters to discuss.)
As is his wont, POTUS Trump has declared war on Scarborough, via tweet, for the obvious crime of saying mean things about Trump. But now Trump has decided to subscribe to the theory that, rather than dying in an accident caused by her underlying medical condition, Scarborough murdered Laurie Klausutis to cover up the fact that he (Scarborough) was having an affair with her.
Trump has been tweeting and retweeting on the subject. If credible evidence arises that Scarborough murdered her, I will apologize for this post (something Donald John Trump would never do). But, among the people who do not believe that Scarborough murdered Laurie Klausutis is her husband. Neither he nor the police, nor the medical examiner, believe that, but apparently some people with Twitter accounts believe it and have tweeted their suspicions, which moved the apparently-not-too-busy-with-his-day-job current president of the United States to retweet the Scarborough-killed-her theories.
Trump did not just pass along tweets from others invoking this libel, which would be bad enough, but he wrote in his own voice, for example, on Twitter:
“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. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”
According to this AP story, the man who lost his wife asked Twitter to stop allowing his wife to be smeared and used in this manner. In a letter to Twitter, Timothy Klausutis “wrote that he has struggled to move on with his life due to the ongoing ‘bile and misinformation’ spread about his wife on the platform.”
The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.
Klausutis has asked the CEO of Twitter to take down all those tweets and stop allowing Twitter to be used to cause him further pain by people making up slurs against his late wife.
Me, I don’t tweet or retweet or, generally, read tweets until some news story forces them into my field of vision. Perhaps I’m missing a lot of good stuff. I’ll take that risk in order to occasionally find time to read a book.
But even if I joined the active twitterati, I wouldn’t use it this way, and I kinda think the president of the United States should have better things to do with his time, his talents and what’s left of his reputation.
Meanwhile, here’s the AP story on which this post is based. The headline writer seems to think the outrage is that Twitter doesn’t shut down the Trumpian tweets and retweets. I think the bigger outrage is that the POTUS is spending time and energy on such pettiness and cruelty. I’m hopelessly old-fashioned about what the job of a president is, or was.