During Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign, he promised a government “as competent, as compassionate, as good as the American people.” A born-again Christian, he had a profound belief that we were a people who wanted to do the right thing. He would be our servant.
The American people have certainly come a long way since then. If that was not already painfully clear, Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing before the Senate Judicial Committee caste a strong light on the goodness of our people.
Many of his supporters argued that even if he were guilty of attempting to sexually assault a fifteen-year-old girl when he was seventeen – and then so many years later to (his critics) lie about it under oath – was what he did all that bad? What teen-age boy did not behave that way?
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Donald Trump – although he denied doing anything wrong – had been caught on tape admitting sexually "assaulting" women thorough much of his adult life. And yet, not only did we elect him as our president, but he was supported by the large majority of fundamentalist Christians. These folks reasoned that although Trump behaved immorally, he was certain to nominate anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court.
In short, didn’t the large majority of Trump supporters among the American people get the president that they thought they deserved? But wait: It gets even better.
Compare the testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee of Kavanaugh and the woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her, Christine Blasey Ford. Most Americans – possibly including even President Trump – believed her.
By contrast, to millions of viewers, Kavanaugh appeared to resemble an angry middle-aged alcoholic male who felt profoundly wronged, his life ruined, by being forced to go through this demeaning process. Again, millions of other Americans sympathized with him – many of whom even empathized.
Donald Trump -- who consciously and perhaps unconsciously appears to make little distinction between truth and falsehood -- actually holds a painfully honest and heartfelt position on alcoholism. His older brother Frank drank himself to death. The president is a teetotaler. Whatever might be said about the man, he has never excused his bad behavior by claiming to not remember anything because of the fog of alcohol.
Considering Trump’s long history of lying, we should applaud the profound honesty in his summing up his presidency soon after Kavanaugh’s testimony. At an October 2nd press conference, he asked reporters to imagine if he drank “what a mess he would be.” Surely every American would agree.
You’ll remember Hillary Clinton’s description of Trump supporters during her losing presidential campaign, calling half of them “deplorables.” She described them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.” Perhaps she was somewhat politically tone-deaf, but was she right or wrong?
Jimmy Carter is, in many ways, the complete opposite of Donald Trump. And yet, both believe that they gave America a government as good as its people.