USA Today eviscerated President Donald Trump as "not fit to clean the toilets in Obama's presidential library or to shine George W. Bush's shoes" in a scathing editorial that came snapping at the heels of Trump's attack on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, which many criticized as sexually suggestive and demeaning, though the White House denied there was anything suggestive about the post.
"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office," the editorial board wrote. "Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low."
Then the board went even further:
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.
And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.
A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.
But Trump's behavior, USA Today reminds its readers, is not out of character.
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, “Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.” Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.
The editorial board also cites the following as examples that "the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse":
- His enthusiastic support for Alabama Republican Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate. Moore lost the election yesterday in a heated contest against Doug Jones, his Democrat opponent. Moore still secured more than 48 percent, however, despite multiple allegations of child molestation and sexual assault against women. (Earlier this morning, Trump tweeted that Moore "worked hard, but the deck was stacked against him!")
- Trump's unabashed disregard for the truth. ("As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That’s 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post’s fact-checkers," the editorial board notes.)
- His willingness to take "advantage of any situation," including "Monday's failed terrorist attack in New York — to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife."
- Trump's failure to fill "key government positions that require Senate confirmation." USA Today notes that as of last week, "Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly."
- His "contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory." The editorial board cites Trump's refusal to release his tax returns (he has continued to claim he cannot do so because he's under audit), and his unwillingness to divest himself from his many businesses.
Then the reactions poured in––and they were overwhelmingly positive.
USA Today is not known for its opinion pieces, but this isn't the first time it's issued a blistering rebuke of the president or his policies.
Last September, USA Today's editorial board broke precedent for the first time in 34 years and weighed in on the presidential race: and weighed in on the presidential race: “This year, one of the candidates––Republican nominee Donald Trump––is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.”
The Editorial Board stressed that it has “expressed opinions about the major issues” and that it hasn’t “presumed to tell [our] readers, who have a variety of priorities and values, which choice is best for them… Until now.”
Donald Trump, the Editorial Board continued, “has demonstrated repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.”
But it was quick to point out that its anti-Trump editorial does not represent “unqualified support for Hillary Clinton, who has her own flaws (though hers are far less likely to threaten national security or lead to a constitutional crisis).” The Editorial Board “does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement.”
“Some of us look at her command of the issues, resilience and long record of public service––as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of State––and believe she’d serve the nation ably as its president,” the editorial continues. “Other board members have serious reservations about Clinton’s sense of entitlement, her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness in handling classified information.”
“Whatever you do, however, resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue,” it concludes. “By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”
The Board then proceeded to “spell out” a litany of reasons why Trump should not be president which included, but are not limited to:
- HIS ERRATIC POLITICAL OPINIONS: "Trump has been on so many sides of so many issues that attempting to assess his policy positions is like shooting at a moving target. A list prepared by NBC details 124 shifts by Trump on 20 major issues since shortly before he entered the race. He simply spouts slogans and outcomes (he’d replace Obamacare with 'something terrific') without any credible explanations of how he’d achieve them."
- HIS QUESTIONABLE BUSINESS RECORD: "Trump has built his candidacy on his achievements as a real estate developer and entrepreneur. It’s a shaky scaffold, starting with a 1973 Justice Department suit against Trump and his father for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals. (The Trumps fought the suit but later settled on terms that were viewed as a government victory.) Trump’s companies have had some spectacular financial successes, but this track record is marred by six bankruptcy filings, apparent misuse of the family’s charitable foundation, and allegations by Trump University customers of fraud. A series of investigative articles published by the USA TODAY Network found that Trump has been involved in thousands of lawsuits over the past three decades, including at least 60 that involved small businesses and contract employees who said they were stiffed. So much for being a champion of the little guy."
- HIS PENCHANT FOR MAKING RECKLESS STATEMENTS: "In the days after the Republican convention, Trump invited Russian hackers to interfere with an American election by releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails, and he raised the prospect of “Second Amendment people” preventing the Democratic nominee from appointing liberal justices. It’s hard to imagine two more irresponsible statements from one presidential candidate."
- THE WAY HIS BEHAVIOR HAS "COARSENED THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE": "Did you ever imagine that a presidential candidate would discuss the size of his genitalia during a nationally televised Republican debate? Neither did we. Did you ever imagine a presidential candidate, one who avoided service in the military, would criticize Gold Star parents who lost a son in Iraq? Neither did we. Did you ever imagine you’d see a presidential candidate mock a disabled reporter? Neither did we. Trump’s inability or unwillingness to ignore criticism raises the specter of a president who, like Richard Nixon, would create enemies’ lists and be consumed with getting even with his critics.