OPINION | DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: An end in sight for hypocrisy and cruelty

I'm old enough to remember when it mattered if presidents lied, when they didn't cozy up to dictators, and when they tried to hide their illicit affairs and certainly didn't brag about them.

Those of us who could vote in 1988 will remember the fallout after Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush promised, "Read my lips: no new taxes."

In his first year as president, Bush left income tax alone but increased various fees and levies. Then in 1990, trying to strike a budget deal with Congress, he agreed to raise taxes. The action likely cost him re-election in 1992.

Former President Barack Obama declared more than once, "If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it," when speaking of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. His critics were quick to point to the broken promise. The statement did not cost Obama the election, but it still haunts him.

Then there's Donald Trump, president since 2017 who's doing his best to deny reality and keep the man who defeated him from moving into the White House. If President-elect Joe Biden is wise, he'll have sanitation crews disinfect the White House not only from coronavirus but also from the lies, hate and secrecy that have contaminated it.

Perhaps come Jan. 20, Biden can start looking for some of Trump's notes on those chats with Vladimir Putin, especially the one in Helsinki where Trump sided with Putin over the United States' intelligence officials on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election. That said, I'm sure Trump is smart enough to destroy evidence not already shredded.

Besides, moral standards vary these days, depending on whether we're talking about Barack and Michelle Obama or Donald and Melania Trump.

Remember the outrage when Michelle Obama dared to wear a shoulder-baring top into an Italian cathedral? She was clothed like a 19th-century nun compared with the way former model Melania Trump sometimes posed for pictures. But that doesn't seem to bother Trump's evangelical disciples.

It's also apparently OK for Trump to lie, no matter how ridiculous, frequent or cruel the lies are.

During his first presidential campaign, a videotape was publicized in which Trump bragged about grabbing women's vaginas. He first admitted the voice was his but later said it might not have been him talking. His comments spoke to sexual assault, not just sex.

The United States is rounding the corner on the coronavirus, Trump has said, even though the country has counted more than 269,000 covid-related deaths. He has done little to combat the virus other than setting a bad example by mocking mask wearers and exposing others.

In October, Trump falsely said the law in California was such that one could never remove a mask there and people even had to eat through their masks. "It's a very complex mechanism," he said. No doubt.

Trump also has a problem with women, especially powerful women. He's thrice married with one marriage overlapping with his playtime with porn star Stormy Daniels. Other presidents have had girlfriends too. Among them was Bill Clinton. But it was Hillary Clinton whom Trump sought to humiliate by bringing some of her husband's accusers to a news conference before a presidential campaign debate.

I have never understood why many people, especially women, thought it was OK for a serial adulterer--Trump--to humiliate a victim of adultery. Trump's action was sexist, hypocritical and cruel.

Trump professes to be pro-life but is content with caging children and taking breast-feeding babies from their mothers as long as such actions empower him with his base. A Mexican baby's life is as precious as the life of any American baby or fetus.

Remember that song we sang as children:

Jesus loves the little children/All the children of the world/Red, brown, yellow/Black and white/They are precious in His sight/Jesus loves the little children/Of the world.

Do Arkansans believe those words?

I don't think Trump cares one way or the other about abortion, but knows where his base stands on the subject.

Those who strongly oppose abortion should talk with state and federal legislators, especially those who refuse to make contraception such as birth-control pills more accessible to women and who refuse to support adequate pre- and post-natal care and other life-saving needs for mothers and babies.

Politicians concerned about human life shouldn't worry only about unborn babies but also about the lives of all children and adults long after they leave a maternity ward. That means we don't cut food benefits to a woman whose baby we profess to care about. It means we should work to improve health-care benefits for the mother and baby even after the child is a teenager, for both lives should matter long past birth.

If men could get pregnant, we could buy more than condoms in service station restrooms. Street vendors would probably be selling birth-control pills, guys could pick up their version of IUDs at convenience stores, and nine-month paid pregnancy leave would soon become mandatory. As for abortions, male-dominated legislative bodies would quickly dispense of making men view pictures of fetuses.

Some Trump supporters accuse Democrats of being baby killers solely because of the abortion issue. Yet some abortions are needed, and even for those that aren't, there are fewer abortions now than in the 1980s when they reached a peak.

Those who supported Trump no matter their view on health care also are in danger of being falsely labeled. Trump has worked hard to abolish Obamacare even as a deadly pandemic rages, a move that could leave many ailing Americans with no health-care coverage.

Trump and some of his supporters have instigated hate and potentially deadly violence against journalists, a governor and others.

A Republican election official in Georgia recently pleaded for Trump "to stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence."

"Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed," Gabriel Sterling said.

He noted that a Trump campaign attorney had suggested that Chris Krebs, whom Trump fired from his job as U.S. cyber-security chief, should be killed.

I'm not an abortion advocate, but there are many cases where only the mother and her doctor should get the final say. And women certainly don't need the advice of a playboy politician who curses, lies and tear-gasses innocent people so he can pose with a Bible outside a church he seldom attends.

The issue is not clear-cut. And it doesn't mean all Democrats are baby killers any more than all Republicans are liars, adulterers, and killers of the elderly.

Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at dhaleshelton@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.