DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: Shameless leader deserves no respect

Why would anyone ridicule others for wearing protective masks that could help prevent people from spreading the deadly coronavirus to others? The answer is simple: The ridiculer has no shame and has the moral compass of a junior high boy who's about to lose his girlfriend to someone smarter, kinder and handsomer.

Perhaps I should have said a fifth-grader, because most of the junior-high boys I taught had more shame and more kindness than does the person at issue here: President Donald Trump.

I respect the office of president. I have also respected every president who has served during my lifetime-- even those with whom I strongly disagreed--until now. I felt that each of them generally tried to do what he believed was best for the country, even when he was wrong or misguided.

Perhaps some acted on bad advice. Perhaps some of their priorities were skewed because of the extreme wealth or the lack of parental guidance with which they were raised. Perhaps they didn't respect marriage or women in general because of the way their own parents treated each other in a society that still demeans women.

But most of these presidents at least learned from their mistakes or, as skeptics might say, had enough common sense to know an apology was in order for them and the nation to move forward. (Who hasn't apologized to a boss or a parent out of necessity rather than sincerity?)

Former President George W. Bush apologized for the federal government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "To the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," he said after the storm that devastated New Orleans.

Former President Bill Clinton apologized in 1998 after the Senate acquitted him on impeachment charges.

"I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people," Clinton said, according to a Washington Post article.

Former President Obama, whom Trump disparages whenever he needs a fall guy, apparently in the hopes that it will help win more votes, apologized in 2013 to Americans who were losing their health insurance despite his promises that they wouldn't, according to the Washington Post. "I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me," Obama said in an interview with NBC News.

Even the late Richard M. Nixon apologized for the mistakes of Watergate, which led to his resignation from the presidency in 1974. During an interview with television host David Frost, Nixon apologized for putting "the American people through two years of needless agony," according to The New York Times' 2013 Frost obituary. Nixon added, "I let the American people down and I have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life."

As for Trump, he's made his perceived duties as leader of this country clear. "No, I don't take responsibility at all," he said of the federal government's slow start on covid-19 testing. Why would anyone have expected otherwise, though? Truth, responsibility and civility are adult qualities that Trump seems to think would make him less macho. Remember, this is the man who at almost 70 felt compelled to boast of his "very beautiful" hands and to suggest there was "no problem" with his penis size.

I don't blame Trump for the virus. What I do blame him for is his horrendous response to it and lack of empathy for its victims and their families. He has lied about the situation. "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA," he said on Feb. 24, according to the Post.

He has dismissed the deadly threat, predicting "a very good ending for it." I don't know which fairy tale Trump is reading, but 100,000 deaths in a few months isn't "a very good ending" by most people's standards. Trump made fun of his likely Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing a mask in public. Trump did the same to a Reuters reporter who wore one at a White House news conference.

The masks are intended to help protect those nearby so that the wearers don't spread the virus if they have it.

Trump is above wearing one in public, even as he stood near aging and hence vulnerable veterans. He said the Reuters reporter was wearing a mask to be "politically correct," an accusation the reporter politely denied.

No, Mr. Trump, I don't care if the person behind the mask is a Democrat or a Republican, a Baptist or a Quaker, an American or a Russian. I just don't want to get covid-19 and die. It's the same reason most of us have our children vaccinated and why we don't send people with the flu to visit patients in intensive care.

It's not been all that long since I heard Republicans talk about how moral values should be a quality in a presidential candidate. While moral values are not the sole factor, I agree they are one. But I don't hear many Republicans promoting that philosophy lately. I wonder why not.

The only value they seem to advocate these days involves opposing abortion.

I too cherish human life, but not only the unborn babies so many protest about. I cherish the lives of pregnant mothers, the homeless, abused spouses, nursing-home patients, rape victims, that fetus after she's born and becomes an adult and needs health insurance to keep on living, your life, my life, the person like me with pre-existing conditions.

Yet some so-called pro-lifers and perhaps others are now suggesting that some older or physically weakened people may have to be sacrificed for the sake of the economy--Trump's re-election economy and their wallets. I even heard about a case where a subscriber of this view likened it to Darwinism. For those who skipped science class, that's the evolutionary theory under which natural selection determines who survives.

Excuse me, but this is not Nazi Germany, not yet anyway. For those who also skipped history class, the Nazis murdered people they considered weak whether due to physical or mental disabilities. The point is, it's not your decision to decide when I die. Nor is it my decision to decide when you die. And by no means should it be the decision of an ego-fragile man who brags about his sexual conquests, insults a dead war hero, and still can't accept that an honorable black man once sat in the Oval Office.

Three wives and who knows how many Stormy Daniels there are--those are the least of his mistakes.

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

Editorial on 05/31/2020