Kellyanne, please help us understand how to judge his heart

Kellyanne Conway asked us to judge what’s in Donald Trump’s heart, not what comes out of his mouth.

I agree. Kind of.

I think we should try to understand people’s hearts. However, since there is no MRI that will show us what’s there, we need a way to understand the intentions of that incredible space. I know you don’t want us to use words, Kellyanne, so how about actions?

You’ve said, and he has said dozens of times, that he was not mocking the reporter. There is even a YouTube video that “proves” he wasn’t mocking … he just has flamboyant hand gestures. That video didn’t reach the level of proof, but it did make me inch away from my description of him as reptilian and go look for other perspectives.

First, I had to remind myself of the context of this extremely polarizing event. At a November 21, 2015, rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump said, “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”1

The media scrambled to fact check this statement and basically found nothing to confirm it.

However, It turns out that reporter, Serge Kovaleski, Pulitzer Prize recipient, co-authored an article for the Washington Post on September 18, 2001 stating, “In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”2 (Accurately quoted from the original article.)

Trump used that obscure bit of information in a long article which was trying to describe every avenue of investigation that was happening in the first week of absolute chaos following 9/11. He conflated “a number of people allegedly having rooftop tail-gate parties” into thousands and thousands of people (implied: Muslims) cheering as they watched the horror of 9/11. (Opinion: Had there been these hoards of jubilant celebrators, it would have been reported in the referenced article and elsewhere.)

Kovaleski protested the use of his words, saying, “I certainly do not remember anyone saying that thousands or even hundreds of people were celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember.”3

That statement apparently riled Trump and he made the video seen round the world and was accused of mocking Kovaleski who has arthrogryposis, a condition causing joint contracture in his right arm and hand. At first, Trump denied the accusation saying he had never seen Kovaleski, so he couldn’t have mocked him. Of course, Kovaleski rebuts that claim. See below.5

The story died down a bit, replaced by other Trumpisms, until Meryl Streep took the story into the heart of America with her Golden Globes description of vile bullying.6

Meryl assumed that Trump had been mocking the reporter, and for a moment, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. The only evidence I’ve seen that gives his actions the tiniest cause for doubt is that most of the stills of Trump and Kovaleski are carefully crafted to look similar. Both of their hands are in a similar position, yet Trump’s hands are moving while Kovaleski’s condition is not one that results in uncontrolled movements. And, Trump does do a lot of weird hand gestures.

Looking into his heart, maybe we don’t see someone actively trying to bully a disabled person. However, there is more to this story and it may be the more important part.

Mark Dice is a conservative YouTuber and author of The Resistance Manifesto, a book on Illuminati and New World Order conspiracy theories. Dice defends Trump’s gesture saying, that “on the surface it could appear that Donald Trump was mocking that reporter, until you realize that that is one of Donald Trump’s typical tactics, and nervous tics or little quirks when he’s making fun of someone.” (Verbatim) Dice goes on to show other clips of Trump mocking people without disabilities.7

Excuse me? Mocking people with weird hand gestures is just a cute little tic? While it would be nice to know he wasn’t mocking someone with a disability, knowing that mocking people and making fun of them is one of his typical tactics isn’t very comforting. Do you think that’s a positive, heart-felt trait, Kellyanne?

One of the things we don’t seem to do is hold Trump to even a minimum standard of common decency and manners. If you or I accidentally stepped on someone’s foot, we would feel bad because we had inadvertently hurt someone. We would apologize. Immediately.

Trump was accused of something most of the world thinks is hurtful. Maybe he didn’t mean to mock a handicapped person. But lots of people thought he did. His first response wasn’t to say he was sorry. As a matter of fact, as far as I can tell, none of his responses have been to reach out to Kovaleski and say, “I’m sorry.”

No. The cycle seems to be: Trump exaggerates. Someone calls him on it. That someone becomes the target of mockery and mid-night tweeting. Never in any of the numerous examples of this cycle, have I seen remorse or contrition for his words. Kellyanne, you say we shouldn’t judge his words, we should judge his heart. Please tell me where I should look for said heart.

Even a year after the brouhaha about mocking a handicapped person had almost gotten lost in the tsunami of other ridiculous gaffes, when Meryl Streep brought up the issue, Trump could have said. “I’m sorry my words caused pain for ‘a nice reporter.’” (Trump’s words before he launched into the hand gestures.)

Instead he did a Trump dump on Twitter:

First tweet … note the time 3:27 am.
9 minutes later, same thought … bathroom break? Munchies?
7 minutes later, looking up whether groveling has one “l” or two? Why else the quotes?

He’s not apologizing, Kellyanne, he’s still in attack mode, calling Kovaleski out for changing a story. How do you change a story that was printed in a newspaper he no longer works for and was published 15 years ago? Is this representative of the heart we should be judging?

Meryl Streep in her lightning rod speech says something that I think we need to think about as we try to understand Trump’s heart. She said, “And, this instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.” Would you want your kids displaying this kind of behavior, Kellyanne?

Is that really what we want, Kellyanne, a nation of people humiliating each other, mocking, and making fun of reporters, generals, former prisoners-of-war, women who gain weight, or the family of a fallen soldier? Shouldn’t our leader be modeling kindness and compassion as well as strength and intelligence?

You have to help us out here, Kellyanne.

Notes:

  1. Video of the November 21, 2015 rally in Birmingham, Alabama. The segment where Trump makes the statement cited starts at 37:11. The video was reviewed for accuracy in the statement quoted above. Trump was justifying his call for surveillance of Muslim mosques and a registry.
  2. Northern New Jersey Draws Probers’ Eyes By Serge F. Kovaleski and Fredrick Kunkle September 18, 2001. The paragraph referenced represents 50 words in a 1,101 word article. Kudos on research Team Trump.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serge_F._Kovaleski
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/us/politics/donald-trump-says-his-mocking-of-new-york-times-reporter-was-misread.html
  5. In an interview with The New York Times shortly after the 2015 incident, Kovaleski said that he met with Trump repeatedly when he was a reporter for New York Daily News covering the businessman between 1987 and 1993. “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” Kovaleski said. “I’ve interviewed him in his office. I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at The Daily News.”
  6. Meryl Streep’s minute and a half rebuke.
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m7iA7QZBi4
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