Two weeks ago, at a campaign rally in Mississippi, Donald Trump didn’t just defend Brett Kavanaugh, the president also publicly mocked Christine Blasey Ford. In a written statement, Dr. Ford’s lawyer described Trump’s remarks as “vicious, vile, and soulless,” adding, “She is a remarkable profile in courage. He is a profile in cowardice.”
The president’s antics drew some bipartisan criticism – even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered a mild rebuke – but the mockery turned out to be inconsequential. The Republican Supreme Court nominee was confirmed a few days later.
When CBS News’ Lesley Stahl asked Trump for “60 Minutes” about his ridicule of Kavanaugh’s accuser, he said, “Had I not made that speech, we would not have won.”
I haven’t the foggiest idea why he’d believe this. How many on-the-fence senators were prepared to vote “no” on the Kavanaugh confirmation, but changed their minds as a result of Trump mocking the professor? By all appearances, the total is zero. The nominee “would have won” anyway.
Soon after, the “60 Minutes” interview had this exchange:
STAHL: Do you think you treated [Ford] with respect?
TRUMP: I think so, yeah. I did.
STAHL: But you seem to be saying that she lied.
TRUMP: You know what? I’m not gonna get into it because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.
Those five words – “it doesn’t matter, we won” – tells us a great deal about the president’s approach to ethics.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but Trump has summarized an ends-justify-the-means posture in rather explicit terms. It doesn’t matter if Ford was telling the truth. It doesn’t matter if Kavanaugh assaulted her. It doesn’t matter if the president publicly ridiculed her.
All that matters from Trump’s perspective is who won – and since his side of the political divide prevailed, there’s simply nothing else to discuss.
Sports fans have probably heard the expression, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” It’s a straightforward concept: on the list of what’s important, winning ranks first, and there’s nothing else on the list.
It’s a principle the president may take a bit too seriously.