A standard part of the American presidency is issuing assorted declarations and proclamations, and for the most part, they go largely overlooked. Donald Trump’s declarations and proclamations, however, tend to be more problematic than most.
When the Republican recognized Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, for example, we were reminded of the many women who’ve accused Trump of sexual misconduct. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we were reminded of the president’s snide mockery of former prisoners of war. On World Autism Day, we’re reminded of the ridiculous things Trump has said about autism and vaccines.
And then there’s this week, which is apparently “National Character Counts Week.” Trump’s latest proclamation emphasizes the importance of inspiring future leaders to “lead lives of virtue and integrity,” and providing them with a strong “moral compass.”
“[C]haracter is developed consciously through exemplary effort and respect for others.
“Throughout this week, and each day of our lives, may we strive to demonstrate good character through our thoughts, discourse, and deeds in our homes, schools, workplaces, and houses of worship. Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity. May we never forget that our Nation is only as strong as the virtue and character of our citizenry.”
The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson had a column a couple of years ago, wondering whether Trump is “morally equipped to be president.” The piece highlighted Trump’s “vulgarity and smallness, which have been the equivalent of spray-painting graffiti on the Washington Monument.”
That was written in 2017. Trump’s “character” has not improved as his presidency has progressed.
I don’t necessarily expect Trump to ignore “National Character Counts Week,” but he probably shouldn’t be too surprised when those who see his proclamation take note of the gap between the message and the messenger.