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Ethics & Religion
December 17, 2015
Column #1,790
Trump Must Be Challenged
By Mike McManus

For the first time, Donald Trump was effectively challenged for some of his most reckless assertions by former Gov. Jeb Bush in the Republican Presidential Debate.

Bush questioned Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from traveling to the U.S., arguing that the businessman lacks the knowledge and judgment to be President. Asked by an interviewer why he called Trump "unhinged," Bush replied, "Donald, you know, is great at one-liners, but he's a chaos candidate and he would be a chaos president. He would not be the commander-in-chief we need to keep our country safe."

Trump tried to brush off Bush's criticism as a reaction to his sagging poll numbers. "Jeb doesn't believe I'm unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It's been a total disaster. Nobody cares."

Bush shook his head pityingly, "Donald, you're not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That's not going to happen. Leadership is not about attacking people and disparaging people. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy."

Later in the debate, Bush charged that Trump's proposals to confront the Islamic State, reveal his "lack of seriousness."

Trump responded by mocking Bush as meek. However, his counterattack drew a rebuke from the audience: "I think Jeb is a very nice person, but we need toughness…With Jeb's attitude, we will never be great again. That I can tell you – we will never be great again," he charged to loud boos.

Bush grew tougher as the debate continued. He responded repeatedly that Trump was not a serious candidate. "Banning all Muslims will make it harder for us to do exactly what we need to do – which is to destroy ISIS."

In a later exchange, Bush wondered whether Trump, who has acknowledged that he gets his foreign policy advice from watching television shows, "I don't know if that's Saturday morning (cartoons) or Sunday morning" public affairs programs.

Trump made a valid countercharge that a recent poll showed he had 41% support vs. only 3% for Bush. Furthermore, he has strengthened his lead in recent weeks. In a Washington Post-ABC News survey, Trump garnered 38% among likely Republican voters – six points higher than in October and November.

However, Sen. Ted Cruz has doubled his support in the last month to 15%. And the traditionally reliable Des Moines Register poll showed the senator from Texas with a 10 point lead over Trump in Iowa.

Two weeks ago, The Washington Post charged in an unusual editorial that Trump "is corrosive in at least two ways. One is his basic contempt for facts. Mr. Trump simply made up his recent claim that he watched `thousands and thousands' of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11." There is no evidence of that whatsoever.

Second, the Post argued that Trump "sees people as caricatures and stereotypes to be poked at and exploited rather than as individuals with dignity. This not only insults people, reducing them to simple manifestations of gender, creed or ethnicity. It also undermines the very premise of American freedom: that individual's inherent worth entitles them to unalienable rights that no president can or should abridge."

What is undeniable is that the Trump formula seems to be working in building his political base. However, he is doing so unethically.

I generally avoid politics in this column, which I call Ethics & Religion. My goal is to encourage higher moral standards. Recent columns have deplored the legalizing of marijuana and called for the reform of No Fault Divorce, for example.

However, in watching the latest Republican Presidential Debate, I felt that I had to stand up to the evil I see in Donald Trump. Jeb Bush's courageous confrontations with him inspired me to no longer remain silent.

We want to be able to look up to our President, as a man who represents the best qualities as a person. I was privileged to interview Lyndon Johnson as President after he had persuaded Congress to enact Medicare and provide the first federal aid to education. I've had reportorial experience with George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Donald Trump lacks the character and integrity of such men. Though he is a businessman, he has not outlined any strategy to reduce the federal deficit. Instead he has mocked the physical disability of a New York Times reporter who dared challenge him.

He claims to be a Christian, but can't think of any sin he has confessed to God.

Trump should be trumped.

Copyright © 2015 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers.

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