“When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.” – George Washington, Rules of Civility
Civility is a word Mr. Trump and his spokespersons use only when condemning reporters who have the temerity to ask hard questions.
What is a “hard” question? Any question the president doesn’t like.
The latest hard question came from CNN White House Reporter Jim Acosta followed by others, but by the end of the day, Acosta was stripped of his White House press credentials.
However, before the Acosta dust-up, Trump – as is his wont – began the press conference by criticizing the media, then ran through a laundry list of those Republicans who did not “embrace” or “gave me no love,” and lost.
“Carlos Curbelo,” Trump began, “Mike Coffman — too bad, Mike; Mia Love. I saw Mia Love. She’d call me all the time to help her with a hostage situation. Being held hostage in Venezuela. But Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. And Barbara Comstock was another one. I mean, I think she could have run that race, but she didn’t want to have any embrace. …she lost. Substantially lost.”
One of the first questions asked was about the release of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, (a promise Trump made back in 2016), which, according to the president are still under audit. (Must be an IRS record, at this point.)
ACOSTA: Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in the midterms, that this…
THE PRESIDENT: Here we go.
ACOSTA: That this caravan was an ‘invasion.’ As you know, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: I consider it to be an invasion.
ACOSTA: As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S. …Why did you characterize it as such? And —
THE PRESIDENT: Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.
ACOSTA: But do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election —
THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. … I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process. And I want people to come in. And we need the people. …
ACOSTA: Right. But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s true. They weren’t actors. …
ACOSTA: They’re not going to be doing that. … They’re hundreds of miles away though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away. …
THE PRESIDENT: I think you should — honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN …and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.
ACOSTA: — if I may ask one other question —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, that’s enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, if I may — if I may ask one other question.
(Trump turns to take a question from NBC reporter Peter Alexander.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, Peter, go ahead. …
(Acosta continues to ask another question.) That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough.
ACOSTA: Mr. President … The other folks that had —
(A White House aide tries to take the microphone from Acosta.)
ACOSTA: Pardon me, ma’am, I’m — Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, that’s enough. … Peter, let’s go.
ACOSTA: — I may ask on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have indictments —
(Trump turns to answer Acosta’s question.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it’s a hoax. … That’s enough. Put down the mic.
ACOSTA: Mr. President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation? …
THE PRESIDENT: …CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. … You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.
(Trump turns his full attention to reporter Alexander.) Go ahead, Peter.
ALEXANDER: In Jim’s defense, I’ve traveled with him and watched him. He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not a big fan of yours either. …
ALEXANDER: I understand.
THE PRESIDENT: To be honest with you. … you aren’t the best.
(Without a mic, Acosta is still trying to ask a question regarding the recent series of pipe bombs sent to several individuals, including CNN.)
ACOSTA: Mr. President, you repeatedly — over the course of the — (Off-mic, inaudible) called the enemy of the people … (Off-mic., inaudible) campaign (inaudible) and sent pipe bombs. That’s just (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Well, when you report fake news — …When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.
(To Alexander) Go ahead.
ALEXANDER: Mr. President, … sir, at the end of the campaign, you repeatedly said that Americans need to fear Democrats. You said Democrats would ‘unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere.’ Why are you pitting Americans —
THE PRESIDENT: Because they’re very weak on crime.
ALEXANDER: — why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Peter. Peter, what are you — trying to be him [indicating Acosta]?
ALEXANDER: No, I’m just asking a question.
THE PRESIDENT: … Because they’re very weak on crime. Because they have often suggested — members and people within the Democrat Party, at a high level, have suggested getting rid of ICE, getting rid of law enforcement. That’s not going to happen, okay? …
ALEXANDER: — to be clear, though, the question, sir, is, why are you —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Sit. Sit down, Peter.
ALEXANDER: … but you didn’t answer my question. Just very simply, the question is, why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not.
ALEXANDER: Is that how you view citizens of this country?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not. Well, look, I’ll tell you what — we won a lot of elections last night. We did very well last night, and I think it’s going to have —
ALEXANDER: But in many ways, it divided the country.
THE PRESIDENT: — I think it’s going to have a very positive impact. I watched NBC this morning; they didn’t report it exactly correctly… …
(Trump moves on to another reporter who asks a question about the Mueller investigation.)
THE PRESIDENT: …It should end because it’s very bad for our country. …And it’s a very unfair thing for this country. It’s a very, very — forget about unfair to me; it’s very bad for our country.
REPORTER: So, Mr. President, … if it’s unfair to the country and it’s costing millions of dollars, why don’t you just end it?
THE PRESIDENT: Give him the mic, please. I’ve answered the question. … Go ahead, take the — take the mic.
ANOTHER REPORTER: Voter suppression — Mr. President, voter suppression.
And on it went with other reporters in the room.
It makes no difference from whom the question comes, this president is genetically incapable of being civil, or answering anyone that will… to phrase it as Trump says, give “me no love.”
That’s “very bad for our country” and democracy.