Brooks on Trump Amorality
David Brook’s NYT column on Don Jr. is worth a read: Moral Vacuum in the House of Trump
He basic conclusion is as follows:
That to me is the central takeaway of this week’s revelations. It’s not that the Russia scandal may bring down the administration. It’s that over the past few generations the Trump family has built an enveloping culture that is beyond good and evil.
The Trumps have an ethic of loyalty to one another. “They can’t stand that we are extremely close and will ALWAYS support each other,” Eric Trump tweeted this week. But beyond that there is no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code. There is just naked capitalism.
I note this because it echoes a nascent thought I have had about this whole situation–i.e., that even for the standards of politics, sordid as they can be, the President and his inner circle seems to have no interest in even a self-constructed morality (let alone some external standard of right and wrong). The only moral imperative is “winning” (and yes, I am very sick and tired of all the winning) even when it is unclear what is being won.
Back to Brooks:
Once the scandal broke you would think Don Jr. would have some awareness that there were ethical stakes involved. You’d think there would be some sense of embarrassment at having been caught lying so blatantly.
But in his interview with Sean Hannity he appeared incapable of even entertaining any moral consideration. “That’s what we do in business,” the younger Trump said. “If there’s information out there, you want it.” As William Saletan pointed out in Slate, Don Jr. doesn’t seem to possess the internal qualities necessary to consider the possibility that he could have done anything wrong.
Beyond any of that, the thing that really strikes me is that the Republican Party has long self-described itself as the party of character and religious morality. Indeed, many social conservatives specifically and frequently note the need for an external standard for moral behavior. Indeed, the preferred external standard is the Christian religion. A key tenet of that religion is honesty. It is disheartening that the President it not being held to that standard by his evangelical supporters.