I wish Democratic candidates, surrogates and supporters would stop repeating verbatim the disgusting things their opponents say. It doesn’t matter that you’re trying to expose the oppositions’ nastiness so as to motivate voters to come out and reject the trash-talkers at the ballot box. Mom always told us, “If it’s not nice for someone to say it, it’s not nice for you to repeat it.” What does context matter to those who have the repulsive comments ringing hurtfully in their ears? The remarks are out there, most of us have heard or read them, and there are ways to reference them without re-insulting the targeted groups.
At the VP debate, I liked Tim Kaine’s anger and impatience. The Trump-Pence ticket deserves it. But I wish someone had discouraged Kaine from repeating statements that never in a million years would have come naturally from his lips. I imagine it left a bad taste in his mouth, as it does in all of ours every time we have to listen to “that Mexican thing” again. Yes, Pence was pounced on for his dismissive tone, but I think the hateful words his running mate spewed against immigrants truly made him recoil. Then, too, while Kaine may have felt he was landing a blow against Trump-Pence in rehashing the episode, it was his mouth from whence the slurs issued while millions of Americans tuned in. Not a good look.
Now we have a recording of Trump trash-talking women and even bragging about molesting them. I wish the media would be a little less gleeful in repeating his foul remarks, but who can blame them? This stuff is their stock and trade. Plus, having played a crucial role in elevating Trump to the position he currently holds as Republican presidential nominee, in spite of his clear deficiencies as a leader and a human being, the media now sees an opportunity to redeem themselves and avert national catastrophe by bringing him down in the eleventh hour. (That is, they are pulling out the dirt they had on him right along. Who knows, maybe the whole thing has been orchestrated from the start — Being There meets The Truman Show.)
But back to the DNC. This is the moment to follow First Lady Michelle Obama’s advice: When they go low, we go high. That means never, under any circumstances, should our candidates quote Donald Trump. His words are toxic, don’t repeat them. Try not to say his name. He represents the worst impulses in our society. (I call him America’s Hairball — you know, that indigestible accumulation of shmutz you have to hork up before it poisons your system.) Refer to him as “the Republican nominee for president,” “the person the Republican party has chosen to represent their values,” “the man the Republicans find suitable to lead the country and protect our democracy,” “the person the Republican do-nothing Congress would like to have in office doing nothing with them…” You get the idea.
Obviously we have to hammer the message home that the Republican ticket would be a disaster for the nation. But I wish we would have more discipline and manners when it comes to language. It doesn’t matter who said it first, I don’t want my representatives to be the ones who said it last, or ever.