There’s something more than a little ironic about the White House claiming foul when comedian Michelle Wolff delivered a devastating takedown at the White House Correspondents Annual Dinner. Trump has been brutal in his mockery of political opponents, both outside his party and within — remember his remarks about Carly Fiorina’s appearance during the campaign? Trump has also savaged handicapped people, transgender Americans who want to serve in the military, desperate refugees fleeing unimaginable violence, Senator John McCain for being captured during the Viet Nam war, the family of fallen Muslim military officer Humayun Khan — basically anyone is fair game other than white Christian Evangelicals and his wealthy male cronies. And Melania, as long as she stays married to him.
Some of Wolff’s jokes were cringeworthy indeed, especially with the butt of some of those jokes — Sanders and Conway — present. But that’s what they were: jokes. Trump’s viciousness isn’t joking.
We haven’t come up with the right way to respond. Leaving Trump’s stream of consciousness bullying unanswered is damaging, despite our wanting to think that the American people rise above it. Too many of us don’t. And remaining passive sends Trump the wrong message. He thinks he can say anything, do anything, without consequence.
I don’t have an answer here, but the civility of our democratic culture is at stake.