Since Donald Trump’s inauguration as president last Friday, there have been a lot of memes, videos and articles about trivial aspects of the day: crowd sizes, the president’s demeanor, Kellyanne Conway’s hideous outfit, and the like. Many people speculated on the nature of Mr. and Mrs. Trump’s marriage, comparing photos of the serious couple to the smiling and relaxed Obamas. Some went even further and mocked the president’s young son Barron. All of this kind of mean-spirited gossip needs to stop.
First of all, photos can distort reality. Taking a snapshot of one moment is not necessarily indicative of the whole event or experience. Some critics argued that the photos comparing Trump’s crowds to Obama’s were taken at different times of day and couldn’t be used to compare the support for each respective president. Donald and Melania may have been more serious because this is all new for them whereas Barack and Michelle have had eight years in the White House to grow into their roles.
The second issue I have with this mockery is that it is mean. We have no way of knowing what kind of relationship the new president and first lady have, and frankly, it’s none of our business. (Mind you, I believe the same about the Clintons, and they certainly were not spared scrutiny.) Furthermore, it is just wrong to make fun of a child, no matter how much you may despise his parent. Neither Melania nor Barron signed up for ridicule. They were not elected by the people. Leave them alone.
Furthermore, such mean-spirited mocking just plays into the hands of Trump supporters. They can rightly point out how cruel and petty these kinds of jokes and gossip are. We need to take a page from the Obama playbook and stay above the fray of these kinds of personal attacks. I guess the guideline could be, if it looks like something that would be at home on the cover of the Globe or National Enquirer, don’t post it.
Finally, while pundits and partisans are busy lobbing insults at the Trump marriage or his spokeswoman’s fashion sense, President Trump and the Republican Congress have gotten down to business dismantling the Obama legacy: backing out of TPP, signing an order to begin the demise of Obamacare, renewing environmentally disastrous pipeline projects, defunding women’s health care, and approving Trump’s horrendous Cabinet choices.
Rather than dwelling on minutiae and cheap shots, we should be scrutinizing President Trump’s executive actions, the backgrounds of his administrative picks, and the legislation being proposed by the new Congress. We should be spending our time writing about important issues and our energy holding our elected officials’ feet to the fire about our values and beliefs.
Let’s keep our eyes on the prize: a vibrant, diverse, open, and free democracy.