No redeeming qualities


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Elton John has a personal story about President George W. Bush, a man he once referred to as “the worst thing that ever happened to America.” But in an interview back in 2012, Sir Elton had a different description of Bush: The U.S. President who had done most to fight AIDS.

“At the Kennedy Center concert we spent some time in the intermission with the President George Bush, and he was amazingly informed about AIDS,” John recounted back then. “He treated us with such kindness. I had so much respect for him, especially when the PEPFAR thing [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] was announced, when he gave 15 billion dollars to AIDS. He knew what he was talking about.”

My personal memory of George Bush is somewhat less starry-eyed. Even so, I know that he had a very human part, a part that you could not help but like once you got to know him. I remember the photos of Bush passing candy to Michelle Obama and how much she obviously loved him. They were and remain great friends.

There’s a story that when Ronald Reagan was playing football for Eureka College back in 1931, the team happened to be playing in the town where Reagan’s parents lived. The team stopped at a hotel for the night, but a problem came up when the hotel wouldn’t admit the team’s two black players. Reagan told the coach his parents lived close by and he and the two players could stay there. And so they did.

In the early hours of May 9, 1970, just five days after members of the Ohio National Guard killed four students at Kent State University, President Richard Nixon made an unplanned crack-of-dawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial with his valet Manolo Sanchez. There he spoke with students and anti-war protestors for almost two hours. Apart from Manolo, Nixon was completely alone, unaccompanied by his secret service detail.

After World War II, Democratic President Harry Truman asked the Republican former President Herbert Hoover to circle the globe to coordinate efforts to avert a global famine. “He fed more people and saved more lives than any other man in history,” said Hoover associate Neil MacNeil. In his life Hoover was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize no less than five times for his genuine humanitarian efforts.

Before he became president, Andrew Jackson found a Native American boy orphaned on a battlefield and raised him as a son. James Buchanan was known for his personal integrity. Ulysses S. Grant was a man of great personal courage and honour who loved his family and wrote a brilliant, bestselling autobiography as a means to take care of them as he was dying of cancer.

The history of America is a history replete with bad presidents. Yet even the bad ones were extraordinary men with redeeming qualities that set them apart from ordinary humans. Throughout my life I reviled some of them, cursed some of them, blamed them for their mistakes, but I never really hated any of them. Never, until now.

Donald Trump has no redeeming qualities. There are no anecdotes you can point to as proof that he has a decent side, a moral side, a compassionate side. He’s a man who reviles his children, lusts after his eldest daughter, cheated on every one of his wives, hates animals, backstabs his friends, betrays his country, defrauds and bankrupts honest family businesses, admires monsters, hates our allies and blames everyone else for his own mistakes.

Donald Trump is a coward, a buffoon, a traitor and a proven rapist. He’s a racist and a misogynist. I have no stories to tell where he acted out of unselfish nobility or uncommon compassion. No anecdotes where he behaved with heroism. They simply do not exist.

People who love him and require goodness in people they love are reduced to inventing false narratives about him. They tell stories, with tears in their eyes, about how he gave up his life of ease and luxury to become president and save us all. The truth is he used his campaign for president as a publicity stunt. The people who voted for him were marks and chumps and losers. He was every bit as shocked as many of us were when he won.

The narratives told by the MAGA crowd of Trump the Good are all lies. He is a base, evil, disgusting man. He is the only president I have ever hated, and one of a tiny handful of human beings I have ever hated in my entire life.

I do not wish Trump any mercy when he is sentenced to prison. I do not want him to get time off for good behaviour. Donald Trump is pure evil. He does not deserve to stand anywhere near the 44 other gentlemen who occupied the presidency of the United States of America.

On every list of presidents Donald Trump belongs dead and distant last, in the cellar, in a puddle of antipathy. I hope history will grow to hate Trump as much as I hate him, the way it hates Hitler, with deserved and permanent and unalloyed infamy. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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