When Neil Armstrong took humankind’s first step from a spaceship to the surface of the moon, a movement taking barely a second, he said, “One small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Between last night (Tuesday, January 10) and this morning, about 12 hours, we witnessed another giant leap for humankind. Sad to say, it was a leap downward. Barack Obama’s farewell speech after eight years as US president, reflected a depth of understanding and thoughtfulness that is truly admirable. As always, I am proud of our president. He has been imperfect but that goes with being human. Has he been thoughtful, insightful, gracious, trustworthy? Yes, very much so.
And this morning we listened to trump’s first press conference since July. (How many times during the campaign did we hear Kellyanne Conway claim that Hillary’s lack of press conferences was proof that she had much to hide?) trump proved — for the hundredth time — that he is easily riled and thrown off balance. He ignored truth, as usual, when he said such things as Americans don’t care about his tax returns. (More than 60% do care in fact. This has long been public knowledge.)
He showed an incredibly immature spitefulness — and disregard for the freedom of the press — when he refused to let a CNN reporter ask a question because, trump said, CNN is just fake news. The problem was that he didn’t like the way CNN had handled an unsubstantiated report of trump’s Russian ties. For all his supposed love for the Second Amendment, trump is certainly no friend of the First Amendment.
Aside from the general pettiness of trump’s woefully underdeveloped character, here is the difference between Obama and trump. First, let’s observe that the process of learning has three steps: Ascertain the facts, interpret and understand those facts, use wisdom in applying that understanding to the decisions which must be based on the facts.
Second, notice that when Obama speaks he is very concerned with being realistic and, especially noticeable, with helping us interpret and understand reality.
Third, notice that trump is usually quite loose with the facts and often tells blatant lies. (Does anyone in the country believe he refuses to pay subcontractors only when their work fails to meet his standards? He simply lies about his crooked business practices, as he is still doing even today concerning the subcontractors who worked on his new hotel in DC.) Without facts as a basis for what he says or tweets, trump obviously can make no attempt to interpret and understand facts. So, listen carefully when trump speaks and you’ll discover his complete lack of interest in understanding or helping his listeners understand whatever subject he’s talking about. He uses cliches and pat answers in place of knowledge and understanding.
That, of course, is common with manipulators and bullies.