The bar for Trump's behavior is so pathetically low now, it's underground.
Trump has somehow managed to show an iota of restraint by not viciously attacking the woman who says Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her in high school — and Trump's inner circle is very impressed.
In fact, Ivanka Trump and other White House aides think the petulant and petty Trump deserves high praise for not unleashing his infamous ugliness (so far) on Christine Blasey Ford after threats to do so.
Trump's daughter, who baselessly holds herself out as an advocate for women, has been predictably silent about the horrific accusation against Kavanaugh. But according to CNN, she has "highlighted the positive response the President has received for his measured reaction."
Meanwhile, unnamed White House aides are reportedly "stunned" that Trump has more or less managed to keep his foul mouth, and his itchy Twitter finger, silent.
The bar for Trump's behavior is so pathetically low now, it's underground. The American people shouldn't be impressed when their president manages to not hurl insults or invent childish nicknames and slurs for anyone he perceives as a critic or enemy. It's the least — the absolute very least — that should be required of the most powerful leader in the world, who is constitutionally required to be over the age of 35.
For this particular occupant of the Oval Office, however, the ability to approximate adult behavior is now worthy of praise, according to the people who surround him and witness, up close, how rare that adult behavior is.
"Why would I attack her?" Trump reportedly asked his aides this week, as if he doesn't attack people — and our democratic institutions — on a near-daily basis.
Trump has spent his life attacking women, in the ugliest of ways. He has called them names, insulted their appearance, and made up grotesque lies about them — including accusing victims of sexual assault of lying about their attacks.
Thus far, Trump has yet to do any of those things to Ford. He has, however, made clear that he stands with Kavanaugh and that he doesn't believe the very persuasive allegation against Kavanaugh from "that woman." (Of course Trump hasn't used Ford's name, dismissing her merely as "that woman." But compared with some of the language he has used to describe other women, this is again a sign of his newfound restraint.)
"I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this," Trump said during a joint press conference Tuesday with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Trump expressed no such sympathy for Ford, who is being attacked and smeared by members of Trump's own party — and even Trump's own son, Donald Trump Jr.
Apparently, the fact that Trump has not joined in on the attacks is evidence of his tremendous restraint.
Trump has, like several Republican senators, attacked Democrats for trying to protect Ford's privacy. And the White House is blocking the FBI from conducting an investigation into the very serious accusation, which it can only do at the White House's request.
While Ivanka Trump is making sure reporters know just how mature her father has been by not viciously smearing Ford, she isn't calling on him to give the FBI the green light on the investigation. Nor is she calling on the Senate to conduct a thorough and fair hearing.
Trump's behavior is so ugly, so egregious, and so painfully unpresidential that the simple fact that he has managed not to direct that ugliness at one person is somehow cause for celebration in the White House. But given his track record, that restraint cannot possibly last long.
Whether it is directed at Ford or someone else — a sitting senator, a former political opponent, an NFL star, an intelligence official, or anyone else who appears on his TV while he's watching Fox — Trump's ugliness is guaranteed to emerge again. Soon.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.