Archives for category: Character

Arthur Camins, retired science educator, warns that the coronavirus pandemic is rivaled by an equally harmful pandemic of selfishness.

He begins:

Deadly as it is, the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 in the United States is but a part of a broader, more devastating phenomenon: the be-out-for-yourself-pandemic. The readily available antidote is organizing for mutual benefit, but that medicine has been intentionally kept off the public market. Now, people are marching for it in the streets.

The virus lurked in our culture in partial dormancy at least since defeat of resistance to New Deal legislation. It reemerged in plain sight with the election of Ronald Reagan, the rise of ultra-conservative think tanks and foundations, and Republican dominance in local and state government. Be-out-for-yourselfism reached pandemic proportions with Trump’s victory. It has perniciously infected much of our daily lives, reeking death and destruction in its path. We are suffering from rampant selfishness sepsis. The pathogen spreads by promulgation of a three-pronged anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation ideology. Racism is its nourishment.

He goes on to explain why this ideology undermines our ability to react wisely to the coronavirus, which requires cooperation and common purpose.

I just finished reading Mary Trump’s family tell-all, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. 

I found it fascinating and horrifying. Mary is the daughter of Fred Trump, Jr., the heir apparent to the family business. The family consisted of paterfamilias Fred Sr. and his wife Mary. Fred Jr., Elizabeth, Maryanne, Donald and Robert.

The Trump family was dysfunctional and cruel. Fred Sr. was never satisfied. He pinched pennies, long after he was a multimillionaire.

When Mary’s father Fred Jr. tried to break free of the family business, he became a TWA pilot. He was the only family member to make a way for himself on his own. But his father called him a “glorified bus driver” and harangued him until he started drinking and lost his job, then returned to the family business. Maryanne struck out on her own and became a lawyer; she married a promising many who couldn’t earn a living. Fred Sr. gave him a job as a parking lot attendant.

When Mary’s parents divorced, the divorce agreement awarded her mother $600 a month in alimony and child support. The family lived frugally, as did everyone but the parents and Donald.

Donald was sent away to military school because he was a disobedient, rude youth. When he finished school, he went to Fordham, a Catholic university in Manhattan. He didn’t think Fordham was good enough for his ambitions, so he decided to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania. Mary says that his sister Maryanne did his homework for him, and Donald hired a smart friend to take the SATs for him. When he brags about being “first in his class” at Penn, that’s hot air. He was never much of a student.

Mary describes a family dynamic in which her grandfather belittled everyone but Donald. Donald was the chosen child, the one with the hubris and arrogance that his father admired.

She says that Donald was a master of self-promotion. Whatever he did relied on the wealth and political connections of his father until he was able to cultivate his own connections. As far as she could tell, Donald failed at everything he did other than creating an image of himself as a successful businessman, which he never was. She recounts the multiple bankruptcies that never seemed to slow down his image-making.

Mary describes how Donald tried to put a piece of paper in front of his father that would have given Donald complete control of his father’s estate, putting all of his siblings at his whim. When they got wind of it, they stopped him. But when the father died, Mary discovered that the siblings had gotten the will rewritten to exclude her and her brother. Her brother had a severely disabled child who needed expensive medical care, and the family withdrew his health insurance as a club to force the two children of Fred Jr. to sign away their inheritance.

At one point in the book, Mary describes how Donald invited her to help him ghostwrite his next book. A professional ghostwriter would have demanded a share of the royalties. He refused to pay her, and when she said she needed money to buy a computer, he told her to ask the publisher. She was never able to figure out what the book was supposed to be about, and eventually she gave up trying.

The book is rich with insight and story of the Trump dynasty, a family led and controlled by a tyrant. The tyrant had only one favorite–Donald–and Fred Sr. rewarded him for his braggadocio, his lying, his cheating, and his willingness to subvert every norm.

Read the book and you will gain a lot of new insight into who this man is. He has no morals, no scruples, no ethics, no principles, no character. Yes, he is capable of shooting someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and talking his way out of it.

He believes in nothing other than the myth of himself that he invented. He is a “self-made” man only in the sense that he believes his own P.R. He was not self-made in business; his father footed the bills and found ways to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to him and his siblings to evade taxes.

After reading this first-person account, I realized that my contempt for this man, which I thought had hit bottom, fell even lower.

 

 

@StanleyKrute shared this story on Twitter, about Rabbi Michael Beals of Delaware and Senator Joe Biden.

About 16 years ago, as a rabbi new to Delaware, Rabbi Beals officiated at the memorial service for an elderly woman, Mrs. Greenhouse. She didn’t have much in the way of worldly goods. She lived in a very small apartment in a high-rise building. Rabbi Beals led a prayer minyan that was conducted in the basement of her building because her apartment was too small to accommodate 10 people.

As the prayer commenced, the door opened and a man quietly entered.

From the tweet:

Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened; who walks in but Sen. Joe Biden, head lowered, all by himself.

I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock.

Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service.

At the close of the kaddish, I walked over to him and asked the same question that must have been on everyone else’s mind: “Sen. Biden — what are you doing here?”

He said to me: “Back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign.

Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”

Now, the number 18 is significant in the Jewish faith — its numbers spell out the Hebrew word chai, as in “to life, to life, l’chayim!” But it’s also a humble amount. Joe Biden knew that. And he respected that.

There were no news outlets at our service that day — no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries. Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.

Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came to that service because he has character.

He came to that service because he’s a mensch.

And if we need anything right now when it comes to the leadership of our country — we need a mensch.

I know this is such a simple, small story. But I tell it to as many people as will listen to me.

Character.

Charles Lane explains one of Trump’s basic character flaw: he lacks decency. One of the ceremonial roles of the President is to show compassion and decency in times of trouble. Think of Reagan when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, killing all aboard as the nation watched. Think Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing. Think Obama after the Newtown massacre. They mourned with the nation and helped us through the tragedy. One thing Trump has been unable to do is to express empathy for those who suffer. To him, they are losers or statistics. 120,000 people have died during the pandemic, more will die, and he can’t find it in him to express concern or caring.

Charles Lane wrote in the Washington Post:

The coronavirus has rekindled interest in “The Plague,” Albert Camus’s haunting and, now, eerily relevant 1947 novel about a fictional fatal epidemic in what was then a French colony in North Africa.

As thousands die and thousands more suffer deprivation and isolation under quarantine, the book’s protagonist, a doctor, explains why he carries on his work: “There’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is — common decency.”

Which brings us to President Trump, and his response to the coronavirus, from his initial belated steps to his rambling attacks on the media at White House briefings to his bizarre remark (an attempt at humor, his staff later said) at Saturday’s rally in Tulsa: Increased testing for the virus is “a double-edged sword” — useful for public health but bad for public relations — so “I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.

In all of it, the missing factor has been decency, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as “behavior that is good, moral and acceptable in society,” and which, throughout most of previous American political history, presidents have at least pretended to model.

Trump, by contrast, has transgressed his way to the top, tapping — it must be acknowledged — the deep alienation of a swath of society that sees validation for long-ignored grievances in his rule-breaking.

Yet the past three months, since the pandemic disrupted American life and claimed more than 118,000 lives, have shown that Trump’s lack of decency is a matter more of personal character than political calculation. The insults, the self-indulgence, the all-but-explicit racist language — this is just how he rolls.

And now it may be yielding diminishing returns. When the coronavirus hit, the American public, even some who previously opposed him, seemed willing to rally behind Trump in the “war” he announced from his Oval Office desk.

From mid-March through mid-April, polls tended to show relatively high approval for his handling of the virus, including several showing more than 50 percent support.

All he had to do to sustain that was to show real concern; to educate himself on the issues; perhaps to turn the other cheek to a hostile press. Camus’s doctor concluded that common decency “consists in doing my job.” Trump could have, too.

It just wasn’t in him. Instead, at an April 23 White House briefing, he mused crazily about the curative power of sunlight and injected disinfectants, then, when the media called him on it, claimed falsely he was being sarcastic — and his ratings on handling the virus began to fall. Now, 55.3 percent disapprove, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Common decency, or the lack of it, is also Trump’s Achilles’ heel regarding mass protests against systemic racism that began after George Floyd’s death, for which a former Minneapolis police officer has been charged with murder.
Trump has mouthed healing words scripted by speechwriters — even consoled the Floyd family briefly on the phone. When speaking spontaneously, however, whether on Twitter or at the Tulsa rally, he is venomous and violent, even going so far as to suggest a 75-year-old man who suffered a severe head injury at the hands of Buffalo police may have provoked the assault because he was an anarchist spy.
The American people do not want this. Nearly three-quarters of adults surveyed by YouGov in early June opined that the United States is “out of control.” Sixty-four percent said the solution for this is “bringing people together,” while only 36 percent favored Trump’s approach, “law and order.”

Sixty percent of Americans told the YouGov survey they agree with the words of former defense secretary Jim Mattis, that Trump “does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

This rejection of Trump’s message is especially striking given how uneasy the public was about looting and other violence. Excesses of the new movement such as “cancel culture” also frighten moderate potential allies.

Yet people do not rally to the banner of “law and order” when the man raising it is himself an agent of chaos and conflict.

Even among people who voted for Trump in 2016, almost a quarter agreed that Trump is not even pretending to unite the American people. One-tenth considered him “racist.”
And, of course, only 6,000 supporters showed up for Trump’s Tulsa rally in a 19,000-seat venue, an event that brazenly defied both public health concerns and the sensitivities, still raw since a 1921 massacre of black people in that city, of African Americans.
When it comes to Trump’s character, there’s no realistic prospect of change. For America as a whole, fortunately, there is.

Robert Shepherd writes comments on the blog frequently, and he also writes his own blog. He is a recently retired teacher in Florida who spent decades as a writer, editor, and developer of curriculum and assessments in the education publishing industry.

Since he has often expresssed his views of the current occupant of the White House, I invited him to assemble a Trump glossary.

He did.

Some people respond to crises with focused, quiet intensity. Not our 73-year-old President in the orange clown makeup. He can’t stop tweeting and blabbering randomly and profusely. And what does he tweet and blab about? Well, he suggests holding events at his resorts, he attacks perceived enemies, and he praises himself. And then on Memorial Day, while others are laying a wreath on the grave of Uncle Javier who died in Vietnam, Trump accuses a journalist of murder and goes golfing.

This demonstrated lack of concern for others (for victims and survivors of natural disasters and war and disease, for example) shows that Donald Trump doesn’t give a microbe on a nit on a rat’s tushy about anything but Donald Trump. Obviously, he cares only about money (sorry, Evangelicals, his only God is Mammon) and about himself.

But hey, Trump’s a romantic figure, a man in love. This must be his appeal. And when he speaks, in his toddler English, about the love of his life, Donald Trump, you can be certain that he will use terms like “a winner,” “the greatest,” “the best,” and so on. He will tell you about his “great genes” and his uncle who was “a super genius [which is a lot better than an ordinary genius] at MIT.”

OK, over the years, I’ve had my disagreements with the man to whom I variously refer as Moscow’s Asset Governing America (MAGA); Don the Con; IQ 45; The Don, Cheeto “Little Fingers” Trumpbalone; Vlad’s Agent Orange; the Iota; our Child-Man in the Promised Land; our Vandal in Chief; Dog-Whistle Don; The Man with No Plan and the Tan in the Can; President Pinocchio; Trump on the Stump with His Chumps; Jabba the Trump; Don the Demented; King Con; Donnie DoLittle; the Stabul Jenius; Scrotus Potus; The Mornavirus trumpinski orangii; Ethelorange the Unready; our First Part-time President, now become, in his nonresponse to the pandemic, Donnie Death. However, I do agree with him that in descriptions of Trump, SUPERLATIVES ARE IN ORDER.

The British writer Nate White wisely observed, in a post that Diane Ravitch shared on her indispensable blog, that Donald Trump’s “faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws.” Trump is a one-person compendium of human vices and failings. In this respect, truly, HE HAS NO EQUAL. And so I offer here an ABECEDARIUM of adjectives, each of which demonstrably describes the occupant of the now Offal Office in the now Whiter House, the fellow who has shamed us before the world, made us a laughing stock, and led the now Repugnican Party in an unprecedented Limbo Dance (“how low, how low, how low can we go?).

Trump is. . . .

abhorrent, amoral, anti-democratic, arrogant, authoritarian, autocratic, avaricious, backward, base, benighted, bloated, blubbering, blundering, bogus, bombastic, boorish, bullying, bungling, cheap, childish, clownish, clueless, common, confused, conniving, corrupt, cowardly, crass, creepy, cretinous, criminal, crowing, crude, cruel, dangerous, delusional, demagogic, depraved, devious, dim, disgraceful, dishonest, disloyal, disreputable, dissembling, dog-whistling, doltish, dull, elitist, embarrassing, erratic, fascist, foolish, gauche, gluttonous, greedy, grudging, hate-filled, hateful, haughty, heedless, homophobic, humorless, hypocritical, idiotic, ignoble, ignominious, ignorant, immature, inarticulate, indolent, inept, inferior, insane, intemperate, irresponsible, kakistocratic, kleptocratic, laughable, loathsome, loud-mouthed, low-life, lying, mendacious, meretricious, monstrous, moronic, narcissistic, needy, oafish, odious, orange, outrageous, pampered, pandering, perverse, petty, predatory, puffed-up, racist, repulsive, rude, sanctimonious, semi-literate, senile, senseless, sexist, shady, shameless, sheltered, slimy, sluglike, sniveling, squeamish, stupid, swaggering, tacky, thick, thin-skinned, thuggish, toadying, transphobic, trashy, treasonous, twisted, ugly, unappealing, uncultured, uninformed, unprincipled, unread, unrefined, vain, venal, vicious, vile, and vulgar.

Aside from those peccadilloes (we all have our faults, don’t we?), I have no problem with the guy.

Predictably, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took a stand against the victims of sexual violence, and did it while the world was distracted by the pandemic. Count on her to identify with predatory lenders, for-profit colleges, and anyone who exploits students.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro called out DeVos’s latest regulatory guidance that affects rape victims.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 6, 2020

CONTACT:

Will Serio: 202-225-3661

DeLauro Statement on Secretary DeVos’s Final Campus Sexual Assault Rule

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, released the following statement after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a final rule on how schools must handle and respond to campus sexual assault and harassment allegations.

“Secretary DeVos’s new rule to address incidents of sexual assault and harassment is clearly and predictably on the wrong side of history. Rather than protecting survivors, these changes requiring a higher burden of proof for survivors and narrowing the scope of misconduct that will be addressed puts fairness and accountability—for both perpetrators and for schools—further out of reach. When students return to classrooms and campuses, we must ensure that they return to an environment that is safe, and where they are protected from sexual violence and harm. Secretary DeVos made that more difficult today.”

“In the broader context, at a time when our nation’s students, schools, and institutions of higher education face unprecedented challenges, we need leadership that promotes unity rather than division. Secretary DeVos’s decision to issue these regulations during a global pandemic is astonishing. The Department of Education has mismanaged billions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated emergency coronavirus relief for students and schools—using it to fund divisive, ideologically-driven policy priorities such as voucher-like proposals called microgrants. The Department should have spent more time following the letter of the law under the CARES Act rather than putting out a rule that significantly undermines protections for victims of sexual assault and harassment. I will work with my colleagues and advocates to pursue all possible routes possible to block this harmful rule.”

Michael Hynes is the superintendent of schools in the Port Washington school district on Long Island in New York. He is one of the most creative, innovative, and unconventional thinkers in education today. His new book was just published, offering advice to school leaders and, frankly, to everyone, about what is most important in life.

Mike Hynes is my candidate for the next State Commissioner of Education in New York. He has fresh ideas, deep experience, and values the well-being of children more than test scores.

In this brief essay, he outlines what schools should do after the pandemic.

He writes:

Now is the time for our school leaders to generate a new compelling philosophy of education and an innovative architecture for a just and humane school system. We must refocus our energy on a foundation built on a sense of purpose, forging relationships and maximizing the potential and talents of all children. Let’s take advantage of the possibility that our nation’s attention can shift 180 degrees, from obsessing over test scores and accountability to an entirely different paradigm of physical, mental, and emotional well-being for students and staff.

It is our collective responsibility to foster engaging and meaningful environments when educating our children in the new era of a post pandemic education. As the great philosopher John Dewey stated over one hundred years ago, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” The first sentence in the 2018 World Bank Group’s Flagship Report- Learning: To Realize Education’s Promise states, “Schooling is not the same as learning.” I couldn’t agree more. The report continues to speak about that as a society, we must learn to realize education’s promise.

Now is this the time to revolutionize this antiquated system built on old structures and ideologies. I recommend we change the purpose of schooling to the following core values:

· Emphasize well-being. Make child and teacher well-being a top priority in all schools, as engines of learning and system efficiency.

· Upgrade testing and other assessments. Stop the standardized testing of children in grades 3-8, and “opt-up” to higher-quality assessments by classroom teachers. Eliminate the ranking and sorting of children based on standardized testing. Train students in self-assessment, and require only one comprehensive testing period to graduate from high school.

· Invest resources fairly. Fund schools equitably on the basis of need. Provide small class sizes.

· Boost learning through physical activity. Give children multiple outdoor free-play recess breaks throughout the school day to boost their well-being and performance. We observed schools in Finland that give children four 15-minute free-play breaks a day.

· Change the focus. Create an emotional atmosphere and physical environment of warmth, comfort and safety so that children are happy and eager to come to school. Teach not just basic skills, but also arts, crafts, music, civics, ethics, home economics and life skills.

· Make homework efficient. Reduce the homework load in elementary and middle schools to no more than 30 minutes per night, and make it responsibility-based rather than stress-based.

· Trust educators and children. Give them professional respect, creative freedom and autonomy, including the ability to experiment, take manageable risks and fail in the pursuit of success.

· Improve, expand and destigmatize vocational and technical education. Encourage more students to attend schools in which they can acquire valuable career/trade skills.

In short, if we learn anything at all from this pandemic, we should clearly recognize that we need our teachers more than ever before. It’s imperative that schools focus on a balanced approach to education, one that embraces physical, emotional, cognitive and social growth. We have an enormous amount of work to do, but our children deserve nothing less.

If you agree, please send his essay to every school board member you know and to anyone else who is interested in finding a new way to educate our children, one that develops their well-being and joy in learning, instead of subjecting them to an endless and useless series of standardized tests.

No U.S. Attorney General in history has ever turned the Department of Justice into a political tool belonging to the president. Until now. Bill Barr has totally politicized the Department.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote today:

There has never been a better time to be a Hooker for Jesus.

Under Attorney General Bill Barr’s management, it appears no corner of the Justice Department can escape perversion — even the annual grants the Justice Department gives to nonprofits and local governments to help victims of human trafficking.

In a new grant award, senior Justice officials rejected the recommendations of career officials and decided to deny grants to highly rated Catholic Charities in Palm Beach, Fla., and Chicanos Por La Causa in Phoenix. Instead, Reuters reported, they gave more than $1 million combined to lower-rated groups called the Lincoln Tubman Foundation and Hookers for Jesus.

Why? Well, it turns out the head of the Catholic Charities affiliate had been active with Democrats and the Phoenix group had opposed President Trump’s immigration policies. By contrast, Hookers for Jesus is run by a Christian conservative and the Lincoln Tubman group was launched by a relative of a Trump delegate to the 2016 convention.

That Catholic Charities has been replaced by Hookers for Jesus says much about Barr’s Justice Department. Friends of Trump are rewarded. Opponents of Trump are punished. And the nation’s law enforcement apparatus becomes Trump’s personal plaything.

Federal prosecutors Monday recommendedthat Trump associate Roger Stone serve seven to nine years in prison for obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes.

Then Trump tweeted that the proposed sentence was “horrible and very unfair” and “the real crimes were on the other side.” And by midday Tuesday, Barr’s Justice Department announced that it would reduce Stone’s sentence recommendation. All four prosecutors, protesting the politicization, asked to withdraw from the case.

But politicization is now the norm. Last week, Barr assigned himself the sole authority to decide which presidential candidates — Democrats and Republicans — should be investigated by the FBI.

Also last week, the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice Department, announced that New York state residents can no longer enroll in certain Trusted Traveler programs such as Global Entry — apparent punishment for the strongly Democratic state’s policies on illegal immigrants.

On Monday, Barr declared that the Justice Department had created an “intake process” to receive Rudy Giuliani’s dirt from Ukraine on Joe Biden and Hunter Biden — dirt dug in a boondoggle that left two Giuliani associates under indictment and Trump impeached.

The same day, Barr’s agency announced lawsuits against California, New Jersey and King County (Seattle), Washington — politically “blue” jurisdictions all — as part of what he called a “significant escalation” against sanctuary cities.

On Tuesday, to get a better sense of the man who has turned the Justice Department into Trump’s toy, I watched Barr speak to the Major County Sheriffs of America, a friendly audience, at the Willard Hotel in Washington.

Even by Trumpian standards, the jowly Barr, in his large round glasses, pinstripe suit and Trump-red tie, was strikingly sycophantic. “In his State of the Union, President Trump delivered a message of genuine optimism filled with an unapologetic faith in God and in American greatness and in the common virtues of the American people: altruism, industriousness, self-reliance and generosity,” he read, deadpan.

Trump, he went on, “loves this country,” and “he especially loves you.” The boot-licking performance continued, about Trump’s wise leadership, his unbroken promises and even the just-impeached president’s passionate belief in the “rule of law.”

Then Barr turned to the enemy. He attacked “rogue DA’s” and “so-called social-justice reformers,” who are responsible for “historic levels of homicide and other violent crime” in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore. Politicians in sanctuary jurisdictions, he said, prefer “to help criminal aliens evade the law.” Barr vowed to fight these foes with “all lawful means” — federal subpoenas to force them to turn over “information about criminal aliens,” dozens of lawsuits to invalidate statutes and attempts to deny them both competitive and automatic grants.

In response to a question, Barr railed against tech companies’ use of encryption: “They’re designing these devices so you can be impervious to any government scrutiny,” he protested.

Maybe people wouldn’t be so sensitive about government scrutiny if the top law enforcement official weren’t using his position to punish political opponents and reward political allies.

Instead, with Barr’s acquiescence, we live in a moment in which: Trump’s Treasury Department immediately releases sensitive financial information about Hunter Biden, while refusing to release similar information about Trump; Trump ousts officials who testified in the impeachment inquiry and even ousts the blameless twin brother of one of the witnesses; and Trump’s FBI decides to monitor violent “people on either side” of the abortion debate — although the FBI couldn’t point to a single instance of violence by abortion-rights supporters.

This week, the Pentagon released a new color scheme for Air Force One, replacing the 60-year-old design with one that looks suspiciously like the old Trump Shuttle.Surprised? Don’t be. Soon the entire administration will be able to apply for a Justice Department grant as a newly formed nonprofit: Hookers for Trump.

Bill Barr will be remembered by historians for his role in destroying the professionalism, morale, and ethics of the Department of Justice. He is Trump’s Joker.

 

Dana Miilbank is a columnist for the Washington Post. He wrote today what I have been thinking.

Character is the only secure foundation of the state.”

“It was all bullshit.”

From the birth of the Republic — indeed, from the birth of Athenian democracy — it has been an article of faith that self-governance cannot survive without leaders of character.

“Not much probity is needed for maintaining or sustaining a monarchical government or a despotic government,” wrote the Baron de Montesquieu, whose philosophy inspired the Framers. “But in a popular state, one more recourse is necessary, which is virtue.”

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 68, confidently predicted that the Constitution would prevent those with “talents for low intrigue” from reaching the highest office: “There will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue.”

Washington, Emerson, Lincoln, even Richard Nixon spoke of the American experiment’s reliance on leaders of character. But this week, our leaders took a decided turn against that belief.

Though a majority of senators agreed that President Trump had done wrong, the Senate cleared him of wrongdoing. They acquitted him even though he expressed no contrition and even though his agent, Rudy Giuliani, had just stated that he, with Trump’s permission, would go on committing the same behavior that got Trump impeached.

The president had broken the law, cheated in his reelection, abused a vulnerable ally by withholding military aid, emboldened a foe and concealed the facts — and there would be no consequences. His fellow Republicans rejected even the symbolic sanction of censure.

It didn’t take long to see the consequences of acquittal: Trump’s blasphemy at the National Prayer Breakfast, his obscene rant in the White House, his move to evict from the White House a decorated military officer who testified during impeachment, his attorney general’s edict that he alone would decide which presidential candidates to investigate and his Treasury Department’s release of sensitive records about the family of a Trump political opponent even as it refuses to release similar records about Trump.

This is a man of the lowest character — and his partisans cheer. The Post identified more than 30 distortions in his State of the Union address Tuesday, where he announced he would award the nation’s highest civilian honor to a man who joined Trump in spreading the “birther” libel and who popularized the tune “Barack the Magic Negro” for his millions of listeners.

And the Republicans on the House floor chanted: “Four more years!

Of this?

After chronicling the impeachment proceedings over several months, I’m convinced the most enduring consequence of the depressing spectacle will be America’s loss of decency. Long after the details of the Ukraine scandal have faded, after Trump leaves the scene in one year or five, Americans will wrestle with the damage done by blessing the behavior of this vulgar man.

The menace of Trump has never been any one policy — his policies, after all, are constantly changing — but his shredding of dignity in public life and of our shared sense of right and wrong. “A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way,” Adam Schiff warned the Senate. “There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth. … Truth matters, right matters, but so does decency. Decency matters.”

Trump’s partisans in the Congress, because they fear him, or because they like his economic policies or his judicial nominations, stuck with him through “Access Hollywood” and Stormy Daniels; putting child immigrants in cages and assassinating the character of honorable public servants; his racist attack on a federal judge and the succor he gave neo-Nazis in Charlottesville; his lies by the thousand, his public vulgarity and misspelled insults; his relentless assaults on the free press, law enforcement and Muslims; and, now, cheating in the election.

Trump’s enablers will ask: What about Bill Clinton? He, too, had glaring character defects. The difference is Clinton, though acquitted, was forced to apologize for his conduct and was roundly denounced by fellow Democrats. In my articles from the time, I described him as a “lout and a liar” with a “strained relationship with the truth,” a weak “moral code,” “hypocrisy,” and an “unconvincing” claim that he didn’t commit perjury.

Now, the precious few Republicans willing to say Trump’s behavior was anything less than perfect — Lamar Alexander, Joni Ernst, Susan Collins, Rob Portman — somehow deceive themselves into thinking he will reform his ways. As if.

“I believe that in national life as the ages go by we shall find that the permanent national types will more and more tend to become those in which, though intellect stands high, character stands higher,” Theodore Roosevelt predicted more than a century ago. He, like Hamilton, imagined “disinterested and unselfish” leaders endowed with “a lofty scorn of doing wrong to others.”

Roosevelt, and Hamilton, didn’t imagine Trump.

Schiff, in his closing argument to the Senate this week, said this: “Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less, and decency matters not at all.” But, Schiff pleaded: “Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”

With Republicans’ latest embrace of this man of the lowest character, they are becoming who he is.

And as our children see our feckless leaders tolerate a president without a fiber of virtue, I fear that we will all become who he is.

This is a short and powerful speech by Senator Mitt Romney explaining why he decided to vote to convict Trump. He knew that he was breaking ranks. He knew he would anger many in his party.

He voted his conscience.

Conscience over party. Remarkable.