Thomas L. Friedman | President Donald J. Trump: The End – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“Folks, we just survived something really crazy awful: four years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a network without integrity, each pumping out conspiracy theories without truth, brought directly to our brains by social networks without ethics — all heated up by a pandemic without mercy.

It’s amazing that our whole system didn’t blow, because the country really had become like a giant overheated steam engine. What we saw in the Capitol last week were the bolts and hinges starting to come loose. The departure of Donald J. Trump from the White House and the depletion of his enablers’ power in the Senate aren’t happening a second too soon.

Nor is Joe Biden’s inauguration, but he has his work cut out for him. Because we haven’t even begun to fully comprehend how much damage Trump, armed with Twitter and Facebook and leveraging the bully pulpit of the presidency and the cowardice of so many who knew better, has done to our nation’s public life, institutions and cognitive immunity.

This was a terrible, terrible experiment.

It’s not that Trump never did anything good. It’s that it was nowhere near worth the price of leaving our nation more divided, more sick — and with more people marinated in conspiracy theories — than at any time in modern history. We need to be simultaneously reunited, deprogrammed, refocused and reassured. The whole country needs to go on a weekend retreat to rediscover who we are and the bonds that unite us — or at least once did.”

Thomas L. Friedman | Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

“When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”

That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind his being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump cultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.”

Thomas Friedman | Never Forget the Names of These Republicans Attempting a Coup – NYT

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“The New Testament asks us in Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”

Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and all their fellow G.O.P. coup plotters clearly have forgotten that verse — if they ever knew it — for they are ready to sacrifice their souls, the soul of their party and the soul of America — our tradition of free and fair elections as the means for peacefully transferring power — so that Donald Trump can remain president and one of these sleazebags can eventually replace him.

The governing “philosophy” of these unprincipled Trump-cult Republicans is unmistakably clear: “Democracy is fine for us as long as it is a mechanism for us to be in control. If we can’t hold power, then to hell with rules and to hell with the system. Power doesn’t flow from the will of the people — it flows from our will and our leader’s will.”

 
 
Credit…From left: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP; Samuel Corum/Getty Images; pool photo by Susan Walsh

For America to be healthy again, decent Republicans — in office and in business — need to break away from this unprincipled Trump-cult G.O.P. and start their own principled conservative party. It is urgent.

Even if only a small group of principled, center-right lawmakers — and the business leaders who fund them — broke away and formed their own conservative coalition, they would become hugely influential in today’s closely divided Senate. They could be a critical swing faction helping to decide which Biden legislation passes, is moderated or fails.

Meanwhile, the Trump-rump G.O.P. cult would become what it needs to become for America to grow together again — a discredited, powerless minority of crackpots waiting around for Trump’s latest tweet to tell them what to do, say and believe.

I know that fracturing an established party is not easy (or likely). But the principled Republicans, those who have courageously and dutifully defended Joe Biden’s electoral victory, have to ask themselves: “In a few days, when all of this is over, are we going to just go back to business as usual with people who are, in effect, attempting the first legislative coup d’état in American history?”

Because when this episode is over, Trump will be doing or saying something else outrageous to undermine Biden and to make collaboration impossible, and the Trump lap dogs, like Cruz, Hawley, Johnson and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, will be demanding the party go along to serve their political interests, putting the principled Republicans in a daily bind. Every week there will be a new loyalty test.” . . . . 

Opinion | Will Trump Force Principled Conservatives to Start Their Own Party? I Hope So – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

“As the Trump presidency heads into the sunset, kicking and screaming, one of the most important questions that will shape American politics at the local, state and national levels is this: Can Donald Trump maintain his iron grip over the Republican Party when he is out of office?

This is what we know for sure: He damn well intends to try and is amassing a pile of cash to do so. And here is what I predict: If Trump keeps delegitimizing Joe Biden’s presidency and demanding loyalty for his extreme behavior, the G.O.P. could fully fracture — splitting between principled Republicans and unprincipled Republicans. Trump then might have done America the greatest favor possible: stimulating the birth of a new principled conservative party.

Santa, if you’re listening, that’s what I want for Christmas!

Wishful thinking? Maybe. But here’s why it’s not entirely fanciful: If Trump refuses to ever acknowledge Biden’s victory and keeps roasting those Republicans who do — and who “collaborate” with the new administration — something is going to crack.

There will be increasing pressure on the principled Republicans — people like Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and the judges, election officials and state legislators who put country before party and refused to buckle under Trump’s demands — to break away and start their own conservative party.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

The Lincoln Project folks have admitted to wanting to address this question after Biden takes office. The advantage to creating a new party, if it becomes necessary, is that it will help cleanse the congress of Trump supporters, by splitting the Republican vote. What should the more centrist Republicans call their new party is a challenge. I propose, for the sake of brainstorming, that they call is the Center Right Grand Old Party, or CRGOP, which could be referred to as Sir GOP. There is also, New Republicans, Center Right Republican’s, or something like Lincoln Republicans. If they are successful in marginalizing the Republican trumpsters, they could eventually take back the name that history required them to abandon, for the sake of cleaning house of white supremacists, no nothings, planet polluters, and conspiracy theorists.

Opinion | Joe Biden Interview: ‘We’re Going to Fight Like Hell’ – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

“President-elect Joe Biden was in a good mood as we talked on the phone Tuesday evening for an hour — he in Delaware and me in Bethesda, Md. He apologized, though, for being late. He had been following the breaking news that Attorney General William Barr had just announced that the Justice Department had not uncovered any significant fraud that could have affected the results of the presidential election. It’s all over.

Biden joked that Barr had just called him, “asking if I can get him in the witness protection program for endorsing me.”

Considering the Trump team’s hurricane of dishonest claims about the election results, the president-elect was entitled to a little laugh at their expense. Otherwise, he was all business.

Biden had a lot to say about how he intends to approach the current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his Republican colleagues in order to get his cabinet nominees — and as much of his agenda as possible — through the Senate; how he intends to reshape U.S.-China strategy; and why he is ready to return to the Iran nuclear deal, if Iran does, and end President Trump’s sanctions on Iran.

Biden also spoke in depth about his strategy to connect with rural Americans, who have become estranged from the Democratic Party.

I did ask one personal question: What has it been like to win the presidency under such weird circumstances — with a deadly pandemic and an infodemic of Trump propaganda falsely claiming that the election was rigged?

“I feel like I’ve done something good for the country by making sure that Donald Trump is not going to be president for four more years,” Biden said. “But there’s been no moment of elation. It kind of reminds me of what’s going on with all my grandkids. You know, here I got a granddaughter who graduates with honors from Columbia. There’s no commencement. I’m the commencement speaker. It’s virtual. These kids are graduating with no parties. It’s just one of those moments. There’s a lot of work to do. I’m just focused on getting some things done as quickly as I can.” “

Opinion | Dear Joe, It’s Not About Iran’s Nukes Anymore – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

“With the assassination by Israel of Iran’s top nuclear warhead designer, the Middle East is promising to complicate Joe Biden’s job from day one. President-elect Biden knows the region well, but if I had one piece of advice for him, it would be this: This is not the Middle East you left four years ago.

The best way for Biden to appreciate the new Middle East is to study what happened in the early hours of Sept. 14, 2019 — when the Iranian Air Force launched 20 drones and precision-guided cruise missiles at Abqaiq, one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil fields and processing centers, causing huge damage. It was a seminal event.

The Iranian drones and cruise missiles flew so low and with such stealth that neither their takeoff nor their impending attack was detected in time by Saudi or U.S. radar. Israeli military analysts, who were stunned by the capabilities the Iranians displayed, argued that this surprise attack was the Middle East’s “Pearl Harbor.”

They were right. The Middle East was reshaped by this Iranian precision missile strike, by President Trump’s response and by the response of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to Trump’s response.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Tom Friedman. You always have something useful and important to say. I quit carried by your words, until I wading through some very bad comments, to get to some very thoughtful ones. I will print a few of my favorites, which I recommended.

Socrates
Verona, N.J.Nov. 29

One thing Trump is not is a diplomat. Trump thinks he understands ‘deals’, but what he’s referring to when he says ‘deals’ are cheap transactions counted in dollars, not diplomacy, which is counted in saved lives, security, lasting peace and international engagement. Trump got something ‘right’ in Saudi Arabia by accident the same way a clock gets it accidentally right twice a day. Look at Trump’s ‘diplomatic deal’ with North Korea; some highly rated photo ops at the DMZ followed by absolutely nothing. All hat and no cattle. Joe Biden and his Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken have plenty of global experience and are believers in diplomacy, reasoned discourse and de-escalation. That approach may not always ‘solve the problem’, but it will have a better batting average than the ‘art of the empty deal’ that he who shall not be named championed. The whole world is looking forward to American sanity and alliance-building starting Jan 20 2021. Let’s give it the old college try.

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Thomas
Seattle6h ago
Times Pick

The whole reason Iran needs threats (precision missiles, nukes, etc.) is to protect their sovereignty from the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Friedman flatly states that Iran is homicidal, but Iran expressly sought to minimize fatalities in both the Saudi oil strike and the American-Iraq base strike. In the past couple years, however, the Saudi crown prince had Jamal cut up, we precision struck Soleimani, and presumably Israel just assassinated Mohsen. Friedman also states that Iran’s preferred weapon for homicide is precision guided missiles, which, funnily enough, happens to be our favorite toy too. The deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia is not one made out of love, and I’m skeptical it will lead to a less polarized Middle East. Iran needs to be reintegrated into the world and the Biden administration would be wise to not fall for Saudi-Israeli manipulations.

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lin commented November 29

lin

Eventually, the point is to come to the negotiating table. Best not to have too many bodies to climb over to get there. Many homicidal drone strikes have Made in America written on them, even when they have not been launched by American forces. But when Friedman says ‘it’s complicated’ I don’t think he fully discloses how American and Israeli actions – including arms sales – are contributing factors.

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Meuphys
Atlanta41m ago
Times Pick

By all means, restart the nuke deal with Iran. I don’t really think it matters whether Netanyahu, an undemocratic indicted criminal, and Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi disapprove. Both nations badly need a shakeup in leadership, and while we are not and cannot be the agents of that, it’s important for US credibility that we be seen as returning to a responsible posture rather than accept Trump’s poorly-planned and poorly-executed policies as the new normal. The rest of Europe, also signatories to the Iran deal, would welcome our return to the table. As for the new Iranian missile capabilities, the way to address that is through negotiations and intelligence, not through the ham-handed bullying which has characterized US foreign policy in the Trump years. Iran is a democracy, if flawed, and Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. Israel is a democracy technically, but one currently led by a criminal in thrall to hardline religious elements – a criminal whose party’s vote total in the last election was insufficient to win without going into coalition with the Blue & White party. Like Trump, Netanyahu is a criminal whose continued freedom has been dependent on his political position.

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George Cooper
Tuscaloosa, Al6h ago
Times Pick

Friedman doesn’t mention a key reason for Iranian influence in the gulf is the political disenfranchisement of the Shia minority ( Shia are majority in Bahrain ) giving the Persian Shia an opening to their Arab brothers. Likewise, Hezbollah came into existence and gained power in Lebanon as response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon ( shades of the Lon Nol coup coupled with the American/ARVN invasion of Cambodia that eventually ushered in Pol Pot Mr. Freidman also missed a second seminal event from a tactical military view. That is despite being armed to the teeth with worlds most advanced weapons systems by the US, the Saudi’s multi billion air force and African mercenary army (Saudi’s hate to engage their own men in Yemen ) has been given a thumping by a home grown guerrilla army, the Houthi’s. The UAE ( the only Gulf Army worthwhile) has pulled out and retreated. One can attach the word “homicide” to the Iranians, however it seems more appropriate alongside MBS and the Saudi’s for their carnage inflicted upon the people of Yemen.

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Public
Powerful piece by Tom Friedman, taken to task for his tone, and brevity, and possibly, his blind hatred of Iran, all though, what he says, is helpful in understanding one of the most dangerous quagmires in the world. Unfortunately, George W Bush contributed mightily to the instability and carnage of the war torn region.

Opinion | Happy Thanksgiving to All Those Who Told the Truth in This Election – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“With so many families gathering, in person or virtually, for this most unusual Thanksgiving after this most unusual election, if you’re looking for a special way to say grace this year, I recommend the West Point Cadet Prayer. It calls upon each of these future military leaders to always choose “the harder right instead of the easier wrong” and to know “no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

Because we should be truly thankful this Thanksgiving that — after Donald Trump spent the last three weeks refusing to acknowledge that he’d lost re-election and enlisted much of his party in a naked power play to ignore the vote counts and reinstall him in office — we had a critical mass of civil servants, elected officials and judges who did their jobs, always opting for the “harder right” that justice demanded, not the “easier wrong” that Trump and his allies were pressing for.

It was their collective integrity, their willingness to stand with “Team America,” not either party, that protected our democracy when it was facing one of its greatest threats — from within. History will remember them fondly.

Who am I talking about? I am talking about F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, who in September openly contradicted the president and declared that historically we have not seen “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election” involving mail-in voting.

I am talking about Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — a conservative Republican — who oversaw the Georgia count and recount and insisted that Joe Biden had won fair and square and that his state’s two G.O.P. senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, did not garner enough votes to avoid election runoffs. Perdue and Loeffler dishonorably opted for the easier wrong and brazenly demanded Raffensperger resign for not declaring them winners.

I am talking about Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who not only refused to back up Trump’s claims of election fraud, but whose agency issued a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history,” adding in bold type, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”

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Krebs did the hard right thing, and Trump fired him by tweet for it. Mitch McConnell, doing the easy wrong thing, did not utter a peep of protest.

I am talking about the Republican-led Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Ariz., which, according to The Washington Post, “voted unanimously Friday to certify the county’s election results, with the board chairman declaring there was no evidence of fraud or misconduct ‘and that is with a big zero.’”

I am talking about Mitt Romney, the first (and still virtually only) Republican senator to truly call out Trump’s postelection actions for what they really were: “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Opinion | Only Truth Can Save Our Democracy – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“On Saturday morning I was sitting in the kitchen with my wife, Ann, who was stirring her Cream of Wheat, when out of nowhere she surprised me with a question: “Is not lying one of the Ten Commandments?”

I had to stop and think for a second myself, before answering: “Yes, thou shalt not bear false witness.”

The fact that the two of us even momentarily struggled over that question is, for me, the worst legacy of the Trump presidency.

You remember the old joke? Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and tells the children of Israel: “Children, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I bargained him down to 10. The bad news is that adultery is still in.”

Well, I’ve got bad news and worse news: We’re now down to nine.

Yes, this was a historic four years — even one of the Ten Commandments got erased. Lying has been normalized at a scale we’ve never seen before. Hence Ann’s question.

I am not sure how we reverse it, but we’d better — and fast.

People who do not share truths can’t defeat a pandemic, can’t defend the Constitution and can’t turn the page after a bad leader. The war for truth is now the war to preserve our democracy.

It is impossible to maintain a free society when leaders and news purveyors feel at liberty to spread lies without sanction. Without truth there is no agreed-upon path forward, and without trust there is no way to go down that path together.

But our hole now is so deep, because the only commandment President Trump did believe in was the Eleventh: “Thou shalt not get caught.”

Lately, though, Trump and many around him stopped believing even in that — they don’t seem to care about being caught.”

“. . . .  Lies don’t work unless they’re believed, and nearly half the American public has proved remarkably gullible,” my former Times colleague David K. Shipler, who served in our Moscow bureau during the Cold War, said to me. “I think of each of us as having our own alarm — and it’s as if half of their batteries have died. Lots of Trump’s lies, and his retweets of conspiracy fabrications, are obviously absurd. Why have so many people believed them? I’m not sure it’s fully understood.”

That is why it’s vital that every reputable news organization — especially television, Facebook and Twitter — adopt what I call the Trump Rule. If any official utters an obvious falsehood or fact-free allegation, the interview should be immediately terminated, just as many networks did with Trump’s lie-infested, postelection, news conference last week. If critics scream “censorship,” just shout back “truth.”

This must become the new normal. Politicians need to be terrified every time they go on TV that the plug will be pulled on them if they lie.”

Opinion | Trump Has Made the Whole World Darker – by Thomas Friedman – The New York Times

“There is no escaping it: America is on the ballot on Tuesday — the stability and quality of our governing institutions, our alliances, how we treat one another, our basic commitment to scientific principles and the minimum decency that we expect from our leaders. The whole ball of wax is on the ballot.

The good news is that we’ve survived four years of Donald Trump’s abusive presidency with most of our core values still intact. To be sure, the damage has been profound, but, I’d argue, the cancer has not yet metastasized into the bones and lymph nodes of our nation. The harm is still reversible.

The bad news is that if we have to endure four more years of Donald Trump, with him unrestrained by the need to be re-elected, our country will not be the America we grew up with, whose values, norms and institutions we had come to take for granted.

Four more years of a president without shame, backed by a party without spine, amplified by a TV network without integrity, and the cancer will be in the bones of every institution that has made America America.

Image   Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

And then, who will we be? We can explain away, and the world can explain away, taking a one-time flier on a fast-talking, huckster-populist like Trump. It’s happened to many countries in history. But if we re-elect him, knowing what a norm-destroying, divisive, corrupt liar he is, then the world will not treat the last four years as an aberration. It will treat them as an affirmation that we’ve changed.

The world will not just look at America differently, but at Americans differently. And with good reason.

Re-electing Trump would mean that a significant number of Americans don’t cherish the norms that give our Constitution meaning, don’t appreciate the need for an independent, professional Civil Service, don’t respect scientists, don’t hunger for national unity, don’t care if a president tells 20,000 lies — in short, don’t care about what has actually made America great and different from any other great power in history.

If that happens, what America has lost these past four years will become permanent.

And the effects will be felt all over the world. Foreigners love to make fun of America, of our naïveté, or our silly notion that every problem has a solution and that the future can bury the past — that the past doesn’t always have to bury the future. But deep down, they often envy Americans’ optimism.

If America goes dark, if the message broadcast by the Statue of Liberty shifts from “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to “get the hell off my lawn”; if America becomes just as cynically transactional in all its foreign dealings as Russia and China; if foreigners stop believing that there is somewhere over the rainbow where truth is still held sacred in news reporting and where justice is the norm in most of the courts, then the whole world will get darker. Those who have looked to us for inspiration will have no widely respected reference point against which to critique their own governments.

Authoritarian leaders all over the world — in Turkey, China, Russia, Poland, Hungary, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and elsewhere — already smell this. They have been emboldened by the Trump years. They know they’re freer to assassinate, poison, jail, torture and censor whomever they want, without reproach from America, as long as they flatter Trump or buy our arms.”

Opinion | When My President Sang ‘Amazing Grace’ – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…David Goldman/Associated Press

“This is my last regular column before Election Day, so what is there left to say? Instead of giving you an answer, let me leave you with a question, which I think is the question. What would you do if your kid came home from school and said:

“Mom, Dad, my teacher said President Obama ordered the killing of the U.S. Special Forces team that supposedly killed Osama bin Laden. My teacher said Bin Laden is actually still alive, that the guy the Navy SEALs killed was a ‘body double.’ He also claimed that Obama’s aides got Iran to send Bin Laden to Pakistan so Obama could have a ‘trophy kill.’ What’s a trophy kill? My teacher said he had heard all of this somewhere on the internet and he just thought he’d pass it along to our class. Mom, Dad, is this true?”

I know how I’d respond. I’d immediately call the school principal and ask how someone peddling such vile and fraudulent conspiracy stuff could be teaching in any classroom in America. Who wouldn’t? It violates the most basic judgment and norms of decency that we expect of anyone teaching in public school or serving in public office.

And that is really the question Donald Trump’s voters can’t ignore: Why would you be ready to fire your kid’s teacher for passing along such disgusting nonsense but be willing to rehire the nation’s teacher in chief — our president, the man with the most-read blackboard in the world — after he peddled exactly these crazy conspiracy theories to some 87 million people on Twitter the other day? Is there anything more warped?

On Oct. 13, “Trump retweeted a post from an account linked to QAnon, a collective of online conspiracists, which has since been suspended,” reported CNN. “The tweet alleged ‘Biden and Obama may have had SEAL Team 6 killed,’ that Osama bin Laden was still alive, and that the man killed in the Obama-directed raid led by SEAL Team 6 was actually a body double. Later that night, Trump retweeted a post claiming top Obama administration officials colluded to bring Bin Laden from Iran to Pakistan for ‘Obama’s trophy kill.’”

The CNN story continued: “Trump’s initial retweet was rebuked by one of the Navy SEAL members of the raid, who is very much still alive. ‘Very brave men said goodby (sic) to their kids to go kill Osama bin Laden,’ Robert J. O’Neill tweeted following Trump’s retweet. ‘We were given the order by President Obama. It was not a body double.’

“O’Neill, who has previously expressed support for Trump, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the promotion of these conspiracy theories for the purpose of politics is ‘really trampling on the graves of some of the best heroes I have ever personally worked with.’”

When NBC News’s Savannah Guthrie asked Trump why he would spread such a lie, Trump shrugged: “That was a retweet, I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves.”

In other words, Trump sees as part of his job as president — with the world’s best global intelligence network at his disposal — not to discredit malicious conspiracy theories, so Americans can better navigate a confusing world, but rather to spread this bile, without even asking the C.I.A. or the F.B.I. if it’s true. Let people sort it out for themselves, he says — as if their resources match his.

I understand that many Americans stand by Trump because of his policies on immigration, taxes, political correctness or selection of judges, or because they feel he gives voice to their grievances against elites who may look down on them. None of that resonates with me, but those are legitimate positions shared by some 40 percent of the country.

But our president is not just a policy robot. He’s also a role model, whether he or we like it or not. So, for all of you who plan to cast your ballot for Trump, I beg you to ask yourselves: How can you tolerate behaviors in a president that you would never tolerate in your kid’s seventh-grade teacher or babysitter?

Trump has so redefined decency down that we have forgotten what is normal, let alone optimal, in an American president. We have forgotten what it is like to have a truth-teller, a healer, in the White House, someone who starts his day with at least the inclination to unite the country and to project America at its best for the world — not someone who has lived every day in office aspiring to be president only of his base, while offering anyone at home or abroad looking to the United States for inspiration just one message: Show me the money.

As I was reflecting on all this last weekend, my friend Elena Park, an executive producer for Stanford Live, sent me a YouTube video — an incredible performance the other day by the singer Meklit and the Kronos Quartet of “The President Sang Amazing Grace.”

The song was written by Zoe Mulford about the 2015 murder of nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., by a white supremacist. It was debuted by Mulford in 2017, telling in song how a different president, Barack Obama, came down to that church for a memorial service and during his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney sang “Amazing Grace,” one of the most moving and healing moments of his presidency.

Listen to Meklit sing it:

We argued where to lay the blame
On one man’s hate or our nation’s shame
Some sickness of the mind or soul
And how those wounds might be made whole
But no words could say what must be said
For all the living and the dead
So on that day and in that place
The President sang Amazing Grace
My President sang Amazing Grace

So, there’s your choice in a nutshell, folks. You can vote for a president who retweets sick conspiracy theories — claiming that his predecessor murdered U.S. Navy SEALs. Or you can vote for Biden, a man who, like Obama, will strive each day to make our wounds whole, and do it, I’m sure, with dignity and grace.”