Mr. President, You Have the Right — No, Duty — to Remain Silent … When It Comes to ‘Punching Down’
Instead of punching down, we need you to look up.
On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump released a video explaining why he feels obligated to “punch down” on people who criticize him.
Sometimes it’s necessary to talk badly about those that, for no reason other than politics, speak badly about you. Otherwise, the people that love you don’t know whether or not they’re for real.
Are they saying the truth? They’re not. So sometimes you have to punch down and you have to say what’s happening? Otherwise, they (supporters) won’t understand. It’s not fair to them. You have to put them in proper perspective, these bad people. You have to put them in their place.
YOU HAVE TO PUT THEM IN THEIR PLACE! pic.twitter.com/fFtQRH5Kjr
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) June 22, 2023
Oh, if he could just understand that every “punch down” is a smack upside his own head. One more turned off or frustrated voter. One less Christ-like turning of the cheek. One less blow in the real battle.
In his best seller The Art of the Deal, Trump talks about how when he was young, his father would send him out to collect overdue rent from people as likely to answer with gunfire as with “hello.”
In the later book The Art of the Comeback, Trump talks about how a NYC real estate collapse cost him his fortune, leaving him down nearly a billion dollars before he fought his way back to the top … and beyond.
Given what he has been through over the decades in the brutal world of New York real estate, you think he sweats the likes of Special Prosecutor Jack Smith? The threat of ruin from New York prosecutors? No. His past has made him impervious. “Take your shots. Take my wealth. I’m still going to a Cuban bakery.” No wonder his enemies look at him as Drago did Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV.
At the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference Saturday night, Trump answered the oft-asked question of how he gets up every morning, given the never-ending effort to destroy him. “What choice do I have?”
But there is a sharp downside to this imperviousness, this fearlessness, this fighting spirit. Trump treats personal and political slights with the same vigor and weight as he does threats to his liberty. More important, threats to our very democracy. This equating of quibbles and consequential may keep him from collapsing in a heap, folding like a cheap seat, from pressures that would kill other men, but it also undercuts his own effectiveness. (And, no small thing, is a bad witness.)
Two weeks ago, the current President of the United States used the power of his office to arrest his chief political rival, contorting laws and abusing sacred rights like attorney-client privilege to do it. Some 62% believe the charges to be politically motivated. A majority understand the move amounted to “election interference.”
This is a huge deal. This really matters. This is truly a deep and harrowing development in our democracy that should scare the daylight of anyone who loves our country. This is the fight for the soul and existence of our nation. And that is just one cell of the storm thrashing our nation.
Millions of anxious Americans feel the nation falling. They fear “they’ll come after me soon.”
And Trump is lobbing insults? Still?
Time to Remain Silent
Yes, we get the temptation to put “people in their place.” That might well be why Satan invented Twitter. But, President Trump this is a time to remain silent. Yes, the DOJ wants to prevent you from defending yourself publically. I’m not talking about that. Fight that tooth and nail, defend the 1st and 4th Amendments. I’m talking about the insults, the petty comments, the slurs, the distractions. The “punching down.” (And Newsflash: When you’re a former president, international leader and global celebrity, most every time you swing, you’re punching down.)
Not days after your arrest, you posted on Truth Social:
Very tame, compared to so many of your posts. But demonstrates the point. Why are you talking about “Ron DeSanctimonious” when you know he’ll be in the crosshairs if you were pushed out of the way? You admitted as much Saturday night at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference. What’s DeSantis compared to the Deep State, fathomless corruption, and demonic spirits seducing our kids? Why are you talking about Biden in the context of polls? Polls?!
Boasting about having predicted the PGA merger with LIV is one thing. That’s fun. Like posting a Father’s Day picture. But why in the world did you smack on the adorable Kayleigh McEnany, who vivisected your enemies in the White House Press Corp when your press secretary?
Oklahoma Gov. Keven Stitt endorsed DeSantis over you. You shredded the guy. Don’t invite him to Mar-a-Lago if you must. But a public browbeating is worse than distasteful and ugly. It’s worse than giving your foes more ammunition, and giving those who want to support you but for the abrasiveness an excuse to sit on their hands. It’s out of proportion.
When you take shots at some politician who likely has to wear a name tag to his own family reunion or take shots at a woman who served you well, you are minimizing the significance of the hour. The true danger we are in.
A tornado is bearing down on your house and your community, and over the wind and debris and you’re your rescue efforts, you’re mocking your neighbor’s choice of trim color.
A Better Approach
You say “They’re not after me. They’re after you and I’m just standing in their way.” But think about it. How many of the people you are “punching down” really part of the “they?” Aren’t most likely to be targets as well, if you weren’t in the way? Again, is Gov. DeSantis really part of the “they?” Kayleigh McEnany?
If you are looking down at them, can you be looking forward at the same time? The answer’s no. You don’t have eyes on top of your skull. You’re a big UFC guy. If a fighter’s punching down on some weaker foe while a massive, deadly opponent was charging at him, what is likely to happen?
Even posting a video like this is having your head down.
Which brings us back to this line:
“Sometimes it’s necessary to talk badly about those that, for no reason other than politics, speak badly about you. Otherwise, the people that love you don’t know whether or not they’re for real.”
This is a very sad statement. To get the obvious out of the way, if it’s just for no other reason than politics, why comment? It’s just politics. Just the game. People know that. You know that. In 2016 you were slapping around your opponents left and right for politics. Some ended up in your cabinet, some ended up in your golf foursomes. One ended up writing children’s books singing your praises.
But here’s the sad part. The people who love you and support you already know. And that’s what matters, as John Durham so powerfully pointed out last week.
During Durham’s Congressional testimony, Democratic representatives threw knives from the cheap seats. One was bloviating about how Durham’s reputation is ruined by having undertaken this investigation on your destructive behalf. Durham’s response is instructive:
COHEN: "Your reputation will be damaged!"
DURHAM: "My concern about my reputation is with the people who I respect, and my family, and my Lord, and I'm perfectly comfortable with my reputation with them, sir!" pic.twitter.com/zughWAoN2l
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) June 21, 2023
How do you stand with your supporters, your family, those you respect, and most crucially your God?
Don’t Punch Down, Look Up
Which gets to our final point. In this critical hour, rather than punch down, look up. The true battle is not with flesh and blood — with politicians, prosecutors and pundits — but with principalities and powers. The pugilistic ways that served you as a construction guy from Queens to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, just won’t cut it this time.
Your verbal fists are futile. You need the Father, and the weapons of his warfare.
Love your enemies. Spare the verbal lashings. Offer grace in the service of the greater good. Focus on the good fight not the petty.
In this darkening hour, the nation needs light.
As you said to great effect in 2016, “What do you have to lose?”
Because we have plenty to lose otherwise.
Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, chief barista for The Brew and co-author, with John Zmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl at GETTR, Gab, Parler, and now at TRUTH Social.