Note: The following quotes by President George Washington and Mr. Donald Trump come from different verifiable sources. They derive from speeches, official correspondence, and personal letters in the case of President Washington and speeches, recorded television appearances, and Twitter feeds in the case of Mr. Trump.
While some of my readers may wish to verify these quotes and are encouraged to do so I assume that most of you, knowing what you know about these men, will find it unnecessary. I think you will find that each quote attributed here to President Washington is plausibly his and each quote attributed to Mr. Trump is, unfortunately, plausibly his. The point of this comparison is to draw a contrast between the kind of public man President Washington was and the kind of public man Donald Trump is. I think the contrast is dramatic and instructive.
A fair criticism here is that it is inherently unfair to represent a man’s life through the use of a small number of hand-picked quotes. Quotes, of course, are easily manipulated and can be cleverly edited to illicit the desired response in the reader. While I have tried not to “manipulate the data” with regard to these quotes it is certainly possible that, having a low opinion of Mr. Trump, I might have unfairly selected quotes which reveal him at his worst and President Washington at his best. I will leave to you, the reader, the task of judging my objectivity.
I will say, in defense, that I presume no reader will believe that President Washington ever uttered the phrase “The boob job is terrible. They look like two lightbulbs coming out of her body.” Nor will they, I think, believe that Mr. Trump ever said “To speak evil of any one, unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation.”
Washington and Trump on Science
“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
“You may get AIDS by kissing.”
“Remember, new environment friendly lightbulbs can cause cancer. Be careful– the idiots who came up with this stuff don’t care.”
“Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”
Washington and Trump on profanity
“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
“No, I’m not into anal.”
“And you can tell them to go fuck themselves,”
Portsmouth New Hampshire Rally
“Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you 25 percent!”
“With the proper woman you don’t need Viagra”
“You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
Washington and Trump on Bigotry
“For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”
“When these people [Asians] walk in the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh, hello! How’s the weather? It’s so beautiful outside. They say, ‘We want deal!’”
“You haven’t been called, go back to Univision.”
— dismissing Latino reporter Jorge Ramos at an Iowa rally in August 2015
“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”
“Happy Cinco de Mayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”
“Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”
Washington and Trump on Women
“All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
“Women: You have to treat them like shit.”
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her … wherever.”
“Nobody cares about the talent [in beauty pageants]. There’s only one talent you care about, and that’s the look talent. You don’t give a shit if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like.”
“She’s really cute, I have to tell you, she’s really bouncy, really cute, She’s about 5-foot-1. Do you like girls that are 5-foot-1? They come up to you know where.” — Trump on Eva Longoria
“The boob job is terrible. They look like two lightbulbs coming out of her body.” — on actress Carmen Electra
“A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
“It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam … It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” — on sleeping with women who could have STDs
“She does have a very nice figure. I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
Washington and Trump on Civility
“To speak evil of any one, unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation.”
“Just tried watching Modern Family — written by a moron, really boring. Writer has the mind of a very dumb and backward child.”
“One of the worst and most boring political pundits on television is Charles Krauthammer. A totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing facts”
“If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”
“Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
“Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad—it really is.” — To Larry King, on air, 1989
“[Angelina Jolie]’s been with so many guys she makes me look like a baby, OK … I just don’t even find her attractive.”
Washington and Trump on Immigrants
“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.”
“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best …they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
“Well, someone’s doing the raping, Don! I mean, somebody’s doing it. Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” — responding to questions about his comments regarding Latino immigrants and rape
“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud”
“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
“There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.” (This has been thoroughly debunked)
Washington and Trump on Compassion
“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”
“I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist.”
“Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!'” –Donald Trump, mocking handicapped New York Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski.
“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
“My entire life, I’ve watched politicians bragging about how poor they are, how they came from nothing, how poor their parents and grandparents were … if they can stay so poor for so many generations, maybe this isn’t the kind of person we want to be electing to higher office. How smart can they be? They’re morons.”
Washington and Trump on Humility
“It is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it.”
“I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”
“I will be so good at the military your head will spin”
“I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created”
“I think apologizing’s a great thing, but you have to be wrong. I will absolutely apologize, sometime in the hopefully distant future, if I’m ever wrong.”
“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”
“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
“I don’t think I’ve made mistakes. Every time somebody said I made a mistake, they do the polls and my numbers go up, so I guess I haven’t made any mistakes.”
“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure.”
“I went to an Ivy League school. I’m very highly educated. I know words, I have the best words…”
“I’m the worst thing that’s ever happened to ISIS.”
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.”
“I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me…”
“I have a total net worth [of] well-over $10 billion…. I’m not doing that to brag, because you know what? I don’t have to brag. I don’t have to”
“I’ve had a beautiful, I’ve had a flawless campaign. You’ll be writing books about this campaign.”
“I beat China all the time. All the time.”
Washington and Trump on Political Cooperation
“Differences in political opinions are as unavoidable as, to a certain point, they may perhaps be necessary; but it is exceedingly to be regretted that subjects cannot be discussed with temper on the one hand, or decisions submitted to without having the motives, which led to them, improperly implicated on the other; and this regret borders on chagrin when we find that men of abilities, zealous patriots, having the same general objects in view, and the same upright intentions to prosecute them, will not exercise more charity in deciding on the opinions and actions of one another.”
George Washington, letter to Alexander Hamilton, Aug. 26, 1792
“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” (about Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina)
“If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America.”
“Bush didn’t have the IQ [to be president]”
“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured (about Senator and War Hero John McCain).”
“Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.”
“Truly weird Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain. He was terrible at DEBATE!”
“Governor Perry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”
“[Hillary Clinton] was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the United States. The world blew up around us. We lost everything, including all relationships.” “perhaps the most dishonest person to have ever run for the presidency”
[Governor Martin O’Malley] “a clown”
“What people don’t know about [Governor John] Kasich — he was a managing partner of the horrendous Lehman Brothers when it totally destroyed the economy!”
“George Pataki did a terrible job as governor of New York. If he ran again, he would have lost in a landslide.”
“Can anyone imagine [Lincoln] Chafee as president? No way.”
“I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States. I don’t think he could run for dog catcher in this state and win again. I really don’t. He’s one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”
“I have a store that’s worth more money than he is. I understand losers. You can make a lot of money with losers” “He choked like a dog. He’s a choker.” “He walks like a penguin onto the stage. Like a penguin!” (comments on Mitt Romney)
“not doing the job.” “It’s your governor’s fault, we have to get your governor and get going. She’s got to do a better job, O.K.?” (comments on New Mexico Republican Governor Suzana Martinez.
My Dear Conservative friends,
It has been an interesting political year on your side of the aisle. I will admit that there was a certain Schadenfreude on our side as we watched your serious conservative governors and senators being bludgeoned by the confederate-flag-waving toothless hillbilly wing of your party. We watched with amusement and amazement as the racist, sexist, anti-intellectual faction that you so cynically invited into your big tent over the last thirty years hijacked the whole party and steered it toward the cliff. We know that you didn’t want Trump any more than we did. We really thought you would find a way to stop him.
The truth is that while I frequently disagree with my philosophically conservative friends I have always respected their well-reasoned and considered opinions. I think there is room at the table for all serious, thoughtful, good faith arguments about the size of government, the scope of its activities, and the methods for determining best practice. That is what having a democratic republic is all about. I want conservatives at the table. I want them in Congress and, yes, occasionally in the White House.
There are Republicans I have admired and, indeed, Republicans for whom I have voted. I like and respect our Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and may well vote for him this year. I always respected and voted for Governor Jim Edgar when he served Illinois in the 1990’s.
Across the river in Iowa, Republican Congressman Jim Leach thoughtfully represented the people of Iowa’s second district for thirty years and won my respect as well. Further afield, I was a great admirer of Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming. He was a conservative to be sure but also a reasonable and intelligent Senator who worked with Democrats to reach a sensible “way forward.”
Even at the Presidential level, the big job, there are conservatives for whom I have voted, or would have. I have great respect for President George H.W. Bush who I still believe to be a man of conscience, seriousness, and intelligence. As a student of history I also admire President Eisenhower, President Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, President Grant, and, of course President Lincoln, whom every serious Republican should honor and emulate.
The preceding paragraphs are a metaphorical olive branch extended to you, my conservative friends. They also represent my true feelings about partisan politics. I believe, as President George Washington did, that a blind adherence to party is at odds with and contrary to the principles of republican government. I cannot express it better than President Washington did himself in his farewell address in 1796. He said:
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
George Washington was not a perfect man. In the same address he humbly acknowledged this himself.
“Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.”
Though not infallible, any serious student of history recognizes the sincerity and wisdom of President Washington. He was the man who might have made himself a dictator and derailed the whole noble experiment of America. Everything he did as President set a precedent and he understood that. He believed in America, he believed in the ideals of our Constitution, and he was a sober, thoughtful, serious defender of those ideals. He was a man of moderation and conciliation and sober reflection. He did his utmost to steer this nation through the dangerous shoals of its infancy. He tried to reconcile the regional differences represented by the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, he tried to maintain a sensible neutrality with regards to the perplexing and essentially endless wars between Great Britain, France, and Spain. He tried to understand and work with, in a respectful and measured way, the other branches of government and the various states.
After two terms, when he might have assumed the mantle of ruler for life, he instead stepped away and relinquished his authority so that the principle of peaceful transfer of power would become the precedent we value and admire today. We have much to thank George Washington for and to admire in his humble, principled manner. He must surely represent the model of what we look for in a President.
Reflecting on Washington’s legacy, and that of Lincoln, and Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, and yes, even Ronald Reagan, I must ask you a question today, my conservative friends. Can you, in good conscience vote for Donald Trump? Can you set aside your principles and the principles of Washington and Lincoln and all these others who so nobly advanced the American ideal just for a politically expedient victory? Will you vote to turn the most powerful office in the world over to a reckless, profane, narcissist who represents none of your own beliefs and indeed mocks many of them. Donald Trump, in my judgement, embodies whatever the opposite of George Washington is. Will you vote for this charlatan just to put a win in the R column? No serious and thoughtful conservative can do it because by voting for Donald Trump you nullify what it means to be a conservative. Truly your vote for Donald Trump nullifies what it means to be an American.
We know that there are many principled conservatives who will stand up for right and good when they see it. This is one of those times, my friends. This is the time when you must stand for your principles even against the nominee of your own troubled party. Donald Trump is not right and he is not good and you know it. It is time to take one for Team America. It is the only way for your party to find it’s way back from the wilderness. It is the only way for you to maintain your own self-respect and the respect of others for your ideas. Please make the correct choice.