James L. Robart was a good student. An Eagle Scout in his teens, he graduated from Whitman College magna cum lauda and earned his law degree at Georgetown, where he was administrative editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. His distinguished legal career led him to nomination by President George W. Bush to the U.S. District Court in 2003. The U.S. Senate confirmed him unanimously, and he was elevated to senior status last June.
Late last week, Judge Robart granted a temporary restraining order, blocking key sections of the president’s ban on immigration from several Muslim-dominated countries. President Trump responded quickly, on Twitter, naturally, referring to Robarts as a “so-called judge.” When criticized or challenged, our president prefers to attack the person rather than the argument itself and demonstrates this puerile method of response frequently. Scholars know this as argumentum ad hominem, an attack that focuses on attacking the individual rather than addressing the actual argument.
A few further examples of ad hominem attacks by our president will illustrate the point. According to President Trump, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an incompetent judge, and her mind is shot. Conservative columnist George Will is overrated. Sen. John McCain is a dummy, incapable of doing anything. The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation is a criminal enterprise. Conservative commentator Glenn Beck is dumb as a rock. The New York Times is failing. Actress Whoopi Goldberg is terrible, in total freefall. Meryl Streep is one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is Pocahontas, the least productive senator. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio is the nation’s worst mayor and a disgrace. Members of The Wall Street Journal editorial board are dummies. The administration of former President Barack Obama was incompetent beyond all comprehension.
Incompetent beyond all comprehension. Think about this.
An extroverted personality combined with a penchant for disagreeableness spells trouble for others who are affected by the actions of such a person. This applies to all of us, every citizen of the United States. It also applies to leaders of nations around the world. Ever since he was a kid in grade school, our president has wanted to be Number 1. He wanted to be the toughest kid in the neighborhood. He once boasted that he punched his second-grade music teacher, giving him a black eye.
His neighborhood is bigger now, and we all live in it. Our problem is that he’s still that insecure kid.