On Wednesday morning, it was evident that America’s Tweeter in Chief was off his meds again. Following a convoluted drunk-text shortly after midnight that resulted in the “#covfefe” intrigue, Trump went on an early morning rant against comedian Kathy Griffin. Earlier, Griffin had posted a tweet in which she held an effigy of a wigged and bloody orange head. It bordered on tasteless, but was in all honesty obviously fake. With the Trump family’s keen ability to sniff out fakeness, the photo should have been quickly identified as not the real Donald Trump.
Instead, during one of his first tweets of the morning, Trump said, “My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” First off, most of Trump’s children are gown adults who, recently appointed to security-clearance level White House positions, are surely able to distinguish an effigy from the real thing. Secondly, those same adult children must, in the wake of the administration’s circus-like criminal conduct, understand politics is ugly. If they are unable to accept the harshness of politics, then they have no place in Washington, D.C.
For Trump’s offspring born to privilege, pampering, protection, and private schools, it is likely Griffin’s comedic attempt did push the envelope of their delicate sensibilities. To Griffin’s credit, she apologized shortly thereafter, admitting that perhaps her parody had gone too far. Her apology is more than the American public can expect from Trump for his indiscretions and the damage that he is doing daily to children across the nation.
In the context of leader of the country, Trump has an assumed moral duty to act in the best interests of the nation’s children. They are the weakest, often without voices, and in greatest need. However, as he has with almost every issue of importance, the president instead demonstrated that the only concern in Trumpington is Trump.
Trump rebuked Griffin for her lack of taste because it may have marred his youngest son. The reprimand comes from the same leader who has refused to protect the interests of America’s poorest children. By not demanding a balanced budget that includes fully funded public welfare programs to families, Trump committed 15 million times more harm as Griffin. In demanding the repeal of Obamacare and coverage for low-income families, the president turned his back on those who need him most: the ailing children of America who live in poverty.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, a joint organization of Columbia University and the Mailman School of Public Heath, almost 25% of all American children live below the federal poverty line. When the government’s outmoded poverty standard is adjusted to account for the necessities that a family of four requires to subsist, the percentage of at-risk children rises to 43%.
In America, living in poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s welfare. Children represent one-third of all people in poverty — the largest group of any age category. For them, a “hard time” does not include seeing a violent effigy of a parent, but it may mean being witness to a parent’s violent death. Those children do not worry about their parent’s safety in the most secure mansion in the world, but wonder if the gunfire outside will reach them while they sleep.
For children in poverty, bloodied effigies of loved ones are not fake news: they are the reality of life. Living in poverty stunts a child’s ability to learn, thrive, and succeed. Insufficient income contributes to children having to confront a broader range of physical and psychosocial stressors — violence, in and out of the home, drugs, residential instability, and a lack of food and nutrition.
The president’s agenda and programs offer no support, solutions, or even diffident concern for millions of children who will suffer a hundred times what Barron can only imagine because of a fake photo. They will suffer more than Chelsea Clinton did when Donald Trump called for fans to exercise their second amendment rights against her mother. They will suffer more than the Obama daughters did when the Trump assailed their father and cheered rallies for admirers who burned Barack Obama in effigy.
It is difficult to feel sorry for any of the president’s children because of a cartoonish image of Trump in a photo. Moreover, it is even more difficult to generate sympathy when Trump is shamefully using his son as a shield to deflect his detractors instead of bearing the burden of criticism like a man. It is a sign that Trump will sell out anyone.
Kathy Griffin may have crossed a line, but it was a very fine line. The country is staring down its worst crisis in nearly a century. Griffin at least had the conviction to express herself without hurting anyone, which is more than can be said for the unprincipled damage Trump’s policies portend for America’s forgotten children.