Trump’s Bullying Sets a Dangerous Precedent

It was politics as usual when Donald Trump unveiled a new nickname for a 2020 presidential contender.

Taking sights on rising Democrat Pete Buttigieg, Trump called him “Alfred E. Neuman,” a fictitious character with exaggerated features and freckles. The remark added to a presidency full of cheap attacks against detractors.

Trump has made a multitude of comments on the physical appearance of others for political gain. Trump called adult-film actress Stormy Daniels a “horseface,” suggested Carly Fiorina was not attractive enough to win the Republican primary and referred to Rep. Adam Schiff as “little pencil-neck.”

His transgressions run further than superficial remarks. On Sen. John McCain, who survived years of torture as a prisoner of war, Trump said, “I like people who weren’t captured.” Even after the senator died from brain cancer, Trump continued to criticize him as his own party urged him to stop.

Trump’s insults often sound like the taunts of a middle-school bully, not the leader of a country. Not only do Trump’s tactics detract from actual issues and public policy, but they normalize this behavior. Having the president comment on the physical appearance of a person presents the insult as legitimate criticism.

But frankly, it is the least bit relevant whether Buttigieg resembles a goofy cartoon character. And more importantly, it is vindictive and cruel to resort to attacks on the physical appearance of others. This sentiment is far from complex. It has been ingrained in our conscience since we were small children learning how to interact with one another.

Bullying is a heartbreaking epidemic in our schools that pushes young people toward feelings of low self-worth, depression and even suicidal tendencies. The president has the opportunity to be a role model for young children and teach them to respect and empathize with others. Instead, time and time again, Trump resorts to crude remarks at the expense of others.

First lady Melania Trump’s Be Best campaign to address bullying and other issues facing youth seems to agree. “It is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them [children] that when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion,” the campaign’s website states.


Trump’s comments carry considerable weight — not just to his victims, but to society as a whole. A study on bullying in U.S. schools found Virginia localities that favored Trump in 2016 had higher rates of bullying based on the victims’ race or ethnicity compared to before Trump was elected.

Furthermore, after multiple women came forward with sexual assault allegations against Trump, Trump defended himself by insinuating that one of the women was not attractive enough to warrant his attention. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” Trump said. “That I can tell you. You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.”

His statement perpetuates the misogynistic perception that sexual harassment and assault are a compliment to a women’s appearance. This perception minimizes the detrimental effects sexual assault can have on victims, and it can silence victims who may not adhere to certain standards of beauty.

The relentless bullying has already affected political discourse. And it’s not just Trump stooping low. Targets of his bullying have responded with their own insults. During the 2016 primaries, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio made fun of Trump’s “small hands” and “spray tan.” Former FBI Director James Comey also remarked on Trump’s hands and orange complexion in his recent book.

For their part, Rubio and Comey at least apologized for and expressed regret over their statements. Far from being ashamed of his bullying ways, Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign sold T-shirts referencing Trump’s comment on Schiff’s “pencil-neck.”

Comey had it right when he said his comments about Trump’s physical appearance was a “distraction.” Regardless of political affiliation, Trump’s bullying should be seen as embarrassing and insulting to the American people. Voters deserve a nuanced discussion of the issues affecting us today. Instead, we get playground fighting.

Photo credit: shironosov/Getty Images

101 comments

Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley29 days ago

Thank you.

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Susanne R
Susanne Rabout a month ago

Kay B. - "Low language" and "name calling" are trump's favorite bullying tactics. And he's able to get the world's attention by using his bully pulpit to insult others with his lies and insulting nicknames. If America isn't great, he's the reason. As president, his behavior should be exemplary, not that of a spoiled child who has to "get even" in the most childish ways with anyone with disagrees with him.

America was great before he took office, and we'll make it great again after he's booted out.

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Christine Stewart
Christine Stewartabout a month ago

an overgrown childish bully

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Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a month ago

He is an embarrassment to the whole world!

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Tanya W
Tanya Wabout a month ago

Noted

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Kay B
Kay Babout a month ago

Considering how upset the leftists are by the low language and name calling they've resorted to, Trump must be making America great again.

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Susanne R
Susanne Rabout a month ago

David F. - Why do you think trump is going to such great and illegal lengths to hide his past? Why is he hiring so many lawyers and pressuring so many people to ignore subpoenas? If you think it's because his financial background is no one's business, you're wrong. He has a lot to hide and a lot to lose, and nothing you say is going to convince anyone here otherwise because the people who post here, aside from the trolls --who have their own scripted lies to spread-- keep themselves well-informed and don't fall for the B.S. that trump and his misguided followers would have us believe.

Why is it that you usually target women with your --I'll be kind in this instance-- "false" information? Do you think we're unable to sort fact from fiction? You'd be wrong if you did. It's time to start being honest with yourself (and with us) and admit that there are women out there who know more than you do, who wouldn't stoop to spreading false information, and who can't be bullied or intimidated.

I can't wait until women start inundating the voting booths in November of 2020 like they did during the midterms. Whether or not you know it, every time you post a false or misleading comment YOU are encouraging women to cast their vote against the sleazy, lying, criminal you're here to defend.

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Freya H
Freya Habout a month ago

Why am I not surprised that Care2's resident tRump chumps dragged their knuckles to this page and vomited their bilge in the comments section. Those poor, pathetic wretches need to be "woke" and made aware of this mysterious thing known as Reality.

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