President Trump has ruined certain words for me forever. I can’t hear the phrase “both sides” without suffering the PTSD that comes from remembering how he gave aid and comfort to the “very fine people,” Nazis and white supremacists, who unleashed murderous hate on Charlottesville in 2017. While reading “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey” by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), I discovered the word “gut” has joined the list.
Harris was the attorney general of California at the height of the foreclosure crisis. She recounts the tense settlement negotiations she had with the banks and her decision to pull out of the talks. But she worried whether she’d made the right decision and wondered what her mother would have done. “I know she would have told me to hold fast to conviction; to listen to my gut,” Harris writes. “Tough decisions are tough precisely because the outcome isn’t clear. But your gut will tell you if you’re on the right tract. And you’ll know what decision to make.”
“Gut” was the word that got me to twitchin.'
In an interview with The Post on Nov. 27, 2018, the president was asked if he was concerned about a recession after news that GM was closing plants and laying off workers. Trump responded that he was doing deals and “not being accommodated by the Fed.” Then he added this, “They’re making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”
This ranks right up there with what he told the Associated Press in October 2018 about his facility with science. “I have a natural instinct for science,” Trump said when asked about climate change, “and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.” OMG, there’s that phrase again. #twitch
Some conservatives, desperate for a face-saving rhetorical lifeline to explain Trump’s erratic behavior and flights of hyperbole have used it. Just Wednesday, The Post quoted Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates lower immigration levels, who said, “Doesn’t the president do everything ad hoc? He’s a gut politician.”
So, I brought up the “gut” thing while interviewing Harris at the kick-off event for her book tour on Jan. 9 at George Washington University. I read the passage in her book aloud and asked, what’s the difference between her gut and Trump’s gut?
“I would actually say that assumes facts not in evidence that he has a gut,” she said to loud laughter and applause. “There is a thing about leadership, which is you have to have the courage to do things that are in the best interest of the people you lead even if it’s not in your personal best interest. And you can’t be gutless when it comes to making those kinds of decisions.”
Imagine that, putting the public’s interests ahead of your own. That’s the very definition of public service. Some might say it’s downright presidential. And when you read Harris’s book, you’ll come away with one thought: She’s running.
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