“It almost wouldn’t even have to be said.”
That’s how President Trump characterized his views on domestic violence Wednesday. This was a week after photographs of a woman allegedly beaten by a senior White House aide became public.
It was days after a second White House aide resigned, also following allegations of domestic abuse.
In the meantime, the president spoke and tweeted words of sympathy for accused abusers but not their victims. He passed up repeated opportunities to issue even the most anodyne condemnation of wife-beating, even as his fans on “Fox & Friends” urged him to do so, and his advisers went on Sunday shows claiming this was obviously his position.
Finally the remark that needn’t be said was said.
“I’m totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” Trump at last told reporters. “Everyone knows that. And it almost wouldn’t even have to be said. So, now you hear it, but you all know.”
No, Mr. President: Truly, we don’t.
In any other administration, Trump would have been correct. It wouldn’t need to be said that the president opposed domestic abuse. It would be taken for granted that the president wouldn’t harbor accused wife-beaters. That he wouldn’t consider promoting such a person. And he and his staff certainly wouldn’t allow that person, unable to get a permanent security clearance, near classified materials.
It would all have gone without saying.
But not in this administration, and not with this president, whose knee-jerk reaction has been to defend men accused of harassing and assaulting women and to smear their accusers — including some who were minors at the time of the alleged abuse.
You can understand why the public might be confused about where the president stands, on this and on so many other issues that would normally be unambiguous.
In another time, in another administration, it wouldn’t have to be said that Nazis are bad people. It’s an easy layup: How do you feel about Nazis? Why, I’m not a fan — that almost goes without saying!
An easy condemnation of neo-Nazis somehow eluded the president last August, after one of them allegedly mowed down a peaceful protester in Charlottesville. Instead, Trump described the torch-bearing, “Jews will not replace us”-chanting attendees at the far-right rally as among the “very fine people on both sides”; he criticized “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Meanwhile, his aides and surrogates assured the public that, honestly, Trump did dislike Nazis.
Again, in any other administration, this would have gone without saying; in this one, it needed to be asserted.
Likewise, normally it would also go without saying that members of the president’s Cabinet shouldn’t bill taxpayers thousands of dollars for a spouse’s European vacation and doctor emails to get ethics officials to sign off on the expense. It would go without saying that members of the president’s Cabinet ought not ask taxpayers to pay for a $1,600, hour-long first-class flight from Washington to New York, or tens of thousands of dollars for flights on private and military jets.
But in this administration, apparently, it’s not assumed that such behavior is inappropriate. No, it needs to be spelled out. Because absent any public scolding, the default assumption among Trump officials might be to shake down taxpayers for as much as they can.
Finally, you might believe it wouldn’t even have to be said that this country — where there are more licensed firearms dealers than there are Starbucks on Earth — has a gun problem.
It almost needn’t be stated aloud that a teenager who has exhibited signs of emotional disturbance, who has been expelled from school, who was reported to the FBI after boasting on YouTube that he planned to become a “professional school shooter” should not be able to legally buy an AR-15 assault-style rifle.
If you ask Americans about gun laws, they will overwhelmingly agree that there are some gun-control measures that, it almost needn’t be said, are worth pursuing. Measures such as barring sales of firearms to those with mental illness, requiring gun licenses, having universal background checks, banning the sale and ownership of all semiautomatic and automatic firearms.
It almost wouldn’t even have to be said that, after such a tragedy, our president wants to rethink our nation’s gun policies.
It almost wouldn’t even have to be said, and it wasn’t.