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The president we deserve

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"Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones." (Eph. 5:3).


''Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity"-- Robert P. George and George Weigel, "Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics."

"Game of Thrones" is watched each week by over 10 million Americans. A tabloid newspaper has printed a list of the 20 most shocking scenes so far. The 12th worst scene is of a brother raping his sister in front of their murdered child's dead body. The #1 worst is when a character called "The Mountain" grabs his enemy's head, plunges his thumbs into his eyes, and crushes his skull with his bare hands.

Only slightly less bad, I guess, is the #2 shocking scene, called the "Red Wedding," depicting a massacre at a wedding celebration. According to the IMDB Parents' Advisory page, this scene "is one of the most shocking, intense, and graphically violent scenes in television history. There is constant blood and gore in more than one scene. A pregnant woman gets impaled in her womb repeatedly, mortally wounding her and her unborn child, men get slaughtered, in both scenes, and several characters are horribly murdered."

At the recent White House Correspondents' Dinner, President Obama made a joke about that scene. He said that he might just succeed in getting Judge Merrick Garland nominated to the Supreme Court, because there were enough Republicans at the dinner, so that they could all be slaughtered before the dinner's end: "we've got Republican Senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner, they're in the house, which reminds me, security, bar the doors! (Laughter.) Judge Merrick Garland, come on out, we're going to do this right here, right now. (Applause.) It's like 'The Red Wedding,' (Laughter)."

"Game of Thrones" is also famous for its frequent use of so-called "sexposition," where characters reveal plot details while engaged in soft-core pornographic sex, too lurid to describe here.

"We are not an angry, ugly people. We have a choice about our national character, who we will be."--Ted Cruz.

"The Walking Dead" is one of the most popular shows on TV. As many as 17 million viewers have tuned in to watch it each week. It is based on a comic book series, individual issues of which have sold as many as 400,000 copies. The TV episodes are filled with gruesome deaths the graphic nature of which makes some people wonder: are there any details in the comic books that never made it to the TV screen? Yes, there are, such as Michonne's torture of the Governor, where she pulls out his finger nails, then cuts off his hand, and cauterizes his arm with a blow torch -- to keep him alive for more torture, which involves for example spooning out his eyeballs.

A few lines from the opening scene of "The Wire," one of the most acclaimed TV shows in history, gives you a sense of its ethos: "So who shot Snot? I ain't going to no court. **** ain't have to put no cap in him though. Definitely not. He could've just whipped his ****, like we always whip his ***. /-I agree with you./-He gonna kill Snot./Snot been doing the same **** since I don't know how long." And so on, for five seasons.

Voters should not back someone for president who says things that "would make you punish your child, would make you embarrassed for your child." -- Ted Cruz.

Shows like "Breaking Bad" and "The Americans," each based on a premise of the main characters' increasing complicity in evil, actually make a point of testing the audience's limits of outrage. It's not merely the violence or soft porn. Each week something more shocking is introduced, something which viewers would have said in advance they wouldn't tolerate, yet they keep coming back for more -- such as, in "The Americans," a Russian spy's use of marijuana and a pretense of Christianity to groom a 15-year-old girl to the point of sleeping with him. Typical viewer comments are along the lines of "I was deeply disturbed by those scenes and even more so by the fact that I wanted to watch them" and "I was surprised that I kept watching given the nausea I felt at those evil deeds."

"Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones," (Eph. 5:3).

I've said nothing so far of internet pornography, foolish internet surfing, silly social media, our preoccupation with luxurious lifestyles and youthfulness (forms of greed), and constant anger in daily life.

"Make no mistake, we are being watched," Glen Beck said. "We're being watched by our maker ... Every single state is being required and I believe -- and they're going to rake me over the coals for saying it; so be it -- I believe that's the Almighty God saying, 'Each one of you, I want you to stand and you choose: good or evil?'"

It's absurd that a vote for a nominee for President might be the big test of our national character. Hasn't our character been formed before then? Christ rebukes the Pharisees for caring more about their public appearance than what is "done in secret" and "seen in secret" by the Father.

On this one point, those Catholic critics of Trump's vulgarity have got it exactly wrong. Donald Trump is manifestly fit to be President of the United States.

Michael Pakaluk is Professor of Ethics and Social Philosophy in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America. His book on the gospel of Mark, ‘‘The Memoirs of St. Peter,’’ is forthcoming from Regnery Gateway in March 2019.

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