The most interesting aspect of the impeachment hearings is the way they’re interpreted. To one side, the evidence is damning and obvious and impeachment is a fait accompli. To the other, there’s nothing to see here, no firsthand evidence presented, merely the continuation of a witch hunt.

Everyone — from those in Congress to commentators to the general public — has already made up their minds. It’s an exercise if futility to try to change anyone’s opinion on impeachment or anything about President Trump, possibly the most polarizing political figure we’ve ever seen. What interests me far more is the issue of character, how it relates to our elected officials and how important it really is compared to how important we say it is.


As a parent, I often wonder how other parents rationalize some of the things our leaders do when we would never allow our children to act in that way. Trump’s the current president, so he gets used as the example today. Doesn’t mean similar questions couldn’t have been asked years ago or won’t be years from now.

At any rate, moms and dads, how would you react if ...

· The principal calls and says your child has lied thousands of times over the past three years. (You assume the system is biased against your kid so you dismiss half or even most of the untruths as being made up or exaggerations, but that still leaves an awful lot of lying.)

· A friend of your child’s lets you listen to audio evidence of your child bragging about his status at school allowing him to commit sexual assault. (You can question whether your child actually committed the acts, but there is no question he talked openly about being allowed to grab and touch opposite-sex classmates without reservation or an ounce of regret.)

· Your child claims matter-of-factly that he is so popular in school he could beat up another student right in the middle of the hallway and still be elected class president. (And it’s possible he used ·the term “shoot” rather than “beat up” but we won’t even consider that in this era of mass shootings.)

· A neighbor says your child made fun of a special needs child two doors down and ridiculed another who represented the school in an athletic endeavor but lost. (Your kid was overhead saying he likes winners.)

· A cafeteria worker notes that your child always used to sit with a certain child of smaller stature and meager means at lunch, keeping that student safe and promising to always do so, but recently reneged on that deal, left the other student’s side and the lunch table is now overrun by bad kids. (In fact, your child now seems to better friends with the bad kids than with his former longtime school allies.)

· Your overhear your child on the phone telling a classmate that he wouldn’t buy said classmate a birthday present, nor would he be inviting said classmate to his birthday party, unless said classmate would dig up some dirt on a rival student and tell the teacher all about it. (Too soon?)

The guess here is that none of that is acceptable to parents. Does any of it matter to voters?

In the NFL, every executive and fan talks about the importance of character. But when an NFL team drafts or trades for a player who has repeatedly demonstrated shoddy character, the team’s brass and its fans immediately begin rationalizing. He’s our guy, so it’s OK. If he was on the other team, of course, it would be different.

It’s the same in politics. Having a ridiculous federal deficit is only important when the other guy is in charge. Similarly, the stock market’s great performance or a low unemployment rate is only important when our guy is in charge.

As for the person in charge, does character matter? During my lifetime, at least, there doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation between high character and successful presidencies.

Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are, by most accounts, good people. They are generally ranked in the bottom third of all presidents. Meanwhile, Richard Nixon had a highly successful first term and Bill Clinton oversaw a prosperous eight years. We know about their character.

So, does Donald Trump’s job performance line up with his character or stand in contrast to it? As with everything, the answer to that almost certainly depends on which side of the aisle you sit.


Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.