Stefanik is defined by her support of Trump
Elise Stefanik tweeted in support of President Donald Trump this week after he had the street in front of the White House cleared of peaceful protesters by federal police. The officers used flash bang shells and rubber bullets and shoved people to the pavement, so Trump could stroll across the street to St. John’s Church and pose with a Bible.
It wasn’t his Bible, and he rarely goes to church. He hefted the Bible and stood in one spot for 10 or 15 seconds, then in another. He pointed to some of his staff to join him in an awkward line in front of the church, and they posed a bit more.
He said, “We have a great country,” a few times, then “thank you.” In reaction, Stefanik wrote the following:
“This is an incredibly important moment as the President @realDonaldTrump deliver remarks to the American people and walks to St. John’s Church. An extraordinary church where every President has prayed including Abraham Lincoln during the scourge and tragedy of the Civil War.”
Which part was “incredibly important,” I wonder? The part where federal police officers shoved a woman to the pavement, and when a man tried to help her up, they shoved him to the pavement, and then when she got to her knees, they shoved her down again?
Or was it the part where Trump shifted his grip on the Bible and bobbed it up and down as he smiled for the cameras?
Stefanik brought up Abraham Lincoln, who, unlike Trump, actually prayed at St. John’s Church. Lincoln’s faith resonates in his speeches. His belief in God informed his morality, and his words were poetic and powerful.
You cannot compare Lincoln’s words with what Trump utters, and you cannot compare his spirituality or his morality with Trump’s.
What Trump did — using sacred ground and a sacred text as props for a photo op while calling for the mobilization of U.S. troops against U.S. citizens — was blasphemous. The officers he used to clear the street chased away an Episcopal priest, among many others. The Episcopal bishop who oversees St. John’s Church has expressed outrage at the way the church was used for this abusive stunt.
Stefanik’s tweet, which tagged Trump, was meant to curry favor with him. Her message to him is: I’m on your side, and that message makes her other statements, such as expressions of concern about police brutality, meaningless.
If you express concern about police brutality while supporting a leader who cheers it on — and orders it — your concern means nothing.
Likewise, you cannot be an advocate for women, as Stefanik aspires to be, while supporting a man who regularly attacks and demeans women, has been credibly accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women, and who said on tape in the crudest terms that he sexually assaults women.
Stefanik has two political faces: the local one that expresses sympathy and concern and says something needs to be done about police brutality, and the national one that grins and mocks, calls names and expresses support for the president even as he orders and endorses physical attacks on American citizens doing nothing wrong.
The mocking face overwhelms the sympathetic one, because in these times of crisis, with the country burdened by a mendacious and corrupt president, we need leaders willing to speak moral truths.
What point is there in having power if you don’t use it to do good?
Rep. Stefanik and others like her are demonstrating that there is no point.
Will Doolittle is projects editor of The Post-Star of Glens Falls.