How strange for a politician who depends on the conservative Christian vote to ridicule an opponent as “sanctimonious.”
Not only did Donald Trump insult Ron DeSantis in labeling him as such, but also the multitude of Evangelical and Catholic Christians who themselves are ridiculed by the left as “sanctimonious,” or “Bible thumpers,” or religious fanatics, or some other put-down in that genre.
In his ridicule of DeSantis, maybe Trump has exposed his own soul. Perhaps he actually has inner contempt for the “sanctimonious” people he must have to win the presidency.
Michael Cohen, a longtime friend, and attorney for Trump, reportedly revealed that at another time Trump, called some in a group of pastors who had prayed for him in the Oval Office as scammers and “hustlers.”
It is hard for a personality like Trump’s to keep the secrets of his or her own mind, emotions and will — and perhaps he has all along regarded DeSantis as being “sanctimonious.”
Maybe Trump knows he has Evangelicals in a tight spot. We cannot vote for abortion on demand, the destruction of the family and the use of public schools to indoctrinate pupils and cause them to question their own gender. Maybe we have seen the inner Trump who smirks at us and takes us for granted because we have nowhere else to go.
If so, may the Lord get a hold of this man who once said he had never repented because he had no need for it, and open his eyes and heart regarding the source of his remarkable blessings of wealth and opportunity, and speak and behave like the Christian he says he is.
And if we have misjudged Trump, may the Holy God get a hold of our hearts too, and bring us to the place of repentance for falsely accusing a brother.
Yet it is obvious that Trump relies heavily on ad hominems to handle his political opponents. However, at a time like this, Trump should be working for unity and strength in the Republican Party, needed greatly as the recent elections have shown through the collapse of the “red wave.”
There is the danger that in a primary campaign between candidates Trump and DeSantis, the Party itself could be shattered if the two men attempted to try to destroy and misrepresent the character of the other.
For many, Trump has been the countenance of the GOP. DeSantis seems likely to be a new, fresh face. In his ridicule of “Ron the Sanctimonious,” is Trump showing that, in Republican primaries, he will attempt to cast the Florida governor as a religious fanatic at the same time try to hold on to religious-minded voters?
Many of those individuals cast reluctant votes for Trump in 2020 because they could never vote for candidates who support abortion on demand, policies that have a negative impact on the family, the assault on gender, the grooming of children, non-parental control of public schools, and a socialist agenda for society, to name a few. The large swath of religiously guided voters will support men and women who oppose such measures.
So, if DeSantis brings stability of personality and moral strength to the race for the presidency, not only will the Left try to “cancel” him, but so, possibly, would Trump.
This can’t help the country — and especially the Republican Party and its platform and strategy.
Trump’s large cadre of spiritual advisors needs to find a way to stand up to him and remind former President Trump that in making fun of DeSantis’ “sanctimony,” Trump is insulting the people who hold the power to put him into the Oval Office.
Again, many of them have been accused of being ‘sanctimonious’ or a ‘Bible thumper’ or a ‘holy roller’… and now here is their hero mocking his opponent in the same sarcastic fashion.
Who among his advisors and coaches has the clout to sit this man down and give him the hard facts of life about his insensitivity and disgusting attempts at ad hominem dominance by crushing others in the ground as if they were roaches?
However, there are benefits as well as dangers in Trump’s style. As he proved in his foreign policy handling as president, Trump can cut through the deceits of diplomacy and diplomatic double-talk.
In a world where two powerful nuclear nations are dominated by authoritarians, we need a forceful personality like Trump’s who can see through and stand up to tyrants in a believable way. However, the personality needs to be discerning regarding the times when that style is appropriate. One of the problems with an ad hominem style is that it tends at times to be used excessively against friends as well as foes.
This is no time to assault the character and personhood of someone who may be needed later to help win the war.
Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.