On Character

Oct 24, 2018

To the Editor:

Let’s discuss the term “character.” The reason for the discussion: President Trump’s recent frequent use of it.

“Kavanaugh has a lot of character,” the president keeps saying.

The first thing we need to clarify is that one does not have a lot of or little character. Character is not a commodity. When using the word “character” as an indication of morality, the correct expression would be “this person is of good (or bad) character.”

The Greek word “character” arises out of the verb “charaso,” which means “I engrave.” Consequently, “character” is something engraved, and the term was originally used to depict the image we see in the face of a coin.

Each coin has its own engraved image. It is that uniqueness of an image in a coin that the word “character” inherited. “Character,” therefore, means something unique, something that identifies and defines. Metaphorically, good character relates to good people and bad character to the bad ones.

Unless a person is of (good) character, he or she may not criticize the character of others. A thief may not tell us who stole what. We may not rely on liars to find the truth. The question is: Does President Trump qualify to criticize the character of others?

President Trump is well known for calling people names. He insults women and minorities and defends racists. He praises Putin and claims that he and the dictator of North Korea “are in love.” He is proud of groping women and paid a porn star and a Playboy model to buy their silence. For years, he claimed that President Obama was not born in the U.S. until he finally admitted reluctantly: “President Obama was born in the U.S, OK?”

President Trump has lied in public over 1,500 times in the first 15 months of his presidency. He promised he would choose the best people to join him in his cabinet, but most of the people he chose quit or were fired or were indicted within months.

President Trump is under investigation for treason. He fired the head of the FBI, the man who, at that time, was investigating him, and he humiliated repeatedly his attorney general because the latter recused himself from such investigation.

We never saw President Trump’s income tax returns. What we recently saw is evidence that he lied about being a self-made billionaire. We also saw evidence that he cheated by paying 10 percent of the taxes he was supposed to pay.

President Obama inherited a very bad economy. He took dramatic action and saved our country and the world. Remember the “stimulus packages” of President Obama? President Trump inherited an economy beginning to see real wage growth and through his Tax Cut and Jobs Act redirected that progress to corporate profits. By so doing, President Trump has actually reduced that real wage growth. Yet, he claims credit for a “great” economy.

Let’s stop here. The list is very long, but I think that the arguments presented herein are enough to sustain the thesis: Those who are of no good character are incapable of discussing the character of others.

John Kostopoulos, president

Democratic Club of Long Beach Island


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