Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Post the Pilot Newspaper Didn't Want You To See

After 20 years writing a column with pretty much total editorial independence (and winning two NC Press Association Awards for it), The Pilot Newspaper of Southern Pines, NC decided that the column below might make too many Republicans mad. "David is getting tired of people saying they're cancelling their subscription," I was told. The opinion editor, Steve Bouser, demanded a "more hopeful" one (on  Thursday morning, no less).

 I declined, since to do so would have been to write something  I do not believe in. They spiked  it and ran a "let's all give Trump a chance" column in its place.  So I have ended my association with the Pilot as a columnist.

If you're as concerned as I am about dissenting opinions being stifled because of Republican bullying, please contact the publisher at, or the opinion editor at Now here's the column they didn't want you to see:

Dear Mr. Trump:

Well, the day has finally come and gone. You’ve risen to the top of the list, a-number-one, king of the hill, all that stuff. You’ve achieved an honor few men can claim. And in that ascension, you’ve helped to set Americans free. Well, some of them at least.

Oh, you think I’m talking about the Presidency? Well, I suppose that’s neat, too. But this week, according to the Twitter feed of your son (and 80’s movie villain) Eric, you’ve also garnered laurels from Golf Digest, who has raised you to lofty heights by proclaiming you “Golfer-In-Chief.” According to the G.D. story, “Sixteen of the past 19 presidents have played golf, but Trump is the best and most passionate golfer among them.”

Now, I remember when “Golfer In Chief” was used as a sneer to question the work ethic of President Barack Obama. I remember it because it was still happening this week.

But, as you’ve taken great pains to make us aware, Donald J. Trump is a great man. Too great to be fettered by little things like consistency or principle. How else would the man who once spent six years questioning the legitimacy and American citizenship of a sitting president get to be all indignant because a Congressman questioned his own legitimacy? How else could the man who tweeted after Barack Obama’s 2012 election that "We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!" later call Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, a hypocrite for not attending his inauguration? How else could a man who harshly slams companies for sending jobs overseas nominate a man who’s done just that for Commerce Secretary?

Consistency? Principle? Pshaw. Those are for the little people, not a transformative figure like Trump, son of Trump.

And make no mistake, Mr. Trump, you are a transformative figure. You’ve already done so much to free us from the bonds of “political correctness.” Why, just this past week, Christopher vonKeyserling, a 71-year-old Republican politician from Greenwich, Connecticut, resolved a political argument with a female town employee by following the woman into her office and, according to a criminal warrant filed later by the woman, “reach[ing] between her legs from behind and pinch[ing] her in the groin area.” According to both the Washington Post and the fact-checking website, von Keyserling had earlier crowed that “it’s a new world now. I no longer have to be politically correct.” He also reportedly told police that the pinch, which lesser beings might call a sexual assault, was what he called a “gig,” the type he often used to “embarrass his teenaged granddaughter.”

Yes, Mr. Trump, you have truly changed the world, even before taking office. By your example and your disdain for political correctness, you’ve made 71 year old men feel free to openly grab—sorry, “gig”- not only adult women with whom they disagree, but their teenaged female relatives, by a certain body part.

Finally, you’ve set your party free. No longer do the Republicans have to pretend that they care about things like small government, free markets, and the Constitution--unless, by “small government” you mean having the whole thing shrunk to one person who makes all the decisions, like your BFF Vladimir Putin. No longer do they have to pretend to care about accountability in government, since they were willing to trash the congressional ethics office (until they got caught at it) and perfectly willing to hold sham hearings on your nominees before their ethics reviews are even done. Oh, people like the guy you called “Little Marco” still feel like they need to put up token resistance to your Russian-owned Secretary of State nominee. But we all know he’ll get over it.

 Be proud, Mr. Trump. Your election has transformed the Republican Party by freeing them from pretending they have any actual principles, conservative or otherwise. Just look at the standard response to any criticism of policy or even denial of your awesomeness: “We won. Trump is your President. Suck it up, buttercup.”

That’s the response of someone with no moral center whatsoever, to whom the only thing that matters is raw power and the exercise of it. It’s the response of the kind of bully who reads or hears George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian future—“imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever,” and thinks “hey, that sounds pretty cool.” 

This is the world you’ve already made, Mr. Trump. And you’ve just begun. God help us all.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage, North Carolina.