as i write on this sunday morning before the second presidential debate, i think of the words of donald trump from the tape of his conversation with billy bush that have been played and commented upon incessantly over the past couple of days. trump has been condemned for what he said and for the thoughts and actions he describes and rightly so. soon after this recording came to light, damning recordings of his appearances on the howard stern show were discovered and replayed. the sum of these past words of the republican nominee paint a picture of a man who seems compelled to objectify women and to brag about his sexual prowess in the crudest terms. his critics have been quick to say that such a man is not fit to be president of the united states, and they are right. many of his former allies have abandoned him, and the pundits have decided that hillary clinton has already won the election. one wonders how trump will conduct himself in the debate and how secretary clinton will respond if he attacks her for the past actions of her husband.
i was as disturbed by the trump recordings as any of those whose condemnations were reported in the media and agree that such a person is a poor choice for president. but as i think back on my life, i remember many words that i regret, immature comments that should never have been made, crude remarks that would have led those who heard them to think less of me. i dare say most people have similar memories. donald trump is not unique in this respect. his roles as both a media personality and a prominent businessman given to frequent public pronouncements mean that what he says is often recorded, creating a permanent archive of comments that would remain private for most of us. the fact that he knew his comments on the howard stern shows were being broadcast live and would be recorded for posterity demonstrates that he was unconcerned about how he would be perceived and that he believed at least some of his listeners would admire him for what he said on topics that are usually regarded as private.
while one can't support mr. trump or anyone like him for public office, it's hypocritical for most to castigate him for his remarks without admitting that we, too, have been guilty of similar lapses. one hopes that trump has matured and changed his philosophy, though the evidence suggests otherwise, just as i hope that i am not the same person that made regrettable and inappropriate comments in my youth. as one sage i respect commented, such remarks would not be so damnable if they were uttered by a youngster who lacked the maturity to know better, but the fact that trump said these things when he was in his mid-fifties leads one to conclude that he was past the age when his personality was still being formed and makes him culpable for them.
may we be forgiving without endorsing either words such as those spoken by mr. trump or the actions those words describe. may we not try to remove a splinter from another's eye while there is a log in our own. may we not forget that each of us has said and done things we regret before castigating another for past misdeeds. shalom.