For most Americans, Trump’s temperament alone disqualifies him

When Donald Trump came to Maine, he got advice from someone whom national reporters saw as an unlikely source — Gov. Paul LePage. LePage, a Trump supporter, offered feedback to the Republican presidential nominee, telling Trump that he needed “discipline” and “to be focused.”

Trump’s campaign has experienced real trouble lately and not just for common reasons like the candidate’s policy ideas or if voters are ready for a change. Trump hit difficulties because, while nominees tend to clear the bar of being pretty qualified candidates who appear to be able to do the job as president, Trump falls short on his knowledge, experience and his basic disposition.

In the most recent ABC/Washington Post poll, only one-third of Americans see Trump as having “the kind of personality and temperament to serve effectively as president.” In contrast, 59 percent think Hillary Clinton has those personal qualities. Those numbers roughly track the new Monmouth poll in which 27 percent view Trump as having the right temperament versus 61 percent saying that about Clinton.

Since entering political life, Trump has called lots of people names, barred reporters from covering events and said positive things about strongmen such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. After seeing Trump in action as a thin-skinned person who is prone to insults and simply making things up, most voters are concerned about him holding the reins of power, working with Congress and others, and even controlling nuclear codes.

Recently, Michael Morell, CIA director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, endorsed Hillary Clinton, calling her “highly qualified.”

“Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security,” he wrote in a New York Times column. Trump responded by tweeting that Morell is a “lightweight.”

Donald Trump at Portland's Merrill Auditorium on Aug. 4. Eric Thayer | Reuters

Donald Trump at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium on Aug. 4. Eric Thayer | Reuters

On Monday, 50 Republican national security professionals who had worked in administrations from Presidents Richard Nixon to George W. Bush signed on to a letter citing Trump’s qualifications and temperament as their reason not to endorse him. “A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation,” they wrote, but Trump doesn’t demonstrate those characteristics. Instead, Trump “is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism.”

When Trump came to Portland last week for an ordinary rally he left with two tales symbolizing his entire candidacy.

One remarkable moment came when protesters stood, holding pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution, and were escorted out.

Of the many contributions the United States has made, among the greatest is the Constitution. While our government sometimes does not live up to its promise, and improvements can always be made, the Constitution has created a system that is both stable yet flexible.

Yet the sight of the Constitution held high was unacceptable for a major party’s nominee, for this echoed a father’s rebuke.

Khizr Khan, the father of an Army captain killed in Iraq, spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Addressing Trump, Khan said, “Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” and then pulled a copy of the document from his pocket. Khan told Trump he should “look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.”

Trump then went after the Kahns, insinuating that the fallen soldier’s mother had not spoken because she is a Muslim. Ghazala Khan explained that she remained too emotional to do so. Despite their sacrifice and Mr. Khan’s love of the Constitution, as seen in his habit of sharing pocket Constitutions with friends and members of his son’s school’s ROTC, Trump never apologized to this family.

In a second incident in Portland, Trump attacked Maine’s Somali community as potentially dangerous terrorists. Somali refugees and their children have contributed greatly to the state and pose no threat to public safety.

Most Americans find Trump’s divisive vision disqualifying. It’s a big reason why Maine state Sen. Roger Katz, an Augusta Republican, concluded, “Donald Trump is not fit to be president.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin won’t say anything in public about Trump. But Sen. Susan Collins, a fellow Republican, took a stand Monday night. Pointing to Trump’s “essential character,” in a Washington Post op-ed, she said, Trump “lacks the temperament, self-discipline and judgment required to be president.”

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.