Donald Trump owes Chuck Jones an apology. Jones, a union leader who represents workers at the now-famous Indiana Carrier plant, had attacked Trump for exaggerating the number of jobs saved in his “deal” to downsize Carrier’s move to Mexico. So what does the soon-to-be most powerful man in the world do? He goes after Jones on Twitter:
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2016
I’m sorry, but this is pathetic. It’s a playground insult worse than President Obama’s long-distance declaration that a Cambridge police “acted stupidly” when they arrested Henry Louis Gates, Jr. outside his house. But at least then Obama didn’t name the individual cop, expressed remorse for his choice of words, and had the decency to invite the arresting officer to the White House for the famous “beer summit” with Gates and the president. There is no dignity, no decency, in Trump’s actions.
But it’s worse than classless. If you’ve been following politics in 2016, you know that if you publicly cross Trump, then Trump fanatics will immediately pile on, trying to threaten and intimidate critics into silence. And that’s exactly what happened here:
Half an hour after Trump tweeted about Jones on Wednesday, the union leader’s phone began to ring and kept ringing, he said. One voice asked: What kind of car do you drive? Another said: We’re coming for you.
He wasn’t sure how these people found his number.
“Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones said later on MSNBC. “We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”
The president-elect’s words have power, and when he turns that power on ordinary Americans who dare to criticize him, he’s not only abusing his office, he’s creating a target for an avalanche of scorn, vitriol, and intimidation. But this is of course a pattern with Trump. If someone irritates him, he’ll punch back no matter their status and no matter the consequences. That’s not leadership. It’s bullying. the president-elect needs to grow up and take criticism like a man.