FORT WAYNE – Did you hear about the Trump staffer who was fired yesterday after being heard humming Tim McGraw’s hit song, “Always stay humble and kind?” Fake news.
 
It is safe to say that when the president of the United States becomes Don Rickles with hair and no smile, the king of the insult, anyone singing that song at the White House would be doing so ironically.

The critics of the president are, if anything, worse. What is extraordinary is how bottom-dwelling nasty liberals have become, justified with an air of superiority and a condescending tone to those who don’t laugh at their meanness.
 
The vice president of the United States cannot attend the most popular play in America without being lectured by the cast. He cannot leave a football game, which he attended to honor Peyton Manning, not observe players disrespecting the nation, without getting torn apart by liberals trying to prove they can be the meanest king of the mountain.

We cannot watch any entertainment awards show, already focused on celebrating shows and movies not popular with the people who made the stars rich but often attacking their fans’ beliefs, without enduring endless banal, crude and unoriginal political attacks.
 
The Washington Post and the New York Times, liberal but once respected institutions even by those who disagreed with their ideological bias, increasingly have turned the news stories into ideological crusading. It is sad when it is hard to tell the difference between SNL (and Colbert/Kimmel) and the Washington Post (and sometimes the Times). Though to be fair, sometimes the newspapers are more humorous and less contentious.
 
One way to determine whether you are a liberal is if you thought, from my beginning, that this was going to only be about Trump. A corollary to the “Always Stay Proud and Mean” theme pervading public debate today is that neither side sees themselves as guilty of the charge.
 
Politics is as old as man’s beginnings. God asked Adam if he had eaten the apple, and Adam blamed Eve. Cain killed Abel because he wanted the best offering, so to accomplish that he killed off his opponent. Nasty politics isn’t even of American origins. Machiavelli, the crown prince of political strategy, was from 16th century Italy. Liberals, like Adam, immediately finger Trump as the person to blame for this deterioration of public discourse, and thus justify playing Cain by trying to politically kill Trump. Not defeat him, destroy him.
 
On my Facebook page the other day, one conservative expressed the view of conservatives accurately: Meanness and coarse dialogue is when a conservative says it, not when liberals continue to do it. Young people would point to how Obama was brutalized by conservatives. (I, for example, continue to get berated for not thinking he was Satan’s brother.) Middle-aged conservatives would point to how Bush43 was absolutely savaged in the media, often characterized as an ape. Middle-aged liberals remember how conservatives demonized Bill and Hillary. Conservatives will never forget the incredibly mean, among the worst in American history, slanders of Reagan and Goldwater.
 
John Adams supporters would quickly point out that Jefferson was the king of smear jobs. Jefferson’s hatchet newspaper printed nearly total fake news by anybody’s standard. The Jeffersonians would respond that Adams started the conflict (they were once close friends) by behaving like the first American king, who viewed dissension from his throne as treason.
 
Trump has been compared to President Andrew Jackson, even by his supporters. Jackson, honored by Democrats at annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, is an interesting role model. He participated in somewhere between five and 100 duels. After a conflict with a neighbor over whether Jackson reneged on a horseracing wager, after which his neighbor referred to Jackson as a coward and his wife as a bigamist, Jackson killed him in a pistol duel. His massacre of Creek Indians in Florida, who it appears were actually mostly free blacks, is even more sordid.
 
Pistols and canes, or fisticuffs, were not uncommon weapons in American political history. The record is not littered with kindness and humbleness. Humbleness in politics is not a particularly useful trait, but that’s also true for any profession that requires verbal jousting. Humility is not conducive to building your brand. I grew up in furniture retailing where we, as a group, aren’t very humble, since we all stick our names on our stores. There aren’t a lot of successful humble trial attorneys, or car dealers, or stars in any profession. There is lots of fake humility, but getting to the top and especially staying there requires strong “self-confidence” (a kind word for pride). Christians try to give God the credit, but pride is always a struggle for every human being who wants to believe that success is something earned.  
 
Boastfulness is insecure pride. President Trump, who is mostly a brand built on gold-plated, everything is about me PRIDE, is an extreme example. He simply cannot tolerate anyone stepping on his being the biggest and best at anything, even on petty things like the inaugural crowd size or whether he’s called more war widows than Obama did.
 
They say your traits become most apparent when no one is watching. I felt the most unexpected, unscripted moment of the presidential debates was when Trump paused to wait when he saw Carson standing confused in the hallway leading to the debate platform. His instinct was to wait while the other candidates didn’t even flinch as they walked on by. There wasn’t the slight hesitation for a brainy “being kind could be useful” action. I mean, I don’t want to ruin his brand, but perhaps Donald Trump instinctually can actually be kind.
 
This angle may be the most important in deciding who will control Congress, including the critical United States Senate seat in Indiana, in 2018. Will voters choose kind, moderately prideful people in politics, or does the nastiest person win?  

Souder is a former Indiana Republican congressman.