WASHINGTON — It was the late senator from Hell's Kitchen, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who cautioned his fellow Democrats: "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Moynihan was referring to his party's love of spending other people's borrowed money.
The saying might apply better these days to the Republicans' loose- lipped president, Donald Trump, whose mouth repeatedly digs an ever deeper political sinkhole not only for himself but for all the party's federal candidates. At a White House meeting with congressional leaders last week on immigration policy, Trump referred to less fortunate nations as "s#@%hole countries."
Fifteen hours later, Trump denied saying it, but the damage was done. Besides, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who was at the meeting affirmed this was the language used by Trump to describe El Salvador, Haiti, and all of Africa.
Prior to this episode, the details from a mid-week Quinnipiac national poll offered some insights as to why Trump and the Republican have received little or no credit from the supposed benefits the middle class gets from the recently enacted tax revision law.
Prior to enactment, the Gallup poll for example, gave Trump's tax law proposals an approval rating of 29 percent, and a disapproval rating of 56 percent. After it was passed and signed into law, the tax revisions received 33 percent approval from the Gallup survey, and a disapproval of 55 percent. Like all polls Donald Trump is trapped in the mire of the 30s.
The later Quinnipiac national poll gave Trump credit, 53-44, for being "intelligent," but those polled said 57 to 40 percent that Trump "is not fit" to be president, with 69 to 28 percent saying he is not "level-headed."
Trump spokesmen say that the public should wait until until they actually see the benefits of the tax revision before they pass judgment on the tax laws. But the vote here is that the antipathy toward Trump, the national embarrassment he provokes with his tweets and his off-hand comments are so deep, so profound that little that he does will pull him from the deep hole he has dug.
Those surveyed by Quinnipiac gave former President Obama more credit than Trump - 49 percent to 40 - for the surge in the stock market and lower unemployment rate. That number could raise some eyebrows about the reliability of the sample Quinnipiac chose for its sample of 1,100 citizens between Jan. 5 and 9.
Nevertheless, here are some other nuggets from the survey: 63 to 34 percent said Trump is "not honest;" 59 to 39 percent said Trump lacks leadership skills, and 65 to 32 percent that the president "does not share our values."
It's impossible to imagine Trump saying, in front of a politically mixed audience, anything more harmful to this country's diplomatic, military and political interests in the Caribbean, Latin America and in Africa. He can't take it back because it mirrors other frightening events with which he has been associated, including the endorsement of persons associated with the Ku Klux Klan, and comments he made after the neo-Nazi torchlight procession last August in Charlottesville, Va.: "Both sides were to blame."
And on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He has made himself too hot to touch. Radioactive to all but the goose-steppers allied with hate radio. It is truly breathtaking.