In the film, The Best Man, written by Gore Vidal, a candidate for president, Joe Cantwell (Cliff Robertson), is arguing with his more principled opponent, William Russell (Henry Fonda).
Exasperated at one point, Cantwell says to Russell, "I don't understand you."
Russell responds, "I know you don't. Because you have no sense of responsibility towards anyone or anything. And that is a tragedy in a man, and a disaster in a president."
The Best Man first appeared as a play in 1960. The film was released in 1964. More than five decades later, our newly-elected 45th President, Donald J. Trump, may be the disaster Gore Vidal warned us about.
Check the record. Start with Trump's campaign comment on John McCain (pictured above).
"He's not a war hero," said Trump. "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."
Rebecca Gordon, the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco.
She has a more nuanced approach to our newly-elected president.
In her essay, "Life Under Trump," for TomDispatch.com, she shared stories from her classroom the week Trump was elected.
She reminded her students that Trump voters included a sizable portion of our population which feels marginalized and denigrated by our present public policies.
In due time, many of those Trump voters may find they have been conned by a master con artist who told them what they wanted to hear. Cons most often lead to disaster.
Our media was complicit in Trump's election, treating his race as a daily horse race with winners and losers. What the media failed to do was to examine seriously the nature of the candidate who won the final race.
In President-elect Trump's meeting with The New York Times editorial board, he continued that con. And the Times did what media leaders do, they dutifully reported what he said, even as they certainly knew this is a man who says whatever he feels the audience in the room wants him to say.
The mistake the Times made in its editorial comment following that meeting was to treat what Trump says, literally. They wrote: