Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Where are the dreaded Tonton Macoute?

I don't like the term President Trump used last week in describing certain countries. Our newspaper refrained from spelling it out in headlines but used it in the story, much to my chagrin. (Even in the communications business, communications sometimes fail.)

Trump’s use of the term shouldn’t surprise anyone. The guy has famously used what he calls “lockerroom talk” to describe women.

Nor should anyone be surprised that such talk occurs in the White House. Do the Nixon tapes ring a bell? Does anyone think JFK or Ike or Harry Truman or FDR or — take your presidential pick — did not use a cuss word or two in the Oval Office?

Ronald Reagan famously kept his suit jacket on when working in the Oval Office. He thought to work in shirtsleeves was an affront to the dignity of the place. And while I bet he muttered a time or two under his breath, he was Ronald Reagan and, to coin a phrase, Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

The liberal TV media naturally pounced on Trump for his remarks, which they saw as clear and convincing proof that he is a racist. Fox News, naturally, rushed to Trump’s defense, citing statistics that show more people from Haiti have bad teeth than do Norwegians.

(All the Haitian talk reminded me to wonder whatever became of the “dreaded Tonton Macoute.” This was Papa Doc Duvalier’s Haitian hit squad, and all wire stories on same were apparently required to use the term “dreaded.”)

Trump is alleged to have said that we should allow more Norwegians into the United States than natives of nations he labled as “sh—holes.”

His defenders and attackers rushed to explain what he supposedly meant. Defenders said he wants people who can quickly assimilate, contribute to GDP, and share our values.

Attackers said Trump’s a racist.

And the Haitian ambassador to the United States said Haitians founded Chicago. (He did not elaborate.)

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

Write to Joe McQuaid at or on Twitter at @deucecrew.