Does Trump Embarrass You?

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About a week ago, CNN pulled the plug on its show “Believer,” hosted by the religion scholar Reza Aslan. Network executives made the decision after Mr. Aslan, angered by what he deemed Donald Trump’s callous response to the terrorist attack at London Bridge, wrote on Twitter that President Trump was “not just an embarrassment to America” but also “an embarrassment to humankind.” (There was an expletive, too.)

While people can debate the merits of CNN’s move, Mr. Aslan’s opinion of the president as an embarrassment is widely shared. Polling by the McClatchy news organization and Marist College shows that while 30 percent of Americans are “proud” to have Mr. Trump as their president, 60 percent say they’re “embarrassed” by him.

Embarrassment is obviously an uncomfortable sensation — and embarrassment at the blundering and misbehavior of the leader of the free world is no exception. But research by sociologists and psychologists suggests embarrassment is, socially speaking, a valuable emotion. For opponents of President Trump, might it prove politically valuable, too?

About a week ago, CNN pulled the plug on its show “Believer,” hosted by the religion scholar Reza Aslan. Network executives made the decision after Mr. Aslan, angered by what he deemed Donald Trump’s callous response to the terrorist attack at London Bridge, wrote on Twitter that President Trump was “not just an embarrassment to America” but also “an embarrassment to humankind.” (There was an expletive, too.)

While people can debate the merits of CNN’s move, Mr. Aslan’s opinion of the president as an embarrassment is widely shared. Polling by the McClatchy news organization and Marist College shows that while 30 percent of Americans are “proud” to have Mr. Trump as their president, 60 percent say they’re “embarrassed” by him.

Embarrassment is obviously an uncomfortable sensation — and embarrassment at the blundering and misbehavior of the leader of the free world is no exception. But research by sociologists and psychologists suggests embarrassment is, socially speaking, a valuable emotion. For opponents of President Trump, might it prove politically valuable, too?

The sociologist Erving Goffman gave a classic analysis of embarrassment in 1956. He started by scrutinizing the sort of personal mortification all of us experience from time to time.

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