Last year CNN issued a statement saying Trump was "beneath the dignity of the office" because he was attacking a CNN anchor in a spoof video.

What exactly does "beneath the dignity of the office" means? Does it mean Trump's behaviour bring shame and lose people's respect on the US government?

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    Yes. The statement assumes that the office of president of the United States is one which should be treated with respect by others as well as by the incumbent. They are saying that making personal and public attacks upon a journalist is not considered in keeping with the role of primary statesman.
    – S Conroy
    Sep 10, 2018 at 18:25
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    Can you add some details on the research you've done to understand this phrase, and why it didn't answer your quesiton? Sep 10, 2018 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


To be literal, high is an adjective used of people, institutions and qualities that are worthy of respect, honour and admiration.

Conversely, we use “low” when the opposite of these things are merited: contempt, shame and disgust (or something like these).

The presidency is among the highest offices in the USA - arguably the highest,

Accordingly, the conduct of the holder of that office is expected to show the qualities that match that office (I decline to specify what they are, to keep out of politics.

If, Instead, a president should conduct him or herself in a manner that was (say) dishonourable or dishonest, his or her conduct could be said to fall below the high standard expected of a person holding high office.

The preposition merely continues the metaphor. As to the office holder named in the question, I could not possibly comment,

  • Thank you so much for your answer! it was clear and easy to understand.
    – dotty
    Sep 11, 2018 at 8:12
  • @dotty You are welcome. Did you know you can do a ‘tick’ to accept the answer as the one you want? No idea how, but it is part of a system to rank order answers so that the ‘best’ is read first.
    – Tuffy
    Sep 11, 2018 at 8:17

We expect a general level of civility/decorum/honor in a position as important as the president, as they're our representative to the world. In addition, in general Christianity, 'good' is associated with 'up' (towards heaven), and 'bad' is associated with 'down' (towards hell). So to say that someone is 'beneath the dignity of the office/position' is to say the person's moral qualities aren't quite to the standard we expect from our elected leaders.


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