On Trump’s Dinner Guests
Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 28, 2022
From the outset, I don’t care with whom Donald Trump has dinner.
Nor until he has something substantive to say about policies do I much care about what silly nicknames he creates for perceived rivals, the size of his invented and recruited crowds or much else about the daily Trump sightings that the news media continues to reflect. If Trump burps, there’s a report and a fact-check.
This week, it was a report about a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with entertainer Kanye Ye — source of renewed, recent anti-Semitic comments — and Nick Fuentes, a notorious white nationalist, Holocaust denier, a critic of gay life and an opponent of women voting. In pursuit of truth-telling, various news outlets dutifully reported on details, first denied altogether, then acknowledged in the most circuitous fashion, that Trump had dined and chatted with outward anti-Semites in a time of heightened concern about rising hate talk and worse. The group apparently also include Milo Yiannopoulos, an outspoken far-right speaker, and onetime Trump aide Karen Giorno.
Maybe they served raw meat.
Even Breitbart News, a reliable pro-Trump trumpet, made the dinner a top headline, seeming to underscore serious concern from within the Trump camp that he had stubbed his political toe. So did David Friedman, Trump’s one-time ambassador to Israel.
What was interesting to me was the Trump explanation: “Our dinner meeting was intended to be Kanye and me only, but he arrived with a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about.”
Why Should We Care?
But here’s the hitch: This is not private citizen Trump, this is look-at-me-I’m-running-for-president Trump.
In that regard, what Trump does in the name of symbolism passes as leadership, even as he tries desperately to change the subject from his many-headed criminal and civil cases for apparent violations of state and federal laws, his manipulations of political monies to support another run for the White House, and his sole promotion of his personal ego in lieu of much resembling public policy.
If he wants to dine with white supremacists and to present fawning meetings with haters as his brand of leadership, that’s his choice, of course. It’s a good reason by itself to declare Trump unsuitable for office. Haven’t we been through this before with accepting endorsements from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and then Trump claiming he didn’t know Duke? Didn’t we go through the “fine-people-on-both-sides” mess after Charlottesville?
But to invite a dinner with haters and then to try to weasel his way through explanation by saying he doesn’t know Fuentes and Ye is ridiculous. Isn’t that why he has a staff to know such things? And now that he knows who was dining with him, does he want this association?
If he truly wants to be president, it is his job to know who such people are — to say nothing of denouncing them. Anyone else who truly found himself in such an apparently uncomfortable dinner setting would either leave or say something the next day to distance himself from it.
Trump can’t do that because he apparently wants the association with white supremacy and with the support that comes with it. If you don’t want the association made, don’t dine with public racists.
The idea that we are going to spend the next two years of endless presidential campaigning having to listen to every Trump weird turn of reality is hellish all by itself. The idea that this is a good way to win a political campaign is just beyond my understanding.