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Trump Doubles Down, Blindly

Terry H. Schwadron

Aug. 16, 2017

Okay, Donald Trump is beyond hope on race and white nationals.

A set-up to talk, briefly, about the need to infrastructure quickly gave way to questions about whether he was surprised, offended, misled or had any other reaction to all the hoopla over his statements avoiding criticism of white supremacists. The President doubled down, insisting that white supremacists hold only part of the blame for the weekend, in which one white nationslist fatally drove into a crowd of counter-protestors.

Statements that there is “blame on both sides” for the violent protests over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., remarks that are sure to inflame his critics and reignite debate over his hesitance to condemn white nationalists and racists.

It was a wild few minutes in which he attacked the media, defended white nationalists, insisted that there is an “alt-left” that was bristling for armed fight in Charlottesville. He insisted he was right in his remarks last Saturday, that there was blame “on many sides,” before issuing a clarifying note on Sunday, and finally blaming supremacists on Monday.

The funniest line was that he needed time to get his facts straight, which 1) would be a first, and 2) his statement ignored fact in any case.

Throughout, there has been wide across-the-board, international condemnation not only of the events, but for the judgment of the President.

On top of all else, the President apparently had been advised not to speak to these questions at all, and keep to infrastructure, the ostensible subject of the day. One photo showed what looked to be a frustrated Chief of Staff John Kelly behind the stage, arms crossed as the train was going off the tracks again. As it happens that subject alone would have led to dozens of unresolved issues, since all he wanted to achieve was to eliminate layers of pesky environmental and financial rules that slow down construction. What will be built and how to pay for it remain questions.

“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it,” Mr. Trump said. “And you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.”

“I have condemned neo-Nazis. I have condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Mr. Trump said. “Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”

The President said race has been frayed for a long time, endorsed local decision-making on keeping Confederate statues and symbols, and he accused the media of trying to change history.

Of course, the President also was changing history, mixing colonial times with Civil War clashes, and taking his original position once again, which is at odds with the Justice Department. Apparently he does believe we need to make America white again.

Needless to say Democrats, minorities, Jews, and a whole lot of corporate leaders, Republican politicians and other have said these latest remarks were a serious insult to what they believe to be right. Meanwhile, David Duke, the former KKK leader, thanked the President for courageous remarks.

Still, I don’t quite buy the political crisis that pundits were talking up on cable following the session. The President is limited in his thinking, and for whatever reasons only he can understand, he wants the message out that he stands with alienated white men, particularly in rural areas. Making America Great seems to mean Making America Good for White Men Again.

So, let’s be straight. President Trump comes up with ill-advised policies as they concern minorities, there’s a straight line from whatever drives Trump to his mouth.


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