Defenders argue that Trump’s inconsistent statements after the Charlottesville terror attack don’t matter. But they do. I care about it, and I wish he’d stayed on the right message.
In this June 20, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville attack has come in three parts. His initial statement was weak sauce, Clinton-esque blaming of ‘both sides,’ that was afraid to say the words ‘white nationalism,’ ‘white supremacy,’ ‘alt-right,’ or any of the other terms that would describe the fringe movement the terrorist was a part of.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
Change the American references to Israeli and it might as well have been a statement after a Hamas terror attack on Israel, made by John Kerry or Hillary Clinton! Very weak, very afraid to condemn the terrorist.
And the Nazis heard that. On the Daily Stormer, they said “He didn’t attack us… So he implied the antifa [sic] are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us all.” They felt they had support from the President after one of their own killed a woman.
So I was glad when his second statement was stronger. I supported the President’s second response since, much as he called on Barack Obama to do, he named the threat:
Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.
This second statement made them blink. David Duke even came out to complain:
It appears the First Amendment doesn't apply to White Americans just like racial discrimination laws don't protect White Americans.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 14, 2017
Issue polling doesn’t matter. I wasn’t citing issue polling before, and I don’t cite it now. Issue polling results depend heavily on context. Even when a poll attempts not to do any ‘push’ polling, you’ll get different results based on the questions asked and even on the political climate that day.
This isn’t about polling, this is about the President of the United States being the one man in this country best positioned to send a message. Just as only Nixon could go to China, only Trump can send white nationalism back into the dark holes the Nazis have been hiding in for the last 20 years. He can send a message that it’s wrong, and we as a nation oppose it.
So I was saddened he went and defanged that strong statement with some disgusting statements later, blaming the victims. Here’s what the coward said. First, he refused to make a strong statement even admitting it was a terrorist act, basically implying it was a lone wolf, just like the hard left does when they want to excuse Islamic terrorism:
Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and his country. And that is — you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That’s what I’d call it. Because there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics.
The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
Refusing to attack the movement, just blaming the one lone wolf driver. Then he blamed the victims:
OK, what about the alt-left that came charging them (ph)? Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
…Well, I do think there’s blame — yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. You look at — you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.
He backed down. He went back on what he said previously. Either because he’s a gutless wonder, or because he’s actively courting the votes of the Nazis. Either way, he squandered an opportunity to stand up for American values against European national socialist ideas.
And in case you missed it, he doubled down:
Excuse me, excuse me. You have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
That’s right, he claims that the folks marching along side Klan, Nazi, and White Nationalist flags included some fine people. And in the end, he starts defending the side that killed a woman, while attacking the side that had a woman killed:
OK. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave-owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You’ve got — you had a lot of bad — you had a lot of bad people in the other group…
So he’s saying the press has treated the alt right unfairly because they killed a woman. This guy went from attacking Nazis, to a full throated defense of their protest. This is a squandered opportunity. He had David Duke and others worried. But after his third remarks, that was gone.
I posted this to you yesterday — Thank You Mr. President & God Bless You for setting the record straight for ALL AMERICANS. https://t.co/YTthmaSS0I
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) August 15, 2017
Now the Nazis will be emboldened to kill again. And that’s why Trump’s cowardly backtrack matters.