Trump’s response to Charlottesville was a failure of presidential leadership
The first read is your Meet the Press and NBC’s political unit briefing on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
A failure of the presidential leadership
WASHINGTON – A fundamental task for any modern American president – Democrat or Republican – is to bring the country together during difficult times. âWhen the nation was hurt, shocked or ashamed, [presidents try] to live up to their responsibilities as leaders of a whole people, âas a journalist and former Carter’s speechwriter James Fallows observed.
Bill Clinton did it after the Oklahoma City bombing. George W. Bush did so after September 11. And Barack Obama did it after the Charleston church shooting. But Donald Trump failed that test of presidential leadership after a white nationalist protest turned violent over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump’s first response – in the form of a tweet – got off to a good start. âWe ALL need to be united and condemn all that hate represents. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one! he said.
In remarks hours later, however, the president appeared to blame BOTH white nationalists and counter-protesters, and he refused to explicitly condemn white nationalists. âWe condemn in the strongest terms this blatant manifestation of hatred, fanaticism and violence – on many sides. And then after Trump left without answering questions, reporters shouted, “Mr. President, do you want the support of these white nationalists?” “Do you call it terrorism, sir?” “
Trump did not respond.
So far Monday morning, the president has tweeted out three tweets: One: âOn our way to Washington this morning. Lots of work to do. Focus on commerce and the military.â Two: âLuther Strange of the Great State of Alabama has my support. He’s strong on Border & Wall, the military, tax cuts and law enforcement. Three: âObstructionist Democrats have given us (or have not corrected) some of the worst trade deals in world history. I change so fast!
But nothing about Charlottesville and the white nationalists.
Other Republicans criticized Trump’s response
In an interview with NBC’s Peter Alexander, Vice President Mike Pence – who said on Sunday: “We have no tolerance for the hatred and violence of white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK” – criticized the media for focusing on what Trump said (and not âI dispute that a lot of the media is spending more time criticizing the way the president approached the issue yesterday.â
But as Alexander noted, it wasn’t just the media that challenged Trump’s response. âSir. President – we have to call evil by name. They were white supremacists and that was domestic terrorism,â said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., tweeted. âWe should call evil by name. My brother did not give his life fighting Hitler to keep Nazi ideas unchallenged here at home, âSenator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, added. And this is Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C. : “[Trump] missed an opportunity to be very explicit here. These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House.
Trump’s story “of engaging in high profile and racially tense battles,” AP says
It would be one thing if Trump’s response to Charlottesville was in a vacuum; It’s quite another when you consider his past racial controversies.
âEarly in his developer career, Trump battled accusations of bias against blacks seeking to rent in his family apartment complexes,â the AP writes. âHe has long promoted the lie that the country’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in the United States. As a candidate, he proposed to temporarily ban Muslims from the United States. He retweeted a post of accounts that appeared to have links to white nationalist groups. And he’s been slow to reject the endorsement of former KKK chief David Duke.
Here are other examples:
- Mexican “rapists”: âWhen Mexico sends its people, they don’t send the best. They don’t send you. They don’t send you. They send people who have a lot of problems, and they bring these problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They bring crime. They are rapists. And some, I guess, are good people.
- Judge Curiel: âJust let me tell you that I had some horrible decisions, I was treated very unfairly by this judge. Now this judge is of Mexican origin. I’m building a wall, okay? I am building a wall.
- Central Park Five: âDonald J. Trump rarely apologizes. As for the Central Park Five case, it never even came close, âsaid the The New York Times wrote. “In 1989, after these black and Latino Harlem teens were accused of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park, Mr. Trump spent $ 85,000 to place full-page ads in the four New York dailies. , calling for the return of the death penalty … Incredibly, 14 years after their sentences were overturned based on DNA evidence and the detailed and precise confession of a serial rapist named Matias Reyes, Mr Trump has doubled down .
Ed Gillespie’s “Corey Stewart” Problem
In the Virginia gubernatorial contest, GOP candidate Ed Gillespie denounced white nationalists. âHaving the right to spit vile hatred doesn’t make things right. It is painful to see these horrific events in Charlottesville, âhe said in a statement. But Gillespie and Corey Stewart’s defeated main opponent (2018 Senate candidate) took a different approach. “Democrats and the media never speak out against violence perpetrated by the unbalanced left,” said Stewart. “Antifa is simply responding to Loretta Lynch’s call for street violence.”
Gillespie will have to make a choice: denounce Stewart and call on him to quit the Republican Party, or have Stewart’s comments relate to him (Stewart said he supports Gillespie in November).
McMaster refuses to answer – three times – if he and Steve Bannon can work together
From yesterday “Meet the press”:
CHUCK TODD: Can you and Steve Bannon still work together in this White House or not? LT. GEN. HR McMASTER: I work with a wide range of talented people and it’s a privilege every day to empower the National Security Team. CHUCK TODD: You didn’t answer, can you and Steve Bannon work in the same White House? . GEN. HR McMASTER: I am, I am ready to work with anyone who will help advance the President’s agenda and advance the security and prosperity of the American people. CHUCK TODD: Do you believe Steve Bannon does that? LT. GEN. HR McMASTER: I believe that everyone who works in the White House and has the privilege, the great privilege of serving their nation every day should be motivated by this goal.
Strange’s struggles in Alabama
A day before tomorrow’s Alabama Senate primary, the The New York Times writes on the struggles of incumbent Senator Luther Strange. Senator Luther Strange of Alabama enjoys the support of the President of the United States, enjoys a multi-million dollar campaign from the allies of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and enjoys the support of groups in the United States. influential conservative interests like the National Rifle. Association. But Mr. Strange wheezes in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary here.
Read more: “He is looking to secure a second place and a place in a second round in September with Roy S. Moore, the two-time impeached former state Supreme Court justice and a favorite of Evangelical voters who is expected to be top voter but may fall short of the majority needed to achieve victory.Mr. Strange is in a political bind, pinched by his ties to a pair of Republicans, a local and a national, held in low esteem by many in the gone here: disgraced former governor Robert Bentley, who appointed Mr. Strange, and Mr. McConnell.