White House Decision Making: Whoever Has Trump's Ear Last Calls The Shots

Fascism Comes To America by Nancy Ohanian

So, did Trump throw his neo-Nazi cheerleaders in North Carolina under the bus or not? Well... he definitely did-- and then he tried to take it back. He had Republicans all mixed up for the past 3 days. As Annie Karni explained to NY Times readers Friday, In Another About-Face, Trump Refuses To Condemn 'Send Her Back" Chant. Her take was that, once again, he was demonstrating "the limited influence of allies or advisers who try to steer him away from pre-election racial and cultural fights. He walked back his disavowal of a racially loaded chant at a campaign rally less than 24 hours after making it. Acquiescing to behind-the-scenes pressure from nervous Republican lawmakers and from his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, the president distanced himself on Thursday from the chant of 'Send her back!' that the crowd at his rally on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C., directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia." Thursday Señor Trumpanzee backed down, telling the White House reporters-- insincerely, that he was 'not happy' with the chant and even added, obviously falsely-- since everyone could see what happened on the tape-- that "he had tried to cut it off."

Then on Friday, Señor T, influenced by another set of advisors disavowed his disavowal-- "following," wrote Karni, "the same three-stage crisis playbook he used after setting off a wave of criticism when he defended neo-Nazi protesters in 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia." Instead he played to his base and said "No, you know what I’m unhappy with-- the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country..." and off he went on his dishonest charges about Ilhan and AOC and said the neo-Nazis in North Carolina were "incredible patriots."

On his way to play golf yesteriday-- and strictly sticking with false and canned coordinated GOP election cycle talking points-- Trump said, "You know what’s racist to me, when someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country. The people of our country that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate-- that to me is really a dangerous thing."

Although the rabbis that make up the Montana Association of Rabbis were referring to Trump enabler Steve Daines, their open letter could have easily been addressed directly to Trump: "We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place…in Montana or across this nation. Collectively, as Montana’s rabbis, we are the experts on antisemitism in Montana; we have studied it, lived it, and know it when we see it. We refuse to allow the real threat of antisemitism to be weaponized and exploited by those who themselves share a large part of the responsibility for the rise of white nationalist and antisemitic violence in this country. Accusing these representatives of antisemitism is no justification for telling them 'to go back to where they came from' or inciting violence against them. In a direct affront to Montana’s Jewish communities and Jewish leaders, Senator Daines has decided to join in the president’s rhetoric of hate, a rhetoric which presents a serious threat to Jewish communities. We do not feel safer or supported by Senator Daines’ comments, rather we fear the legitimization the president and the senator are giving to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred."

As Karni noted, "The reversal followed the same pattern as the one after Charlottesville. After Mr. Trump’s original response to the violence that took place there in August 2017, a low point of his presidency, aides urged him to take the high ground. Days later, he finally relented, reading a brief prepared statement from the Diplomatic Room in the White House in which he, for the first time, unequivocally condemned neo-Nazi groups and stated that 'racism is evil.' But the next day, he reverted to his original stance in a combative exchange with reporters in which he again blamed both sides for the violence that left one demonstrator dead and dozens injured. But while business leaders and Republican lawmakers briefly distanced themselves from the president at the time, Mr. Trump appears to have suffered little long-term political damage because of the episode-- and that lesson appears to have made an impression."

“It just destroys him to seem to be abandoning his base on any issue,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian. “When he originally said he distanced himself from the chant at the rally, one could have guessed he would go back and embrace the people who cheered ‘Send her back!’ Contrite is not in his playbook.”

But even some critics of Mr. Trump said that the walkback of the walkback was not necessarily damaging to him. “I wish I could say it was foolish, but what have the actual consequences been in the real world or in Republican support of him sticking to his guns?” said William Kristol, the conservative columnist and prominent Trump opponent. “Being the tough, unapologetic guy, it keeps his brand stronger even if he takes a little bit of a hit.”

...Administration officials and campaign aides have rejected comparisons between Mr. Trump’s goading of elected women of color to “go back” to where they came from and what happened in Charlottesville. One was a deadly incident, they said, the other was a political fight.

But campaign aides have acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s tweets on Sunday-- in which he used an age-old racist adage in telling the congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”-- were unexpected, used loaded and unhelpful language, and any political strategy attached to them was reverse-engineered after the fact.

The president claimed his attacks were not politically motivated. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically; I don’t care,” he said. “I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”

While Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over what his supporters chanted in North Carolina, they kept their criticism of Mr. Trump to themselves.

Isn't that always the problem with the Republicans? The courageousness levels are too small to even be measured. This morning Long Island congressman Tom Suozzi told me that this isn't really about Trump anymore. "The American people," he told me, "either know who he is and what he’s about or they don’t. It is now about us. It is now about America. It is now about Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Progressives and Conservatives. All of us. Will we as a nation reject hatred, reject division and reject this type of politics? November 2020 will either be a reaffirmation of our faith in America and its people, or it will be the beginning of one of the darkest times in our short history. I, for one, still believe in America. I will not mourn. I will organize. We will need everyone from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to Vice President Biden and everyone in between. We must unite against hate and we must win. The world is depending on us."

Andy Levin (D-MI) is one of only 5 freshmen with a ProgressivePunch perfect (100%) voting record. Suozzi is a big admirer of how brilliant he is and he introduced us recently after the two of them had gotten back from a fact-finding tour of Trump's concentration camps on the southern border. Today, Levin told me that "It’s surreal to serve as a freshman legislator and interact with Republican colleagues every day. I’m trying to work with them on everything from human rights in Burma and Xinjiang and Haiti to reducing the cost of prescription drugs. But when they won’t even acknowledge that blatant racism and xenophobia are being blasted from the loudest megaphone in the land right in front of our faces, or call it out, it obviously reduces the prospects for meaningful collaboration. Worse, it raises the specter of one of our major parties veering towards the kind of demagogic, strongman rule that is antithetical to democracy itself."


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