Yesterday, the President gave an impromptu press conference at Trump Tower to a group of eager journalists who have been manhandled all year by a turntable of press secretaries. They have been waiting to just get the straight story from the horse’s mouth. What they got was something figuratively similar, yet anatomically different, and anything but straight.
It was supposed to be a briefing on his infrastructure plan. Some journalists reported administration staff covering their faces, and refusing to look the press pool in the eye.
He ruined any attempt by our conservative movement to patch together the mess created this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and move on. He doubled down on false equivalencies. He claimed (seven times) he wanted to “wait for the facts” before calling out the white nationalists, when he NEVER waits for the facts on anything else. He did it while lashing out as an angry man, not a respectable President.
Most Republican leaders stood strong, clear, and unequivocal against what happened. They named names, and left no doubt. They didn’t try to “balance” the message. Everyone from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Marco Rubio to Senators Cory Gardner and the always blunt Lindsey Graham even trump’s surrogates on cable news made it clear: there is no room for hatred or violence in the Republican Party.
But that wasn’t good enough for the president. He inexplicably felt it necessary to teach us all that all sides are good, and all sides are bad.
The worst dung pile was his claim that the alt-right protest was filled with “very fine” and “good people.” Rather than leave it to general implications, he specifically pointed out the several hundred marchers with tiki-torches and racist symbols from the night before, claiming they were “peaceful,” “quiet,” and saying they were just protesting the removal of a statue to a man who took up arms to defend slavery.
The president thinks both sides have “very fine” and “very bad people,” therefore, we should just drop it. He’s determined to just “say it” because no one else will. “There are two sides to every story.” Even if the story was begun by one side. Furthermore, he seems to think chants of “you [and jews] will not replace us,” “blood and soil,” and yelling epithets and profanities are “very fine.” Because they had a permit.
He was sure to point out several times that the counter-protesters “didn’t have a permit.” Wow. Call the National Guard.
Furthermore, some antifa protesters, as always, infiltrated the spontaneous counter-protests and began fighting, throwing things and getting into tussles with the white nationalists. Oh no. Lock em up for life.
Never mind that the alt-right violated their permit.
When will the equivalency stop? When will the rationalization stop? When will the spin stop? Yeah, it takes two to tango. And while a burglar and killer are both criminals, they are not the same. Rioters and murderers both deserve prison, but they are not the same evil. They both should be called out by name, rejected and treated judiciously, but they are not equal. Sadly, in an age where an admitted sexual predator who makes creepy comments about his “hot” daughter’s body can be considered president, it appears many want to assuage their guilt-by-association with false equivalencies. It makes us sound ridiculous.
When someone brings up the alt-right, don’t respond with “but ________.”
When the president speaks, then contradicts himself, don’t tell us what he meant.
You were mad that President Obama’s administration called Nidal Hassan’s Fort Hood shooting “workplace violence.” So was I. You were mad that Obama wouldn’t use “Islamic terrorist,” for political reasons. So was I. You were mad that he wouldn’t call out Black Lives Matter for instigating anger and riots. So was I.
I am more conservative than most people, but I am apparently one of the few willing to be intellectually honest.
I’m embarrassed. You should be too.
I’m ready for Pence, Speaker Ryan. Save 2018, 2020, and the next 20 years of our political lives.
But above all, save our collective conscience, our dignity, and our souls.