The President saying there were “good people on both sides” of the Charlottesville protest may be the stupidest thing of all stupid things the man has said. No one should and no one (to my knowledge) is defending that.
The other thing the President said, the thing that is actually generating way more outrage in the media, is actually true. The President again condemned the white supremacists by name as the press has wanted him to do. But he also pointed out there were violent people on the other side who showed up looking for a fight.
As I wrote in the New York Times on Sunday, President Trump should have called out the white supremacists by name on Saturday. No one else would have been there but for them. They caused the situation. And I do think Marco Rubio is right that dividing up the blame allows the white supremacists to hear that it was not them, but someone else causing the problem.
Antifa is on the opposite side of the white supremacists on the same coin. They contributed to the escalation in Charlottesville. They sent people bleeding to the hospital too. And the left assigns their violence an unjustified morality. Fortunately for them, they did not kill anyone this time and it is fair to say we should focus on the white supremacists this time. It is also fair to note Antifa has been repeatedly violent and the media abjectly refuses to give them significant coverage despite their repeated violent protests.
In fact, it seems one of the biggest problems with having Donald Trump as the messenger is that he is so flawed he allows the press and others, even people like Mitt Romney, to give Antifa and violent leftwing activists a pass they should not get. The President has so mishandled the situation that he is allowing bad guys to be cast as either innocent or as heroes when they intended and did further escalate the situation in Charlottesville. If the President had done what he needed to do on Saturday and call out the white supremacists by name, the media cycle would have been different. How do I know? Because he held his press conference before the young lady was killed. His moral clarity occuring before that happened would have changed the way the story was covered.
But he did not do that. In fact, he has made the situation even worse and no doubt emboldened the white supremacists.
Still, President Trump raised two fair and true points. Antifa is a bad actor just like the white supremacists. The media is sympathetic to Antifa and therefore would prefer to ignore them. In fact, the media has already given vastly more attention to this situation than to the mass assassination attempt against Republican members of Congress (also fair that the President has helped perpetuate this news cycle).
The second fair and true point is the President’s rhetorical question about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. There are already activists trying to purge symbols to any founder who owned slaves. The escalated purges and destruction of Civil War monuments by the left is only going to cause people to rally to the President who might otherwise be inclined to keep their distance.
The left is leaving no ground to compromise on this issue. They will leave no Confederate monument in the ground. And with no room to compromise I suspect they will not like it when very many Americans who may not care for the President wind up standing with him against the left. And the left can scream and cry bigotry all they want, but they will thankfully be shut out of power for another electoral cycle.
American leftists have decided if you are not with them, you are evil and worth silencing. They will allow no alternative opinions and they will allow no dissent. They will not even allow people the courtesy of neutrality. So the average American will probably give them an electoral middle finger, deservedly so.
Like it or not, the President made some fair and reasonable points in yesterday’s press conference. That the media melted down over them says more about the press than the President and suggests the media will yet again misjudge the lay of the political landscape. But there is no escaping the fact the President muddied, muddled, and made the situation far worse on his own.