Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mr. President: I've Written Your Next Speech

I've been listening to the Sunday shows this morning,  and I only learned about Saturday's events in Charlottesville from that venue today.  I was amazed and angered by the skewed manner in which the media are portraying this event and more particularly the president's response to it.

I won't bother to recount the details of the event.  You can get those here, along with video of Trump's somewhat clumsy statement.  Oddly enough, I thought other parts of the statement were clumsier than the part objected to by journalists.  The press conference where Trump delivered this statement had originally been scheduled for something to do with veterans.  Trump felt compelled to retain what must have been elements of the original speech.  That was the most awkward part of the speech for me.  Trump talking about the horrible events in Charlottesville in one sentence, and the great jobs numbers in the next.  Classic ham handed Trump.  But I'll post the more relevant partial quote from the president's speech below, because that is what I really want to address.

"We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.  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. It's been going on for a long, long time.  It has no place in America."

Everybody has their knickers in a twist because Trump seemed to ad lib the part "on many sides".  Trump detractors accuse Trump of excusing the violence by creating a moral equivalence between racial violence from white supremacists, and presumably political violence on college campuses by left wing groups such as Antifa.  Maybe that is what he was doing, and if it was, I believe that drawing the comparison is entirely justified.

Left leaning media may not want to call out the violent anti free speech intimidation tactics of the left, but Trump was right to do so.

Some of those speaking most passionately against Trump this morning were black members of the press and the punditocracy.  They  drew heavily from justified grievances about slavery, Jim Crow laws in the south, and on-going racism whether of the harder or softer variety.  I have little doubt that their expressions of grievance were heartfelt and sincere.  That doesn't mean they were right to blame Trump for the actions of white nationalists.   The obvious passion with which they hold and express their opinion has no relation to the legitimacy of their position. As Ben Shapiro says, "Facts don't care about your feelings."

The media and the political class are choosing to ignore the fact that the speech did, in fact, condemn the white supremacist violence.  It just didn't  call out the groups by name.  I suppose Trump could have specified the KKK and other white supremacist groups by name, but he didn't.  As one commenter on CNN's State of the Union said to the other more outraged members on the panel, "Trump is never going to check all the boxes to satisfy you."  I couldn't agree more.  If he spent five minutes condemning the KKK, the media and virtue signalling Republican politicians would complain that the events warranted a ten minute speech and was therefore a "dog whistle" to his racist constituents.

The Sunday shows also spent a lot of time citing comments from David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claiming to be in support of Trump in his quest to "take back America".  It is troubling to me that Duke should try to claim that his cause and the president's cause are one in the same.  It should trouble Trump as well.  For that reason alone, I'd like to see Trump come out with a more forceful speech condemning the Klan and other associated white supremacist groups.  Trump seems to instinctively resist bowing to pressure from the press to behave in certain conventional ways more to their liking.  In principle, I agree with Trump on this behavior.  Fuck the press and what they think he should do.  As Trump famously said, "I'm president, and they're not."

But I think the circumstances of Duke's presumption of sharing common ground with the president warrant the president breaking from his previous habits.  Trump should make another speech.  I've taken the liberty of writing it for him.

It's come to my attention that certain members of the press have been critical of me for not specifically naming the perpetrators of Saturday's violence in Charlottesville.  Let me put that matter to rest right now.  I condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence committed in Charlottesville by neo-nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacist groups.  There is no place in America for the tactics of intimidation and the ideology of hatred that those groups espouse.  Furthermore, I would like to disavow the leadership of those groups of any notions they may have that my agenda to Make America Great Again and their twisted agenda of violence and division are in any way similar to one another.  There is no room in America for your ideology, and there is no room in my coalition for it either.

As someone recently pointed out, there will be some for whom no amount commitment on my part will ever be enough.  I will never check enough of their boxes for them to be satisfied.  If this short statement takes me five minutes to deliver, there will those who will complain that the matter deserved at least ten minutes, and that anything less constitutes a "dog whistle" of support for the racists and the bigots in our country.  That accusation is false, but that's politics.

The events in Charlottesville were horrible.  Any perceived shortcomings in my statement in response to those events represents nothing more than petty sniping from a hostile press, counting of coup from an opposition party desperate to manufacture an issue to run on, and virtue signalling from members of my own party to whom my presidency feels like a threat to the status quo they so cherish.  These forces would have you believe that the horror and revulsion you rightly feel about the events in Charlottesville should be transferred to me because I gave a speech they think could have been better.  I think most Americans see through that.  For those who don't, I only ask that you give my remarks some consideration.

There you go Mr. President.  That wasn't so hard was it?  You're welcome.