It’s a sure bet these days that if President Trump is on the attack, he’s verbally assaulting a person of color in Congress, deflecting attention from a damning new report or congressional investigation or creating a smokescreen to cloud our view of his ineptitude and myriad scandals.
Likely all three.
The president spent this past weekend attacking Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore, calling the city a “rodent infested mess” and saying “no human being would want to live there.” Of course, the implication is that Baltimore’s mostly poor, minority population is sub human.
It’s all too predictable for Trump to attack a black or brown lawmaker who’s been critical of his administration, as Cummings was last week when he blasted the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security over the treatment of minors at detention facilities.
Trump’s weekend tantrum is just the latest evidence of his visceral racism, volatile temperament, master’s level deflection techniques and epic gaslighting that is creating a dangerous and disgusting new normal for the office of the president.
But wait, there’s more….
Not content with dominating the news cycle for more than 36 hours with his racists attack on Cummings, Trump took to Twitter on Monday to criticize the Rev. Al Sharpton, who called the president’s attack on Cummings what it was: racist. In return, Trump called Sharpton a racist conman and cop hater. It’s a childish refrain similar to “I know you are but what am I?” that sadly, is typical for Trump.
While it can be tempting to sit back and watch the whirlwind media coverage of the president’s latest racist attacks, and the attempts of Republican lawmakers and administration officials to defend them, we cannot sit quietly and idly continue as if nothing is wrong. The decency and dignity of the Oval Office is being eviscerated by a man who claims to love America, but at regular intervals douses the nation's ever present, underlying racial tensions with gasoline and tosses in a match for the delight of his base.
What’s Really Happening?
Stirring up press coverage for Trump is easy – the more volatile and unpredictable he is the broader the coverage. Sadly, it’s hard to know if it is his racism, congressional investigations or salacious scandals that motivate the president to escalate his attacks with alarming frequency. It may in fact be the all three.
Trump is nothing if not a master at appeasing his base of supporters. Poll numbers after a Trump rally earlier this month showed that his favorability increased among Republicans following the event that featured racist chants of “send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Trump critic and naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia.
In his mind, if it worked once, why not continue with a new target: Cummings. It would allow him to maintain his dominance in the news cycle and deflect attention from ongoing congressional investigations and scandals.
For example, on Monday, the Senate failed to override Trump’s vetoes of legislation blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, allowing billions of arms sales to proceed. This, as the House Oversight Committee recently released a report critical of the undue influence Trump’s friends and allies have had in U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia.
That report raises concerns about whether the White House is willing to put the profits of the president’s friends over the national security interests of the United States. This undoubtedly angered Trump.
At the same time, one time Trump pal Jeffrey Epstein, currently in a Manhattan jail on child sex trafficking charges, is said to have had 14 different numbers for Trump in his black book of contacts, which included powerful people – from celebrities to politicians. There’s no way to know what if anything, may come out about Trump’s connection to Epstein, but a child sex trafficking scandal could seriously damage the president’s re-election chances. Time to deflect.
Regardless of the motivation, Trump is obliterating the respect that most Americans have held for the treasured office that he holds, regardless of whether they shared the same party affiliation as the president.
Moreover, in aerating and inflaming racial animus regularly on Twitter, he’s proving to be more of a divider-in-chief, than a chief executive.
It’s indeed a sad day in America when this is our new normal.