Donald Trump sinks to new depths of degradation
Steve Chapman, Contact Reporter, Minority of One, August 15, 2017
Any time you think Donald Trump cannot sink lower or further degrade the office he holds, he proves you wrong. His Tuesday press conference was the most historically ignorant, morally clueless and thoroughly malignant performance of any president in memory. He makes me long for the comparative nobility and wisdom of Richard Nixon.
It’s clear that neo-Nazi intimidation and violence don’t really upset Trump. His criticism of the perpetrators is dutiful and tepid. What really angers Trump to his core is being challenged on anything — and the weaker and less defensible his position, the more furiously he defends it.
It’s almost beyond imagination that a president would insist on the good motives of “some very fine people” attending a white supremacist demonstration. It’s almost beyond imagination that a president would equate demonstrators who deliberately set out to sow as much fear as possible — carrying torches, brandishing military-style rifles, chanting anti-Semitic slogans — with a much larger group of counter-protesters who came out to show they have no use for racism and hate.
But Trump did those things. His understanding of the world is what you get when you make a habit of believing everything you see on Fox News and read on Breitbart. He has no grasp of what blacks, Jews, Hispanics, gays and other historically persecuted groups have suffered. He thinks the only discrimination that exists anymore is discrimination against white males. He thinks whites are justified in striking back.
Trump has no interest in trying to heal the wounds of Charlottesville because he is too preoccupied with avenging his own wounds. He expected applause for his grudging, equivocal statement Saturday and felt deeply mistreated when he didn’t get it. So when he got the chance to vent his real feelings Tuesday, he couldn’t restrain himself. It was enough to raise serious questions about his mental stability and cognitive health. But maybe it’s just his character expressing itself with perfect precision.
This is the most shameful day of his presidency. But probably not for long.
Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman