This week couldn't have gone any worse for Donald Trump. All he had to do was offer a heartfelt statement regarding the events that transpired Saturday in Charlottesville and he could have gone back to playing golf at Bedminster National Golf Club. Instead, he has been pilloried not only by the press but by many members of his own political party, world leaders and even Kim Jong-Un. That can't sit well for a man who prides himself as much as he does.
No president has had to suffer this much indignity in decades, all because he couldn't sufficiently distance himself from white supremacists. His vacillating statements led to a mass exodus from his manufacturing council, which he has abruptly disbanded. Earlier, he had vowed to replace the "grandstanders." The guy can't win for losing at this point.
He's dug himself many holes before but this may just be his deepest. The Access Hollywood tape and his comments regarding a former Miss Universe winner were in the past, so many of his supporters were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, this is all happening in real time just like on one of his reality shows. There is no way to duck it. He finds himself right in the middle of a shit storm of his own creation.
The only real time precedent is the comments he made about the Gold Star family, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, after the Democratic convention. There was much indignation expressed over that ugly scene but Trump eventually managed to skate clean largely thanks to wikileaks dumping nearly 20,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee that implied they were in cahoots with Hillary to secure her nomination. The Khan episode drifting into the background.
I don't think Trump is going to be so lucky this time. He remains under immense pressure to denounce white supremacy in the strongest possible terms, but he just can't bring himself to do it. Some have speculated it is because of his family's own white supremacy connections. His father was arrested at a KKK rally in New York in 1927, but Fred claimed he was just an innocent bystander. Exactly what Trump claims many of the white persons who joined the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville were.
Then there are those who see Trump's actions this week as part of a broader pattern. Robert Reich believes the president is "trying to start a civil war" by inciting a conflict between his core base and everyone else. It's pretty hard to dispute this given the inflammatory rhetoric we heard on the campaign trail and the fact that he hasn't exactly softened his tone since assuming office. From day one, Trump saw his presidency as a battle between us and them, which had many persons shaking their heads in disbelief. Granted, "them" seemed to be the rest of the world, but in rereading his inaugural address there appear to be an awful lot of dog whistles in it. Watching The Handmaid's Tale recently, I had to wonder if what we are seeing is the incipient stages of a right-wing conservative revolution in this country.
Of course, all the leading Republicans have denounced the white supremacists in Charlottesville, but few have actually singled out Trump as having enabled these types of rallies with his highly provocative language. This was on full display at his press conference on Tuesday, lashing out at the "fake media" and the "alt-left" in an attempt to justify the actions of the "alt-right." He offered a spurious history lesson on monuments, repeating virtually all the talking points of white supremacist blogs, which he appears to read.
Robert E. Lee's own family has not only condemned the actions in their great-great grandfather's name, but said they had no problem seeing all these monuments come down. Lee himself felt monuments put up so soon after the Civil War would not bring healing to the nation. Seems that no time was the right time.
So, in whose name are these white supremacists marching? It seems to be in Donald Trump's name. This is the man they identify with. His golfing outfit replete with red MAGA cap has become one of the preferred costumes of young white supremacists. They honestly feel Trump speaks for them.
He blew his one remaining chance to distance himself from the "alt-right" on Tuesday. Any attempt now to disenfranchise himself will be seen as a hollow gesture. He refused to face them head on as he has refused to face almost everyone head on. He works best as a grandstander. He is not a leader, which Jamie Dimon pointed out in his resignation speech.
Trump is now officially a failed president. There is little he can do at this point to salvage his name. He has failed at virtually everything he tried to initiate from his 90-day travel ban to getting the Affordable Care Act repealed. All he can point to at this stage of his presidency is a relative handful of meaningless executive orders like the one he almost forgot to sign on Tuesday. The only question that remains is how he will go out. Will he resign or will he force Congress to initiate impeachment hearings? He no longer has any respect in this nation.