NEW YORK — It took President Donald Trump two days to explicitly call out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who engaged in violent protests over the weekend that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman.

It took him less than 24 hours to undo the damage control that had been foisted upon him by teleprompter-wielding, crisis-managing aides.

Bridling at the term “alt-right,” Trump attempted to redirect blame for the violence at the rally onto the other side.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” he said at an unplanned news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, referring to the “alt-right” protesters who gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a park.

Trump also said he has yet to speak to the family of the woman killed, Heather Heyer, but promised that he would be “reaching out” and applauded her mother’s “beautiful statement,” in which she praised Trump.

With no teleprompter to keep him on a message crafted for him by his top aides, like chief of staff John Kelly, Trump reverted to the “many sides” language he ad-libbed on Saturday — remarks that earned him criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, and even pushback from his own top aides.

“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other,” Trump explained Tuesday, “and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible, and it was a horrible thing to watch.”

He added: “I think there’s blame on both sides.”

What was he thinking?  Why can’t this man keep his mouth shut?    He simply cannot defend the KKK, the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, and other anti-American groups.  These groups have long been on various hate-group lists.  He is President of the United States.  He cannot defend their ideals.  Period.

What he clumsily attempted to do was compare rally behavior.  Yes, there were people there who weren’t alt-right who came prepared for a fight.  However, there really is no moral equivalence and he failed at establishing any.  No “Alt-Left” group weaponized their car and ran down by-standers.  No member of an  “Alt-left” Group killed an innocent  bystander who was just attending a rally.

Trump also blew it by saying some of the protesters were not members of any alt-right movement and were just there to protest the removal of the statues.  Stop Trump!  Most of the people I know don’t want the statues removed.  They wouldn’t have considered going to that rally.  They knew who was sponsoring the “gathering” and they didn’t want to associate with that trash nor did they want to get their heads beaten in.  Trump simply was wrong–again.

Trump needs to make no mistake.  That rally was about hate and groups who operate outside the norms of society.  Thuggish behavior doesn’t equal the moral decay that comes from within, no matter how hard Trump tries to white-wash it.   He doesn’t even know what “Alt-Left ” is and neither does anyone else.

I know on Friday night I saw a line of people walking 2 or 3 abreast carrying torches.  They strode   onto the grounds of UVA and walk up to the Rotunda.  They harassed who appeared to be the students who encircled the statue of Thomas Jefferson. They chanted racial and ethnic slurs.  They snapped out Nazi salutes.   Their intent was clearly to frighten and harass.   Their message was clear.

These are the people who any President of the United States must unequivocally denounce.  He must do so swiftly and without equivocation.  Until Trump repudiates these hate groups he simply lacks the moral authority to be the leader of the United States of America.


17 Thoughts to “Trump craters his own damage control”

  1. Starryflights

    I fear that this is only the beginning. No one’s children will be safe in this environment .

    1. Starryflights,
      I have heard similar things, from unidentified sources.

      They have been emboldened and will return.

  2. Pat.Herve

    This is on Trump’s watch. Obama cannot be blamed for this.

    And this is what we get from the President? And the “leaders” of our country are largely silent.

    Kudos to the likes of Rubio that are willing to stand up. Mitch McConnell – on vacation, too busy to comment. Paul Ryan – he has internet as he tweeted, but no statement. We need new Leaders.

  3. I can’t think of any good Nazis. What is Trump talking about–good guys on both sides?

    1. NorthofNokesville


      He’s trying to give cover to some of the alt-right types that are more or less mirrors of black or Latino identity politics but not outright white supremacists, KKK, or Nazis. The far right (like the far left) is a continuum, so I guess it’s theoretically possible that the alt-right spectrum includes less objectionable (not to say un-objectionable) types. Sort of like pointing left and saying “Some of you just hate Nazis and aren’t left anarchist scumbags” and then pointing right and saying “Some of you just like white history and aren’t neo-Nazi scumbags.” I don’t have a lot of data, but feels easier to do pointing left than right in this particular case.

      In practical terms, it’s just more stumbling and message implosion that AT BEST signals massive incompetence, MOST LIKELY signals a strong unwillingness to criticize a base of support he doesn’t want to alienate and AT WORST shows outright affinity.

      Not a lot of great options.

  4. NorthofNokesville

    Two interesting new pieces.

    WaPo (but by Ilya Somin, a libertarian and not a typical WaPo type): makes argument that Confederate memorials should be removed and provides some myth-mashing links on Lee and others. Link here: http://wapo.st/2x5gwUl

    And probably the more damning, from the Atlantic, General Lee’s real views: http://theatln.tc/2su5TZH

    1. NorthofNokesville,

      Somin certainly didn’t convince me. But then again, I don’t usually turn to Russians to show me how to think. I think many of his origin premises were faulty.

      People either forget or never knew that Virginia voted not to secede–until Lincoln demanded that they send troops to squash the rebellion in other southern states. Virginia reversed its decision. People also seem to forget that people who didn’t own slaves went to war to defend their homeland. Virginia was right in the crosshairs. Did any states suffer more destruction than Virginia?

      Now I will go read what a prick Lee was. I am not sure it really matters. He conducted himself as a gentleman from all I have ever read. I am not into Lost Cause reading.I hate that damn war because of what it did to its people.

      1. NorthofNokesville


        Spoken like a true Virginian (meant sincerely and positively).

        I think Virginia or Georgia probably suffered the most. Other areas had concentrated destruction (Vicksburg for example) but the Commonwealth endured long and took a lot of beatings. We also produced some of the more interesting characters.

  5. Robin Hood

    I grew up in Virginia and sometimes the boys in my neighborhood would play Civil War. I’m proud to say that even in the 1950s I always volunteered to fight for the Union.

    1. I always volunteered to be an Indian rather than a Pilgrim. I never played Civil War. However, I have lived within a stone’s throw of a battlefield since I have been 18 years old. If you believe in spirits…I think it does something to you.

  6. NorthofNokesville

    Now this is ironic: white nationalists flock to DNA testing sites … don’t always like what they find.

    Link: http://bit.ly/2v4qSlY

    1. It wouldn’t bother me at all to find some anomaly in my DNA test. I would welcome it. I would want to know more about who the anomaly was. How neat. But I guess that’s one thing that separates me from the new-Nazis and the KKK.

  7. NorthofNokesville

    And a very interesting thread from Twitter, via NYT’s Douthat.

    Link: http://bit.ly/2v4AuwY

    Actually like this thought process.

    1. I am quite comfortable with it.

      My problem continues to be that people are judging the Civil War by 21st century standard and interpretation, with little regard for the thinking of the time.

      Hindsight is 20/20. I expect if any of those people would have known the horror, terror and sacrifice that would be involved in that war, they would have moved heaven and earth to not have it happen.

      1. Robin Hood


        My father fought in World War II against the Nazis, so I think that’s another dimension to the issue.

      2. So did mine. In whose world are Nazis considered good?

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