Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: It should not be hard to for Trump to denounce white supremacists

As a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has hardly been a shrinking wallflower, and he is always eager to engage in bombastic kindergarten feuds at the drop of a tweet.

Trump has disparaged prisoners of war, the disabled, Gold Star families, Mexicans, Muslims and even the Pope. He recently described the White House as a "dump." Dignity.

When the New York Times compiled a list of the people and groups Trump has offended, the total reached 351. But that was in January, before the president decided to go after what he claimed was "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski's plastic surgery. Now there was a Gettysburg Address moment for you.

And yet ...

Over the weekend, when a white nationalist protest erupted into violence and a young woman was mowed down by a car driven by a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, Trump retreated to a virtual cone of silence. Trump delivered some tepid remarks, calling for unity and criticizing violence "on both sides." But not a word, not a peep, not a tweet until finally on Monday condemning the white supremacists, racists, bigoted nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis who fueled the bloodshed in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump has been more doggedly brutal in his verbal assaults toward Rosie O'Donnell than the stormtrooper wannabees who fomented the violence in Charlottesville.

You could say in the history of the Trump administration, Aug 12 will be remembered as a date which will live in callousness.

How hard should it have been to condemn Nazis? This has to be the lowest hanging fruit of presidential rhetoric. Gracious, if you can't whip up some proper indignation over the presence of — altogether now — Nazis in our midst, folks who regard Adolf Hitler as their ideological beefcake boy of malevolent hate, then perhaps it is time to go back to hosting game shows.

Over the course of just a week, Trump unleashed his invective toward his primary Republican political ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Now there's a unique way to build relationships.

The commander-in-chief rattled more sabres than Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood in the general direction of North Korea's 12-year-old dictator Kim Jong Un, promising "fire and fury."

But armed, swastika-wearing Nazis spewing racist and anti-Semitic hate speech in Charlottesville? Meh. Trump has become the First Enabler, providing cover by benign neglect to a group of so-called low-rent Nazis, who probably couldn't locate Berlin on a map.

It's entirely possible the president has taken a sort of Gauleiters will be Gauleiters approach to all the Sieg Heiling going on in Charlottesville because he wooed so many of them on the campaign trail with coded talk of taking America back from whomever and promising to make America great again, as if the country had been kidnapped by Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis.

Once in the White House, the president has enlisted the sage advice of nationalist Steve Bannon, the former chief executive of Breitbart News, a diligent distributor of fake news and proud mouthpiece of the "alt-right."

When you've given Bannon an E-ticket into the Oval Office to whisper in your ear, it does make it more difficult to decry the actions of the brown shirts strutting about in Charlottesville.

In the aftermath of Trump's inability to directly disavow groups like the Klan and the Nazis after the weekend tragedy, it was left — as it always is — to others in his orbit, like Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to explain that the president really does revile all these hate groups. Really. Believe him.

Then again, perhaps Trump knew even if he did unequivocally condemn the alt-right extremists, nobody would believe him anyway.

After all, we are judged by the company we keep.

Comments
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18
Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

It’s time to re-establish a permanent home for the state appeals court that serves the Tampa Bay region.It makes sense to put it in Tampa, the same as it made sense 30 years ago when the court’s operations began moving piece by piece up Interstate 4 ...
Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County transit referendum that has made the November ballot is significantly stronger than two efforts that failed to reach the end zone in the past decade. The one-cent sales surtax would generate enough money to meaningfully improv...
Published: 08/09/18
Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

The fight for medical marijuana in Florida should have ended with the resounding 2016 vote authorizing it in the state Constitution. Instead, the battle for access drags on, with Attorney General Pam Bondi waging the latest round in a lengthy legal b...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

They reach from South Florida to Tampa, from a high school to a college campus, from troubled kids to troubled parents. But there is a common thread connecting these tragedies: Florida has a mental health crisis. Addressing it would require spending ...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

A proposal to use local money to ferry workers to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa always has been a questionable idea. The loss of nearly $5 million in federal money toward the project makes it all the more suspect. It’s time the ferry supporters off...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Blood on the streets of Chicago

Blood on the streets of Chicago

A hot summer weekend, when Chicago should be at its most livable, brings an undercurrent of dread and horror to this city. Summer is block party season, beach season, baseball season. But in some neighborhoods, summer is killing season — when armed g...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

Editorial: FDA should not penalize premium cigars

A well-meaning but poorly designed effort to keep tobacco from children could sink a niche industry and end Tampa’s fabled history as a cigar-making capital. The Food and Drug Administration needs to recognize not all tobacco products are alike...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/13/18
Editorial: New St. Petersburg Pier spot for Echelman art better, not perfect

Editorial: New St. Petersburg Pier spot for Echelman art better, not perfect

The St. Petersburg City Council has listened to the concerns of constituents and forged a compromise on where to install a signature public art piece in the new Pier District. Plans had called for an imposing aerial net sculpture to soar above Spa Be...
Published: 08/06/18
Updated: 08/07/18
Editorial: Sharpton wrong to call for sheriff’s badge in stand your ground case

Editorial: Sharpton wrong to call for sheriff’s badge in stand your ground case

The Rev. Al Sharpton misfired when he suggested Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was influenced by racial considerations when he decided not to arrest Michael Drejka for shooting and killing Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot ...
Published: 08/06/18