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  1. 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.