The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Trump Does Not Care If People Get Hurt

    President Trump's impromptu press conference today was a shocking display of his moral depravity and his allegiance to bigotry. There are so many things wrong with it, in so many stunning ways, that everyone is trying to digest it and focusing on different parts. But one particularly scary thing has not yet gotten much attention: Trump shows a nearly complete lack of interest in preventing more bloodshed like this. That is unprecedented, and extremely dangerous.

    Every previous president of the United States has been deeply averse to civil violence and has always worked to prevent it. That's only natural. Civil violence and disorder are the opposite of government; our leaders' power is vested in exactly the order that civil violence disrupts. Our long national struggle over civil rights, which has often led to street unrest by various parties, has highlighted this. Every president, whatever their party loyalty or racial politics, has made keeping order and avoiding violence a paramount goal. Presidents who were sympathetic with angry segregationists, or who needed them for electoral reasons, still wanted to prevent any violence or lawbreaking by segregationist mobs. Even politicians who were themselves personally racist did not want racist violence in the streets, because preventing violence in the streets was always seen as crucial. In the same way, politicians who were for progress on civil rights were nonetheless very much against any violence by, say, the Black Panthers, or any riots in African-American neighborhoods. Preventing riots is central to the President's job, and to the President's authority.

    In a real sense, you can say that JFK became a pro-civil rights president because it was eventually his only way to get peace in the streets. When he entered the White House, civil rights was not on his agenda. Whatever personal liberalism he had on civil rights issues was strictly abstract; he was not going to act on that. But then he had to deal with furious, angry segregationist mobs and with Southern politicians from his own party who refused to control those mobs. Some of his phone calls with Southern governors (which JFK taped) are desperate and frustrating. And the transcripts make it clear that, more than anything else, Kennedy does not want to see anyone hurt or killed. Eventually JFK moves to back the civil rights agenda strongly because it's the right thing to do but also because he can't get any cooperation from the other side, so he just has to beat them.

    But today President Trump did none of the things American presidents do to calm things down and prevent violence. He excused provocative behavior, claiming that white supremacists were "quietly protesting" when they were actually shouting about hating Jews. Worse still, he made it clear that he favored one side, and justified their violence to the greatest degree he could. He even said that some of the white supremacists were "fine people" and not white supremacists at all. NONE of that is what you do when you want people to stop doing something. All of it was aimed at excusing what they had done and signaling them NOT to stop. Ask yourself white the alt-right knuckleheads think when they hear Trump talking like that. What they hear is, "Keep going, fellas, I'm on your side."

    That is just crazy. It shows Trump's complete, depraved indifference to public safety. And it exposes his indifference, or actual hostility, to the rule of law which his office embodies. The President is meant to enforce public order, and that legal order is the foundation of the President's power. And so every previous president has put questions of order-vs.-disorder before pettier questions of right-vs.-left or party-vs.-party. Trump has no seeming regard for public order, and sees things instead in ideological or partisan terms, as Us vs. Them. (None of his predecessors ever, even once, thought of any street thugs as part of "us.")  Or, even worse, Trump owes his allegiance to chaos itself. He is a representative of disorder, and thrives on it. That is a terrifying thought.

    I would usually say that this is the kind of behavior that could get someone killed. But it's too late to say that now. Someone is already dead.



    Trump is a demagogue   Public division, disorder, hate, mobs in the streets are the path to abrogation of civil rights, the disintegration of democratic institutions and can directly create demand and false justification for universal police repression.

    He encourages violence at his rallies, has advocated abusive police practices and bragged about his herd's loyalty if he shot someone on 5th avenue.

    Trump is so bad that he has several critics on Fox News. The funniest Trump supporter is Tucker Carlson who accuses opponents of white supremacy of being race-obsessed.

    Edit to add:

    The Daily Show notes Trump is now President of the Confederacy

    The cavalier way he told his own crowds to attack protesters, or the way he told police to knock people around a bit while taking them into custody... He clearly enjoys being able to inspire, direct and command violence. I bet he's jealous of Duterte.

    A Trump supporter posing as a journalist on Fox News moderated a discussion between a black female on the left and a black male on the ft. She hoped to get the two to disagree on the need for Confederate statues to come down. Instead, the two guests focused on their disappointment about Trump's support for white supremacists. They both were driven to tears. The Fox host failed in her mission.

    There was an interesting exchange on Fox News. A female host defending Trump's statement cried because she felt that she would be judged a racist for her stance. She felt "uncomfortable" discussing race. She knew that she wasn't a racist. In essence, she was using her discomfort to end the discussion. Predictably, Harris Faulkner, a black woman  was called on to comfort the white woman. Issues of race are uncomfortable. As, I'm watching daily polling on 538 from 8/13-8/15, I'm still seeing Trump approval at 37%. I'm wondering if the country will shut down discussion just like the Fox News host shut down discussion. I wonder if the anti-fascist activists actually gained anyone new, or if the country remains as polar as it was before Charlottesville.

    I brought up Faulkner comforting the white woman because it seems to be a recurrent theme. If I recall correctly, the black guy who got punched by a racist old codger at a Trump rally had to forgive the white guy to make people comfortable.

    Interesting point. Personally, I'm quite positively surprised how split Fox News has become post-Charlottesville. I'm not too surprised that a section of Fox News is taking the view that the white people having to think about race are the true victims here. A few of these segments are going viral, which I think is a good thing. It serves to prick the Fox News bubble and exposes them to how the rest of the country sees them and their reaction to issues like this. 

    I understand your distress about Trump's approval rating. But remember that George Bush's approval ratings were around 32% after Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Stellar Wind, Katrina, the SS privatization effort, and that little global financial crisis threatening to send us back to the stone age (sure, add to the list if you want, but you get the gist). Trump is an asshole who by comparison hasn't done much (... yet). He is scary because he is threatening, and trying, to do some awful things. But the economy is humming along, people have jobs and money and their kids aren't dying overseas in pointless wars.

    And yes, I do understand that his words have *done* alot of harm too - making public space unsafe for minorities and women, for one thing, destroying Americas' credibility on the world stage and heightening nuclear standoffs with various problem countries. But still. I wouldn't take the slowness of decline in his approval ratings as a reason to be pessimistic. Many people don't pay attention, and their (white, male) lives are - thus far - materially unaffected by his idiocy and depravity. Yet his numbers are almost as low as when Bush destroyed 9 million jobs and took the homes of 5.5 million families. 

    this is a good add-on to your points about approval, from the NYT piece

    Trump’s Embrace of Racially Charged Past Puts Republicans in Crisis

    “The last year and especially the last few days have basically erased 15 years of efforts by Republicans to diversify the party,” said David Holt, a 38-year-old Oklahoma state senator running for mayor of Oklahoma City. “If I tried to sell young people in general but specifically minority groups on the Republican Party today, I’d expect them to laugh me out of the room. How can you not be concerned when the country’s demographics are shifting away from where the Republican Party seems to be shifting now?”

    The political blow that Mr. Trump has sustained is deep and worsening. Barely one-third of Americans now say they approve of the job he is doing, according to two polls released this week — a fresh low for a president who was already among the most unpopular in modern times.

    As a long time news junkie, I am constantly surprised by those here that are upset that "Trump is still so popular with his base".

    That die hard 1/3 ultra conservative of the country has always been with us since the boomers started voting, they are not going anywhere and they will always give an approval rating to the guy that's less liberal, whatever he believes as long as it's less liberal.

    It can't be clearer how unpopular Trump is, it's like rock bottom.

    He may have actually lost part of the traditional one-third conservative already but have been replaced with the few nutty true Trump fans. I think Bannon is deluded from spending too much time with the Breitbart  crowd (as opposed to like, Fox) in thinking that there are that many of the latter.

    The day by day peel away of many true Trump fans will continue as his incompetence continues to manifest. The New York Times is not a stupid organization about politics! When they say  The political blow that Mr. Trump has sustained is deep and worsening, that is coming out of analysis by wise people who also learned lessons from faulty analysis of the presidential election.

    The smart politicos in the Republican party know all of this--back to the quote above. That is not a RINO from an urban state talking. It's Oklahoma! They cannot get by with relying on that 1/3, their numbers are probably dying off, as in really dying, day by day. Sure their children have been trained by them but they have also had life changing experiences like an opoid epidemic affecting their world.

    I'd like to add this: if you can't accept that there is probably going to continue to be 1/3 ultra conservative making up this country for quite some time, and you can't live with them in the same country as you, you should move elsewhere, because they are not going away anytime soon. They are part of the reality of our country. And the Republican party absolutely knows they cannot stay in business with those people alone.

    And this, just opinion from life time of anecdotes: there are probably more than a few people with racist tendencies in that 1/3 that think of white nationalists as terrorists! A lot of white people who feel uncomfortable with people with a different skin color are also susceptible to being frightened by a guy that is dressed like a Nazi biker. The whole make America great again thing sells with a crowd that also is thinking like Orrin Hatch: we are the ones who won against the Nazis. They don't understand ideology (Obey, your pix with the Israel and Confederate flags applies here) but they read team symbolism by the gut and visuals like skin color, tattoos, intentional clothing: them or us. Us does not include the menacing biker dude with the Nazi flag. Us probably does include the nice but unfortunately liberal niece with cute freckles being mowed down by Nazis just because she went to a demonstration.

    Republicans have gerrymandered Democrats out of an easy way to take over the House. Republicans now compete in districts where the deplorables control the agenda. The 35-40% Trump approval number is important because it means the deplorables are still in charge in many Republican districts. Trump is not in trouble over the emoluments clause because Congressional Republicans who challenge Trump will face pushback from their constituents. Paul Ryan hates racism but will not call out Trump by name. Similarly, McConnell loses to Trump when it comes to support from GOP voters.

    Precisely. That's where I agree with you, gerrymandering so that the 1/3 have more power nationally than they should is the problem.

    That's why the court cases about it are so important.

    Interesting that Schwarzenegger is funding  and promoting reform of gerrymandering. He's a Republican. Probably just doesn't like that the 1/3 conservatives have so much control.

    deleted duplicate.

    P.S.I just don't think all Republicans should be constantly painted by activists on the internet as enemy of liberals. (Neither did Obama!) I think that will take people with liberal leanings nowhere but down. The Republican Congress is deeply divided right now between the Freedom Caucus (probably mostly sent from those crazy districts) and the establishment. Throw in nuts like the Kochs throwing money around to affect the chaos further. They can't pass anything precisely because of what that gerrymandering is doing to them. Instead of being rabidly partisan Dem right or wrong, liberals can win on certain things by not attacking GOP as "they are all the same." The two-party partisanship is satisfying very few of either party is the way I see it.

    In effect, they are all the same. Obamacare survived by one vote in the Senate. Take note that if passed, the Republican Senate was ready to pass a bill that they wanted the Republican House to reject. The Republicans in the Senate are for the most part, deplorables. McConnell is disliked by Republican voters because he couldn't get the bad Senate bill shipped over to the House. 

    If Trump support stays where it is after Russia, Charlottesville, etc. We are dealing with a subset best defined as deplorables. 

    If for you the only hope for Democrats to win an election is for a Republican president to fall below 30% approval, you should maybe also look at what is wrong with your Democratic party. 

    As far as I've seen, they need to either win with a 7% spread to take the House, or rejig their coalition somewhat. I find Schumer's new anti-monopoly platform. It's the kind of empowering yet equalizing and freeing principle that might bring even the racist white Obama voters back to join a coalition with minorities in supporting. We'll see if they're serious about it, I guess. I'm guessing it's poll tested already. Anyway, I find that much better than Beinart's horrifying idea of joining the GOP in racist demagoging on immigration. 

    Doc, well done, as if you need kudos from someone like me!


    Trump did indeed excuse provocative behavior to say the least.

    After reading your post, I wonder what is to be done?

    I just thank you for your post.

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