Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 34 / 24 August 2017

Trump needs to look in the mirror


President Donald Trump briefly looked at Monday's eclipse without wearing protective glasses. Photo: Courtesy AP
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After days of unrelenting negative media coverage, President Donald Trump attempted to use his first nationally televised address Monday evening to turn the page on his disastrous comments about the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. But, as with so many things the president says, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt.

His TV address was ostensibly to speak to the nation about his "new" strategy for the war in Afghanistan. But before that, he talked about the shared values of the military in an allusion to Charlottesville while surrounded by service members in the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

"The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt," Trump said. "And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people.

"When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate," Trump said. "The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other."

In the context of Trump's other words and actions, his comments ring hollow. Just last Tuesday, he doubled down on his original Charlottesville statement, saying that "both" the neo-Nazis and counterprotesters were to blame for the violence that left one woman dead. He's trying very hard to normalize hate groups, which represent much of his base, by his refusal to condemn white supremacists. There's nothing acceptable about chanting "The Jews will not replace us," or mowing down a crowd.

The poll numbers on Trump are in the toilet. According to a Washington Post-ABC News survey, "twice as many Americans disapprove than approve of President Trump's response to the deadly Charlottesville protests," the Post reported, citing figures of 56 percent disapproval versus 26 percent approval among U.S. adults. Democrats and independents were overwhelmingly opposed; Republicans, not surprisingly, were more supportive, with only 19 percent disapproving. But Trump won with a big assist from independent voters, and if the president keeps it up, they may start abandoning him.

Immediately following the speech, some commentators were quick to praise the "new Trump." Don't be fooled. There is no new Trump, just the same old Trump. This is a fact that he demonstrated a day later when he gave an angry, rambling speech at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix. If he really cared about service members working as a team, he wouldn't even consider banning transgender troops from serving, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. If he really means "a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all," he would have immediately called out the bigots who marched in Charlottesville for who they are: white supremacists.

The president needs to look no further than a mirror to know why the country is so divided. And he deserves no credit for being "more presidential" after one speech. He's given absolutely no indication that he cares about anyone but himself and his business interests.

Trump is all about Trump.

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