Cincinnati is a fine place – a bit of the South with Covington Kentucky just across the river, and a bit of the industrial Midwest too, sometimes it snows like hell in the winter, and they have the very first professional baseball team, the Reds, still playing there, although not all that well. And it’s a very American place – Jerry Springer was mayor there for a few years, and both Doris Day and George Clooney (and Rosemary Clooney) started out in Cincinnati. Mark Twain didn’t think much of the place – “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times.”
There’s no proof Twain ever said that – that had been a common insult about many places for many years – but that’s not bad as a working hypothesis. There is something retro about the place. Sometimes that’s charming. Sometimes it’s not. John Boehner – the conventional Republican who could not control the Tea Party crowd and just gave up – went back home to Cincinnati to smoke cigars and play golf and forget he had ever been Speaker of the House Boehner. Cincinnati was safe. It’s an “old school” kind of place.
That’s why Donald Trump was there:
President Trump on Thursday escalated his attacks on Baltimore and other diverse, liberal cities, telling a crowd in this key swing state that Democrats “deliver poverty for their constituents and privilege for themselves.”
“For decades, these communities have been run exclusively by Democrat politicians, and it’s been total one-party control of the inner cities,” Trump said. He called federal funding sent to these areas “stolen money, and it’s wasted money, and it’s a shame.”
And he invited members of the crowd to criticize Baltimore, asking them to shout out the names of countries with comparable homicide rates. When one supporter yelled out, “Afghanistan,” Trump repeated him, saying, “I believe it’s higher than Afghanistan,” prompting laughter from some in the crowd.
There’s a lot there. Follow his logic. Most big cities are run by Democrats and full of black murderous thugs. The two groups work together, and those black murderous thugs aren’t even American. Those cities are Afghanistan, not America. That’s not America – and all federal funding sent their way is stolen money, presumably stolen from the white folks cheering him on in Cincinnati. He might as well have just said it’s time to get rid of the damned niggers messing up “our” country, but he knows better than that:
Trump steered clear of mentioning lawmakers by name, in a departure from his recent attacks on Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), whose district includes parts of Baltimore, and four minority Democratic congresswomen, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.).
On Thursday night, he made only a passing mention to “four left-wing extremists” who he said are now leading the Democratic Party, and then told the crowd in the mostly full U.S. Bank Arena: “We can name one after another, but I won’t do that, because I don’t want to be controversial. We want no controversy.”
That was code. Don’t start chanting “No More Niggers!” That’s bad form. Just think that. And none of this is his problem anyway:
The president’s remarks were in line with his recent denunciations of liberal enclaves as violent, dirty and outside the mainstream. Trump offered no policy proposals for how he plans to address the problems he says plague numerous cities across the country.
But there was this:
As protesters disrupted his remarks in Cincinnati on Thursday night, Trump sought to blame the city’s Democratic leader, declaring, “You must have a Democrat mayor. Come on, law enforcement.”
That was a call for the police to wade in and bust a few heads, but Cincinnati is a large diverse city, with lots of minorities of all sorts and yes, Democrats – and black and minority police officers. Trump had to be disappointed. The city’s police weren’t going to beat the crap out of those who don’t like Trump and decide to say so.
But the rest was what it was, Trump being Trump:
His remarks later meandered. At one point, he claimed that AIDS and childhood cancer would soon be cured. At another, during a span of 90 seconds, Trump moved from a long riff on how he learned to pronounce Lima, Ohio, to declaring that U.S. astronauts will go to Mars to attacking a teleprompter for being “boring.” The crowd seemed to lose the thread, as they did during a longer riff about the perils and problems of windmills, long a Trump target.
“If a windmill is within two miles of your house, your house is practically worthless,” Trump said.
That might have made a few in the crowd uncomfortable, but at least they behaved themselves:
There were no “Send her back!” chants during Trump’s remarks Thursday night, unlike the crowd’s response during a rally in Greenville, N.C., last month to the president’s attacks on Omar, who was born in Somalia.
They needed to prove a point. He is not a racist. That’s the word:
Many religious leaders have strongly condemned President Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about minority members of Congress. Prominent figures on the religious right have not joined in, instead maintaining public silence or insisting that Trump’s tactics reflect hard-nosed politics rather than racism.
“He does not judge people by the color of their skin,” said the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the Southern Baptist megachurch First Baptist Dallas and a frequent guest at the White House.
“He judges people on whether they support him,” Jeffress said. “If you embrace him, he’ll embrace you. If you attack him, he’ll attack you. That’s the definition of colorblind.”
Not everyone agrees:
Eleven leaders of Protestant and Catholic groups in Maryland issued a public letter Tuesday imploring Trump to “stop putting people down.”
“Enough of the harmful rhetoric that angers and discourages the people and communities you are called to serve,” the leaders wrote.
A similar message came the same day from leaders of the Washington National Cathedral, designated by Congress as a non-denominational National House of Prayer.
“As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over,” said a statement from three cathedral leaders. “We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation.”
And there were spats:
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the Christian social justice group Sojourners, assailed Trump’s remarks as “a public sin that must be called out” and challenged five of the president’s evangelical supporters, including Jeffress and the Rev. Franklin Graham, to publicly denounce his rhetoric.
“If we hear silence from white people of faith, we are in deep spiritual trouble,” Wallis wrote on Sojourners’ web site. “Christian moral objection to the president’s racist language must grow every day and from many quarters.”
Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham and president of the charity Samaritan’s Purse, said the president’s critics had devalued the word “racism.”
“The left has weaponized it and uses it against their opponents,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday.
He was saying that no one knows what that word means anymore, but most everyone else decided they didn’t want to talk about this at all.
But there was an exception:
Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the 69-year-old daughter of the infamously segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, sees parallels between her father’s politics and that of President Donald Trump.
At an event last week at the Birmingham Public Library, Wallace Kennedy told attendees that she “saw daddy a lot in 2016,” according to AL.com writer John Archibald’s column published on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately it does look like the ’60s now,” she said.
Wallace Kennedy also said the “two greatest motivators” at her late father’s rallies were “fear and hate.”
“There was no policy solution,” she continued, “just white middle-class anger.”
And history does seem to repeat itself:
Wallace, whom civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. once called “perhaps the most dangerous racist in America,” touted his staunchly pro-segregation stances in fiery campaign rally speeches when he ran for president three times in the 1960s and ’70s. And as governor of Alabama, he ordered state troopers to “use whatever measures are necessary” to halt civil rights activists’ march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, leading to a violent conflict known today as “Bloody Sunday.”
“I hope we don’t go back,” his daughter said at the event, according to AL.com. “But it looks like where we are slipping – that seems to be where the top is taking us.”
But there was more history. The Atlantic published an article by Tim Naftali – Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation with Richard Nixon – with subhead “In newly unearthed audio, the then–California governor disparaged African delegates to the United Nations.”
This wasn’t pretty:
The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries – damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.
And there was another daughter, Patti Davis, trying to deal with this:
Something was taken out of context. His words were careless, not harmful. I was preparing my defense ahead, composing a reasonable explanation for whatever I was about to encounter.
But I wasn’t prepared for the tape of my father using the word “monkeys” to describe black African delegates to the United Nations who had voted in a way that angered him. Nor could I wrap my head around his comment about them not being comfortable wearing shoes. I don’t know if it was masochism or shock, but I listened to the tape twice before allowing myself to cry. I wanted the story to go away, to get buried in the news of the Democratic debate. I wanted to immediately go back in time to before I heard my father’s voice saying those words.
But she couldn’t do that, and she’s not Franklin Graham. She doesn’t play word games:
There is no defense, no rationalization, no suitable explanation for what my father said on that taped phone conversation.
If I had read his words as a quotation, and not heard them, I’d have said they were fabricated. That he would never say such things. Because I never heard anything like that from him. In fact, when I was growing up, bigotry and racism were addressed in my family by making it clear that these were toxic and sinister beliefs that should always be called out and shunned. I can’t tell you about the man who was on the phone with Richard Nixon that day in 1971. He’s not a man I knew.
All I can do is tell you about my father.
And she remembers this:
That man held a small girl in his lap and answered her question about why people come in different colors. “God made all his creations in different colors,” he said. “It would be pretty boring if we all looked the same.” I can tell you about my father’s father, who wouldn’t let his two sons see “The Birth of a Nation” because it glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and how both Jack and Nelle Reagan drilled into their sons that racism in any form would not be tolerated. I can tell you about a night when my father was in college, on the football team, and the team came to his hometown for a game. They arrived at the local hotel and were told that the black players couldn’t stay there. My father said, “Then I’m not staying here,” and he took them to his parents’ house. When he was governor of California, he was given a membership to a ritzy country club in Los Angeles. He turned it down because the club didn’t allow Jews or African Americans.
But maybe that doesn’t matter:
I can tell you all these things, and more, but it doesn’t remove the knife cut of the words I heard him say on that tape. That wound will stay with me forever. But I believe, if my father had, years after the fact, heard that tape, he would have asked for forgiveness. He would have said, “I deeply regret what I said – that’s not who I am.” He would have sought to make amends for the pain his words caused.
She is saying her father was never Donald Trump, but she has never had much use for Republicans, and now that they excuse Trump, and defend him, no matter what, she has had enough. In April it was this:
You have claimed his legacy, exalted him as an icon of conservatism and used the quotes of his that serve your purpose at any given moment. Yet at this moment in America’s history when the democracy to which my father pledged himself and the Constitution that he swore to uphold, and did faithfully uphold, are being degraded and chipped away at by a sneering, irreverent man who traffics in bullying and dishonesty, you stay silent.
You stay silent when President Trump speaks of immigrants as if they are trash, rips children from the arms of their parents and puts them in cages. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that my father said America was home “for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness.”
You stayed silent when this president fawned over Kim Jong-Un and took Vladimir Putin’s word over America’s security experts. You stood mutely by when one of his spokesmen, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said there is nothing wrong with getting information from Russians. And now you do not act when Trump openly defies legitimate requests from Congress, showing his utter contempt for one of the branches of our government.
Most egregiously, you remained silent when Trump said there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis who marched through an American city with Tiki torches, chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”
She expects more of these people:
Those of us who are not Republicans still have a right to expect you to act in a principled, moral and, yes, even noble way. Our democracy is in trouble, and everyone who has been elected to office has an obligation to save it. Maybe you’re frightened of Trump – that idea has been floated. I don’t quite understand what’s frightening about an overgrown child who resorts to name-calling, but if that is the case, then my response is: You are grown men and women. Get over it.
And stop talking about her father:
Trump has been wounding our democracy for the past two years. If he is reelected for another term, it’s almost a given that America will not survive – at least not as the country the Founding Fathers envisioned, and not as the idealistic experiment they built using a Constitution designed to protect democracy and withstand tyranny.
My father knew we were fragile. He said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”
So, to the Republican Party that holds tightly to my father’s legacy – if you are going to stand silent as America is dismantled and dismembered, as democracy is thrown onto the ash heap of yesterday, shame on you. But don’t use my father’s name on the way down.
It seems that these two daughters of famous men don’t like what they see, because they remember their fathers, but Trump is who he is, and there’s no changing that. That means that there’s only changing this:
Rep. Will Hurd, the lone black Republican in the House and the rare GOP lawmaker to at times criticize President Trump, will not seek reelection, he told the Washington Post.
Hurd’s retirement is the third by a Texas Republican in the past week and the ninth by a party incumbent, dealing a blow to GOP efforts to regain control of the House in next year’s election.
With Hurd’s retirement, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) would be the lone black Republican in Congress.
The party is turning pure white, so it was time to ride off into the sunset:
In an interview Thursday with the Post, Hurd criticized Trump’s racist tweets last month in which the president said four Democratic minority congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
“When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you,” Hurd said.
But Hurd also repeated his earlier pledge to vote for Trump if he’s the Republican nominee in 2020. He said Hispanics, African Americans and other groups would be receptive to conservative themes if they weren’t drowned in racially charged rhetoric.
There’s no room now to talk about fiscally responsible small government and states’ rights and deregulating everything and ending abortion and birth control too, and even lower taxes on the rich and tariffs that will stop most worldwide trade until the rest of the world bows to our awesomeness. Trump only wants to talk about how awful blacks and Muslims and Mexicans are. Hurd has had enough, but this was a long time coming:
Hurd, who represents a district that includes 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other House member, has been a frequent critic of Trump’s border wall proposal, calling it a “third-century solution to a 21st-century problem.” He instead favored increased use of technology and additional Border Patrol staffing.
He opposed Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert funds to border wall construction and was one of only 14 Republicans to vote to override the president’s veto of a bill that sought to block the national emergency.
Hurd called on Trump to abandon his presidential bid in October 2016 after The Post reported on an audio tape in which the GOP nominee boasted of groping women, one of only a handful of Republican elected officials to do so.
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Hurd frequently warned about Russian election interference and was less strident than other Republicans in criticism of investigations of Trump.
Who does he think he is, Ronald Reagan, the man who would, if his daughter is correct, apologize for being a jerk now and then, and mean it? Hurd would do that.
Donald Trump won’t. Donald Trump was in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is always twenty years behind the times.