The Candidate of White America

Donald Trump graduated from his high school, the New York Military Academy – that historic military themed boarding school near West Point that went bankrupt in 2015 and is now owned and run by a Chinese corporation – in June 1964 – before the school was Chinese. Many of us graduated from high school that year or the next year, those two years when everything changed. Martin Luther King had gone from a curiosity to an irritant to a national hero. He had a dream. His dream made sense. Let’s go with that. Lyndon Johnson then uttered those words “We Shall Overcome” in front of a joint session of Congress. He twisted arms. That worked. There was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and suddenly the Democratic Party had lost the South forever. The South stayed behind. They voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964. No one else did.

Things had changed. Trump and the rest of us graduated from high school into a new world. Even the music was different. It was loudly and happily blacker. And soon it was the hippies and Vietnam and all the rest. The old comfortable world of the fifties, with its quiet women and invisible gays and Black folks who asked for nothing and did whatever it was they did, quietly, in the background, as they should, was gone forever. Half of us thought that this new world was pretty damned cool and dived right in. The other half wondered what the hell had just happened, and was continuing to happen. Where did all these Black people come from? This wasn’t fair. Train for one world, get handed another. Take it or leave it. The other half was angry. Maybe, as old men now, they still are.

That might explain Donald Trump. Perhaps he can bring back that comfortable world of the fifties, when he was comfortable. Perhaps he can do that for the nation. That might explain what Peter Baker sees here:

After a summer when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets protesting racial injustice against Black Americans, President Trump has made it clear over the last few days that, in his view, the country’s real race problem is bias against white Americans.

He had enough of King’s dream. White people matter too:

Just days after returning from Kenosha, Wis., where he staunchly backed law enforcement and did not mention the name of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot seven times in the back by the police, Mr. Trump issued an order on Friday to purge the federal government of racial sensitivity training that his White House called “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

The president then spent much of the weekend tweeting about his action, presenting himself as a warrior against identity politics. “This is a sickness that cannot be allowed to continue,” he wrote of such programs. “Please report any sightings so we can quickly extinguish!” He reposted a tweet from a conservative outlet hailing his order: “Sorry liberals! How to be Anti-White 101 is permanently cancelled!”

Trump was clear. To say that this or that nasty or fatal police action of any kind might be racially motivated is divisive and anti-American. That cannot be, which Baker finds odd:

Not in generations has a sitting president so overtly declared himself the candidate of white America.

The message appears designed to galvanize supporters who have cheered what they see as a defiant stand against political correctness since the days when he kicked off his last presidential campaign in 2015 by denouncing, without evidence, Mexicans crossing the border as “rapists.” While he initially voiced concern over the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis this spring, which touched off nationwide protests, he has focused since then almost entirely on defending the police and condemning demonstrations during which there have been outbreaks of looting and violence.

He has described American cities as hotbeds of chaos, played to “suburban housewives” he casts as fearful of low-income people moving into their neighborhoods, sought to block a move – backed by the Pentagon and Republican lawmakers – to rename Army bases named for Confederate generals, criticized NASCAR for banning the Confederate flag, called Black Lives Matters a “symbol of hate” and vowed to strip funding from cities that do not take what he deems tough enough action against protesters.

In effect, he is reaching out to a subset of white voters who think the news media and political elites see Trump supporters as inherently racist.

Those of us who are demographic cohorts of Trump see this all the time on Facebook, the old high school classmate posting the slick and premade graphic – They hate Black Lives Matter but they support all Black people. They might add in a personal comment that some of their best friends are black, so they can’t be racists.

That gets old fast, but that’s the claim:

Mr. Trump has repeatedly rejected the notion that America has a problem with systemic racial bias, dismissing instances of police brutality against Black Americans as the work of a few “bad apples,” in his words.

Aides said Mr. Trump’s actions were aimed at eliminating pernicious views that actually exacerbate prejudice. “President Trump believes that all men and women are created equal, and he will stand against anti-American philosophies of all kinds that promote racial division,” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said on Sunday.

So, to point out something that seems to be racist is itself a deeply racist act, so stop picking on white folks, which is a bit confusing:

The president’s approach in recent days seems to belie the Republican convention programming that sought to soften his image on race by featuring validators like Herschel Walker, the onetime football star, and Vernon Jones, a Black Democratic state legislator from Georgia, who testified to Mr. Trump’s friendship and support for people of all races.

Neither of those two said the nation should quit picking on white folks, Trump’s main message, but this is a muddle:

The president often makes the unfounded assertion that he has done more for Black Americans than any president other perhaps than Abraham Lincoln. He cites his support for funding for historically Black colleges and universities, his signature on legislation overhauling criminal justice sentencing and an unemployment rate for Black people that dropped to record lows on his watch, continuing a trend that had begun under his predecessor, until it rose again with the pandemic-related economic slowdown.

No one believes that and no one cares. That’s just something his base can point to, even if it’s not true at all. That sort of thing makes them happy. And as for that federal training, Donald Trump does what Tucker Carlson tells him to do:

Like other policies put forth with little advance notice, Mr. Trump’s focus on diversity training seems to have originated with something he saw on Fox News. On Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson interviewed Christopher F. Rufo, a conservative scholar at the Discovery Institute who criticized what he called the “cult indoctrination” of “critical race theory” programs in the government.

“It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory has pervaded every institution in the federal government, and what I’ve discovered is that critical race theory has become in essence the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people,” Mr. Rufo said on the program.

On his website, Mr. Rufo identified six agencies that had conducted training sessions that he said asserted that America is inherently racist and promoted concepts like unconscious bias, white privilege and white fragility. At the Treasury Department, for instance, he said employees had been told that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and that white staff members should “struggle to own their racism.”

Mr. Trump’s memo on Friday adopted much of this language, attributing it to “press reports.”

And then he really went to town:

Mr. Trump wrote or reposted roughly 20 Twitter messages about the memo on Saturday and on Sunday said the Education Department would investigate schools that use curriculum from the 1619 Project by The New York Times Magazine, an effort to look at American history through the frame of slavery’s consequences and the contributions of Black Americans.

No one should EVER discuss such things. To discuss slavery’s consequences and the contributions of Black Americans is itself deeply racist. That would be picking on white folk once again. And it really is time to choose sides:

“To say antiracism is anti-American is to say racism is American, which is to say Trump wants white Americans to be racist,” said Ibram X. Kendi, the author of “How to Be an Anti-Racist” and director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. “And that’s precisely the point. He’s relying on manipulating the racist fears of white voters to win them over. Once white people lose those fears through interventions like trainings, Trump loses their votes.”

Mr. Rufo, though, said on Sunday that Mr. Trump was pitting his America First narrative celebrating the nation’s heritage against what he called the Black Lives Matter narrative that America was founded on racism. “The president is framing the election for voters in these terms,” he said. “Do they want to preserve the American way of life or do they want to burn it down?”

Donald Trump has made his choice. He didn’t like the world he had to face after high school, and he turned into the old man in the new book that Maggie Haberman reviews here:

President Trump routinely referred to Black leaders of foreign nations with racist insults. He had an abiding admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin’s willingness to treat Russia like a personal business. And he was consumed with hatred for President Barack Obama.

Those are the descriptions that Michael D. Cohen, a former personal lawyer and self-described fixer for Mr. Trump, lays out in his book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” which paints the president as a sordid, mob-like figure willing to engage in underhanded tactics against anyone opposing him.

But race is always a factor:

“As a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics,” Mr. Cohen writes in the book, to be released Tuesday. He describes Mr. Trump calling Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule, “no leader.”

“Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a shithole,” Mr. Cohen quotes Mr. Trump as saying.

Expect a denial, unless Trump wants to say that’s exactly what he said, to make his base happy, but this is just odd:

The book describes Mr. Trump hiring “a Faux-Bama, or fake Obama, to record a video where Trump ritualistically belittled the first Black president and then fired him, a kind of fantasy fulfillment that it was hard to imagine any adult would spend serious money living out – until he did the functional equivalent in the real world.”

The video Mr. Cohen describes appears to be a recording that was supposed to be shown the first night of the Republican National Convention in 2012, when Mr. Trump had endorsed the party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and insisted on having time during the programming.

This was Romney’s convention. This went too far. He made Trump go away. No one ever saw that video. But this book should go away too:

Asked about the many claims in the book, which The New York Times obtained an advance copy of, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, was dismissive.

“Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer who lied to Congress,” she said in a statement. “He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”

Maybe so, but it all rings true, and Axios notes this:

Cohen doubles down on claims denied by Trump that he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 before the last election. He alleges that the president said he’d “have to pay” first lady Melania Trump a “far greater sum” if the alleged affair became public, claiming that Trump reimbursed him for “fake legal fees” later.

“If it comes out, I’m not sure how it would play with my supporters. But I bet they’d think it’s cool that I slept with a porn star,” Trump allegedly said, according to Cohen.

In an excerpt seen by the Washington Post, Cohen alleges the president said: “I will never get the Hispanic vote. Like the blacks, they’re too stupid to vote for Trump.”

Trump will say he never said that. Cohen will say he was right there and heard Trump say that. There’s little reason to believe either of them. Call it a draw, but Ashley Parker adds a bit more:

Cohen acknowledges his own challenges as a credible narrator throughout the 432-page book, which is subtitled “The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump.” He describes himself as Trump’s “designated thug” and discusses his felony convictions for lying to Congress and violating campaign laws in service to Trump. Cohen, who now advocates Trump’s defeat in November, is still serving a three-year federal prison sentence for those crimes and for personal financial offenses.

But he saw what he saw:

On Russia, Cohen writes that the cause behind Trump’s admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin is simpler than many of his critics assume. Above all, he writes, Trump loves money – and he wrongly identified Putin as “the richest man in the world by a multiple.”

Trump loved Putin, Cohen wrote, because the Russian leader had the ability “to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company – like the Trump Organization, in fact.”

And there’s this:

Cohen also reveals new alleged details about the convoluted effort behind a National Enquirer report smearing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Cohen says that Trump signed off on the baseless report to damage Cruz, one of his rivals in the 2016 Republican primary.

“It’s not real, right?” Trump allegedly asked after being shown a photograph, which the magazine would claim depicted Cruz’s father with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

“Looks real to me!” Cohen responded, according to the book, prompting Trump to laugh as he demanded that the story be run on the tabloid’s front page.

That has nothing to do with bias against white Americans, but it does show how the man operates. Ashley Parker also offers this:

On Aug. 30, the president retweeted footage of a Black man violently pushing a White woman on a subway platform under the caption, “Black Lives Matter/Antifa” – but the man was not affiliated with either group, and the video was shot in October. White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline.

And Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, released a video, splicing together quotes from activist Ady Barkan – who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses computer voice assistance – to falsely make it sound as if he had persuaded Biden to defund police departments.

That’s how they roll:

For the president and his top supporters, it was a campaign push brimming with disinformation – disseminating falsehoods and trafficking in obfuscation at a rapid clip, through the use of selectively edited videos, deceptive retweets and false statements.

The slew of false and misleading tweets and videos stood in contrast to the approach taken by Biden, the former vice president, who in 2019 took a pledge promising not to participate in the spread of disinformation over social media, including rejecting the use of “deep fake” videos.

That may have been a tactical mistake:

Trump’s campaign shared a short video on Aug. 31 of Biden saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” But the video failed to include the full context of Biden’s remarks, which he used to argue the opposite – that Americans are experiencing violence and unrest in Trump’s America.

Some social media platforms, including Twitter, removed some of the misleading and manipulated content or labeled it as such. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, claimed its out-of-context video saying voters wouldn’t be safe in “Joe Biden’s America” was simply in jest, lambasting “all the triggered journalists who can’t take a joke about their candidate.”

White House spokesman Judd Deere dismissed the idea that the president is actively promoting disinformation, saying that “the American people never have to wonder what the president is thinking or how he feels about a particular topic.”

That’s the problem. The American people do know what he’s thinking and how he feels all the time, every hour of every day, and that scares them. He may want to go back to high school. Few others want that. Kamala Harris is one of those:

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris strongly rebuked President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr for denying there’s systemic racism in the US justice system, saying they are “spending full time in a different reality.”

“We do have two systems of justice” for Black and White Americans, Harris said.

The comments from the first Black and South Asian American woman on a major party presidential ticket come less than two months before the November election in an exclusive “State of the Union” interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, in which Harris suggested Trump was not a “real leader” on racial justice and was trying to “pretend that he has been a leader” on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism in terms of how the laws have been enforced,” said Harris, a California senator and former state attorney general. “It does us no good to deny that. Let’s just deal with it. Let’s be honest. These might be difficult conversations for some, but they’re not difficult conversations for leaders, not for real leaders.”

But that’s un-American:

William Barr, the nation’s top law enforcement official, dismissed the idea of “two justice systems” in a CNN interview Wednesday. “I think we have to be a little careful about throwing the idea of racism around,” he said. “I don’t think it is as common as people suggest.”

So said the old white man, but she’ll get hers. Gabby Orr of Politico reports this:

Kamala Harris is about to get the Trump treatment.

President Donald Trump has long excelled at ridiculing opponents and fomenting rivalries among those around him – from contestants on “The Apprentice” to his top aides inside the White House. Now he and his campaign are eyeing ways to drive a wedge between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his younger, lesser-known running mate.

The president and his allies are plotting ways to portray Harris as a serious threat to the working-class voters whom Biden hopes to flip this fall, four years after many across the Rust Belt ditched Democrats to support Trump. They’re digging up her comments from Democratic primary debates, hoping they can use them to put her and Biden on defense.

They’re coming up dry, so they have to generalize:

“Kamala Harris is a California liberal who has already defined herself as a radical Democrat with her support of the Green New Deal, socialized medicine, fracking bans, tax raises and taxpayer-funded abortions,” said Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign.

Some of those attacks will be dismissed as false or exaggerated. But the move to cast Harris as a socialist sympathizer and progressive stalwart comes as the Trump campaign struggles to deploy a similar playbook against Biden, who has mocked the president’s attempts to paint him as a “helpless puppet” of the radical left. Trump’s standing against Biden in polls has barely budged throughout the year despite nickname after nickname, a flurry of vicious tweets and numerous presidential press conferences that he’s used to assail his opponent.

But that’s a bit tricky:

The coming focus on Harris presents some challenges for the Trump camp. The president’s team has repeatedly accused Biden of embracing radical social and economic policies to please left-wing revolutionaries ahead of the November election – a line of attack that could complicate efforts to convince voters he and Harris disagree about the direction of their party and the policies their potential administration should enact.

“You can’t spend the summer telling voters they should be afraid of electing Joe Biden because he’s a socialist and then suddenly say, ‘Harris is the actual socialist and she would be in charge if Biden wins,'” said a former Trump campaign official.

What can you say? You can say this:

The Oakland-born senator already got a powerful first wave of the Trump treatment when the president and his allies questioned her eligibility for office the same week she joined the Democratic ticket – a move that drew widespread condemnation even from some in his own party.

“I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer,” Trump, who was the most prominent figure to promote false “birther” conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama during his first term, said of Harris during a news conference last month.

The argument was that her parents were only legal residents and not full citizens when she was born here in Oakland, and although the Fourteenth Amendment says that makes her a citizen, and as the Supreme Court has said in challenge after challenge, that is the law, period, maybe that isn’t the law, not really.

But she’s not white, and Donald Trump is now the candidate of white America. Fine, but white America is gone, if there ever was such a place. Donald Trump had a tough time after high school.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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