Donald Trump’s statement today on Saturday’s murder in Charlottesville — a grudging, teleprompted address that came only after days of foot-dragging and criticism — is the latest edition of a well-warn tango.
Time and again, Trump loudly and clearly signals solidarity with the worst and most deplorable elements in American life, only to grudgingly back away in a manner designed more to give his fellow Republicans cover than to redress any actual harms.
There was nothing in today’s remarks that couldn’t have been said two days ago, and there was no hint of remorse or self-reflection over the pain his behavior has caused.
White supremacists like David Duke who see Trump as winking at them will, rightly, feel that once again the president’s willingness to take political heat on their behalf constitutes a not-so-subtle thumbs up. Americans who feel alarmed by the growing boldness of white nationalists will, rightly, feel that the president doesn’t take their concerns seriously. But Republican Party members of Congress and conservative media and institutional leaders who were discomfited by Trump’s odd behavior will have the license they need to pretend that everything is fine.
The Trump Tango Is Tiresome and Pointless