Our president dances with the devil. He has always done so.
Trump did not hide his dance. He whirled around the floor, stomping and baying with abandon.
But some are finally waking up to it. Some have stopped averting their eyes. Others, not so much.
First Read, the morning news aggregator published by NBC Universal, said Wednesday morning: “Trump loses his moral authority after boosting white nationalists: All modern American presidents can use, abuse or lose their moral authority. But just more than 200 days in office, President Donald Trump lost that moral authority — maybe for good — after legitimizing last weekend’s white nationalist protest in Charlottesville in his remarks Tuesday.”
Trump lost his moral authority? When did he have it?
When he was saying during the campaign that Mexicans were rapists? That POWs were cowards? That the disabled should be objects of ridicule? That some women should be called “fat,” “disgusting” and “ugly”? That Muslims should be kept out of America?
Where was his moral authority when he said in that infamous “Access Hollywood” taping: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the [genitals]!” he howled. “You can do anything!”
You can do anything when you’re a star. That is the “moral authority” of Donald Trump. (I must say here that First Read is almost always an excellent, even indispensable, publication. I think the devil just slipped in one night and changed the type.)
It is normal to look for the good in all people. Trump just makes it very difficult to find.
One of his former goons, Anthony Scaramucci, went on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Monday and said of Trump: “He did condemn the Nazis today.”
“Two days later!” Colbert shot back. “Does he order his spine from Amazon Prime?”
On Tuesday after Trump equated the two sides in Charlottesville, David Duke embraced him: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists…”
Did Trump renounce Duke’s support? No.
The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to Duke as the “most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial.”
During the campaign, Trump denied knowing anything about David Duke. But in fact, on Nov. 19, 1991, on Larry King’s show, Trump analyzed the upcoming presidential race and said, “… if David Duke runs, David Duke is going to get a lot of votes. Whether that be good or bad, David Duke is going to get a lot of votes.”
Whether that be good or bad? Trump did not know which. Was his moral authority on sleep mode that day? Or maybe he was too busy doing the samba with Satan.
It is said that the devil’s cleverest wile is to convince us that he does not exist.
So Trump muddies the waters about what happened in Charlottesville. There was evil on “many sides” and badness on “both sides,” he says.
These are not the words we would wish from the leader of a great nation. Winston Churchill once said: “I decline utterly to be impartial between the fire brigade and the fire.”
But we do not need such eloquence and wit. A mere expression of morality will do.
“‘Both sides’ did not carry Nazi flags, drive a vehicle into innocent people or bring hatred to the streets of VA. There is no ‘both sides,’” Debbie Dingell, a Democratic congresswoman from Michigan, tweeted Tuesday.
A few minutes before that, her husband, John Dingell, a former congressman, had tweeted: “If you refuse to denounce these animals, you stand with them. If your elected officials won’t call this what it is, they are unfit to serve.”
John Dingell had a little perspective on what evil can do when good people fail to stand up to it early and often.
On Saturday, he had Tweeted: “I signed up to fight Nazis 73 years ago and I’ll do it again if I have to. Hatred, bigotry, & fascism should have no place in this country.”
Perhaps Michael Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, put it best. He went on NBC News Sunday and said: “When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you.”
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