The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Off the Prompter

Trump turned in a truly extraordinary performance at his Trump Tower press conference just now that was probably meant, in part, as a middle finger to his advisers who convinced him to read yesterday’s remarks. He stood by his specific denunciation of the Nazis and white supremacists but justified his vague statement on Saturday by saying he needed more facts. That might hold water if he was, say, only addressing the car attack (the identity and the likely motive of the driver weren’t clearly established until later). But he didn’t need more facts to forthrightly and immediately denounce the Nazis and associated low-lifes. Then, he went on today to praise the rally on Friday night, which was a torch-lit Nazi march, and to say there were good people just concerned with defending Robert E. Lee on the alt-right side of the protests. This is, needless to say, outrageous (good people don’t march together with protesters holding Nazi flags). The press is exercised about two further contentions that I think are correct, namely that there was violence on both sides (even if the Nazis were the instigators and had a murderer in their midst) and that there is potentially a slippery slope from removing Confederate statues to statues of the Founders. Many of his supporters no doubt loved this characteristically combative performance, but it shows that Trump couldn’t just let his Charlottesville statement from yesterday stand and rather than trying to rise above it, he’s happy to be no-holds-barred participant in the angry national debate in the aftermath of last weekend.