The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump: You Can Tell When He Means It

As I often noted, you could tell when President Obama’s heart was in it. You will recall his riff on businessmen and greater society: “You didn’t build that.” Obama was impassioned. His heart was in it.

In his 2008 debates with John McCain, Obama mouthed some platitudes — “Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock, and the Golden Rule!” (I’ve borrowed that from Meredith Willson.) He mouthed them perfunctorily. Obligatorily. I could almost hear David Axelrod say, “Now, Senator, you must say these things in order to be elected! It’s expected.” To me, Obama sometimes looked like he was making a hostage video. I could almost see him blinking T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

(A moment of silence for the great Jeremiah Denton.)

You can tell when President Trump’s heart is in it too. When he tears after Mika Brzezinski, for example, his heart is in it. He is passionate. By contrast, his statement about Charlottesville yesterday seemed forced. Involuntary. There was an element of the hostage video about it.

It was like Trump’s statement last fall, acknowledging that Obama was an American citizen. (Trump made the statement after touting his latest hotel.) Trump’s statement back then was nothing but perfunctory, checking a box.

His heart was in it yesterday morning, when he tweeted the following: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

That’s the Trump we know, the true Trump, right?

And here he is again, yesterday afternoon: “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”

There’s no doubt that’s Trump, right? The true gen.

For good measure, the president retweeted one of the leaders of the alt-Right, Jack Posobiec, a trafficker in the Pizzagate story and the Seth Rich story, among others. (The Right has its own “#Fake News.”) Quite possibly, that sends a message to the nationalists and their ilk.

Dumping on Trump now is Al Sharpton — yet he and the president have a lot in common. They come out of the New York tabloid world. And they are masters at PR.

They both ran for president, too, though only one of them made it, spectacularly.

Both Sharpton and Trump are loath to apologize, for anything. They think it makes them look weak. Sharpton, for example, has never apologized for the Tawana Brawley hoax. As he once put it, “They are asking me to grovel. They want black children to say that they forced a black man coming out of the hardcore ghetto to his knees.”

The Rev continued, “Once you begin bending, it’s, ‘Did you bend today?’ or, ‘I missed the apology, say it again.’ Once you start compromising, you lose respect for yourself.”

He also said that Jesse Jackson had made a big mistake when he apologized for calling New York City “Hymietown.” It had gained him nothing, said Sharpton.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump had some advice for Howie Carr, the Boston columnist and radio host. Carr had mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren, the self-identified Cherokee, with a war whoop.

According to Carr himself, Trump said, “Whatever you do, don’t apologize. You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek, way back. Remember? He was doing okay till he said he was sorry.”

(Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was a sports commentator who was fired by CBS after making a remark about black athletes. He said that they were better than white athletes because blacks had been “bred” that way during slavery.)

Obviously, there are millions who thrill to Trump and millions who don’t. There are even some lukewarm people, believe it or not: I know a fair amount of them. In any case, American politics is now The Donald Trump Show, and the show continues, day by day, tweet by tweet …

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