Saturday, January 20, 2018

Defending Trump

The publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an ardent Trump supporter, evidently has adopted his hero's style and fomented discord and disruption in the community.  The NPR affiliate in Pittsburgh summarizes

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh said they are “saddened and humiliated” by an editorial published on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Reason as racism: An immigration debate gets derailed” has also faced criticism from former Post-Gazette staff members, major foundations in Pittsburgh, and family members of the paper’s publisher, who have called the editorial a defense of racist rhetoric by President Donald Trump’s.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents 150 current employees of the Post-Gazette, submitted a letter to the editor objecting to the editorial. Guild President Michael Fuoco said that it was rejected by the paper’s publisher, John Robinson Block, and will not be published.

The PPG did publish a critical letter signed by sixteen members of the family which owns its parent company, Block Communications.

Block begins the editorial- published on Martin Luther King's birthday- with "calling someone a racist is the new McCarthyism." (If the publisher even wanted to pretend the piece came from the editorial board, he would have written "racist.")

But Block is not the best messenger, arguing "we need to confine the word “racist” to people like Bull Connor and Dylann Roof."

Excluded would be: a) the late Jimmy 'the Greek' Snyder, fired when he commented 'The slave owner would breed his big black (man) to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid. ... That's where it all started... The black (athletic) talent is beautiful.";  b) the late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, who once remarked "Never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger";  c) the living David Duke, who once maintained "White people don't need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals"; d) any of Duke's former operation, the Ku Klux Klan, or of the American Nazi movement.

Duke is no longer so explicitly racist. Now he thanks President Trump for his "honesty & courage" and contends "we are determined to take the country back" with "the promise of Donald Trump."

Yet, Block's editorial, despite first glance and common interpretation, was not about the promiscuously applied term "racist." He argues

But, when we have a chance to reform the immigration system, and save the Dreamers, and find common ground, let us not get distracted by another cudgel to use against the president. Calling the president a racist helps no one — it is simply another way (the Russia and instability cards having been played unsuccessfully) to attempt to delegitimize a legitimately elected president.

This is about Donald Trump and the myth of conservative victimization. For cultists who ridicule liberal "snowflakes," they are oddly insistent that Trump was "legitimately elected."  They also are determined to insist repeatedly- well before Robert Mueller completes his investigation- that nothing has been proven by the Special Counsel or, as Block imagines it, "the Russia and instability cards having been played unsuccessfully."

"If he is to be removed from office, let the voters do it based on his total performance — temperament as well as accomplishment — in 2020." we're forced to read from a wealthy publisher who fell asleep before the civics instructor got to Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution. (I'm beginning to miss the time when conservatives feigned devotion to Mr. Madison's document.)

Such conservative snowflakes don't even have the courage of their convictions, in this case hostility toward Dreamers.  Block asks, curiously, "If the president had used the world “hellhole” instead, would that have been racist? If he had used the word “failed states,” would that have been racist?"

And if the Pittsburgh Steelers had beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend, would they have beaten the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts this weekend?  We don't know and it doesn't matter. The Steelers did not win and the President did not say "hellhole" or "failed states," instead using a more profane and graphic term, which was very likely not an oversight.

"How many presidents have said crass things in the Oval Office in private meetings? Think of Kennedy, Clinton and Nixon, to name three," Block claims. However, The Hill reports Trump "called friends to brag after the meeting in which (he) reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "'shithole countries.'" This may be the first report of a President proud of his obscene language and determined that several nations would know he held them in contempt.

"The goal," Block disingenuously contends, is "to save the Dreamers. That's what the White House meeting last week was about." At that meeting, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin presented a plan in which the Dreamers would be protected while several of the President's own objectives would be accepted by Democrats. After previously saying he would support whatever Congress gave him, Trump denounced the deal, denying the Dreamers and risking a shutdown of  the federal government so that his own dream of total Democratic capitulation on the Wall might be fulfilled.

The main objective of President Trump's strategy is not to build a wall, assuage hurt feelings on being called out as a  racist, or demonstrate world leadership by publicly condemning other countries as inferior.  As Charlie Sykes has noted, the Republican Party now is "a party devoted to trolling.... because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish."

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