Saturday, December 9, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He appeared at a civil rights museum opening, and in a robocall for a man who specifically cited the era of slavery as the United States' greatest time.

Trump spent 40 minutes this morning at the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, appearing only in private after outrage by some of the very people the museum honors. Citing Trump's embrace of white nationalist rhetoric, John Lewis and other veterans of the civil rights movement stayed away from the opening after Trump, at the last minute, accepted an invitation from Mississippi's Republican governor Phil Bryant to attend. Trump read carefully from a prepared statement, did not take questions, did not appear in public, and did not see any of the protestors who gathered to meet him.

Trump's actual reason for appearing in Mississippi is its proximity to Alabama. Trump is enthusiastically campaigning for GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore and held a rally just across the Florida border last night, but given the very real prospect that Moore may lose--almost unthinkable for a Republican in that state--he seems to be trying to hedge his political bets by not actually crossing the border. 

At some point after he left the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this morning, Trump recorded a "robocall" on behalf of the Moore campaign, according to a White House spokesperson.

The two things are connected. Moore is chiefly known these days for the nine women who say he "dated" them and made sexual contact with them when he was a middle-aged man and they were as young as 14. But when he was asked by an African-American man in September when he last thought America was "great," Moore responded, “I think it was great at the time when families were united—even though we had slavery—they cared for one another.... Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

Why is this a problem?

  • A president who can't attend a civil rights museum opening without making a mockery of it the same day shouldn't go.
  • A president who can't attend a civil rights museum opening without making a mockery of it shouldn't be president.