One can only conjecture about the wells of uncommon discipline Donald Trump tapped to find the strength to avow that he, too, is enjoined in the fight against the “R” word. It must have been his moment of Zen, and, judging from the incessant sniffles that punctuated his proclamation, it appears he may have even received a little chemical assistance.
Donald Trump is down with the fight against racism in somewhat the way Richard Nixon was down with the Flower Children. That is to say, falteringly, stiffly, unconvincingly. Of course, when Richard Nixon and his valet, Manolo Sanchez, ventured forth to the Lincoln Memorial to “hang with the hippies” and “rap about Vietnam” in the wee hours of May 9th, 1970, it was an odd thing to do, a manic thing, perhaps, but it also had a certain amount of class. For one thing, it was an act of pure courage. Nixon sought out and confronted the people who hated him the most, armed with nothing but words and his belief, however misguided, that he was right. They could have torn him to pieces and no one could have stopped them.
Donald Trump is a coward entirely without class, who doesn’t even have the courage of his own convictions. The act of self-abasement that made him renounce racism and white supremacy was nothing more than a lie. Very soon he will return to his hate, and it will be as if he never uttered the words (read without passion from a teleprompter): “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
Someone convinced Trump that if he didn’t utter those words there was a very good chance he will lose the presidency in 2020. He must have known that the words would manifest in loud and painful groans in certain quarters of his overtly racist base. He weighed the pros and cons and took a chance. In the long run it will make no difference. Trump is a racist and a white supremacist with no impulse control, and he will foreswear those words a thousand times between now and 2020. It’s what he always does.
Meanwhile in El Paso, where he is not wanted, not needed, and largely and justly blamed for the things he has said and done to make the massacre possible, he insists on insinuating himself in the middle of it. Because there is no occasion so sad and so solemn that this vile, putrid cretin cannot resist making all about himself.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.