Former Maryland Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich offered a three-prong defense of Donald Trump on Fox News on Monday night regarding his recent tweets attacking Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings. As with any defense of the indefensible, Ehrlich’s attempt was shameful, weak, and false. But it was also a bit too bold for its own good because he managed to shine the spotlight on perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of Trump’s attacks: his naked hypocrisy.
First, Ehrlich tried to defend Trump’s attacks by pretending this is simply what Trump does to everyone: “When the President gets hit, he hits back. He doesn’t care what color you are.” This is the talking point that Trump’s defenders embrace every time their guy gets dangerously close to uttering the n-word. It’s getting more tired and laughably inaccurate by the day.
Second, Ehrlich attempted to follow the adage that the best defense is a good offense. Rather than admit there was anything wrong with Trump’s tweets, Ehrlich suggested Trump should be praised because his tweets may offer the chance “to get people to focus in on some of the dire problems” affecting Baltimore and other American cities.
Ehrlich then took his defense into the Twilight Zone with a third prong involving self-declared moral superiority in the face of supposed hypocrisy. “There is a double standard,” Ehrlich proclaimed. “And everything this President does, quite frankly, is going to be demonized and is going to lend itself to a lot of analysis.”
It’s good he brought that up. In April 2015, a man who did not hold any office loudly claimed that the President of the United States is the person responsible for fixing Baltimore’s crime problems. In a tweet, he sarcastically called Obama “[o]ur great African American President” and told him “you have a big job to do.” He then ordered Obama to “[g]o to Baltimore and bring both sides together,” insisting that “with proper leadership, it can be done! Do it.” Finally, the same man boasted, “I would fix it fast!”
Ehrlich is right that there is a double standard going on when it comes to Trump and his recent attacks on Baltimore and Cummings, but not in the way he might imagine. Trump is the man behind those 2015 tweets and, considered together with Trump’s recent tweets, serve as yet another reminder of how Trump acts in a purely transactional way with no concern for consistency or morality. If there is any coherent message to glean from Trump’s bluster, it is that urban issues are apparently the responsibility of the President only when the President happens to be black. At this point, any current or former GOP lawmaker who rushes to defend Trump after his crass, racist, and hypocritical attacks is either a political coward or an outright fool.