Nazi white supremacist attack in Charlottesville may truly be Donald Trump’s Katrina
Over the past decade, Hurricane Katrina has become a political football on all sides. Detractors of President Obama have hyperbolically spun every incident during his presidency as being “Obama’s Katrina” and so on. I’ve refrained from using that term in reference to Donald Trump because I haven’t wanted to play into that hyperbole. But today, for the first time, the Nazi and white supremacist incident in Charlottesville feels like it truly may be Trump’s Katrina. Allow me to explain.
Moderate Americans never did figure out that George W. Bush’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina was years in the making. He had put one of his own cronies in charge of FEMA as a favor even though he lacked any qualifications or experiences, because he couldn’t have cared less about whether FEMA was able to help those in distress. So of course the Bush administration’s response to Katrina ended up being inept.
But while moderates may have missed that nuance, what they did pick up on was that Bush was completely incapable of responding to a domestic crisis. In a moment where America needed quick and decisive leadership, it got tepid nonsense. And that was the day that the American middle – and even those conservatives near the middle – turned against Bush.
Perhaps half of Donald Trump’s remaining support comes from his own racist and extremist base. The other half comes from Americans who are closer to the middle and have never loved him, and have only ever passively supported him. It’s that secondary layer of support that Trump has been losing as his approval rating has dropped from mid forties when he took office to now mid thirties. And days like today, in which Trump simply comes off as ineffective and weak and inept, go a long way to costing him even more of that secondary support. If he keeps losing enough of them, his remaining core base isn’t even close to being large enough to keep him viable.
And so while today’s violent and deadly Nazi and white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was largely a result of Donald Trump’s two years of pushing an overtly racist agenda, it’s not clear whether moderate Americans – or those in the center right who have only ever supported Trump with the very least amount of enthusiasm – will figure out that this attack was Trump’s fault. What they will see, however, is that his response was inept. He merely called it “sad” while refusing to condemn these racist hatemongers for being what they are.
You and I know that it’s because these white supremacists are Donald Trump’s base, and he’s afraid of crossing them too severely. Moderate Americans are simply seeing this as Trump being totally incapable of showing any leadership during a crisis in which actual Nazis carried out a deadly terrorist attack against American citizens on American soil. Moderates generally either don’t understand or don’t care about liberal vs conservative policy. But whenever things hit the fan, they despise a lack of leadership. That alone may mean that today’s incident ends up being Trump’s Katrina.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report