On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump gave a press conference that seemed almost deliberately aimed at retaining the support of the alt-right. That will be the takeaway from a wild 15-minute melee between Trump and the press, in which Trump seemed miffed to even have to speak about the events in Charlottesville.
The press conference seemed to break down into Trump’s answers on four separate topics: (1) why Trump waited so long to engage in condemnation of white supremacists and neo-Nazis; (2) whether the alt-right protesters were worthy of condemnation generally; (3) the evils of the “alt-left”; and (4) the leftist campaign to remove monuments of figures like Robert E. Lee. On the latter two, Trump made some solid points; on the former two, he was a flaming garbage heap of disaster piled atop a manure pile of elephant dung piled atop Satan’s vomit.
So, let’s begin with the positive.
The “alt-left” is a term apparently coined by Sean Hannity to label the far-Left college snowflakes, identity politics devotees, and cudgel-wielding thugs of Antifa. Trump blasted those figures good and hard, and rightly so — the media have refused to talk about Antifa’s violent tactics across the nation, which continued today outside the North Center courthouse:
Trump stated, correctly, “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this? What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do.”
In other positive news, Trump rightly called out the Left’s determination to destroy historic monuments across the country. His argument in favor of retaining a statue of Robert E. Lee wasn’t so much about Lee as about the Left’s trendy new game of ripping American figures out of the history books:
I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself where does it stop. … George Washington was a slaveowner. Was George Washington a slaveowner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues of George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? Do you like him? Are we going to take down his statue, because he was a major slaveowner?... You’re changing history, you’re changing culture.
This is true with regard to the Left’s agenda, although a strong case can be made for moving Confederate war monuments to museums.
So much for the good stuff.
When Trump was asked about why he had waited so long to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists by name, he cited lack of evidence no less than ten times, that he merely waited so that he would know the facts. That’s eminently untrue, for at least two separate reasons. First, Trump routinely announces his perception of the facts before the facts are out with regard to terror attacks. Here’s his hot take after the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre:
Second, Trump knew all the facts. Everybody knew the facts, which is why Trump’s written statement on Saturday reportedly included a condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. No, Trump isn’t a considered fellow just waiting for all the evidence to arise. He delayed because he wanted to delay.
Then the doozy: Trump defended the alt-right.
Trump repeated that he condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists. But when directly asked about the alt-right — a white supremacist movement led by the likes of Richard Spencer, who attended the rallies in Charlottesville — Trump suddenly drew a blank:
When you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. No, define it for me. Come on, let’s go, you define it for me.
He then admonished the media, stating over and over again that the crowd at the Charlottesville protests was filled with decent folks:
Not all those people were neo-Nazis, believe me, not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch … you had people who were very fine people on both sides … you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
Trump particularly singled out the attendees at the Friday night event for praise:
There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before, if you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
Here’s some video of the “very quiet,” “very fine people” from Friday night:
The alt-right could have asked for nothing more from President Trump than to downplay their racism and anti-Semitism, separate them off from white nationalism, and suggest that they are peace-loving, “fine people.”
Here’s the takeaway, from David Duke and Richard Spencer: