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President Trump’s worst week, except for most of the others

After six months of telling literally hundreds of lies, our president decided to become the fact-checker-in-chief, but that hasn’t worked out too well either.

Maybe, as President Trump insists to this day, there were “many very fine people” among the Charlottesville torchlight paraders chanting Nazi slogans like “blood and soil” (blut und boden) and “Jews will not replace us.” 

And maybe many of the fine guys who came off their buses carrying baseball bats were just hoping for a pickup game with the locals while in town to defend Confederate statuary. I guess it depends on what your definition of  “very fine people” is.

You never know, and, as the president so aptly put it, “Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.” The facts confirm that there were violent leftists, who don’t belong in a just cause, among the mostly local, peaceful protesters there to confront the ideas of the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites in town to spread hatred. There may even have been a Nazi or two who love their mothers. But you can’t morally equate the two groups.

Nevertheless, after America’s fact-checker spent three days arduously gathering information, he concluded those protesting racism were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation that killed a protester as the neo-Nazis and white supremacists brandishing swastikas, Confederate flags, and anti-Jewish placards.

His facts did check out with some. “Thank you, President Trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth,” said David Duke, the former Klan leader, who took part in the rally, telling the good people, “the American media, and the American political system is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause.” 

The president has fact-checked before. His major project began in 2011, when he announced he was sending investigators to Hawaii to determine if Barack Obama was really born there or, as “some people” were saying, he was born in Kenya and therefore not legally elected. Trump’s investigation continued until 53 days before his election last November and the entire text of his exhaustive findings after five years merits our attention: 

“President Obama was born in the United States. Period.” 

Fact-checking Trump’s knowledge of and relationship with the aforementioned Ku Klux Klansman David Duke can be instructive. In 1991, after Duke received 55 percent of the Republican vote in a losing race for governor of Louisiana, Trump said Duke’s surprising showing indicated “a lot of hostility in the United States,” which he attributed to people being “angry about their job.” It may have inspired him.

And in 2000, he described the Klan leader to Matt Lauer on the Today show as “a racist, a bigot, a problem. I mean this is not exactly the people you want in your party.” (That was the Reform Party, which was considering Trump as a candidate but chose Pat Buchanan instead.)

But by 2016, Trump had forgotten all he knew about Duke. On Feb. 24, Duke told his radio listeners that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.” Two days later, Trump held a press conference to announce the endorsement of Chris Christie and was visibly annoyed when Duke’s endorsement was brought up by one of the fake reporters. “David Duke endorsed me? OK. Alright. I disavow. OK.”

This less than full-throated denunciation of Duke and his like was questioned by some civil rights groups as well as the lackeys in the mainstream media. On Feb. 28, Jake Tapper asked Trump if he would “unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?” 

Not the hardest question ever asked of a candidate, but Trump couldn’t answer. “Well, just so you understand. I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know.

“You wouldn’t want me to condemn guys that I know nothing about. If you would send me a list of these groups, I will do research on them and certainly would disavow them if I thought that there was something wrong.”

After a day of “doing research,” Trump blamed his comments on “a very bad earpiece” during an interview on MSNBC. Once his hearing was restored, Trump went on to denounce Duke and the Ku Klux Klan for Morning Joe’s viewers.

Not one to hold grudges, Duke continued saying nice things about the Trump. Other white supremacist groups pitched in with robocalls aimed at Marco Rubio, “Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump” or “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people.” Their support continues after the Charlottesville violence and murder of — not an outsider — a local white woman. 

But there was one notable outsider who should have been there at the woman’s funeral — the president of the United States. He didn’t even send the vice president.

 

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.