Remember the criticism leveled at George W. Bush for sitting in a Florida classroom after hearing the news of the 9/11 attacks? He was accused of indecision and not knowing what to do. Years later he is still blamed for not reacting differently, though it’s hard to imagine that leaping from his chair and sprinting for the door would have been treated fairly by his critics. They would have argued that he was unable to stay calm in a crisis. Silence was Bush’s best option, if only for a few minutes.
Yesterday silence was Trump’s best option, but it’s too late for that now.
Silence was Trump’s only good option
Silence was Trump’s best option after the Saturday rally the media eagerly waited to go bad created another reason to accuse the president of pandering to extremism. This is the kind of golden opportunity the left treasures. Had Trump said nothing at all he would have been better off.
Should the president have made these remarks instead?
What remarks are proper and acceptable after a senseless tragedy at an admittedly offensive rally allowed by our Constitution and legal system?
The give and take between Trump and his detractors is so scripted and predictable that there is no good reason for him to say anything. Silence is a much more prudent bet.
Consider the alternatives:
He could have declared that white supremacism has no place in our society, but the left has been hard at work for many months convincing the nation that he encourages dangerous right wing extremism.
How about “We have to wait for the facts of this tragedy to come in?” The media would have charged him with ignoring white supremacism and not condemning it fast enough.
Would “Rallies like this should be outlawed?” satisfy everyone? America allows them. He would be accused of not understanding the Constitution.
Trump could have started the rush to judgment with something like “We will investigate everyone connected to this event and charge them with a hate crime,” but that’s legally impossible and opens the door for Jeff Sessions to be accused of dragging his feet.
Silence was Trump’s best option. There is not a single word he can say about the Charlottesville incident that will not be twisted into approval of those participating in the rally.
Trump’s deplorable base will be blamed again?
Those who despise the president will be hard at work this week turning the Charlottesville protesters into Trump’s base. Ironically, they are also quick to respond that we are racists when we generalize aliens who kill and Muslims who participate in terror attacks.
Had Trump refused to say anything yesterday the outcome would have been little different. The media response was signed and sealed long before the Charlottesville rally. Democrats use every opportunity to put words in the president’s mouth. Anti-Trump Republicans fearful for their jobs have memorized canned press releases for every conceivable negativity.
America is unhappy with what the president said after the Charlottesville tragedy, but even before it happened our reaction to his remarks was chiseled in stone. There is only one safe route to take when conclusions are already drawn and millions lay in wait for the slightest misstep, improper inflection, or poor choice of words. Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, a president does not have the option of silence.
UPDATE August 14, 2017 7:45 pm: The Monday after Charlottesville is winding down and the nation couldn’t be happier that it has concocted another reason to denounce the president.
Give Trump credit for trying, but he is wasting his time. The fact that he has to come out and declare that he doesn’t approve of racism and white nationalism is proof enough how badly the deck is stacked against him. No one bothered to stand up and point out how his detractors have a limitless stack of excuses when the sacred cows they support misbehave. Case in point: after police officers were killed in Dallas last year, Vice President Biden couldn’t resist turning the rhetoric around to criticize law enforcement by bringing up police shootings and “too many black lives lost.”