So, here’s where the score stands: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, zero; White House Clown Corps, minus 2.
Kelly is winning, because he clearly has zero tolerance for the sources of chaos in the Trump White House, including, we’d bet, the president himself. And the Clown Corps, deeply troubling hires from the start, is down two members: President Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon was out the door on Friday, preceded a few weeks ago by another paragon of self-importance, communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
But don’t be fooled. The stench of Bannon’s goal of disruption, of kicking the legs out from under everything that lifts this nation up will continue to waft through 1600 Pennylvania Ave., until the president says that he won’t abide it, and then speaks and acts in a way that says he sincerely means it.
Until he works to earn the mantle of moral authority, which will reside not in his desire to placate a political base, but in the content of his character.
Until he makes clear that he abhors the violent divisions that have corroded our democratic foundation.
Until he has the decency to call the mother of a woman who died protesting hate the day after the tragedy, not, as Heather Heyer’s mother said, during the funeral.
Until he takes responsibility.
What was it that the highly quotable late poet Maya Angelou told Oprah? “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
When, after that Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white supremacists turned violent, then fatal, President Trump forthrightly equated the haters, including neo-Nazis and the Klan, with those who hate what they stand for. It was pure, unvarnished Trump telling his truth — with Bannon’s smug approval, no doubt. Few people of good conscience liked it, but by the time he mouthed, with arm twisted behind his back, the words “evil” and “repugnant” to describe racism and white supremacists’ hatred, it was much too little, way too late.
He was his old self soon after when he said that there were some “very fine people” on both sides of the issue, meaning, perhaps, that there are only a few bad apples among his supporters who are neo-Nazis, KKK members and white supremacists? He decried the removal of “beautiful” monuments to the Confederacy, a ham-handed acknowledgement of an issue truly worthy of civil debate.
We believe that the president, indeed, has shown us who he is.
But we believe this, too: Politics aside, there are millions of people of good conscience who are deeply alarmed at the fraught tenor of division in this country and Trump’s inability to provide a balm, an open heart, a true commitment to American ideals. They, from counterprotesters to members of the arts and business communities who have spurned this administration, are stepping into the breach.
And don’t be fooled. Their patriotic cause will prevail.