When the White House announced that President Obama would visit Hiroshima while in Japan for an economic summit, they made it abundantly clear that he would not be apologizing for the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on the city in August 1945 that killed over 140,000 people and helped bring an end to World War II.
This is seen as preemptive strike against the phony claim from the right wing that President Obama goes around the world apologizing for America. But as Paul Waldman at the Washington Post notes, the Republicans haven’t raised much of a stink yet.
How come? Well, maybe it has to do with the presumptive nominee and his view of America.
Donald Trump describes this country as a miserable hellhole where nobody has a job, nobody makes anything, nobody respects us, our military is pathetically weak, and an America that’s worth anything to anyone is a decades-old memory. “Our country doesn’t win anymore,” he said in a debate in December. “Nothing works in our country.” It’s a message he repeats all the time. He actually titled his campaign book, which barely anyone noticed, Crippled America.
Conservatives have always had contempt for Barack Obama’s capacity for complex thought and tolerance for nuance. A president willing to say that decisions can be complicated and we need to worry about unintended consequences? That we might want to learn from our mistakes? That this is a great country but not a perfect one? Despicable.
But when your party’s champion is practically campaigning on the slogan, “America: What a Dump,” it may be a little harder to muster up outrage when the president acknowledges, even if only implicitly, that the incineration of an entire city was a terrible thing, no matter how defensible in the circumstances. Could it be that the shame of having Donald Trump as their leader is forcing Republicans to be a little more thoughtful in their criticisms of the other side? Anything’s possible.
There are a few reasons why this is just a short respite from their spittle-flecked outrage. First, Republicans are masters at pirouetting on a topic when they find out that Barack Obama has the same view they do. If President Obama went to Hiroshima and said that Japan got what they deserved for starting the war in the Pacific and brutalizing half the world, there would be some jackass Republican who would bemoan the terrible loss of life at the hands of Democrat Harry Truman.
Second, no matter how Mr. Trump views America, he has a right to trash it because, well, he’s a white guy who knows how real America really is, and it sucks to be a white guy in America.
Third, they just haven’t gotten around to it. They’re still worked up over e-mails and Benghazi!, so be patient; they’ll get to it.