I try to avoid commenting on the daily diarrhea that comes from Trump because it’s like trying to stop a sewer main leak with a cork. But yesterday’s spewage is worth noting, not because of what he barked up but because of the response.
Trump sparked another uproar Tuesday with a tweet endorsing the baseless conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo, seen on video being pushed to the ground by police last week, could have been part of a “set up” coordinated by anti-fascist demonstrators.
Trump’s speculation — which originated on a conspiracy-theory website and was not supported by any evidence — came as the president is already struggling to manage both a deadly pandemic and racial unrest across the nation. The missive demoralized some aides and allies, who were frustrated if not particularly surprised by Trump’s latest incendiary suggestion.
In public, the GOP senators on Capitol Hill did a panic-stricken mass imitation of Sgt. Schultz (“I know nothing! I see nothing!”) as they scurried by the media microphones. In private, however, the realization that the shit had hit the fan on the day of George Floyd’s funeral, is sinking in.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment. But one White House official defended Trump, saying his tweet said only that Gugino “could be” an antifa protester and that some of Gugino’s social media posts seem sympathetic to that cause.
Among many of Trump’s allies, however, the reaction was one of overwhelming exasperation, with one outside adviser describing his tweet as “dumb” and “beyond stupid.” Aides and advisers believed that before the coronavirus pandemic and before Floyd’s death prompted national outrage, Trump had been making inroads with black voters and they viewed his latest controversy as another act of self-sabotage.
I am very sure that his die-hard defenders will stick with him, and I have no doubt that this moment, added on to the epic pile of outrageous crap he’s been fomenting since time out of mind, will soon be topped by more as the election draws inexorably closer. But just as the murder of George Floyd became the one to finally break through our short-term memory lapse after so many other murders — Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin — this will be the one that we remember and remind others that sixty-six years to the day after Joseph N. Welch asked if we have no sense of decency, at long last we do.