There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. — George W. Bush
There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. — George W. Bush
Trump is showing just how divisive a new White House run would be
As a political neophyte in 2016, Trump tapped into a seam of discontent with the economy and a sense that the Washington establishment was ignoring millions of people. His victimization of Mexican and Muslim immigrants in that campaign played on a fear of outsiders. Some Democrats believe his win was also born from a racist backlash to the country's first Black commander-in-chief that benefited from his racist and false accusations about ex-President Barack Obama's birthplace.

Already, what looks like a new attempt by Trump to reclaim the White House is shaping up as an even more sinister affair, not least because a twice-impeached President who already incited an insurrection and tried to subvert US democracy to stay in office would be seeking to regain the awesome powers of the presidency.

... There was something rather sad that the most recent ex-President felt unable to join Biden and ex-Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama at official commemorations of the attacks. Trump has never been interested in being a member of the ex-President's club. And his political brand as an outsider often relies on attacking pillars of the establishment like former Presidents. But his absence underscored gaping divides in a nation that is now unable to even join as one to mark the most unifying event in modern history: the national response to the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

... Those waiting for Trump to behave with decorum or to become "presidential" have long since been disappointed. But his conduct in recent days has been radical even for an ex-President who spent four years tearing down the conventions of the presidency and political and legal norms.

... While Obama, Clinton, Bush and Biden attended official 9/11 events, Trump spent his time sending out a flurry of political statements.

... The 43rd President compared domestic violent extremists to the hijackers of 9/11 and clearly drew an analogy between the attacks and the storming of Congress by Trump supporters on January 6 that followed a rally by the outgoing and defeated president.

"There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home," Bush said. "But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit."

... Far from confronting such extremism, as Bush counseled, Trump is still seeking to co-opt it, not just with his lies about election fraud that have convinced millions of people but also in its continued weaponization of race. His attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election have left millions of his supporters believing a general election that even Trump's own Justice Department said did not contain serious corruption was stolen. This is not only a grave threat to faith in the US political system, it is an important part of what it means to be a Republican in 2021. A new CNN poll published Sunday found that about six in ten of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believed that supporting Trump and believing that he won in 2020 are at least a somewhat important part of identifying with the party.


The ex-President's power in the GOP -- which means he would be a prohibitive favorite in any new campaign for its nomination -- can be witnessed in the way candidates who wish to have his endorsement must buy into his false claims of election fraud. Those who tell the truth about what happened in November 2020 and the Capitol insurrection — like Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney -- are likely to find themselves with Trump-backed primary races. The House Republican Conference under its leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy has become a wing of the Trump political movement, embracing his falsehoods about the election, whitewashing history and adopting his authoritarian conservatism.

Some of Trump's most damaging behavior comes when he weaponizes race in the service of his political goals. In a statement last week, for instance, the former President condemned authorities in Richmond, Virginia -- the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War -- over the removal of a statue honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general who took up arms against the United States in a war to defend slavery.

... Trump's statements lack the immediacy and platform that he enjoyed as president, partly because his insurrectionist rhetoric caused him to be kicked off social media platforms. But they are relayed by his spokespeople and supporters on Twitter and Facebook. The ex-President also appears to have an open invitation for softball interviews with Fox News opinion hosts.

... In normal circumstances, it would be more than appropriate for a former President to comfort those mourning the fallen. But Trump has done it in politicized statements that leave the impression that he is exploiting their grief.

This adds to a growing impression -- evident in his mismanagement of the pandemic when he trashed public health advice and throughout his presidency -- that there is nothing that the former President will not do in support of his personal goals, including in a possible new bid for the White House.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/13/politics/donald-trump-white-house-2024-divisive/index.html