No wonder Republicans won’t name Donald Trump and call him out for defending white supremacists and neo-Nazis while assailing anti-racist counter-protesters. They have their marching orders direct from the White House. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball ran the official White House talking points on Trump’s bonkers Tuesday press conference, and the first line is the one that really matters:
The President was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.
The guy who drove the car into a crowd of counter-protesters bears responsibility for driving the car, and the people who got run over bear responsibility for not being able to dodge a fast-moving car, I guess.
The White House goes on:
Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important Founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our Creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution.
- He has been a voice for unity and calm, encouraging the country to “rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.”
- He called for the end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.
Yeah, sure he’s a voice for unity and calm. And that “rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty” thing—did he say that Tuesday, when he was speaking from his heart and in his own voice? Hell, no. He said that Monday, when he was giving a statement someone else wrote that he obviously did not want to be giving and that he essentially repudiated on Tuesday.
The talking points go on, and here’s the thing: it’s clear that the White House communications team and most of Trump’s advisers did not want him to go out and defend torch-bearing Nazis and attack anti-racist protesters. That’s why they got him to read Monday’s super-presidential statement even though he didn’t want to. As Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman reported, “members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private.”
They had tried to keep him from articulating those opinions in public. They knew it was a terrible idea. But Trump went out and said that there were bad people and very fine people on both sides, going into more detail about the bad people on the anti-racist side and more detail about the very fine people on the Nazi side, so the White House is not only running out to insist that “the president was entirely correct” but to try to coerce Republicans into going on TV and spreading that message. And given today’s Republicans, it has a chance of working.