Yesterday afternoon, I happened to turn on the TV just in time to catch Trump’s unhinged ranting about Charlottesville. I was transfixed, just as one might be at coming to an ordinary railroad crossing only to see, unexpectedly, a violent train wreck.
Later I saw a photo of Chief of Staff John Kelly at that event: arms crossed, head down. Further proof, if anyone needed it, that to serve Trump is to be stained irreparably by the toxic spill spreading to contaminate all around him.
There shouldn’t have been any doubt, long before now, that Trump is a severely damaged personality. He is motivated by long-festering personal grievances. He is a man for whom no amount of adulation will ever be enough, for whom the least hint of criticism will always provoke gross over-reaction, for whom the dignity of presidential office will always be unattainable. Yet some will continue to make excuses, believing that the ends they desire justify any means, that having Trump in the White House will allow them to achieve long-sought policy goals, that the ongoing damage to our country and the world is not as important as their own self-interest.
Know this: (1) Trump is a racist. See his announcement speech, his attack on a judge of Mexican descent, his Muslim ban, his characterizations of black communities, his innumerable vicious attacks on anyone who might be seen by him as Other, his embrace of Bannon and the “alt-right,” a/k/a Nazi/white supremacists, his endorsement by David Duke. (2) Trump is an ignorant, hateful fool. See his retweeting of risible conspiracy theories, his equating of Nazis/white supremacists with those protesting Nazi/white supremacists, his misogyny, his surprise at being told basic historical facts that anyone with a high school diploma should know. (3) Trump is a virulent authoritarian who has no respect for custom, our system of laws, or the Constitution. See his firing of Comey, his attacks on judges, the press, Congressmen, Senators, businessmen, civil servants, inauguration protestors, and anyone else who challenges him or fails to give him the adulation he so desperately craves.
Former Marine Gen. John Kelly, who now is Trump’s chief of staff, has been said to view his job not as educating Trump or curbing Trump’s worst impulses, but merely as rationalizing the White House process: controlling access to Trump, stopping leaks, presenting vetted alternatives. In a word, Kelly views his job as making the White House trains run on time.
But what Trump’s “press conference” yesterday revealed is that if Trump could do anything he wanted to do, those trains would be full of people of color, Jews, Muslims, reporters, commentators, uppity women, LGBT citizens, and anyone at all who criticizes or opposes him — and they would be headed to a place like Auschwitz.