Trump: A racist? Or just a bad guy?

Photo by Matt A.J.

Just when you think President Trump has gone as low as he can go, he shows us there was a hidden staircase to go lower. This stairway wasn’t well hidden because we’ve heard words come out of his mouth before that have implied/indicated/demonstrated — choose your word — he is a racist.

The latest comment, spoken in the Oval Office with a bipartisan meeting of senators and House members, for those of you who have been napping since yesterday or are trying to stay away from the news, was: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He was referring to the African continent and Haiti. It was during a conversation on immigration.

The President, in typical Trump fashion, hasn’t denied he said but at the same time has denied he said it.

His enablers who appeared on TV last night to give the Republican view all danced and twisted themselves into pretzels to try to explain the President’s quote. They could not deny his comments because even the White House wasn’t denying he said it. But they weren’t condemning him either. It was disgusting to watch.

So is the President a racist or just a very bad man? You decide.

Some are pinning the racist label on him. I really don’t know if he’s a racist. You have to be inside his head — a place I do not wish to visit — to know for sure. But he definitely has a long history of racist remarks and actions.

The Fox News people I’ve seen quoted (honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever watched the channel) all defend him saying that this is the way people talk in blue color bars and those people like what he said.

Now, when younger, I hung around “blue collar” bars more than I should have. And while the conversation could get raunchy, I don’t recall it getting racist. I’m not saying those bars don’t exist but I also don’t think we have been electing those bar folks as President of the United States. And I do not believe Trump has ever hung around in blue-collar bars. Never.

But most of us want a President who tries to lead us to a better place, to aspire to be that “shining city on the Hill.” We’ll never be perfect but we sure can be better. That’s why folks from “shithole” and other countries want to come here. That’s why they cry when they see the State of Liberty. Let us remember the quote she bears:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Let’s also remember that each of us, unless we are native Americans, came from somewhere else. And, likely, when those folks came here they were leaving “shithole” countries because, well, if they weren’t being treated badly or wanted more opportunity, why would they leave their home country?

I think most of us have accepted that Trump says racist things, does things to appeal to his “base,” says one thing and does another, lies, tweets and bumbles his way through his first term.

Has he done “good things?” I don’t know. He has eliminated some regulations, which business likes; he’s appointed a conservative Supreme Court justice which conservatives like; he’s been undoing many things his predecessor did which Republicans like; he’s led a big “tax cut’s” adoption and, after it passed, got honest and said it was done, really, because it would help the business community and as goes the business community goes the economy.

I worked at the Republican National Committee for five different chairmen. I was a registered Republican and took all the crap folks threw at me as they accused all Republicans of being anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, pro-life, anti-anyone who is various shades of brown. I was none of those things nor were the people I worked with. Though the party often played to those who believe those things because, well, it got Republicans elected.

I also worked with the late GOP Chairman Lee Atwater to denounce David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan, when he announced his candidacy to office as a Republican. I also worked with former RNC Chairman Rich Bond to write his farewell speech saying the party needed to work to get rid of all the “anti-” things people believed about it. Albeit, that was his farewell speech and not his inaugural speech. Better late than never, maybe.

At the same time, I oversaw an outreach office aimed at improving the party’s popularity with blacks, browns, Hispanics and homosexual men and women. We didn’t make great strides in those areas, obviously. And what Donald Trump has done is killed any chances of the party making any strides with those groups for a long time, and maybe forever.

Trump applauded “my black” in the audience when campaigning and claims he is the “least racist man in the world.” The North Koreans, it’s been said in recent days have been cozying up with the South Koreans to drive a “wedge” in the U.S./South Korea relationship. No, Mr. Trump says, because he “knows more about wedges than anyone in the world.” My guess is he likely was thinking about golf when he said that — a more believable statement and equally as untrue.

He also implied in an interview yesterday with the Wall Street Journal that he has a very good relationship with Kim Jon Ung, the dictator of North Korea — leading folks to believe that he actually has spoken with Kim, which is as unlikely as Trump being the most non-racist person you’ll ever meet. Then again, the President wouldn’t say if he’s spoken with Kim because, well, that’s what Donald Trump does. Imply things.

If anyone had any doubts about who the President really is, this latest comment should convince them. You still may support him. You still may vote for him. But know, too, that you are voting for a man who says racist things, says positive things about white supremacists, and lies about five times a day, that we know of, according to entities that track his comments.

Nearly one full year into his term, we for sure know who he is now.

And the longer Republicans in Congress or the Washington community don’t speak out when he makes comments like this, the more they are as guilty as he is of destroying not just their party but the United States’ reputation in the world.

(Note to my friends who read this and who support the President. I know your arguments. I don’t agree with them. I don’t know if Trump is a racist, but he definitely is a bad guy. You can support his policies but I will never understand how you can support his behavior.)

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: