Littwin: The Great Brander has now somehow latched onto America’s most despised brands

Donald Trump has just pushed some very fine people, as he would put it, over the edge. Some very fine people now know that the president of the United States is not just your random unfit demagogue who somehow ended up in the White House.

He’s the unfit demagogue who has chosen to publicly align himself, before God and country and all those TV cameras, with white supremacists.

Some very fine people who were certain that nothing Trump could say could shock them anymore watched in dismay as Trump, who built an empire on his brand, has unaccountably branded himself as friend to Nazis and the KKK — the two most thoroughly despised brands in American history.

I wrote the other day that we shouldn’t talk about Trump and his nod to both-siderism as having crossed a line, because he had crossed them all before and to no effect — either on him, on his congressional enablers, or on his base.

But that was before Tuesday. It’s one thing to call immigrants rapists or to mock a disabled reporter or to give winking support to the alt-right. It’s another to publicly say that those in Charlottesville who were bravely standing up to the neo-Nazis and the KKK were no better than — yes, you know  — the Nazis and the KKK themselves. He said there were “very fine people” on both sides, even if only one side — yes, the Nazis — had permits. He said the press had treated those marching alongside the Nazis “very unfairly” and that he alone was ready to point out that the anti-Nazi “alt-left” was also “very, very violent.”

“You had a lot of people in that group who were there to innocently protest and very legally protest,” Trump said of the Nazis. Trump obviously hasn’t seen the VICE report from the ground in Charlottesville and the shocking video of Trump’s so-called peaceful march. He should watch it. Everyone should watch it.

And maybe it’s just me, and I guess all the others in the fake-news press, but if you’re marching with those holding the tiki torches and chanting anti-Semitic slogans, that may disqualify you from the whole very-fine-person construct.

So, Trump did cross a line, which is quickly turning into an abyss. David Duke tweeted his thanks for Trump’s honesty. Meanwhile, Trump’s two main CEO councils have now been disbanded. Imagine, the nation’s CEOs standing in as the national conscience.

And when they write the books about the rise and fall of Donald Trump — and the “fall” is now as inevitable as it is likely to be tragic — the question they’ll have to answer is how far Trump dragged America down as he went.

There are other questions, of course. How long can the American people stand the turmoil of a Trump presidency before they put enough pressure on Republican lawmakers to finally disassociate themselves from Trump? You don’t need a graph to spot the trend line here. One Trump crisis bleeds — in this case, in the death of Heather Heyer, literally and tragically bleeds — into the next and then the next and then the next. As a friend noted to me the other day, no president other than Trump could have threatened fire and fury nuclear war on a Tuesday and have it forgotten by the weekend.

But maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe the question is how long Trump can stand it. We saw at the Tuesday presser a man entirely guided by impulse. He was mad at the media for criticizing his Saturday both-siderism — now seen as Trump’s halcyon days — mad at his handlers for forcing him to give the hostage-like “racism is evil” statement, mad enough that he took questions from the press so that he’d have the chance to show how mad (and not just angry mad) he was.

If he felt the need to reach out, as some have suggested he was doing, to those with sympathy not for Nazis but for the concept that white America is getting a bad deal, you can see how desperate he is. He tried again to make the moral-equivalency case, this time that removing Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson statues would mean that statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson inevitably follow.

It’s an absurd argument. Washington and Jefferson, though both slaveholders, helped birth the nation and the very ideals that make America, at its best, great. Lee and Jackson were the generals who bore arms against the United States in defense of slavery and whose statues were erected, in the main, as a political statement in favor of Jim Crow and Southern apartheid. There is no more equivalency here than there was between the Charlottesville protesters and the Nazis.

I don’t know what comes next for Trumpworld, only that the political tensions aren’t going away and neither is the question of what comes next. The cumulative effect is clear. Trump may have his unshakeable base, something like a third of the electorate, but the ground keeps shifting, on them, on Trump, on the rest of us.

Biographer David Maraniss suggested this in a tweet: “The living former presidents – Bushes, Carter, Clinton & Obama- should make a joint statement calling on the racist Trump to resign.” They won’t do it, of course. Not yet anyway. But it’s a simple proposition and an even simpler test. If you’re having trouble condemning Nazis, you’re probably not fit to hold the office.

But here’s a sure prediction: It won’t be the last test that Trump fails. And it won’t be the last one that tests a nation along with him.

Photo of Mt. Rushmore by Christian Collins via Flickr: Creative Commons


  1. Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    “And while I’m generally anti-filibuster, I make one exception for any and all years in which Donald Trump is president.” – Mike Littwin


    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. –

    Children aren’t the only practitioners of magical thinking, it also affects out of touch political pundits like, well, Mr. Littwin who wrote in his August 16th column, “When they write the books about the rise and fall of Donald Trump — and the “fall” is now as inevitable as it is likely to be tragic”.

    And how can Mr. Littwin predict this “tragic inevitability” when in another paragraph of the very same column he admits, “I don’t know what comes next for Trumpworld”? He can’t, of course, which is why he won’t provide an answer and because Mr. Littwin sees no contradiction. And even when he does see a contradiction he avoids it. For example, Mr. Littwin failed to report that at his press conference President Trump said this about the driver of the car that killed a demonstrator, “The driver of the car is a murderer. What he did was a horrible, inexcusable thing.” and since it contradicts his narrative on President Trump Mr. Littwin will never report it.

    Daniel Payne writing in The Federalist said, “Our media have a problem: they are essentially incapable of covering Donald Trump with anything less than full-on deranged hysteria.”

    Mr. Payne is right, of course, and Mr. Littwin is the proof. And why should readers believe anything Mr. “good-handle-on politics” Littwin reports/predicts on anything political since he has such a poor track record. For example, here’s a magical thinking prediction he made one month before last year’s general election:

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?”

    And Scott McConnell said this about the media coverage of Charlottesville:
    “The allegation that the mainstream media disseminates “fake news” about the Trump administration often can seem overwrought, even a kind of caricature. Yet the nearly universal media response to President Trump’s news conference at which he addressed the Charlottesville violence can only reinforce it.”

    “In his sometimes clumsy way, Trump was making the same point as New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who was on the ground in Charlottesville covering the event. She noticed that the far left counter-protesters were intent on instigating violence and tweeted that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right. I saw club-wielding ‘antifa’ beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”  Later, perhaps sensing she was in danger of transgressing some sort of unofficial party line, she amended her thought.”

    Mr. Littwin’s magical thinking will not succeed in removing President Trump from office but watching him try is so very, very entertaining as he spins further out of control trying to understand a political landscape he no longer recognizes and one that no longer recognizes him. He’s become an anachronism.

    And all of that comes on the heels of Mr. Littwin’s baseless and fact-free suggestion that President Trump’s “fire and fury” ad lib” is somehow responsible for the current “triple-dog-dare moment” with North Korea is beyond preposterous. It’s fantasy before reality. It’s agitprop masquerading as truth.

    The fact that President Trump did not begin this crisis seems to have escaped Mr. Littwin. Nowhere—-nowhere!—- does he mention the failed attempts by the three previous administrations to deal with North Korea. His analysis is childish! It’s partisan political blather.

    Here’s what former vice-president Al Gore said about the current situation with North Korea:

    “(Al) Gore also opined on Trump’s ongoing war of words with North Korea. On Tuesday the president promised to unleash “fire and fury” on the country if it continued to threaten the U.S. Trump doubled down on his remarks on Thursday, when he said the military was “locked and loaded.”

    The former VP says “his intemperate comments on North Korea were really unwise,” but reasons, “I think it’s only fair to point out he inherited this crisis. The previous three presidents were not able to find an adequate solution [to the North Korea crisis], so he can’t be blamed for all this.”

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile his version of events with Al Gore’s? He doesn’t he simply ignores it, along with the fact that three previous administrations have failed to solve a problem that today has become a crisis.

    Here’s how The Huffington Post analyzed Barack Obama’s North Korean game plan:

    “Obama offered negotiations in his inaugural speech, but North Korea responded with missile and nuclear tests. The administration quickly changed to a policy of strategic patience, essentially a commitment to denuclearization as a precondition for talks, conducted in close alliance with Seoul and the other members of the Six-Party Talks.

    Ultimately, the nuclear test and rocket launch this year prove that the Obama administration was no more successful than its predecessors in stopping the progress of North Korea’s weapons development.

    This from Newsweek:

    “President Donald Trump’s chosen words and terse manner as he delivered his threatening message Tuesday to North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un has led to significant backlash, as many worry that the president’s rhetoric brings the U.S. closer to war on the Korean Peninsula.

    But Trump, who throughout his public and now political life has been well known to go off-script, most certainly was not the first U.S. president to use such hyperbolic language or threats toward the North or its leader at the time.

    Indeed, Trump inherited the global threat that is North Korea not only from his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, but also from Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And the truth is the country’s last three commanders in chief have all used various forms of diplomacy, strong language and even direct communication with North Korean leaders only to end up making little to no progress.”

    And this analysis (which will never see the light of day in one of Mr. Littwin’s columns) from Thomas H. Lee, professor of International Law at Fordham University and a former Naval intelligence officer:

    “Because of Trump’s “somewhat unhinged, off the cuff rhetoric,” North Korea, China and Russia actually believe a military strike on the North is possible, which in turn led the two other superpowers to agree to the most recent United Nations’ sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime. That’s a kind of power or leverage Obama’s administration didn’t necessarily possess or effectively convey.”

    And what was Mr. Littwin’s reaction to Barack Obama last year when he said “We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals”? Mr. Littwin had no reaction because, true to form, he simply ignored it.

    But to demonstrate how unserious Mr. Littwin’s column is he posits this scenario: “But what if Kim does, as threatened, fire the missiles that land 20 miles from Guam?” Does Mr. Littwin honestly believe North Korea possesses the technological expertise and capability to fire missiles that would intentionally land 20 miles short of Guam? That’s not brinksmanship, that’s suicide. If North Korea aims missiles at Guam they were intended to hit Guam and the response should be the same as if they did.

    And here’s where Mr. Littwin shows his true color (hint: it rhymes with mellow): “There is the option of accepting a nuclear North Korea and moving from there.”

    In other words, appeasement or, as Obama called it “strategic patience”.

    Mr. Littwin should stick to writing about things he actually understands like, well, ……………..

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Cripple Creek’s 25th annual Salute to American Veterans Rally & Festival August 18-20, 2017

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2017

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