On Tuesday evening US President Donald Trump gave a campaign-style speech in Phoenix, Arizona, in which he both attempted to whitewash his tepid and broadly condemned response to the right-wing terrorist attack in Virginia the previous week and managed to reiterate exactly the offensive tone that earned him so much rebuke.
Radio Sputnik’s Loud and Clear spoke with political cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall about Trump’s Arizona speech and his continued trafficking in far-right rhetoric.
Reiterating his disdain for efforts to tear down Confederate monuments in the US, Trump complained that some groups in US society want “take our culture” and “take our history.”
But working to remove monuments to the supporters of slavery is actually “trying to take away the culture of a country that doesn’t exist any more, the Confederacy,” Rall said. “No matter where you stand on these Confederate statues, the fact is they’re not American history at all, they’re the history of a country that were defeated in a war and no longer exists.”
“I think it’s a valid question to ask in the United States, whether and why we should be memorializing, I believe, 750 statues of Confederate figures, considering the fact that the symbolism is so undeniably harsh and very difficult for African-Americans and other people who were victims of that fallen regime,” he offered. “It’s so wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.”
Rall remarked that despite equating leftist anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters with far-right extremists in comments he made last week, Trump still retains a base of support in the Republican Party, even if privately some feel his administration is crumbling.
“He went to Phoenix to show that the Trump model of a presidency is really diametrically opposed to anything we’ve seen in recent American history,” he said. “Every president that I can think of in my lifetime realized that they had to draw support from voters from the opposite party in order to effective govern. This president has decided to govern the same way he campaigned, which is to the far right of the Republican Party.”
And while much of the president’s bluster is just that, Rall thinks his statements on “culture” and his right-wing dog-whistles are likely genuine, and do have their supporters. “Although it makes it doubtful that he will be able to finish four years as president, it does show that that base will continue to love you to death in a way that they wouldn’t even if you decided to tack towards the center. He clearly has sympathies with the far right that I think go far beyond political exigency.”
Rall believes that Trump’s comments are not opportunistic or accidental, but purposeful. This is an example of Trump revealing who he really is, “and anyone who chooses not to pay attention to that is willfully not paying attention,” he concluded.