President Trump knows who makes up his base. He knows what they want to hear and what would upset them.
When he spoke to the world about what had gone on in Charlottesville on Saturday, making sure not to call anyone out by name, but insisting that the violence was from “many sides,” that was a deliberate attempt to not upset members of his base.
He went off-script.
From the Washington Examiner:
A senior White House adviser told Politico the written statement prepared for Trump to deliver Saturday was similar in both tone and substance to his remarks Monday, during which Trump denounced white nationalist groups by name.
The president, though, decided to go off script.
Another senior White House official told ABC News that Trump ad-libbed the now-controversial “on many sides” phrase, words that weren’t included in the written statement.
“Those were his own words,” the official said.
The president was roundly criticized for not being more forceful and specific, including by GOP lawmakers, who all called out the evil of white nationalism.
Trump wasn’t wrong, in that there were no good guys in Charlottesville on Saturday, but the fact that a woman was dead because of the actions of one of the white nationalists in attendance, and many more were injured, made his attempts at moral equivalence untenable.
On Monday, Trump was forced to give a more specific and firm repudiation of white nationalists, and it was as if somebody had a gun in his back.
He insisted on bragging on how amazing the economy was doing (under his leadership, of course), and then made his prepared statement, two days after the fact.
It’s as I pointed out this morning, he doesn’t get it.
And let’s make no mistake: He doesn’t care.