Trump’s Error: Failing to Follow the Left’s Talking Points

As I watched President Trump’s initial reaction to the violence in Charlottesville from Bedminster, New Jersey, I felt proud of our nation’s new leader. At 3:36 p.m. on Saturday, he appeared for a press conference and after thanking our nation’s veterans, he addressed “the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

His opening line, I thought at the time, was perfectly phrased: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. It’s been going on a long time in our country….”

With “hatred” and “bigotry,” the president made it clear he rejected the motives of white nationalists, the KKK, and the neo-nazis, who were among the “Unite the Right” marchers.  

And with “violence,” he rejected those on both sides who started throwing punches, hurling rocks, and, tragically, drove a car into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old paralegal, Heather Heyer.

To anyone who heard him speak these words and saw his face, the president’s emotion was palpable, his concern for our nation’s unity unmistakable.

However, President Trump had not been notified of the talking points to be followed when commenting on the violence in Charlottesville as heard three hours later in Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s press statement: “I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. . . .You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”

All of a sudden, as CBS reported it, President Trump “declined to name white supremacists or any specific group….” While it’s clear that Trump did not specially name any group, there’s no evidence that he “declined” to use those names. A veritable media explosion soon followed berating the president for not naming names. Calling out hatred, bigotry, and violence was not enough.  

No doubt, Trump’s willingness to recognize the participation—“on many sides”—in the debacle of the counter-protesters, including Antifa and Black Lives Matter, helped spark the media fury.

Before making his statement, President Trump had reached out to McAuliffe by phone and reported, “We agreed that the hate and the division must stop, it must stop, right now.” Little did he know the Virginia governor would use his platform to condemn only one side—which, of course, leads to the kind of division he told the president should end.

President Trump spoke as a national leader, not a partisan one, when he said, “What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. . . . No citizen should ever fear for his safety and security in our society.”

Then, repeating the message, from his earlier 1:19 pm tweet, he called for national unity: “We must come together as Americans with love for our nation, true affection, and I say this so strongly, true affection for each other.”

But, perhaps, the most remarkable comment of all came just before the end of his statement when President Trump spoke of the need to “study” the outbreak of violence in Charlottesville, saying, “we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

How many times in recent memory has a U.S. president admitted to wanting to see “what we are doing wrong as country”? How many people would have thought Donald Trump capable of saying such a thing, even having such a thought? Well, he said it, but no one seems to have noticed it, or given him credit for the humility behind it.  

In concluding, the president issued a challenge to all those involved in this breakdown of law and order. His administration would be in committed to “restoring the sacred bonds of trust between this nation and its citizens, but our our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another.”

That won’t happen when protesters from any part of the spectrum arrive at a rally with clubs in their hands, as was evident on the videos taken at the march.

Just as important is the role of the media in helping to restore national unity. The only upside of the Charlottesville incident is that we will get a break from hearing about Russia, which had been the preferred whipping post for the president over the past months. Now he is accused of having “declined,” consciously, that is, of publicly naming the White Nationalists, KKK, and neo-nazis at the rally.

Yes, the White House was forced to make amends the next day by explaining “of course” the president’s remarks included “white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”

Early in the 2016, the media tried tarring Trump with the KKK brush, but the candidate sharply disavowed David Duke as a “bad person.”

But when, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the question was put to him again, Trump responded, “I disavowed him. I disavowed the KKK. . . . Do you want me to do it again for the 12th time? I disavowed him in the past, I disavow him now.” The media and the Democrats continue to disregard what the president has said, ignored his repeated call to national unity, and, now, dismissed his genuine self-reflection on a national tragedy.


About Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson is the publisher and editor of The Christian Review and author of “Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States” (Simon and Schuster, 2008).

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11 responses to “Trump’s Error: Failing to Follow the Left’s Talking Points”

  1. “Trump’s Error: Failing to Follow the Left’s Talking Points”

    Really … is there a single person who is NOT afflicted with uncontrollable covfefe fits, just one???

  2. Today Trump negated everything he accomplished Saturday. In today’s address, he basically declared war on the First Amendment. The sooner he’s out of office, the better.

    • My God you are so histrionic. He did no such thing. Relax and let him handle this. He’s a maestro.

  3. Trump had it perfect on Saturday and he should not have cowed to the left. ALL groups were responsible for the violence. He should have reiterated his message on Saturday. Now he has caved to the left and they got him.

    • President Trump did not cave. He is playing the press and the Left perfectly. Thank God he’s a life long student of Sun Tzus Art of War that is just as applicable to politics. Wait and see.

  4. I believe that most thinking Americans understand that absolutely nothing that Trump could have said would have appeased the attack dogs in the media. I see the same thing on social media which is why I now simply ignore all of it. The left has overplayed their hand…..

  5. I don’t have the timeline straight in my mind but if the President’s remarks were made at 3:36 pm, it would have been totally inappropriate to call out anyone for the violence related to the car attack. No one at that time would have known who the driver was or what group he was involved with. To the violence before the car attack, it seems still to be unclear who started it and why the police didn’t control the situation better.

    • It’s not unclear at all. There are videos popping up of Antifa starting the violence, but both groups came ready for it spoiling for a fight. The ACLU has made clear the police stood by and let it happen as an excuse to shut down the rally. They, the governor, and the city council are responsible for deciding letting violence break out so they could blame Trump was more important than the safety of people they disagree with.

  6. The Antifa and Black Lives Matter are also violent groups. If Martin Luther King were around today he would condemn the violence on all sides.

  7. Deal, If I didn’t know you, I would just assume that you are ignorant. You chose to stick your head in the sand and leave it there many years ago about the subject of the political exploitation of bigotry towards people of color. To suggest for a moment that politicians like Donald Trump have not tried to exploit ugly American racism for purposes of political expediency is laughable. In fact, Trump takes it to new heights. It is only fitting that you are an apologist and sycophant for someone as degenerate as Trump. He definitely is your kind of guy. Good luck with that.