In his White House speech on Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump delivered a soundbite that conservatives quickly embraced: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” The phrase, which drew quick applause from the president’s supporters, did not, however, make any sense: the international climate accord was agreed to in Paris, but it was intended to benefit everyone, not just Parisians.
Nevertheless, this Politico report, published the day after Trump’s speech, didn’t come as too big a surprise to anyone.
President Donald Trump’s campaign announced a “Pittsburgh, not Paris” rally across from the White House on Saturday to celebrate the United States’ withdrawal from a global climate agreement.
The Fairfax County Republican Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia are sponsoring the rally in Lafayette Square, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to an announcement from the Trump campaign.
It was hard not to appreciate the irony of Republicans holding a “Pittsburgh, not Paris” rally in Lafayette Square – literally across the street from the north side of the White House – which is named after a French general, Marquis de Lafayette, who helped America win the Revolutionary War. New York magazine’s Jon Chait noted, “There is literally no stupider location in the entire world to stage an anti-French American rally.”
And while that may be true, that doesn’t necessarily mean turnout for such a gathering would be poor. After all, if a sitting president’s campaign team announces support for a rally in a major American city, and the event is officially sponsored by a nearby state Republican Party, it stands to reason that plenty of GOP diehards would come out to express their support for Trump’s anti-climate decision.
So, how many people showed up?
BuzzFeed, which published some pictures from the rally, wrote that “dozens of Trump supporters” gathered for the event. The Washington Post similarly reported that “dozens” showed up to applaud the president’s decision to withdraw from the international agreement.
Hmm. The population of Washington, D.C, is nearly 700,000, but the greater D.C. area has over 6 million residents. Fairfax County, Va., near the nation’s capital, itself has over 1 million people. Trump World and its Republican allies managed to get “dozens” of people to express support for the president’s big decision?
That’s pretty sad – though I’ll look forward to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer telling reporters today that this was the largest turnout for any event in the history of Lafayette Square … ever.
Postscript: The Washington Post’s report added, “More than a thousand people gathered near the Washington Monument Saturday to rally at the March for Truth, calling for an independent investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign.”
So on the one hand, we saw an event endorsed by the sitting president’s campaign operation, which drew “dozens” of people, while on the other hand, we saw a separate event – in the same city, on the same day, at nearly the same time – that wasn’t sponsored by any campaign, which drew “more than a thousand” attendees.
I’m starting to get the impression that one side of the political divide has a definite advantage when it comes to grassroots activism and enthusiasm.
Postscript: Reader B.G. reminds me of an “Arrested Development” episode that seems especially relevant to this story.