On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Donald Trump sat down with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham in Normandy, with the graves of war heroes serving as a backdrop. The two covered a fair amount of ground, though I was especially interested in the president’s response when the far-right host asked, “What could you do to unite the country at a time of great polarization?”
Trump’s response was amazing in its Trumpiness.
“So, I think success should unite the country. But I will tell you, the more successful we’ve come, the more angry people like Nancy Pelosi, who don’t have what it takes, they don’t know what’s going on, they get angry.
“They should – an example is Mexico. I said, ‘We’re going to put tariffs on because we want you to help us, because they won’t pass any legislation in Congress.’ And I have senators and others and Pelosi coming out saying, ‘Oh, how horrible.’
“What they’re doing is they’re hurting the deal. They should be saying, ‘We’re with the president, we’ll do whatever he wants to do,’ and Mexico would fold like an umbrella. Now, I have these people and I’m saying there’s some Republicans too, I think they should be ashamed of themselves.
“But we have Pelosi, we have crying Chuck Schumer – who’s a disaster by the way, he’s a total political, you know, jerk – but we have Schumer, we have all these people, they come out and they talk about ‘tariffs are bad,’ so they can, you know, they hurt my negotiation, because I go into the room with the Mexicans, I’m asking them for everything.”
Remember, the question was, “What could you do to unite the country at a time of great polarization?” The president responded by lashing out at his perceived political enemies and suggesting that the key to harmony is having everyone agree to “do whatever” Trump wants.
Making matters slightly worse, this isn’t the first time he flubbed the question.
Last summer, Trump sat down with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, who concluded the interview by asking, “As the Commander in Chief, as the president of this great country, what can you do to bring us together?”
As we discussed at the time, Trump could’ve responded with vague platitudes about shared principles, but instead he heralded his rabid Republican base as “incredible,” while condemning his critics as “dangerous.”
Two months later, in September 2018, Trump spoke to a television station in Montana and was asked about how best to bridge the divide among Americans. The president responded that Democrats are “making fools out of themselves” by opposing him.
When the Republican is asked about bringing Americans together – or at least trying to – the president routinely seems confused about the underlying point of the question. Asked about unity, Trump instinctively divides.
As the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne explained in a column last fall, “For Trump and his enablers, national unity is not a noble goal but a dire threat to their political well-being.”