Asked about Black Americans' pain, Trump expresses indifference

Trump whined that he's "not feeling any love" from Black voters. The fact that he finds this baffling speaks volumes about his bizarre perspective.
Image: President Donald Trump departs after speaking about his list of potential Supreme Court nominees in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House
President Donald Trump departs after speaking about his list of potential Supreme Court nominees in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Sept. 9, 2020.Doug Mills / Getty Images
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By Steve Benen

At the Republican National Convention, quite a few speakers insisted that Donald Trump isn't racist, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The developments that have unfolded since haven't exactly helped the president's case.

Last week, Trump promoted online content that appeared designed to exacerbate racial tensions, which he followed up by falsely insisting that Sen. Cory Booker -- the Senate's only Black Democrat -- would be "in charge of" a federal housing program that the president said would bring crime to suburbs. The racial subtext wasn't exactly subtle.

As the week wrapped up, the president directed his administration to overhaul sensitivity training sessions across the government, calling efforts to promote awareness of racism as "divisive" and reliant on "un-American propaganda."

This week, the story took yet another turn.

President Donald Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward that he does not believe that because of his privileged upbringing he has a responsibility to understand the "anger and pain" felt by Black Americans, according to a new book by Woodward. The Washington Post, where Woodward is associate editor, reported excerpts of the book, "Rage," on Wednesday and posted audio clips on its website.

A Washington Post report indicated that the discussions about race between Woodward and Trump spanned several conversations, including a June 19 chat in which the journalist reminded the president of something obvious: they were two White men, of similar ages, who benefited from privileged upbringings.

"Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain, particularly, Black people feel in this country?" Woodward asked.

Trump replied, "No. You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don't feel that at all."

Woodward described the president's tone as "mocking and incredulous."

The article added, "As Woodward pressed Trump to understand the plight of Black Americans after generations of discrimination, inequality and other atrocities, the president kept answering by pointing to economic numbers such as the pre-pandemic unemployment rate for Blacks and claiming, as he often has publicly, that he has done more for Blacks than any president except perhaps Abraham Lincoln."

Evidently, the nonsense Trump peddles about his record in public is identical to the nonsense he peddles about his record in private.

In a separate chat, Trump whined that he's "not feeling any love" from Black voters. Perhaps that's because he's "mocking and incredulous" when asked about trying to understand the pain Black people feel in this country?

If the Republican wants to better understand these circumstances, he might start with this week's New York Times analysis, which noted that Trump has increasingly positioned himself as "the defender of White America," making grievance-based appeals "a centerpiece of his re-election campaign."

The NYT added today, "Mr. Trump has hired very few Black officials to positions of authority in the White House and for his re-election effort. And his campaign has stoked racial divisions to an extent not seen since George Wallace's run in 1968. He has tried to block or hamper efforts to expand ballot access. He has said Black people were 'too stupid' to vote for him, according to his estranged former attorney, Michael Cohen."

And to think, the Republican whose rise to political prominence was based on a racist conspiracy theory is unsatisfied with the lack of "love" he feels from Black voters.