News & Politics

Trump's Biggest Critics of Charlottesville Remarks: Republicans

Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other alt-right factions scuffled with counter-demonstrators near Emancipation Park (Formerly "Lee Park") in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones)(Sipa via AP Images)

PJ Media’s Michael van der Galien highlighted the Facebook posting of Senator Ted Cruz, who commented on the violence in Charlottesville. Galien observed:

We conservatives don’t condemn violence despite our “ideology” (it can actually be argued that conservatism isn’t an ideology, but simple realism, as Edmund Burke believed), but because of it. Although the current president doesn’t seem capable of explaining this, there are other great conservative politicians who are. Thank God.

Cruz didn’t mention Donald Trump’s remarks, but his statement was a lot more of what many Republicans wanted to see from the president.

David Drucker’s Washington Examiner op-ed described Trump’s statement as “milquetoast” and quoted several Republicans critical of the president’s lack of passion in condemning the racists:

“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” tweeted Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, chairman of the NRSC, the Senate GOP campaign arm.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, dismissed Trump’s bland rhetroic in a way that was more subtle, but made the same point: “What ‘White Natjonalist’ are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does,” the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee tweeted.

Next up was Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over writing the tax reform legislation that is a crucial part of Trump’s agenda.

“We should call evil by its name,” Hatch said. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

The backlash came amid infighting between Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill, and after several days of Trump lashing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his members for — in Trump’s view — moving too slow in pushing his agenda through Congress, particularly with the failure of the Senate GOP bill to partially repeal Obamacare.

Trump has threatened to try and push for McConnell’s ouster as Senate majority leader if he doesn’t deliver on healthcare reform, the tax overhaul, and infrastructure spending in the coming months. He has questioned the Kentuckian’s leadership style, saying McConnell should have stripped Republicans who voted against the healthcare bill of their committee chairmanships. Trump later all but called him a weak leader in tweets and comments to reporters for several days.

“We should have had healthcare approved,” Trump told reporters in Bedminster, N.J., where he is in the midst of a working vacation. “[McConnell] should have known that. He had a couple of votes that turned on him and that should have been very easy to handle.”

Republicans on the Hill have been equally disgusted with Trump’s leadership, concluding he’s more interested in protecting his personal brand than replacing the Affordable Care Act. They’re fed up with his undisciplined White House, granted they’re hopeful new chief of staff John Kelly can right the ship, and frustrated with his obsession over the Russia investigation.

Trump’s ignorance of the inner workings of Congress has become appallingly obvious in recent weeks. The lack of engagement by the White House in pushing Obamacare repeal cost the president dearly and his subsequent blame shifting to the Senate majority leader only highlights his weakness within his own party. Trump’s wrath doesn’t engender much fear among Republican politicians — a danger signal for a president whose empty threats to primary GOP lawmakers who don’t support him aren’t impressing anyone.

Most Trump supporters are dismissing the criticism of Trump’s remarks on the violence as typical anti-Trumpism. No matter what the president had said, they would have found something wrong, they believe.

That’s certainly true on the left. No matter how strongly Trump had condemned the racists, the New York Times and Washington Post would have found it wanting.

In fact, the sentiments expressed by the president were fine. But his failure to even mention the reason there was trouble in Charlottesville in the first place — a demonstration by white supremacists — raises questions about whether he has a real grasp of his job as president.

Trump has disavowed the alt-right and said he doesn’t want their support. But they continue to embrace him and brag about how they elected him. The president of the United States does not need the stink of these people’s support and condemning them in the most powerful terms yesterday would have cleared the air.

The Republican Party and American people deserved more from their president yesterday. They didn’t get it and that’s a problem.