Establishment media “journalists” are never happier than when they have occasion to trash Donald Trump, and he obligingly gave them some new ammo on Tuesday when he released a statement that departed from the usual statements that politicians issue upon the deaths of public figures. Instead of praising Colin Powell, Trump told us what he really thought of him. This kind of thing is why people hate Trump so much, and simultaneously why people love Trump so much.
Trump wrote: “Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”
The people you would expect to be enraged by this were quick to oblige. CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who, as Matt Margolis pointed out, used the occasion of Powell’s death to attack the Republican party, huffed: “Donald Trump proved, again, that he is utterly incapable of empathy, grace or even common decency…. What Trump’s statement should remind us is that this is a man uniquely self-obsessed — and without any ability to see beyond himself.”
The New York Daily News ran a story with the headline: “Classless Trump derides Colin Powell in death: ‘Anyway, may he rest in peace.’” The Independent’s headline was “Trump attacks Colin Powell and enviously complains about ‘beautiful’ media coverage of his death.”
Cillizza also noted that “the gulf between Trump’s statement and that of other former presidents on Powell’s passing is simply massive.” George W. Bush said: “Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell. He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam.” Barack Obama’s statement said that “General Powell was an exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot. He was at the center of some of the most consequential events of our lifetimes.” Bill Clinton chimed in with this: “He lived the promise of America, and spent a lifetime working to help our country, especially our young people, live up to its own ideals and noblest aspirations at home and around the world.”
Speaking ill of a dead man, especially one who has just died, is universally considered classless, and there is no doubt that Trump’s statement is singularly narcissistic and clumsily timed. At the same time, it is precisely his unwillingness to abide by conventional pieties, his impatience with hypocritical and empty verbiage (such as what the other presidents gave us on Powell’s death), and his persistence in telling truths that no one else dares to enunciate that makes Trump so beloved among many Americans.
Related: Guess Who Promptly Used Colin Powell’s Death to Attack the GOP?
Powell really was, after all, a classic RINO, as Trump said. He not only endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020, which was sure to antagonize Trump, but the revered general also endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. His claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction that got us into war in Iraq were never substantiated; the alleged chemical weapons were never located, and the fundamental pretext that Powell and company used to justify the war, that Saddam was working hand-in-glove with Osama bin Laden, was absurd from the beginning. The Iraq misadventure was as ill-conceived, or more so, than the one in Afghanistan; it just had the virtue of not ending quite as badly.
Above all, there is no doubt whatsoever that the establishment media treats those whom it favors, when they die, with a great deal more solicitude and generosity than they accord those whom they despised and feared in life, no matter how much moral myopia they have to display in doing so. Even Powell became a recipient of this: AP headlined its announcement of his death “Colin Powell dies, exemplary general stained by Iraq claims.” Contrast that with these AP headlines: “Fidel Castro, who defied US for 50 years, dies at 90 in Cuba”; “Iran’s popular Gen. Soleimani became an icon by targeting US”; “Hugo Chavez, fiery Venezuelan leader, dies at 58.” It is one hundred percent certain that when Trump dies, the establishment media’s headlines will be filled with reminders of how “divisive” and “vitriolic” he was, and likely much worse. Much milder people than Trump who also opposed the Leftist agenda will be in for the same treatment.
Trump’s error was to point out these truths, that need to be stated, on the occasion of Powell’s death. Cillizza, by contrast, used the occasion of Powell’s death to bash Trump, who is still alive. So no one is calling Chris Cillizza classless, and in truth, he and his colleagues are something much worse than that.
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