Watching top Iowa Republican leaders in 2016 tightly lash the nation’s fate and their fortunes to the careening Trump Train, a question loomed behind the big rallies and loud cheers.
Would there ever come a day when they’d regret it?
There have been many, many regrettable days in this presidency. Too many to count. And Iowa Republicans, at times, have scolded, cautioned and condemned the president for his words and actions. But they’ve remained firmly on the train.
And then came Saturday. The day the President of the United States couldn’t bring himself to condemn Nazis by name, in his own words, in a moment of crisis.
He couldn’t call out white supremacy, even as it spawned deadly terrorism in Charlottesville, Va. Hatred marched into the heart of an American city wearing swastikas, with confederate battle banners flying, but the president weakly blamed “many sides” for the violence. Neo-Nazis appreciated his restraint.
He was no Roosevelt. And he was certainly no Lincoln. He wasn’t even as articulate as Jake and Elwood Blues, who once so clearly stated their hatred for Illinois Nazis.
By contrast, some top Iowa Republicans strongly, swiftly condemned the violence and racist hatred that spawned it. On Twitter, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley called it “homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated.” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst tweeted “racist hatred has no place in our society.” Gov. Kim Reynolds tweeted “We must forcefully condemn ugly, vile racist hate.”
Welcome words. But condemnation doesn’t seem like it’s enough this time.
This president waged a campaign that energized, encouraged and emboldened white supremacists. A president who rarely pulls punches throws beanbags when it comes to the rogue’s gallery of racists who find inspiration and incitement in his rhetoric. Some of his closest advisers have worked overtime to stoke the populist passions on display in Charlottesville. His administration pursues policies on multiple fronts seeking to turn back the clock on civil rights.
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This is not breaking news. It’s been on full display throughout the campaign and this presidency. So why did you jump on this train in the first place? And now, aside from words, what else have you got?
At what point are filling Supreme Court vacancies and passing tax cuts not worth selling the nation’s soul? We have an American president who can’t summon words to condemn our most un-American elements at a critical moment.
What are you going to do about it? When will the day of regret finally arrive?
More than 13,000 Iowans died in the service of the Union during the Civil War, fighting and defeating rebels carrying those battle flags. More than 8,000 Iowans died in World War II, including those who gave their lives to defeat the Nazis.
That’s a lot of sacrifice to vanquish enemies who sought to enslave and subjugate in the name of their racial superiority. Surely our president could have sacrificed some political support to immediately and strongly condemn their modern-day torchbearers. And surely Iowa’s leaders can at long last denounce a president who lacks the moral authority to do so.
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