Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump decided to walk across Lafayette Square for a photo-op. To get there, however, it took an outright battle with mounted park police, police covered in body armor and rattled Secret Service members who had just rushed the president to the bunker several nights before. Armed with semi-automatic weapons and military gear, they staged a siege on Lafayette Square against unarmed hippies, woke whites and people of color, again, forced to fight for justice.
Writing for the Washington Post Wednesday, conservative columnist Max Boot attacked Attorney General Bill Barr, who accepted responsibility for demanding that demonstrators be tear-gassed, beaten and shot with rubber bullets. Like Bull Conor ordering fire hoses on students marching in Birmingham, Alabama, Barr’s attack on Lafayette Square for a photo-op proved he is willing to do what it takes to stroke the fractured ego of a president forced to cower in a bunker.
“As soon as protests over the death of George Floyd began sweeping America, Barr was quick to conflate peaceful demonstrators with dangerous looters,” wrote Boot. “Without citing any evidence, the attorney general claimed that ‘the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics.’ This has now become Trump’s mantra — it’s all the fault of ‘the ANTIFA led anarchists’ — as it was once an article of faith for Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon that communists were behind antiwar and civil rights protests.”
As the Department of Homeland Security secretary pointed out Wednesday, it was violent troublemakers trying to stir up trouble amid peaceful protests.
Boot noted that national security adviser Robert O’Brien was just as culpable after announcing that there is no “systemic racism” in law enforcement. As Trump crawled out of his fraidy hole for his “sashay of shame” to stand in front of a church, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley stood beside him. Hours earlier, Esper told governors to “dominate the battlespace” of America’s cities.
Esper and Milly are backing off, after being denounced so heavily and very few Republicans willing to denounce the move, saying instead that they were late for lunch or didn’t “see” anything about it.
Boot called it a “long-overdue sign of independence from a defense secretary who — from shifting Pentagon funds to build a border wall to refusing to reinstate Navy Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt — has, until now, been a Trump enabler. Naturally, Esper’s hint that he has a backbone at all has placed his job in danger.”
He noted that it isn’t a risk that “Republican invertebrates” are willing to run with.
“Only a few Republicans expressed even the mildest disagreement. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), infamous as a font of ineffectual criticism, said it was ‘painful’ to watch peaceful protesters being gassed,” wrote Boot. “It is also painful to watch so many Republicans who had the opportunity to impeach and remove Trump refuse to grapple with their own complicity — or to do anything, even now, to rectify their cravenness. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.) effortlessly segued from expressing disappointment with events in Lafayette Square (it was ‘a bad night’) to launching Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the deranged ‘Obamagate’ conspiracy theory that Trump has been promulgating in his effort to win reelection.”
He went on to call it “impressive” to watch the speed with which the GOP evolved from calling the move tyranny to proclaiming “Send in the troops” as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) did in the New York Times Wednesday.
“By contrast, when gun-waving white extremists terrorized the Michigan Legislature last month to protest public health decrees, Trump advocated a policy of appeasement. ‘The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,’ he tweeted. Now, Trump is stoking the fires of racial discord as out-to-lunch Republicans pretend not to notice,” Boot closed, quoting Atlantic writer Anne Applebaum saying “history will judge the complicit.”
“But we don’t have to wait for the judgment of history. Voters can and should deliver their own judgment on Nov. 3: Vote out Trump’s collaborators. Every single one,” he explained.