The president of the United States sought to lay out a new strategy for fighting the Afghan War.
He began his speech Monday night, though, with what I perceived in the moment to be a curious diversion from the topic at hand. He spoke about peace, harmony, understanding and love. He said he wants our brave warriors fighting overseas to return to a country in which all citizens feel equally loved by their fellow Americans.
I thought it was an interesting — and welcome — appeal in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va., riot that was ignited by hate groups marching and counter protesters clashing with them.
So here’s where I’m heading with this: Is the president going to continue that theme tonight when he steps in front of cheering throngs in Phoenix, Ariz.? It’s billed as a campaign rally. You know how those involving Donald Trump usually turnout, yes? They get raucous. The president flies “off script.” He starts hurling insults around. The crowd cheers. The president basks in the adulation he hears in the throaty yells.
Trump is going to a state represented in the U.S. Senate by two Republicans — John McCain and Jeff Flake — who’ve been openly critical of him. Trump has responded with insults he has hurled back at them. Sen. Flake is facing a GOP primary challenge and the president has taken the highly unusual step of appearing to back his opponent.
The nation is in the middle of an intense discussion about race relations in light of what happened in Charlottesville. Will the president respond in a positive way to that discussion, or will he pour fuel onto that wildfire with more of his intemperate rhetoric?
My hope is that he’ll listen to the calmer angels that might be trying to be heard above the din. My fear is that he’ll ignore them and go with the shouters.
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