For nine years running, President Obama has been excoriated by political analysts from all sides of the debate for accurately observing that red states tend to vote against their own economic best interests because Republicans have successfully exploited guns and religion as wedge issues. Based on how often this episode is mentioned, you’d think Obama visited the homes of Republican voters and ignited flaming bags of poop on their front doorsteps, shouting “Hillbillies suck!” as he dashed into the shrubs to watch the fun. It’s easily the most cited “gaffe” by Obama and therefore the worst he could muster during his time in the national klieg lights.
President Trump says far worse several times a day, and the same observers who thought Obama should apologize are frantically applauding every Trump trespass against decency and presidentialness.
On Monday, Trump met with Native American “code talkers” who were responsible for developing the U.S. military’s secret encryption language during World War II, greatly aiding the war effort. And no, this didn’t go well. Obviously.
The first problem with the Oval Office presentation was that it was held in front of a painting of Andrew Jackson who happens to have been responsible for the wholesale genocide of the Cherokee. We could call this a tone deaf maneuver by Trump if we could safely say he was actually aware of the Trail of Tears. But he’s probably not. And if he is, he likely thinks it’s something else. A trail of tires. A trail of bears. Something else other than the mass execution and expulsion of a tribe at the hands of Trump’s presidential hero.
Perhaps the only thing that could be more offensive to the guests-of-honor than forcing them to pose in front of Jackson’s portrait would be to mention Trump’s “Pocahontas” nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren — y’know, something completely insensitive and offensive like that.
Here's the video: Trump calls Elizabeth Warren 'Pocahontas' while honoring Native American code talkers: "You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas." pic.twitter.com/hjZ5MInDDf
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 27, 2017
“You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said, standing beneath a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.”
Turning to the veterans, Trump said “but do you know what? I like you.”
Where to begin?
In addition to obviously being racist, Trump seems to think the Marine veterans would be amused by his Pocahontas reference. They’re indigenous, Pocahontas was indigenous. Slam dunk, right? In the real world, in the universe of Normals, it’s not a nickname of affection in any way, but one of derision and ridicule. Even if he was being complimentary about Senator Warren, it would’ve still been a racial slur. He might as well have described tribal Americans as heathens or savages. It was just that horrendous.
History has proved that Trump is never intentionally funny. All of the Trumps are like a space-alien who visit Earth and struggle to learn how humor works, but they never quite get it right. If you recall Trump’s 2016 Al Smith Dinner remarks, his lame attempts at comedy tend to be awkward, weird and, in this case, racist. Put another way, the Pocahontas joke is not unlike Trump telling a group of African-American veterans, Obama was only half negro. A halfrican-American. Get it? Haha! I like you people.
In Trump’s whitewashed Doocy-fied universe, Fox News memes are hilarious and completely appropriate for all audiences. Yet another example of the fact that Trump (and millions of other aging baby-boomer men) have been entirely brainwashed by what David Frum calls the “conservative entertainment complex,” not realizing that despite Trump’s electoral college victory, the rest of the world still exists. Trump’s ascendancy hasn’t erased all of the rules of society and the need for human civility. Yes, thankfully in the age of Trump, there are still offensive words and offensive statements, and despite alt-right chants to the contrary, activists continue to rise up with ferocity against racism, misogyny, Trumpism and all of the terrible things that go along with it, including childish nicknames like “Pocahontas.” His people don’t get it, and Trump himself certainly doesn’t either.
He also seems to think his Navajo guests are unaware that indigenous tribes lived on the North American continent thousands of years before whites invaded. Once again, Trump treats facts he recently learned as facts nobody else knows about.
On top of all that, he implied that these men who he was allegedly honoring should be grateful that he likes them. “You know what? I like you.” Yeah, great. This evil bag of circus peanuts likes us. What a relief. He talks as if his phony-baloney affection has currency somehow, as if Trump isn’t completely toxic, destroying everything he touches. In keeping with that trend, an historic event like what was supposed to happen in the Oval today has been ruined by Trump’s inability to understand the difference between right and wrong — between honoring his guests and insulting them. Heaped on top of centuries of genocide and reneged treaties, Trump added insult to injury. Everything he touches turns to shit.
Not only were Trump’s remarks insulting and racist, but worse: he doesn’t seem to understand why. Neither do his people. Indeed, 35 percent of American voters think this is just fine. By the way, it’s worth noting that Trump is actively trying to raise the taxes and repeal the healthcare of his supporters, too, but they don’t care as long as Trump continues to protect their guns and their right to exploit their religion as an excuse for hatred and bigotry. Exactly what Obama said nine years ago.