The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Republicans and conservatives defending Trump on Charlottesville are morally bankrupt

Wajahat Ali, a political commentator, Emmy-nominated producer, playwright and attorney, tells the scary story of America today. (Video: Adriana Usero, Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

The affront that is the Trump presidency is a violation of everything I learned about morality and reverence for the Constitution and the presidency — from Republicans. The party that spent my entire life lecturing liberals and Democrats on the finer points of being an upstanding American and upholding the honor and dignity of the presidency can’t speak with a clear, unified voice when it comes to President Trump.

The nation can only weep

Democrats were soft on crime. Democrats weren’t serious about that “bear in the woods,” otherwise known as Russia. The late Jerry Falwell thundered about moral decline from his perches at the Moral Majority and Liberty University (nee Lynchburg Baptist College), helping Republicans win elective office all the way up to the Oval. And President Bill Clinton was impeached nearly 20 years ago for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Because of Clinton’s reprehensible conduct, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush rallied Republicans by promising to restore “honor and dignity to the White House.”

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Trump has used every minute of his 213 days in the White House (as of this writing) to upend all of those Republican lessons I learned. After running an overtly racist and xenophobic campaign for the presidency, Trump squandered its moral authority with a 20-minute celebration of white supremacy that gave aid and comfort to bigots, Nazis and white supremacists everywhere. He didn’t even give a full-throated condemnation of the hate in Charlottesville that led to the death of Heather Heyer. Talk about being soft on crime. And as shameful and un-American as that is, there’s Falwell’s namesake on TV on Sunday, uttering nonsense like this in support of the president:

One of the reasons I support him is because he doesn’t say what’s politically correct, he says what’s in his heart. What he believes. And sometimes that gets him in trouble. But he does not have a racist bone in his body. I know him well.

If Trump “does not have a racist bone in his body,” then my eyes and ears have been lying to me all these years.

Trump is a cancer on the presidency.

VIDEO: What a presidential president would have said the day of the Charlottesville unrest (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Listen, I’ve already had my say about Trump and Charlottesville. How his coddling of the Confederacy and those who revere its treason make him unfit to be president. That many Republicans, including our 41st and 43rd presidents, have stepped forward to condemn what the 45th would not doesn’t leave me entirely despairing of the sorry state of the GOP and our national psyche.

So, my message is for all those Republicans and conservatives rallying around Trump and his offensive “both sides” idiocy and the racism it supports: You’re morally bankrupt. Your lectures and righteous indignation are meaningless in the age of Trump. And you have harangued me and other liberals on our morality and patriotism for the last time.

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