It’s a good thing Donald Trump wasn’t president during the civil rights movement. Judging by his tweets, Trump would have been tempted to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor, the notorious Alabama public safety commissioner.

Nearly six decades later, the man who sits in the White House is channeling his inner Bull Connor, unable to contain his eagerness to see play out on his own front lawn the vile tactics that Connor employed against civil rights marchers. In a giddy tweetstorm on Saturday morning, Trump let loose about how excited he would have been to see protesters who showed up across the street in Lafayette Square “really badly hurt” by “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

Trump even went so far as to suggest it was good for the Secret Service to be engaged in the tense confrontation, which — fortunately — has not been reported to have produced any serious injuries, outside the ones that occurred in the president’s fevered imagination.

Secret Service officers dressed in riot gear confronted demonstrators protesting the killing of George Floyd near the White House on May 30. (Reuters)

“Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action,” Trump wrote. He added a quotation, one the president presumably wants us to believe he heard from someone who manages the White House security force: “We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and . . . good practice.”

To suggest that the agents are “just waiting for action” against their fellow citizens impugns both the professionalism and the humanity of the Secret Service. But it very much fits in the worldview of a commander in chief who has excused war crimes by members of the U.S. military with the claim that they are trained to be “killing machines.”

Being Trump, he also could not resist getting in a shot at a perceived political adversary, writing that Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) “who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved.” In fact, according to my Post colleagues who reported from the scene, there were indeed District police officers, as well as Park Police, working in tandem to push the protesters through the park, until the group finally broke up.

What was missing from the president’s account was any mention of the reason these demonstrators were there: the national outrage generated by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, as a white police office knelt on his neck long after he became unresponsive. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In fact, Trump went so far as to suggest what he apparently really thinks: that the violent demonstrations that are occurring in cities across the nation are being manufactured by his political opponents. Trump claimed, without citing any evidence, that the protesters who vented their anger outside the White House late Friday and early Saturday were “professionally organized” and “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble.”

What a president should be doing at this moment is trying to calm the country and bring it together, not fantasizing about how glorious it would be to witness bloodshed just outside his doorstep. Trump was so thrilled that he thinks a celebration is in order: “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

As for the rest of us, we will grieve: for a life that has been lost, and a country that needs a leader who can bind up its wounds, not make them ever deeper.

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