Donald Trump's redeeming moment

The president is visiting El Paso and Dayton today in the aftermath of the mass shootings there. What he reads from the teleprompter does not really matter. What counts is whether he resorts to old tactics when the pain wears off and we forget what happened, as we usually do after serial murders in America. Count me as deeply skeptical. My doubt is influenced by the statement of the Trump campaign, just after the outrage over yet another example of government fecklessness in reducing gun violence, deploring the Democrats for “politicizing a moment of national grief.”

This despite the bipartisan outrage. This from the people who blatantly politicize race, gender, ethnicity, and nationality and fertilize our terrain with calumnies that allow the flourishing of white nationalists with guns and conspiracy theories. This condescension about grief from all the enablers of a president who could not bring himself to grieve for Heather Heyer, the protester murdered during a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, but did manage to equate those neo-Nazis with the counterprotesters.

This from a group of operatives who have made the political calculation that vilification brings victory. It has become clear that hate moves the base. The path to the Electoral College sludges through the deepest, darkest, and most primitive impulses within our minds. A collection of operatives who may have studied the political machinations of the Nazis (yes, I said it) and, while presumably finding the ideology odious, saw instruction in the means to dehumanize your opposition, convince people that they are being threatened by hordes of outsiders, and stoke their survival instincts until they become powerful amplifiers of your agenda.

ADVERTISEMENT

The strategy is working, I am sorry to say, more effectively than ever. We have had abnormal moments, such as the Civil War and turbulent 1960s, but we have never had echo chambers like Fox News and a leader who sows doubt by calling facts “fake news.” We have never had such a powerful machine systematically wrecking credible institutions and traditions like independent judges, tolerance, and civility. McCarthyism was an abnormal moment cured by, among other influences, the national broadcast by Edward Murrow appealing to decency. Today, he would be slammed on Twitter, pilloried by Fox News, and smeared by Trump supporters. He would be the latest James ComeyJames Brien ComeyState cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Graham on Syria: Trump appears 'hell-bent' on repeating Obama's mistakes in Iraq MORE or Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE.

This could be a week of redemption or revanchism for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE. He is at a red line, soaked and stained by the blood of El Paso and Dayton. If he tolerates more chants of “send her back,” he is beyond redemption. One more racist tweet puts his finger indelibly on the scale of racist violence. One more attempt to discredit opponents by dehumanizing them leaves no doubt whether he is an accomplice to the ensuing hate crimes. He is in a zero tolerance zone for presidential intolerance. I hope that he seizes the moment before his moments seize another Walmart.

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges The Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.