The cruelty of Trump’s Jan. 6 press conference
After two troublesome years, most Americans are eager to move on with their lives. Many surely have come to believe that three main disruptors have worked in concert to prevent that from happening: the antics of former President Trump; the response to those antics from the left, including many in the mainstream media, academia and entertainment worlds; and the ever-evolving, seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic.
Right on cue, Trump is about to roll out a number of rhetorical hand grenades that will get 2022 off to a depressing start for those who seek adult leadership and political healing that might allow our politicians to focus on the voters’ misery index for a change. Trump surely knows that — but still he chooses to douse that hope.
Trump has announced he will hold a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Jan 6. To say that his timing is tone-deaf would be letting Trump off the hook much too easily. It’s actually downright cruel, especially considering that four Trump supporters died during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, a Capitol Police officer died from a stroke the day after, and four other police officers committed suicide in the days and months following.
Yes, the former president has the right to speak publicly any time of his choosing — just not on the anniversary of the Capitol breach, when he acknowledged in a speech to supporters that they “would soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
Simple decency would suggest that he pick another day. But Trump likely chose that day precisely because he wants to rip the scab off the wound to fire up his base and fuel the hate machine in the process. Unfortunately, he’ll probably succeed on both counts.
Self-awareness and introspection never have been Trump’s strong suits. When he holds his news conference on Jan. 6, however, he may want to ponder why that date has a special meaning — not just for Americans affected by the events in Washington on that date last year but also for hundreds of millions of people around the world for another reason.
Jan. 6 is known as Epiphany for the world’s 2.6 billion Christians. It not only commemorates the visit of the three wise men to the birthplace of Jesus but also is known as Old Christmas or Little Christmas and recognized as the 12th day of Christmas. The day is truly sacred to billions of people.
And many Americans will witness Trump, who says he is a Christian, dishonoring that celebration once again for his own selfish motivations.
It’s said that we must “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Though the saying has dubious origins, attributed to both St. Augustine and Mohandas Gandhi, and may be an unrealistic solution, it does bring to mind a question for Republicans and Trump’s supporters: “Why can’t you love some of Trump’s policies but still call him out for his rhetorical sins?”
Leaders lead, but cowards cower. When will some of the Republican politicians decide that enough is enough when it comes to Trump’s implied or direct threats against them, should they dare to stand up to his bullying?
Like the line in the Harrison Ford version of the movie “Sabrina,” it seems that far too many Republicans have come to believe that “morals are paintings on walls and scruples are money in Russia.” If they want to demonstrate that they know better, they should call Trump out regarding the callous timing of his planned news conference.
And while the GOP lawmakers are doing that, it might be nice if some Democrats also could muster up the courage to call out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for intending to exploit Jan. 6 in her own self-serving way.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Pelosi has made it clear that she will be the force behind a “full program of events” to mark that day in Washington. The events will bring liberal historians and members of Congress together to share their reflections and opinions about the day that Trump supporters overran the Capitol.
For those who believe that these reflections and opinions might be an “olive branch” extended to the opposing political side, I maintain that you have not been paying attention to the way that Pelosi operates.
The bottom line is Jan. 6 should not be politicized or desecrated by bloviating politicians. It should be a day for healing in America. Both Trump and Pelosi have time to call off their sideshows. Here’s hoping someone can properly define “morals” and “scruples” to them before they ring in 2022 with their individual brands of egotism.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.