Mr. Trump, Be a Joke or be President. Don’t be both.

kevin seraaj
Kevin Seraaj, J.D., M.Div.

UPDATED:  He did it again.  Screwed the plan and the pooch.  President Donald Trump demonstrated once again why his ability to lead this nation is constantly under fire.

Chief of Staff John Kelly kept his head down today as Trump veered off course– again– and started shooting from the hip during a live press conference.  I felt his pain.  Predictably, reporters asked him about Charlottesville and his comments about the white supremacist groups.  Predictably, he went off script.

After the imaginative, but almost pathetic, attempt to change the meaning of the President’s words when he said “many sides” were responsible for last weekend’s violence, one would have expected Mr. Trump to listen to his advisers, go with the flow, take his lumps for stupid remarks, then try to get past what was clearly a serious political faux pas.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he chose to defend his original remarks, blame the counter-protesters, and then go on to invent a new classification of leftists– “the alt-left.”

White supremacists in Charlottesville
White supremacists with guns in Charlottesville  Photo: AP

The alt-right (or alternative right) is a real, self-defined group of people with far-right ideologies.  They reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism.  They have websites and an organizational logo. 

While there is no such thing as the “alt-left,” President Trump may have been referring to the somewhat militant Antifa (anti facists) who showed up to oppose the white supremacists support of violence and hate.  


A group of the 1,000 clergy members in Charlottesville blocking the path to the UVA campus.  They were accosted by white nationalists a short while later.

While the supremacists did file for a permit to hold their protest rally, they did so to promote their racist beliefs.  Antifa, like most Americans, oppose their point of view.

While Antifa is certainly not a pacifist group, it was the white supremacists who rolled into Charlottesville armed to the teeth. Not the students who came out of their dorms to oppose them, and certainly not the nearly 1,000 pastors and ministers who were asked to be part of the opposition to hate.

But it was those ministers who, faced with the threat of physical harm, were glad Antifa was there.  After gathering in a church to pray and prepare themselves to go out onto the streets, they began to exit and were immediately confronted by on-rushing white supremacists.  The clergy quickly retreated back inside the church and closed the door. Consider this short account:

“…Rev. Osagyefo Sekou led the group in hymns as they waited out the racists. Harper said one woman who tried to exit the church was promptly maced by white supremacists, and several observers—including ThinkProgress reporters—noted an unsettling lack of police presence.”

Without the police, the clergy members were cut off, and vulnerable.  Mustering their courage, they assembled outside on the streets the next day.  Antifa, they said, saved their lives. 

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I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and find that the last 8 months have all been part of The Donald’s comedy debut.

If he wasn’t president of the United States, maybe vice president Mike Pence and Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, along with Sarah Huckabee and the newest arrival to the White House– Communications Director Hope Hicks– could reinvent The Real Donald as an insult comic with intentionally obnoxious, crude, asinine, and utterly ridiculous views on race, women, white supremacists, American culture and police brutality.  Heck, Don Rickles made a successful career of being an insult comic, using sometimes unnecessarily harsh, racist remarks in his act.

But comedians get a pass.  Jamie Fox raised a lot of eyebrows when he said he loved playing the part of Django, in Django Unchained, because he got to “kill all the white people,” adding, “how great is that?”  When an uproar resulted, he defended his remarks saying simply:  “I’m a comedian.”

If Trump were a comedian, he too could probably get away with his stumbling, bumbling, bombastic and idiotic primetime performances.  But he isn’t.  He represents the United States of America at the highest possible level, and most of us– even his supporters– know we all deserve better from a sitting president than this.

How much longer will the Republican-controlled congress abide this national freefall to global disgrace?  How far down does the nation have to sink before a few– just a few– Republican lawmakers decide the interests of the nation outweigh their slavish loyalty to Mr. Trump?  Democrats are already on-board.  Isn’t it time yet to see this clearly unqualified, unfit and demonstrably incompetent man with money impeached?

But perhaps it is his money that keeps most of these people crowded around him, grinning in every photo like Cheshire cats.  Actor Parker Stevens once said:

“Suddenly you’re surrounded by strangers who want something from you. The thing is, they don’t know what they want, and you don’t know what they want, . . . and you just sort of stand there grinning at one another.”

Donald Trump sees himself far above the crowd– politicians and constituents alike.  Because of his money.  He said as much during the campaign when he talked about what his money buys:  “[W]hen I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true. They kiss my ass.”

Maybe it’s time to stop kissing and sucking up.  Maybe it’s time for someone with some balls to tell Mr. Trump to either start reading the teleprompter or go back to real estate. Either be the loudmouthed unfunny joke he has become or be president– but don’t be both.