"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
This statement from the President of the United States, many hours after the violence had all but subsided and a life taken, sounds vaguely presidential in nature. Which is what one can reasonably hope all statements coming from the leader of the country should sound like: calm and strong. Under further scrutiny however, there is a little black mark that appears in those remarks. “On many sides” seems to imply that both sides of the racially and politically charged conflict had equal blame for the fatal outcome as the counter-protestors who only wished for hate and bigotry to be silenced. This small aside in the seemingly normal statement made Mr. Trump’s intent seemingly clear to a majority of Americans.
That brought us to last Tuesday, aside from a few attempts at damage control from the White House staff, and the campaign-lite rally in Phoenix. Trump spent a majority of the time in full attack mode against the “dishonest” media and how badly they misrepresented his response to Heather Heyer’s death and the overall violence. He even reread his own remarks, the same one quoted in the beginning of this article, and conveniently left out (ended before) the “on many sides” part. He showed clearly which side of the conflict he stood on too, when he stated, “I see they want to take Teddy Roosevelt's down, too. They're trying to figure out why. They don't know. They're trying to take away our culture. They are trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders, they do it overnight. These things have been there for 150 years, for 100 years. You go back to a university, and it's gone. Weak, weak people." This conflict was brought up even though the push to take down a Roosevelt statue is from back in 2016 and not related to the current Confederate monument issue.
He later defended the tones of this speech, mostly a verbal takedown of the media and people trying to take down Confederate monuments, and a few others this week in tweets. “The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally (enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion - V.A. (respectful and strong). Too bad the Dems have no one who can change tones!” It seems like more than just tone switching however; it seems like playing whatever role gets the most attention. It sounds like the real many sides in the situation are Donald Trump’s.