Quick Takes: The Race Stuff Didn’t Matter

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* Greg Sargent pulls this little tidbit from Joshua Green’s new book about Steve Bannon:

The New York Times reports that a wide range of Trump’s advisers privately urged him to call out the white nationalists directly, but he kept steering the conversation back to a breakdown of “law and order.” We’ve seen this refusal to give in to pressure to condemn racism before. Trump dragged his feet before disavowing David Duke’s support. And Joshua Green’s new book on Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon reports that in August 2016, as Hillary Clinton elevated the issue of white nationalism to national prominence with a major speech, the Trump campaign internally decided not to go too far in renouncing it. Bannon told Green: “We polled the race stuff and it didn’t matter.”

* Just in case Trump’s white nationalist supporters might worry that today Trump read the words “racism is evil” off a teleprompter, he recently gave them this assurance:

President Trump may soon issue a pardon for Joe Arpaio, the colorful former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty two weeks ago of criminal contempt for defying a state judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected undocumented immigrants. In his final years as Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio had emerged as a leading opponent of illegal immigration.

“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” the president said Sunday, during a conversation with Fox News at his club in Bedminster, N.J. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”

The current president thinks that Arpaio is “a great American patriot.” That’s all you need to know to discount everything he had to say during his brief remarks this afternoon.

* My long-read recommendation for today comes from Kurt Anderson and is titled, “How America Lost Its Mind.”

When did america become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

* I’ve always felt that one of Obama’s more important legacies is the way he kept his promises to Native Americans. DNC Chair Tom Perez notes that the Trump administration is busy breaking them.

Tribal communities have grown stronger over the last eight years because of President Obama’s deep commitment to nation-to-nation relationships, built on respect for the sovereignty of tribal governments. He worked to restore over half a million acres of tribal trust lands, established an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference and added a provision to the Violence Against Women Act that gives tribal courts the jurisdiction to try non-Indians for domestic abuse.

By steering the government toward Termination-era policies, Trump threatens the health and prosperity of Native Americans and drags us all backward. This approach has devastated Indian Country before. We cannot allow it to happen again.

* I hear that this one will be coming to theaters next month.

* Finally, I’ve always thought that the feminism in Shania Twain’s music didn’t garner enough attention. It’s nice to know that these young women get it.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.