CNN’s Van Jones is catching all sorts of heat on social media and elsewhere for his comments last night after calling the moment where the President recognized the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed in the raid in Yemen, “an extraordinary moment in American politics”, and saying Mr. Trump became “president of the United States in that moment. Period.” I’ve had issues with Van Jones for some time now so I wasn’t as outraged as many people were. Nonetheless I thought his conversation with Angela Rye on CNN today was interesting because depending how you saw Van’s comments, Angela cleverly got him to walk back, or “clarify” what he meant. That hasn’t stopped the criticism though.
In all fairness to Van he does have a point. I myself did not watch the President’s address but I read the text version of it this morning and my first thought was, if I had been living under a rock for the past 2 years, and this was my first glimpse of Donald Trump as POTUS, he would sound like a perfectly reasonable world leader. And that should alert everyone who opposes him. The President will not always appear as the unhinged cartoon most Americans know him to be, and messages of opposition will have to adjust accordingly.
As a student of history it only makes common sense. A major reason the German Left couldn’t stop Hitler’s rise was because they expected him to make another violent push for power after serving his prison sentence for his attempt in 1923 when he vowed never to do so again.
Before this congressional address, Trump’s approval ratings were the lowest of any recent president, leading to questions about his ability to govern in such a hostile political climate. But that does not mean we praise the President after he says some prewritten and prerehearsed words because they do not sound as bad as what we’re used to hearing from him. His words may sound nicer but his policies are the same. Pursuing policies that directly threaten Muslims, undocumented immigrants, black and brown Americans, the LGBTQ community, women, not to mention the health of working Americans will not bring the country together nor “make America great again.” To call him presidential after such a deceptive speech is how you normalize fascism and totalitarianism, which is what Van tried to do. He drank the Kool-Aid.