The Baltimore Sun struck back with a stinging editorial, defending its city while dishing President Trump a dose of his own medicine. It ended with this totally earned rebuke:
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.Better to have a few rats than to be one, Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, July 27, 2019
This, of course, is in response to Trump’s tweets aimed at Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has criticized the president over his border wall and other policies. It’s all politics, until it gets personal for people who, despite the rats, love their city.
“Cumming District” [sic] is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” Trump tweeted. He followed that up in another late-night tweet citing Baltimore’s deplorable crime and economic statistics.
What Trump tweeted is true. Baltimore is number two in the U.S., in the ignominious statistic of murder. It is behind only St. Louis in this category. It leads in robbery, with a per 100,000 rate 36 percent greater (worse) than second-place Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore is 7th place for aggravated assault; yet 17th place in property crime. This could possibly be explained by the fact that there’s not a lot left to steal.
If there’s any city which exemplifies the president’s inaugural “American carnage” speech, it’s Baltimore.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
It hasn’t stopped, and the problems Trump cited are neither easily nor quickly reversed. They are deeply endemic to many places in the country where a combination of government policies, social structures, economic realities, and lack of basic services has created abscesses, filled with crime, filth and corruption.
But neither has Trump’s filthy rhetoric moved our nation any further toward a solution. It has only further entrenched the sides into political gridlock. Fifty years of Democratic Party leadership in Baltimore has not done the city any favors. The Freddie Gray riots did not testify to progressive policies and racial harmony.
It’s telling that progressives are so quick to condemn poor Scots-Irish families in Appalachia and the rust belt for not moving to places with more economic opportunity, and for their drug addiction, and for their support for (then-candidate) President Trump. Trump’s tweets have always been aimed at energizing those who the media highlights as a blight on America: the country hick, the dumb rube clinging to guns and religion.
It should be no surprise that Trump’s re-election campaign staff sees value in this demographic. Yet, the Washington Post exposes it as if this is some cabal of racists. Again, it’s telling that the media mostly ignores Democratic Party and candidate rhetoric aimed at minorities, and how those campaigns scientifically and intentionally crafted these messages for many years.
This has prompted them to find ways to fuse Trump’s nativist rhetoric with a love-it-or-leave-it appeal to patriotism ahead of the 2020 election, while seeking to avoid the overtly racist language the president used in his tweets about the four congresswomen.“Trump campaign sees political advantage in a divisive appeal to working-class white voters”, Washington Post, July 27, 2019
Trump’s blunt hammer makes every point a nail, yet Trump himself is a model of the same corruption he seeks to expose.
The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board struck to the heart of the matter. Sure, much of Baltimore is a hell hole. Just like parts of Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras (not to mention many third-world nations in Africa) are what Trump refers to as “sh**hole countries.” Slogans like “Make America Great Again” printed on hats that themselves have become symbols of division and oppression do not make the problems go away.
The president who spends his late night hours tweeting a stream of garbage, true or not, earned every word aimed at him. Besides his tweets, and his sometimes-useful policies (though tariffs, unlimited spending, and military parades aren’t particularly useful), what gives Donald J. Trump the moral authority to call anyone a “brutal bully?”
As for rats, it takes one to know one. I think the Baltimore Sun made that point abundantly, eloquently, well.