- - Sunday, August 27, 2017


Two weeks after the fact, the continuing hysteria over Charlottesville is more about the temperature of President Trump’s denunciations (there have been several) of Nazis, Klansmen and other white supremacists than about the riot itself.

The president should designate a national day of outrage, with a prize — perhaps a supersized thesaurus — for whomever demonstrates the greatest depth of outrage and the best command of adjectives to demonstrate how bad the bad guys are, and how much he really, really, really hates them.

Gary Cohn, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, hints that he’s so outraged — about the Nazis, Klansmen, et al but mostly about the lack of heat in the president’s several denunciations — that he might even leave the administration. Or maybe not. He’s on the short list of suspects to succeed Janet Yellen when she retires from the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve next year. A man could make a nice pudding with a plum like that.

The Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists are held responsible for the riot by simply being there, and maybe they are, but they had help. The bad guys went to the trouble to obtain a permit for their rally, and since it was in a park with a statue of Robert E. Lee, the late commander of the Army of Northern Virginia must share some of the blame. Perhaps the general could be dug up and flogged. Oliver Cromwell’s skeleton, after all, was taken from his grave after the fact so it could be beheaded. His statue still stands outside Parliament.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, whose mishandling of the police on the site contributed mightily to turning the Charlottesville rally into a riot, set out to be the nation’s uniter-in-chief, the president having failed to assume that role to the governor’s satisfaction. “There has got to be a movement in this country to bring people together, Mr. McAuliffe said. “The hatred and rhetoric that has gone on and has intensified over the past couple of months is dividing this great nation.” He repeated a by-the-numbers denunciation of the white supremacists and the Nazis (leaving out the Kluxers this time). When someone asked him if he included the violently left-wing antifa in his denunciation, he ignored the question and abruptly left the room.

It’s high season for denouncing somebody, but with so many players waiting to view with alarm it’s difficult to remember who the denouncee of the moment may be. James Clapper, who was Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, was so overwrought by the president’s rally in Phoenix that he now questions Mr. Trump’s “ability, his fitness to be in this office,” i.e., he’s probably crazy. “How much longer does the country have to endure this nightmare?”

His questioning of the president’s sanity reminded Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, a Republican, of Mr. Clapper’s famous assurance to Congress that Islamic jihadist terrorism “has nothing to do with religious ideology.” The Muslim Brotherhood was, after all, a secular organization. He later apologized, and in all fairness, his whoppers might have been told just trying to make his boss, President Obama, feel better. If Mr. Clapper “was questioning Donald Trump’s fitness or ability for office,” Rep. Franks said, “he has certainly answered the question on his own behalf that he was never fit to be the national intelligence director.” Just as you can’t always trust a prison trusty, you can’t expect an intelligence director to speak in intelligence all the time.

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