Donald Trump, Racism — August 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Let’s talk about apologies and do-overs…

In the last week or so, we’ve seen two incidents that have generated an apology, and the apology’s evil twin, the do-over.
The second, and far less troubling, was the “adorable” social media rant unleashed by Louise Linton, the wife of Sec. of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a quick summary:
Linton and her husband had just returned from a day trip, on a government plane, to Kentucky, where Mnuchin had attended a meeting with Mitch McConnell.

Linton on Monday was accompanying Mnuchin on a trip to Louisville so the treasury chief could discuss ways to cut taxes for the middle class and so he could tour Fort Knox. Critics of Mnuchin’s tax plan have said it would benefit the wealthiest Americans much more than middle-income Americans.

Treasury secretaries typically fly on commercial airlines when they travel domestically, but they can get a waiver from the White House that allows them to use a government plane. A Treasury Department spokesman said the White House signed off on the logistics of this trip to Kentucky. In the photo Linton posted on Instagram, she is seen exiting the plane, which is painted blue and white and has “United States of America” emblazoned on the side.

Upon returning Linton tapped out the following post, which in retrospect must seem pretty tone deaf and self-absorbed, even to her…
“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky!” Ms. Linton, 36, wrote under the photograph. She then added hashtags for various pieces of her expensive wardrobe, listing #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino.”
Jenni Miller, an Oregon mother of 3, found the post pretty hubris-y, and responded with a quick retort…
“Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.”
Ms. Linton, not content to let Miller have the last word, then unleashed the white hot fury that only an entitled and wildly wealthy person of privilege can muster, directing the following torrent of adorableness at the unsuspecting Ms. Miller…

“Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!” she wrote. “Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?”

Ms. Linton went on: “I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.” After that, she included emojis of a curled bicep and a face blowing a kiss.

“You’re adorably out of touch,” she said, later adding, “your life looks cute” before concluding, “Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

It may be worth a word or two here on Ms. Linton’s background. She’s a Scottish actress known for her work in movies such as Cabin Fever and a single episode each of television series CSI: NY and Cold Case.

[Yeah, I’d never heard of her either.]

Now, just for a moment let’s ignore the fact as a British citizen, Ms. Linton’s “sacrifices” for the United States have consisted pretty much of cashing royalty checks and traveling on private government planes.

And that Linton clearly equates the amount of money that a person earns with their worth and value to society.

Or that she seems to believe that paying your taxes is a “sacrifice”, rather than a civic, or even patriotic duty.

Or that in 2016 Linton was forced to withdraw from sale her book on her experiences in Zambia, titled In Congo’s Shadow, after criticism about the book’s inaccuracies and “promotion of the false narrative of ‘the white saviour’. She later apologised for causing offense and promised to donate all profits from the book to an appropriate charity.” (emphasis mine) (she seems to have some experience with this apologizing thing…)

And just to clarify…the US government did pay for Linton and Mnuchin to travel to and from Kentucky…and it was only after this whole adorable feud blew up in Linton’s Instagram feed that she and her husband volunteered to reimburse the government for the cost of her travel.

No, let’s focus on Linton’s apology, which came out earlier this evening. After enduring a 24 hour news cycle that excoriated her for being haughty, rude, dismissive, and adorably out of touch, Linton–through her publicist, and clearly under duress–issued the following…um…apology…

“I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive.”

OK, let’s talk about apologies.

1. An apology should be directed to the person that you offended. This one wasn’t. Strike 1.
2. An apology should be delivered personally, not through an intermediary. This one wasn’t. Strike 2.
3. An apology should be sincere. Linton wasn’t sorry for what she said–she was sorry she got caught. Strike 3.

No reasonable person could consider the snotty, condescending tone of Ms. Linton’s initial diatribe and believe that her terse, 3rd party “apology” was intended to actually convey her remorse for her comments–or that she herself even wrote those words.

Rather, I’m with Ms. Miller on this one: “She says she’s a nice person. I doubt it.”

The other, and unquestionably more awful incident, was Donald Trump’s defense of Nazis and white supremacists in the aftermath of the Nazi march in Charlottesville last week. As careful readers might remember, Trump’s first statement was criticized both for being too vague, and for casting blame for the tragedy, which resulted in 3 deaths, on violence “on many sides, on many sides.

We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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. It has no place in America.

What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society. And no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play or be with their parents and have a good time.

His second statement, in which he attempted to walk back his initial comments, attempted to negate his first misstep by naming the perpetrators of the violence in Virginia.

“Racism is evil,” said Mr. Trump, delivering a statement from the White House at a hastily arranged appearance meant to halt the growing political threat posed by the unrest. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

As such, it constituted what’s known in golf and horseshoes as a “do-over”: an opportunity to try or perform something a second time. It was scripted, well-written, and included the words “Nazis” and “white supremacists.”

So, let’s talk about do-overs.

1. A do-over is an attempt to “walk back” inappropriate or intemperate comments. You can’t walk back being a Nazi sympathizer. Or being a racist. Strike 1.
2. A do-over is an attempt to make people forget your previous blunders. Um, no. Strike 2.
3. A do-over should be sincere. Trump is constitutionally incapable of sincerity. Strike 3.
4. A do-over, even if well-delivered, is not an apology. Trump’s do-over was not well-delivered. Strike 4.

No reasonable person could consider the incendiary, divisive tone of Mr. Trump’s racially-fueled tantrum and believe that his scripted, ghost-written do-over was intended to actually heal the wounds his defense of the racists in Virginia had opened–or that he himself had anything to do with the words he delivered.

To paraphrase Jenni Miller: “Trump says he’s not a racist. I doubt it.”

We’ve already fought a war in this country over racism. And that side lost.

No do-overs.