Democrat presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor, and Rhodes Scholar Pete Buttigieg sure knows how to smear. He was quick off the mark on a Sunday morning talk show to blame President Trump for the killing of twenty people in El Paso, Texas. The killer appears to have been a white nationalist (whatever exactly that is), and Rhodes Scholar Buttigieg said white nationalism is “condoned at the highest level of our government.”
Rhodes Scholar Buttigieg said, “And then when you have an actual incident of white nationalist terrorism [as distinguished from the El Paso incident, which he has just blamed on Trump?] like the killing in Charlottesville related to people saying, ‘Jews will not replace us’ and the president saying you’ve got very fine people there … (Buttigieg’s quote appears to drift off).”
Actually, that’s not quite what the president said after Charlottesville, but when you’re polling at 0 percent among African Americans, you’re facing desperate times, and we all know what kind of measures desperate times call for—not, probably that Rhodes Scholar Buttigieg needs a special occasion to smear.
What Trump actually said was: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
That, we can admit, was not the politic thing to say after Charlottesville (as Rush said), but it was surely accurate. The Charlottesville incident took place at a rally at which many people were protesting the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. (The president asked, “Is Washington next?” reminding reporters that Washington held slaves).
Trump said: “And you had people—and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists—because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”
“Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.”
Trump’s whole exchange with the media is worth reading (you can see it here) because it shows what a smear job the press was attempting (largely successfully) to do on Trump. If you’re into smearing at the Rhodes Scholar level like Mayor Pete, you just leave out the good parts of what Trump said and show only the parts of the quote that make your point.
Buttigieg knows, or can fairly be charged with knowing, what Trump actually said about Charlottesville—but of course, Rhodes Scholar Buttigieg has no interest in truth. The smear’s the thing.
Of course, there were other Democrat presidential contenders who were quick to blame Trump for the shootings. Robert Francis (dba “Beto”) O’Rourke (most polls show him now in the single digits, one of which digits is 0) also attacked Trump when an ABC News reporter set up the opportunity by asking him if Trump had any responsibility for the shootings. “Yes,” replied the skateboard contender.
Skateboard Beto went on to say: “We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years, during an administration where you have a president who’s called Mexicans rapists and criminals.”
But, of course, that’s not what Trump said. What he said was: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Now it’s true that that’s a long paragraph for a Columbia University graduate to remember verbatim (Beto was not a Rhodes Scholar), but even a non-Rhodes Scholar Columbia graduate might be expected to remember the sense of what Trump said.
But, of course, Beto doesn’t care. He’d distort anything for political gain. Single digits are more than he deserves, and assuredly—as assuredly as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, as assuredly as the Washington Post will try to best the New York Times in the art of smearing—more than Beto will eventually get. Bye-bye, Beto.
But the smearing goes on and will go on, the Democrats having nothing else to run on except identity politics—the politics of hate and division, precisely the politics they so assiduously ascribe to Donald Trump. The press can and will continue to smear, and at the Rhodes Scholar level. Will democracy see us through?
Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.
Email Daniel Oliver at [email protected]