President Donald Trump continued his relentless attacks on Chicago on Monday, saying from the White House, “Can you imagine if the country was run like Chicago and like New York and like some of these other Democrat super radical left cities are run?
“You wouldn’t have a country for very long,” he said, a wild overstatement.
Trump’s focus on crime in Chicago goes back to his 2016 campaign. His references to Chicago are frequent, coming as the sad reality is Chicago continues to struggle with shootings. During this past weekend, at least 64 people were shot and 13 died, victims of gun violence. Over the previous July 4th weekend, 79 people were shot and 15 died.
The Trump White House is keeping tabs on these numbers.
Trump co-mingled his grievances against the Democrats who govern Illinois and New York at a roundtable to highlight positive, even heroic encounters several grateful people have had with their local law enforcement personnel.
They were in the East Room, seated around a sign on a video that read, “red, white and the blue.”
“In recent weeks, our country’s police officers have been really under siege,” Trump said, adding, “radical politicians want to defund and abolish the police from our nation.”
No one has suggested abolishing police.
Under the “defund police” umbrella, there are discussions of whether police should be in schools – and whether some taxpayer police dollars should be redeployed to fight crime in other ways.
Trump did not bring up the reasons the national “defund” movement exists and is gaining traction.
The crucial omission appears calculated because it explains the crossroads the nation is at when it comes to policing.
The chokehold killing of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer started a conversation across the country about police brutality.
Rather than bridge divides between police and the citizens they are sworn to protect, Trump’s words and tweets serve to deepen them.
Trump also showed Monday that psychological operations aimed to get to him can work. In criticizing New York for the spike in shootings in the city, Trump referred to the “Black Lives Matter” letters painted in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue last week.
“Yet they spend all their time — they want to do Black Lives latter – matter signs outside of Trump Tower. They ought to spend their time doing something else”
Turning to Chicago, Trump noted the shootings and deaths and said, “That’s worse than Afghanistan. I hate to say it: That’s worse than any war zone that we’re in, by a lot. It makes them look like tame places by comparison. So we’re not going to let it go on.”
That echoed what he said last Thursday, when he suggested he may sidestep Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, telling Fox News Host Sean Hannity vaguely, “We’re going to have to do something” about crime in Chicago.
Earlier, on Thursday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wrapped up her briefing with a “plea for peace in our streets.” She showed the pictures of youths — most from Chicago — who were the most recent victims of gun violence.
Last June 26, Trump sent Lightfoot and Pritzker a letter, offering meetings with administration officials to discuss crime solutions. The letter was so full of insults that Lightfoot and Pritzker shrugged it off as a press stunt.
On Monday, Trump said, “They don’t call. We’ve asked Chicago, ‘Would you like us to go in and help?’ And they don’t want to say anything.”
Trump, accused “far-left mayors” of “escalating the anti-cop crusade, and violent crime is spiraling in their cities. It’s all far-left cities where they have no understanding of what has to be done. They don’t have a clue.”
Actually, Lightfoot and Pritzker do have quite a clue when it comes to curbing gun violence. There is an urgent need for nationwide gun legislation so guns can’t find their way from Indiana to the city. Trump mocks Chicago’s ineffective gun ban; no one will argue with him.
Lightfoot, through a spokesman, said while Trump “continues to get his facts wrong and use victims of gun violence to score cheap political points, Chicago’s police officers, faith leaders, community-based organizations and residents are busy working on-the-ground at this very moment to protect their neighborhoods from this epidemic. That’s who we are as a city and as a country, not the hateful and racist rhetoric that this President spouts every day.”
If Trump wants to be helpful, he could take a clue from Lightfoot and Pritzker, and, for heaven’s sake, wonder, “Where do these guns come from? How did shooters obtain these weapons? How can we get it to stop?”