Sohn: Let Trump race-shock give way to resolve

Torch-bearing white nationalists rally around a statue of Thomas Jefferson near the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11, 2017. President Trump said they were "fine people." (Edu Bayer/The New York Times)
Torch-bearing white nationalists rally around a statue of Thomas Jefferson near the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 11, 2017. President Trump said they were "fine people." (Edu Bayer/The New York Times)

Stop with the shock talk, already.

Donald Trump's flip-flops are no longer shocking.

The fact that our country is conflicted, confused and divided is, sadly, not shocking - despite the many times we've thought we had outgrown those afflictions.

Granted, it is a bit shocking to see a Twitter thank-you note to the President of the United States from a long-time Ku Klux Klan leader like David Duke: "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists "

And it's horrifying to see all the growing links between Trump and his campaign to the Kremlin's clear and sure meddling in the 2016 election that our Vladimir Putin-favored Trump won.

But what is truly shocking - though we should be fully accustomed to it by now - is the bowl of jelly that passes itself off as our GOP-majority Congress. They've imitated mimes with each new advance in the Russia probe, and after a white nationalist/neo-Nazi protest turned fatally violent in Charlottesville, Va., they mildly wrung their hands and disappeared.

It's true that Trump's belated Monday denunciation of white supremacists, racism and neo-Nazism brought those Republican lawmakers a few hours of respite. But then the seething child-president in a Tuesday afternoon news conference-turned-rant ripped the scab off of America's cancerous racial discord.

The train wreck of that news conference should have put our lawmakers on life support as Trump bellowed: "What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? I think they do."

The alt-left he spoke of were the people there to protest the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and KKK.

In the hours and days that followed, all that squeaked out of most GOP Congress members was a new round of mildly scolding platitudes - very few even mentioning the president.

"We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive," tweeted House Speaker Paul Ryan. "This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."

Well, duh. But the point is that this stuff came out of the president's mouth.

Most other congressional Republicans followed Ryan's lead. Only a handful had the courage of Arizona Sen. John McCain and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who addressed the president and his defense of the so-called alt-right - the newest euphemism for white supremacists.

"There's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate & bigotry. The President of the United States should say so," McCain tweeted.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker on Thursday termed Trump's reponse inappropriate.

But clearly, we'll have to put aside this latest shock that so few Republicans have spoken out.

No doubt this Trump disaster, like all things, will pass and be forgotten by the GOP in a matter of a few more hours - much as all the rest of his disasters that have been swept under the elephant-shaped rug.

That leaves the rest of us to pick up the serious work of preventing this new uprising of white supremacists, racists and neo-Nazis from further unraveling this ragtag crazy quilt of a nation we call America.

What's more, we cannot give in to a gut-punched instinct to use their same playbook to hit back.

We have to fight them with democracy, not with clubs and torches or lies and cheats.

Our nation's representatives and senators may not have the moral courage to step up, but many of us have already with not-so-subtle pressure on corporate CEOs - some of whom began resigning Trump's advisory boards in packs last week after Trump put aside his dog whistle and pulled the fire alarm to further empower white supremacists.

So steady was the stream of business leaders distancing themselves from this administration that Trump on Wednesday dissolved the councils rather than face continuing public embarrassment.

Interestingly, embarrassment was the reasoning Trump first ascribed to the CEOs jumping ship. He said they were embarrassed because so many of their products were made overseas. Trump himself and his daughter Ivanka don't seem embarrassed that their products are made in other countries, so one must wonder why he thinks anyone else should be red-faced.

The reality is that these CEOs were embarrassed to be standing so close to Trump. Perhaps they, too, looked around for GOP Congressional support, saw none, and followed their well-honed fight-or-flight instincts as new waves of Trump outrage roiled consumers and corporate stockholders.

Would that our representatives and senators still be agile enough to know what to do with a risk like Donald Trump.

But that's all right. It gives the rest of us an edge when we turn our newly focused attention to them, their records and their mid-term elections.

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