Now that most of the political juice has been squeezed out of the events in Charlottesville, Va., the country is preparing to move on from yet another ugly incident.
Just as after Ferguson, Baltimore, San Jose, Santa Barbara and Berkeley, the immediate reaction from the usual suspects went according to script. It was a shameful display by the media and the political class.
First, the political class sprinted to the closest microphone or TV camera they could find — at a speed that would impress Usain Bolt — in order to score points. Both sides of the political class exploited the opportunity to flaunt their racial sensitivity and moral superiority. Why do they feel the need to denounce hatred and violence every time one of these incidents occurs? Because if they don’t, their opponents say their silence equates to tacit approval of what took place. It is a game of political “gotcha.”
It is telling about the self-righteousness of the political class that they would sink so low for political gain as to use an incident where one young lady lost her life and others were injured. It is reprehensible. The incident amounted to hate versus hate.
The liberal media also forges these incidents into a club to bludgeon their political adversaries. Those adversaries include President Trump, conservatives and Republicans.
The very next day after Charlottesville, some were trying to cloak the liberal riot-starters who showed up itching for a confrontation by portraying them as a force for good. But the truth was very different. In reality, extreme leftist movements — be they Antifa or Black Lives Matter — are in the same category as neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
Yes, I said it. These are all fringe hate groups that should be condemned. There are no good guys involved. It’s remarkable that the political left continues to treat Antifa and Black Lives Matter as mainstream movements. It must stop.
Charlottesville was an opportunity for both sides of the political spectrum to speak as one. But in our politically charged state, the temptation to score a few cheap political points is too much to resist.
It is remarkable that the self-righteous left was talking about the need to condemn hate as their unbridled hate for President Trump and the first family is off the charts. They should lead by example and tone down their own hate.
President Trump did what presidents should do. How do I know this? Because in the early stages of an event like this, the reports of what happened are often wrong and subject to change. It has happened to me numerous times during critical incidents. Initial stages are chaotic. If the president speaks too soon, like his predecessor after the Cambridge police incident or Ferguson riots, he risks identifying the wrong players, victims, perpetrators or description of events.
A president’s initial statement should be thoughtful and measured, and he should choose words that calm the nation. He should not take sides as he is speaking to the American people. He doesn’t have all the facts initially. The president will usually give a more fact-based detailed statement after he is better informed. That is what President Trump did. It was a presidential moment.
The timing of when to make an initial statement is always a toss-up. Opponents looking to make political hay will always criticize a president in this situation. They’ll always say that he didn’t speak up soon enough. In this case, President Trump could have had The New York Times or The Washington Post write his post-Charlottesville clash statement for him and read it word for word, but they still would have excoriated him for what he said.
The people of Charlottesville will have to sift through the rubble of last weekend’s clash and put their lives and community back together. The sad thing is that the media and political class are just going to pull up stakes and leave town in search of their next opportunity at political theater.
David Clarke (@SheriffClarke) is the Democratic sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.