A new low for Trump

Donald Trump has come in for sharp criticism over his handling of the Charlottesville riots. Matthew Partridge reports.


A "shocking" spectacle in Charlottesville
(Image credit: 2017 Getty Images)

"Happy Belated K-K-Kondemnation," as US comedian Stephen Colbert puts it. Donald Trump was roundly condemned for his reluctance to denounce far-right rioters in Charlottesville over the weekend.

After finally deigning to criticise them by name on Monday, he then seemingly executed a U-turn a day later, asserting that "so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and Trump/Pence' signs", notes Glenn Thrush in The New York Times. Indeed, he went further, stating that there were "very fine people on both sides" and that many of the neo-Nazis "were there to innocently protest and very legally protest".

We shouldn't be surprised at the president's words, since "Trump has a track record" when it comes to race, notes The Guardian. Indeed, as far back as 1973, he and his father "were sued for racial discrimination because prospective black tenants were blocked from renting in their buildings". Later he became "a key proponent of the birther' movement", questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the US and therefore a legitimate president. Meanwhile, "Trump's attorney-general is Jeff Sessions, who has long been dogged by accusations of racism".

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Thanks to this episode, "the tone and character of Trumpism can no longer be denied", says Stephen Daisley on Spectator.co.uk. The procession through Charlottesville contained "angry, paranoid, adolescent men" who were an "echo of the overgrown teenager in the White House".

It is "shocking" to see the swastika in public in America. The row has prompted several Republicans to distance themselves from the president, notes Gerald Seib in The Wall Street Journal. "Candidate Donald Trump never seemed afraid to be isolated from the political mainstream", but "even candidate Trump may never have left himself quite so isolated".

What price transatlantic relations now?"A measure of pity is warranted for those people in this country still clinging to the notion this is a president who is good for Britain,'" says Alex Massie in The Spectator. Indeed, "even if Trump could plausibly be thought a Good Thing for the United Kingdom, there is something miserable about kowtowing and abasing ourselves before a man so thoroughly unqualified in every way for the office he now holds". In any case, Trump's notion of a deal is "glory for him and humiliation for you". No one remotely serious can "possibly trust anything he says".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri