Two days ago the President of the United States, angered that the media had reported that he was hiding in his basement, ordered peaceful protesters in front of the White House to be dispersed, using tear gas and rubber bullets, so that he could cross the street to stand in front of St. John’s Church and have his photo taken holding a Bible. This was both a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, and a shameless use of the Church and the Bible – neither of which he has anything to do with – to support his personal image.
I provide that paragraph because I’m sure, looking back on this in 10 years, the context will be blurry, and it will be hard to believe that this really happened. When my sister told me, Monday night, that it had just happened, I thought it was the setup for a joke.
And, yet, the narrative has gone exactly the way we could have predicted. They were violent rioters. (The video footage proves this to be false.) They attacked the police. (Again, not true.) It wasn’t actually tear gas. (Hundreds of people that were there say that it was.) The incident was simply coincidental to the President’s little walk, and not done specifically so he could get his photo op. The President didn’t order it himself. The entire thing was faked with videos from elsewhere and put together in a studio.
A few Republican Senators have made vague disapproving noises. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made her expected snarky remark. Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi have made strongly worded statements.
And in the midst of it all, the President has managed to make the narrative about him, rather than about the protest themselves, and the gross injustices that they are are calling out.
Each time, the President’s actions are less defensible. And each time, his supporters’ defenses are easier and easier lies. They’re barely even trying any more, because they know that nothing will be done. They know that the Senate is firmly under his thumb, because of their insatiable greed for power and reelection.
This is only going to get worse, as long as Donald Trump occupies the White House.