(CNN)This has been an objectively awful week.
Far from a sleepy end to the summer, the country is reeling from mass shootings that claimed 31 lives in Texas and Ohio, not paying enough attention to an extremely deadly summer of violence in Chicago, having painful and not particularly productive conversations about gun control and about racism, and the government is rounding up undocumented immigrants in a way that leaves their children crying in parking lots on the first day of school.
Opponents of Donald Trump can’t argue it’s a good thing the US President is being accused of a racist. Supporters of a tougher stance on immigration can’t argue that children should leave after the first day of school unsure if their parents are coming home. Absolutely nobody can argue it’s a good thing that ISIS may be resurging in Syria after a drawdown of US troops. It’s even worse that last week Trump said, “We’ve defeated the ISIS caliphate.”
Sunday marks the two-year anniversary of the beginning of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The violence that killed a counterprotester the next day and the President’s defense of some of the white protesters made for a low point of the Trump era.
But this feels worse.
People are on edge about violence. A backfiring motorcycle in Times Square caused a panic Wednesday, and the offices of USA Today in northern Virginia were evacuated the same day after a false report of a gunman.
The undocumented immigrant community must be on edge about going to work after the Department of Homeland Security raided food processing plants in Mississippi, detaining nearly 700 people.
It’s a reminder that undocumented immigrants play an important role in the nation’s food supply and in American communities.
CNN reported that children were separated from their families and in the dark for hours after school and feared their parents would be sent to detention centers.
“I need my dad. … He’s not a criminal,” one little girl told CNN affiliate WJTV as she cried outside the gym where those arrested by immigration authorities were processed.
Authorities, who had planned the raid for months, were proud of their work.
“Today, through the hard work of these men and women, we are once again becoming a nation of laws,” said US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst, announcing the raids and arrests.
Numb to mass shootings
It now takes not one but two or more mass shootings to jar the country into new calls for action on gun control. And the political pressure begins almost the moment a shooting ends.
Most Democratic presidential candidates are calling Trump some version of white supremacist or a racist after the El Paso shooter published a racist manifesto with language similar to Trump’s. The President read a condemnation of hate from a teleprompter, but on Twitter he was his same old aggrieved self.
There’s some suggestion the White House had sidelined the domestic terror threat in favor of a focus on the international one in an official threat assessment.
And on Thursday, the President tweeted that the number two intelligence official would resign. Normally, Sue Gordon would have become acting director after outgoing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats departs this month. But two sources told CNN that Gordon wasn’t viewed by some in the administration as the type of political loyalist Trump wanted in the role.
Trump initially suggested he might be open to new gun control measures like a revamped background check system pushed by Democrats, but only in conjunction with immigration legislation he’s long pushed for.
Those turned out to likely be Twitter musings, however. The National Rifle Association has reportedly told Trump his supporters would not like universal background checks, and he dropped mentions of links to immigration measures.
While Republicans have said they will pursue a system of background checks that doesn’t include all gun sales, that’s unlikely to satisfy Democrats. Which means that despite a surprising promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to look into new gun legislation, it’s hard to figure out how the two sides will agree on anything.
Trump tries consoling
Trump insisted on traveling to El Paso and Dayton to console people who were grieving. And while he did that in private, video of him at a hospital to visit shooting survivors was of him bragging about his crowd size compared with Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s three months ago.
An individual briefed on the matter confirmed to CNN’s Jake Tapper a Washington Post reportthat not one of the eight patients still being treated at University Medical Center wanted to meet with the President so administrators brought back two patients who had already been discharged and who expressed a willingness to meet with him.
A hospital official familiar with the President’s trip cautioned that some of those patients did not want to meet with anybody because of their conditions. The official went on to say that there was a general assessment that there was “an absence of empathy” on Trump’s part.
In between his visits to Dayton and El Paso, Trump watched on TV as Joe Biden gave a speech about the threat of racism. The President tweeted that he was bored and keyed off some insults at his potential 2020 rival.
Democrats say Trump is a racist white supremacist
O’Rourke was the first Democratic presidential candidate to lay some blame for the El Paso shooting, which claimed 22 lives at a Walmart, on Trump’s immigration alarmism.
From there it has felt like a race among the candidates to see who can call Trump a racist in the most impactful way.
The edge goes to O’Rourke, who spoke in anguish after the El Paso shootings. But Cory Booker gave a thoughtful speech about racism in the US and how it is demonstrated not just by extremists during mass shootings but in everyday life. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris,JuliánCastro, Elizabeth Warren and others all offered riffs on the theme.
Their collective larger point is that a racist should not be in the White House. But it was made in the immediate aftermath of a tragic shooting and as they vie for the Democratic nomination.
Trump, meanwhile, largely ignored the issue of white extremism. He preferred to call out the media for not spending more time on the Dayton shooter, whose social media included some leftist and antifa retweets.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said white extremism is a “hoax” and then, as a backlash mounted, headed out on vacation.
Trump, too, is headed for a break from the White House, to his golf club in New Jersey.
A poisoned political climate
We could all use a break from this political climate.
Anger with Trump over racism is taking over the entire political conversation. The billionaire investor who owns SoulCycle, Equinox and the Miami Dolphins found himself the subject of a boycott for holding a fundraiser for Trump.
But the financial pain Stephen Ross might feel is nothing compared to a young Montana boy who was airlifted to a hospital from a rodeo with blood streaming from his ears and a fractured skull, according to a police affidavit. The 13-year-old hadn’t removed his hat while the National Anthem played before the rodeo and was subsequently attacked by an Army veteran, according to police.
According to the Montana man’s lawyer, while he was remorseful for hurting the boy, he said he thought that Trump, who has made a point of defending the anthem from kneeling football players, would have wanted him to “make sure people are patriotic.”