At 6:14 a.m., on Saturday, July 27, President Trump tweeted: “Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA……”
He followed up with another tweet: “….As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.”
Trump’s comments came after Congressman Cummings, a 26-year member of the House, screamed at acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a congressional hearing regarding alleged conditions near the southern border where illegal immigrate children are being held. The tweets set off a firestorm of criticism of the president. The Baltimore Sun said in an editorial: “Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.”
First, Trump should not have said what he said. Baltimore does have its challenges. It is a city of 600,000 with a high crime rate, high unemployment and lots of empty buildings. A documentary made two years ago called attention to the rodent infestation in Baltimore, so the president wasn’t totally off base with that comment, but calling out an American city that is struggling is inappropriate for the president. Sometimes it is better to leave some things unsaid.
Second, Cummings should not have attacked McAleenan. Border patrol agents are doing the best they can in very tough circumstances. They didn’t create the crisis at the border, but they are dealing with it. The southern border is being overrun with illegals, including children separated from their parents. The conditions in the facilities holding those children are not the Hilton, but it’s a far cry better than being left in the desert heat. Cummings was grandstanding and playing to the cameras, something he does often. His outrage should be directed toward those causing the mass invasion at our southern border, not toward those dealing with it. Cummings has never been one to miss a chance to aggrandize.
Third, the cycle of coarse, uncivil, blunt, impolite disputation is prolonged. Both sides are to blame. Cummings knew his attack on McAleenan would enrage the president. He knew how Trump would respond. Like it or not, you attack him, he strikes back – twice as hard. The media (The Sun) and every politico takes a side, and the cycle of divide continues.
Our leaders are not willing to work together for the betterment of all Americans. The divide about the direction of the country is deep and unity is not considered an option. It doesn’t matter what Trump does, his critics criticize and his supporters applaud. America is longer one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is deeply divided with liberty and justice only for those who agree with our views. The intolerance of the tolerant rules the day.
Steve Fair is chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party.