Donald Trump's racist base may be more fond of him than ever after his pathetically weak condemnation of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. But another group that he considers his "people" -- CEOs -- seem to be becoming more disenchanted with him. And some of them are speaking out, which is making the great God-Emperor very angry.
As of this writing, four members of the White House Manufacturing Council have jumped off the Trump train following his late and insincere response to Charlottesville, and it wouldn't be surprising if more decide to follow. The parade to the exit started on Monday, when Merck Pharmaceuticals CEO Kenneth Frazier walked out, saying in a statement,
America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.
Of course that caused the small-handed emperor to grab his phone and tweet an attack on Frazier. Interestingly, the African-American CEO was the only one of the four Trump elected to attack directl:
Frazier was followed later on Monday by Under Armour boss Kevin Plank, who said that his company "engages in innovation and sports, not politics." The trifecta was completed on Monday evening when Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also bailed. Krzanich blamed his exit on the political climate, saying it was keeping the council from doing its work of revitalizing American manufacturing. But he also made it plain that he took issue with Trump's reaction to the violence:
I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.
Trump was silent on the departure of Plank and Krzanich until midday Tuesday, when he tweeted,
Business Insider contacted the rest of the members of the council, and most of them took the opportunity to condemn the violence in Charlottesville while indicating that they will remain part of the group. But a number of CEOs declined to comment, which leaves open the possibility that more departures may be coming. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, said his union is "assessing our role" in the group. And Scott Paul, head of the Alliance For American Manufacturing, said he is leaving the council because "it's the right thing for me to do."
Trump likes to remind everyone that he's a product of the business world. But since the Trump Organization is a privately held company he has never had to learn the fine art of appeasing a board of directors and stockholders. However, most of the members of his council head publicly traded companies. If their shareholders start getting nervous about Trump's cozying up to racists this exodus will continue. And if that happens, good luck to him in finding others to take their place.
The ball is solidly in Trump's court now. He can MAGA by attempting to bring new life into American business, or he can MAGA by continuing to signaling to racists that he is on their side in their fight to make America white again. But he can't do both because as long as he insists on coddling racists any company that hitches their brand to him runs the risk of boycotts and lost customers. And Charlottesville has made it plain to at least some in the business community whose side the Businessman In Chief is really on.