Trump’s Latest Attempt to Condemn Nazi Terrorism Falls Flat, Hints at Pardon for Racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio

After two days of near silence, Donald Trump finally and begrudgingly delivered half-hearted remarks on Monday condemning hate groups like the KKK, white supremacists (mispronounced by Trump as “supremists”) and American Nazis in the bloody aftermath of a brutal terrorist attack in Charlottesville on Saturday. Trump said:

“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Had these words — and these words alone — been spoken two days ago, there wouldn’t be any argle-bargle whatsoever having to do with Trump, at least in terms of his response. But he didn’t deliver these remarks two days ago, he delivered them too late, in the middle of the morning and with complete ambivalence. He delivered them not because he wanted to, not because the Nazis in Charlottesville deserved it, but because he had no choice. Politics demanded it. Left to his own dysfunctions and bigotry, Trump never would’ve revisited the topic in these terms. 

Along those lines, Nazis and white supremacists surely viewed Trump’s delayed condemnation for what it really was: politically necessary yet gratefully disingenuous. In other words, he didn’t really mean it. And they’d be correct on this account, of course. Everyone, minus Trump’s brainwashed cultural disciples, viewed what he said with the same reaction: too little too late. If he actually meant what he said, he wouldn’t have linked peaceful anti-fascist protesters with murderous Nazi thugs in the first place. 

However, like his vile comments on Saturday, Trump couched everything in a flagrant PR stunt to praise his own presidency for accomplishments he absolutely doesn’t deserve. Before he ever even mentioned Charlottesville, Trump relentlessly masturbated over the status of the economy, taking credit for the robust numbers left to him by President Obama. 

Our economy is now strong. The stock market continues to hit record highs. Unemployment is at a 16-year low and businesses are more optimistic than ever before. Companies are moving back to the United States and bringing many thousands of jobs with them. We have already created over one million jobs since I took office. We will be discussing economic issues in greater detail later this afternoon.

He forgot: “Thanks, Obama.” Trump’s approval rating via Gallup dropped to an all-time low of 34 percent and he knows that the (Obama) economy is the only thing keeping his presidency afloat, especially now. That aside, the president of the United States used the violent terrorist death of Heather Heyer and the accompanying injuries of dozens of other Americans as a springboard to pitch his own alleged successes. Twice! He pulled the exact same stunt during his Saturday statement. This is like pitching a timeshare during a eulogy. And he wonders why he’s considered neither presidential nor a decent human being. 

Further negating the impact of his Monday remarks, Trump said on Fox News Sunday that he might pardon convicted racists and anti-immigrant demagogue, Joe Arpaio.

“I am seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio,” the president said Sunday, during a conversation with Fox News at his club in Bedminster, N.J. “He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”  

So, one day after white supremacists brutalized 20 protesters in what’s being widely considered as both a terrorist attack and a hate crime — even by Republicans like Ted Cruz — and one day after he botched his reaction to that attack, Trump decided that it’d be a good idea to entertain pardoning one of America’s most notorious racists. Not only that, but he praised Arpaio as a “patriot.” Arpaio, by the way, was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to end his racial profiling efforts.

In case you’re just joining us, here are some of Arpaio’s greatest hits, via ThinkProgress (and Edward Weinstein):

He joked that his Tent City was a ‘concentration camp.’ One of Arpaio’s trademarks, the Tent City is capable of holding up to 2,000 inmates without violent charges. During the summer, the temperature can go up to 145 degrees inside the tent that was created in 1993. He even joked about Tent City being his “concentration camp” at an Italian-American Club, then later retracted his statement by saying “I do not recall.”  

He paraded immigrant detainees. In 2009, Arpaio ordered the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to dress up 220 Latino immigrants in prison stripes and forced them to march through the streets from the county jail to a “Tent City” detainment camp. The immigrant detainees had been picked up for non-violent offenses, but the “Tent City” camp was set up like a maximum prison facility with electric fences.

He arrested a six-year-old. Soon after President Obama halted deportations by providing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for young immigrants in 2012, Arpaio arrested a six-year-old during an immigration sweep. There are some contentions as to whether the young child who was inadequately treated was in custody or arrested. One of the amendments in the Senate immigration bill, which Arpaio has opposed, would allow for adequate care for minors. This was not the first time that Arpaio targeted children: he also once separated a mother from her two children during an immigration sweep.

He claimed Mexican border-crossers were infected with swine flu. Arpaio was reportedly excited when he found out that the swine flu, which had killed 150 people, came from Mexico. His press release equated all Mexican border crossers to swine-flu carriers. The press release indicated that Arpaio’s deputies and jail staff were at a higher risk of exposure “considering the thousands of suspected illegal immigrants they come in contact with on a weekly basis.”

Good people, right? Worthy of being praised as a “patriot” and granted a pardon from the president, and on the heels of Charlottesville, no less. Actions speak louder than words and Trump’s sloppy fluffing of Arpaio on national television is deafening.

As if the Russia story wasn’t damning enough. As if his Three-Stooges-Fix-The-Plumbing incompetence wasn’t damning enough. As if his obnoxious bullying via Twitter wasn’t bad enough, we’re treated to 48 hours of presidential appeasement of the worst of the worst — of Nazi terrorists and racist goons, not just with his spoken words, but especially in the absence of genuine condemnation.

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Salon.com. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.