In 1963, President John F. Kennedy's administration ordered the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Benning, Georgia to enforce, if necessary, the racial integration of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The state's then-governor George Wallace had declared that the school would not be integrated. A few months later Wallace tried to stop four black students from entering an elementary school in Huntsville. Again the federal courts stopped him.
Today we face a similar crisis—a crisis on a state level (several states, in fact) that threatens the well-being and the very lives of citizens throughout the United States. Today we have a president who is encouraging lawlessness in opposition to the very laws he has initiated. To wit he has called upon his supporters to "liberate" the states that refuse to open for business—states where Covid-19 is not under control but is getting there. Medical experts continue to warn that the end of social distancing may signal a resurgence of the virus in places where its ferocity has diminished. Trump is impervious to such warnings.
The juxtaposition of the two aforementioned events underscores as clearly as anything the difference between a man interested in feeding his own ego and winning an argument, and a man honoring his vow to maintain the Constitution and provide for the Union.
Now some will say that Kennedy was a liberal and those liberals are always siding with minorities. But Kennedy was not an ardent promoter of civil rights and integration. Philosophically he believed in both, but also knew that as a young president, and a Catholic president at that, he was too much under the magnifying glass to promote a radical civil rights agenda. It was Lyndon Johnson who ran with that torch in years to come.
Even so, Kennedy did not stand idly by while a bunch of throwbacks, racists, and general malcontents threatened to splinter the Union. And if he had had a Twitter account back then, he might have entreated the protesters to go back home before they hurt themselves, those around them, and ultimately their children and families.
Donald Trump is cut from different cloth, or ripped from it. The further spread of the virus ranks lower in significance than his ability to display his power, and to get the economy up and running at any cost. And if a few more Americans have to die in the "liberation," then so be it.
At this point I'm weary of chronologically repeating Trump's failures in February and March—they're out there for everyone to see. But I did hear a Texas representative on Bill Maher's Real Time last night, Dan Crenshaw, explain away Trump's early stupidity as a natural optimism. Maher let it go, but it's April now, we're approaching 40,000 deaths, and the economy has tanked. Trumpian optimism in the face of those actualities is either insanity, a continuation of his pathological lying, or both.
Encouraging these protesting "liberators" to do his dirty work is as despicable as imprisoning children at the border, but perfectly in keeping with his world view—one that is always obstructed by him. In the 1980s on the debate stage, Lloyd Bentsen, a former politician and VOP candidate, once stared down an opponent who had compared himself to JFK by saying "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
Donald Trump is no Jack Kennedy either; in fact Donald Trump isn't really much of anybody.