It was Monday, the nation’s sun belt was exploding with new coronavirus cases, the president’s poll numbers were in the dumpster, and Republican consultants were freaking out about their numbers in the suburbs (for good reason). And what did Donald Trump decide to focus on?
In one fell swoop, Trump displayed everything that is leading him to a historic November defeat: racism, lies, stupidity, and a breathtaking inability to read a room.
The NASCAR noose incident wasn’t a hoax. It happened. There was a noose—the FBI merely determined that it wasn’t a federal crime.
Their reasoning is that the noose in question has been in the garage since Oct. 14, 2019, and that nobody outside of NASCAR officials could have known Wallace would have been assigned that garage until a few days before Sunday's race at Talladega, which was ultimately rained out and ran on Monday.
Furthermore, NASCAR hasn’t suffered its lowest ratings ever. Here is Fox Sports’ head of strategy:
In fact, “every NASCAR race on Fox since the Confederate flag ban, except for Talladega on June 22, has rated higher than the equivalent race the year before,” reported Yahoo Finance.
There is no reason for Bubba Wallace, the circuit’s lone Black driver, to apologize to anyone. He didn’t report the noose. He never even saw it. It was found by a team member who reported it to NASCAR, which immediately sprung into action by bringing the FBI to investigate. Wallace was literally a bystander while all this was taking place. So why would Trump turn his ire toward Wallace? Because of …
Wallace is Black, and … that’s it. He’s Black. And Trump reserves his greatest ire for Black athletes. He has demanded “get that son of a bitch off the field” of football players kneeling in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, has bragged that he’s “the reason [Colin] Kaepernick has no job,” tweets shit like this:
… and the list goes on. So Wallace was in sports news at a time of racial justice protests, and Trump couldn’t contain himself. He wanted to brag about how he chased Wallace from the sport of racing, just as he bragged about destroying Kaepernick’s career.
That’s rich coming from a guy crying about “cancel culture.”
Of course, since this is Donald Trump, there was even more racism in that single tweet, attacking NASCAR’s “Flag decision” to ban the Confederate traitor flag from its events.
Now why has Trump decided to bet it all on the traitor flag and statues of traitor generals? That’s certainly not going to win back the suburban college-educated white women who are crushing Republicans nationwide. Quite the opposite, in fact—it’s confirming every concern about his judgement and his racism. The only possible reason? He sees his racist supporters waving that racist flag, and he sees it as yet another way to reward his core, shrinking base.
And that leads to,
4. A breathtaking inability to read the room.
There’s the political electoral calculation, of course, with majority support for Black Lives Matter in all the battleground states:
Trump is so racist, so furious at the notion of Black equality, that he’s decided to align himself with the fringe deplorable retrogrades.
Of course, the White House political operation can do the math and recognizes the danger it poses to his (and his party’s) electoral chances. So they struggle to mitigate the damage. Here’s White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany struggling to wave away Trump’s support for the Confederate flag:
REPORTER: "What is the president's position? Does he think NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate flag?"
MCENANY: "I spoke to him this morning about this and he said he was not making a judgment one way or the other. The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR, the fans and those who have gone in this rush to judgment of the media to call something a hate crime when in fact the FBI report concluded this was not an intentional racist act. It very much mirrors other times where there's been a rush to judgment, let's say with the Covington boys or with Jussie Smollett."
REPORTER: "Let's drill down on the Confederate flag. Does he think it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban it?"
MCENANY: "The president said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the other. You're focusing on one word at the very bottom of the tweet that's completely taken out of context and neglecting the complete rush to judgment."
“Out of context!” “Just one word!” But of course, words matter, the context is clear and obvious, and the White House knows that embracing and defending the traitor flag in this climate isn’t just electoral suicide—it makes them social pariahs.
NASCAR itself wasn’t particularly appreciative of Trump’s tweet, and the circuit and its drivers have rallied around Wallace (with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but baby steps). Ultimately, it is Trump, again, who is relegated to the fringes.
It is obvious that no one can control Trump, that he is his own campaign manager and message crafter, and everyone else around him exists merely to clean up his messes.
It’s his gut that is in charge, and his gut is 100% racist, through and through.