Bernstein: Trump presidency a national emergency

Carl Bernstein says details from Bob Woodward's book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," should be a warning sign to congressional Republicans and the country that the Trump presidency is a national emergency.

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 6:55 PM
Updated: Sep 5, 2018 7:19 PM

If, as Bob Woodward alleges and is being reported in early extracts of his tell-all book about the Trump White House, President Trump called his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an Alabama resident, a "dumb Southerner," he may have finally done something he has long been unable to do: unite black and white Southerners.

We may not agree politically; actually, we disagree passionately on most issues. We don't see eye-to-eye on the issue of race and Confederate monuments and memorials. Even our views of Jesus and Christianity are diverging and increasingly at odds. But boy are we tired of having to contend with the stereotype that we are slow and unintelligent.

This side of the n-word, "dumb Southerner" is maybe the most impactful epithet you can throw at someone in the South. "Mentally retarded," another term Trump reportedly used to describe Sessions, is also high on the list. Trump has since tweeted a denial of using either term.

Calling Southerners some version of dumb is so effective that even Southerners do it to get under each other's skin.

Residents of South Carolina rejoice by thanking God they aren't Mississippians, who often show up at the bottom of good rankings and the top of bad ones, with South Carolina usually one rung above.

Alabamians are happy they have South Carolina to kick around.

North Carolinians are proud to be home to the New South city Charlotte and the Research Triangle that includes high-profile universities, which makes it easier for the state to claim world-class status and deny that this stereotype applies to them, too.

Such slurs pick at an open scab, that of school districts in the South repeatedly showing up at the bottom of educational lists and too high on lists about heart disease. It is a scab that is reopened every time an A-list Hollywood actor speaks in a distorted, haunting drawl to try to sound genuine when portraying down-on-their-luck, unsophisticated Southern-based characters on the big screen.

It stings us all, black and white. We are tired of having to remind people that we don't "talk different" any more than do Bostonians or Bronx residents, that the pace of the words that flow from our mouths is not indicative of the intellectual activity taking place inside our heads.

That's why even Trump ally Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, said "I resent that" when asked about Trump's use of the epithet.

A version of the slur was used in 2000 by a high-profile South Carolina state senator, Arthur Ravenel, for whom one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in North America is named, because the National Association of Colored People initiated an economic boycott of South Carolina to protest the flying of the Confederate flag at the Statehouse.

Ravenel caught heat for referring to the NAACP as the National Association of Retarded People -- then doubled down by apologizing to retarded people. He also later said he had mixed up his words because he was scheduled to meet with the SC Association for Retarded Citizens.

It was a way to put black Southerners in their place, to remind them that they would never be as good as white Southerners. Trump has turned even that racial divide on its head because he allegedly used the term to refer to a Trump-voting and supporting white evangelical Christian who served in the US Senate, was a captain in the US Army, received a law degree from the University of Alabama and is now the nation's top law enforcement official.

If Trump thinks that about a white Southerner with such a long list of credentials, there's little reason to believe he doesn't think the same thing about many of the white Southerners who always show up at his rallies to passionately praise and cheer him. What's worse is that the slur comes courtesy of a fast-talking New Yorker who never showed any concern for white Southerners, rich or poor, before he ran for president. And yet, I suspect, while black and white Southerners will be united in our outrage about the slur, many white Southerners will stick with Trump.

Just days after he announced his intentions to run for the presidency, I spent time reminding white members of the Tea Party in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, area that they had more in common with me, a black Southern native, than they did with Trump. Our parents and friends struggled to stay safe doing dangerous work at nearby factories and were struggling to find a new way forward as those factories were closing. We spent a lot of time praying for each other. We needed a better healthcare and more adequate educational system. We shopped, side-by-side, in Walmart and cashed our checks at local credit unions. We ate at the Southern-style buffet restaurants.

Trump knew nothing about any of that, I said. It didn't matter. They flocked to him anyway, led by men like Sessions, the first sitting US senator to endorse Trump. That's why though I empathize with Sessions, and others like him who have to endure unfair slurs from men like Trump, I likely won't be shedding too many tears. I've been all cried out since the night of the 2016 presidential election.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319381

Reported Deaths: 7354
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22264265
Hinds20634421
Harrison18381316
Rankin13862282
Jackson13677248
Madison10234224
Lee10050176
Jones8458167
Forrest7821153
Lauderdale7257242
Lowndes6498149
Lamar633688
Lafayette6298120
Washington5418136
Bolivar4835133
Panola4663110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4597146
Marshall4572105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc424973
Monroe4155135
Union415576
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock386087
Leflore3515125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn324172
Scott319374
Yazoo314171
Itawamba305077
Adams304885
Copiah299766
Coahoma298383
Simpson298189
Tippah291568
Prentiss283561
Leake271774
Marion271280
Covington267083
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251951
Newton248563
Tishomingo231267
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187554
Stone187433
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174032
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135247
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite126142
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica108027
Jefferson Davis107833
Claiborne103030
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin85023
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547873

Reported Deaths: 11274
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809141565
Mobile41984826
Madison35629523
Tuscaloosa26147458
Shelby25580254
Montgomery25075611
Baldwin21805313
Lee16248175
Calhoun14710325
Morgan14618285
Etowah14160362
Marshall12446230
Houston10757288
Elmore10292212
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10155250
Cullman9928200
Lauderdale9591248
DeKalb8963189
Talladega8455184
Walker7330280
Autauga7229113
Blount6937139
Jackson6905113
Colbert6406139
Coffee5622126
Dale4929114
Russell454541
Chilton4470116
Franklin430783
Covington4267122
Tallapoosa4127154
Escambia401180
Chambers3723123
Dallas3606156
Clarke352861
Marion3237106
Pike313978
Lawrence3124100
Winston283272
Bibb267664
Geneva257081
Marengo250665
Pickens236662
Barbour234559
Hale226678
Butler223771
Fayette217762
Henry193743
Cherokee187245
Randolph186944
Monroe179141
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155157
Cleburne153144
Lamar146237
Lowndes142053
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113230
Coosa111429
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Columbus
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 66°
Oxford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 64°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast through most of the work week. This will mean much more in the way of dry and hot weather will be the weather rule through our Friday. However, changes may be coming to our area for this weekend.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather