Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Disillusionment with Manic Trump (With Apologies to Wallace Stevens)


Disillusionment with Manic Trump

(With Apologies to Wallace Stevens)

by David Hartley Mark

                           The White House is haunted
                           By flickering TV screens.
                           None are CNN,
                           Or MSNBC,
                           Or even C-SPAN.

                           The First Inhabitant is strange,
                           Brimming over with paranoia
                           Helped by an overdose of Propecia,
                           And a dysfunctional frontal lobe
                           In his tiny brain.

                           People who thought to
                           “Give him a chance;
                           “I can’t stand Hillary,”
                          
                           Wish now for
                           Nixon or W
                           Back again,
                           Or perhaps a
                           Presidential Baboon.

                           Hear his heavy footsteps
Galumphing through the Nation’s House,
                           Where Trump, the Mad Emperor,
                           Dreams of
                           Concentration Camps,
                           Firing Squads,
                           And frequent
                           Cheeseburgers,


                           Catching perceived enemies
                           And bringing them
                           His own Red weather,
                          
Death


Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Bellmore Cafeteria: Flash Fiction Romance


The Bellmore Cafeteria

by David Hartley Mark

          The rain washed down the dirty town. I had just left the State University Graduate School on 42nd Street, off Fifth Avenue. My mood matched the weather; I had just discovered that I probably would not be teaching college English, my great dream and desire. Liberal Arts had quietly died as the 1970s were ending, only no one had told me.

          It had all begun as a promise—a pledge by my professors: the Donne-Milton expert—and my thesis adviser, Dr. Waycross; Belton, the Shakespearean, who lived in an apartment so full of books in bookcases that there was barely room for his bed. He slept on a mattress on the floor, without bedframe or box spring. His wife had left him, but I don’t believe he was yet aware. He sat in the dimly-lit flat, night after night, scribbling notes on the cards of his several Rolodexes. And then, there was the head of the Department himself, Dr. Almondbaum. He kept his refrigerator in the bathroom, directly opposite the toilet. While he sat on the can, he could peruse its cold contents.

          “That eliminates the middleman nicely,” I said to myself when I saw it. Dr. A spoke six languages, and had translated six volumes of Homer, for which he won the Pulitzer.

          I would never win the Pulitzer, but I would be sure to keep my fridge and my toilet in separate rooms.

          The broken promise was that, when all the professors who had fought in World War II retired, we young graduate students, Ph.Ds clutched tightly in our sweaty hands, would inherit their positions. But this did not, would not happen: yes, the WWII professors did retire, but, along with them, so did the universities retire their positions. It was all a vast, empty cheat. I felt miserable.

          The rain was falling harder—where was I to go? I had no hat, none to wear. My old cowboy boots, which I had bought during my senior year of college in order to look cool, were killing my feet. They had matching holes in their soles, which let in the rain. I was getting a blister on my right heel.

Desperate, I ducked into the Bellmore Cafeteria. My glasses immediately steamed up. Feeling the few coins in my pocket, I went to the counter, and a sweaty-looking Hispanic waiter poured me a cup of coffee. I also bought an almond cookie. After scanning the cafeteria for a seat—there were old, fired salesmen, bedraggled-looking hookers, and busted bookkeepers—I chose a table in the corner. There were a lot of corners in the Bellmore.

          Sipping my coffee, I tried to go over my soon-to-be-unemployed plight in my mind. I was still living at home, so that was no problem, other than living with my parents. That was a problem. My dad kept bugging me to work as a substitute teacher in the New York City Board of Education, in hopes of snagging a permanent position—but I couldn’t see myself handing a classroom full of screaming adolescents. English wasn’t like Math, where the teacher could awe and frighten the children. English was—fuzzy, and unimportant.

          What was I to do?

          “Is this seat taken?” came a voice with a slight accent. Caught up in my own thoughts, I waved an arm and said, “Help yourself.”

          She sat. I took a crumpled handkerchief from my pocket, and tried to clear  my foggy glasses. When I did the best I could and put them back on my nose, I saw her more clearly: dark-brown hair, brown eyes that looked at me inquisitively, cloche hat.

          A cloche hat? I looked as carefully as I could, without staring. My table partner seemed to be wearing old-fashioned clothes. I had seen old photos of my Nana and her sister, Great-Aunt Sylvia, in the 1920s: they were dressed about the same as this woman—I mean, girl. Catching my stare, she smiled—it lit up her face.

          I sat back and took it all in.

          “Um, uh—how’s your coffee?” I asked, not knowing what to say. I always had trouble speaking to women—either I clammed up, or sat there, making inane jokes, until they rolled their eyes and got antsy, wanting to leave.

          She smiled again, sipped, and stuck out a small, pink tongue. “Pretty bad,” she said, and shook her head. Then, she pushed it aside.

          “Miserable weather,” I attempted. Weather was always safe to talk about.

          “Ja, ja,” she said, “It is raining cows and dogs.” She smiled, wanting credit for her English.

          “Cats and dogs?” I tried to be helpful.

          “Ja! Oh—forgive me,” she giggled and  beamed.

          Slowly, slowly, we maneuvered through a conversation: where she was from—she gave a vague answer: “A small town in Germany.” What I did, and hoped to do—I really didn’t know, but I was a student of literature. This news made her happy.

          “It’s so, so cold, out there!” she exclaimed.

          I agreed: “Not like the year I spent in Israel,” I said.

          “Palestine?” she asked, “Oh—Israel! Ja—I have been. It will be—it is—so warm there! And the moon is so big, and white, and close to you—you can just reach out, and touch it.”

          She set those brown eyes on me, sipped her coffee, and made a face.

          “Not like German coffee,” she said.

          “I wouldn’t know,” I replied.

          “Yes: there is a great deal you do not know, Teddy,” she said, and got a distant look in her eyes.

          “Could I have your phone number?” I asked, impulsively.

          She nodded. “I will write it down for you,” and took a small leather-covered notebook out of her purse. Removing a pen—was that a Waterman? Grandpa Isaac had left me his Waterman, but I threw it away; it leaked.

She tore out the page. As she handed it to me, our hands touched—hers was very cold, despite the steamy warmth of the cafeteria. Realizing this, she said, “Forgive my cold hand,” and I said, “It’s nothing.”

          She looked at a small lady’s watch which hung from her blouse—I thought nothing of this; New York City was full of girls who clothed themselves at second-hand shops.

She rose: “I must go,” she said, “I am running out of time.”

          “What do you do, Elsa?” I asked, yearning for her to stay.

          “Oh,” she laughed, “I’m a poet, can you believe?”

          “Have you any of your poems?” I asked.

          “One here, perhaps—” she was again fumbling in her purse, “Yes—yes—ah!”

          A crumpled piece of paper, from that same notebook. She handed it to me, waved, blew a kiss, and swept out the door of the Bellmore, into the driving rain.

          I sat for a while in a daze. I just had a conversation with a real, live woman, I thought. Maybe I can see her again. I’ll borrow the car from Dad. I can take her to the art museum; it’s free. Yes....

          A few minutes passed. It was time to go: maybe I could get in some library time and work on my papers before Prof. Milton Appel’s class.

          I hated Appel. I had been dragooned into taking his advanced course, “Three Greatest Poets of the Twentieth Century,” even though I was a beginning grad student, just to fill up the class. The Great Man sat at the head of the table, lecturing. He never encouraged anyone to challenge his assumptions or theories. This I learned at the second session, when Appel introduced his choices for the Three Greatest Poets: Wallace Stevens, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Robert Frost. I could see including Frost; that was no problem. But Stevens was opaque and archaic.

          Still in love with Edgar Lee Masters from my high school immersion into Spoon River Anthology, I had raised a timid hand, and tried to query Prof. Appel:
when he paused for breath, I ventured,

          “But, Prof. Appel,” I said nervously, “As for great poets, what about Edgar Lee Masters?”

          He looked at me as if I were a cockroach that had just crawled out of a sewer. He never answered my question; thankfully, my fellow students, most of them advanced, did not turn or stare.

          Appel droned on.

          But that was long ago—two months ago. I shook my head out of my reverie, and found myself with a crumpled paper in my hand—the poem that Elsa had left me. Trembling, I carefully unfolded it, and read:

My Drama

With all sweet-scented scarletflowers
He lured me.
I could not bear this narrow room for one more night;
Before his door I stole crumbs of love
And, longing for him, consumed my life.
A pale angel weeps softly within me,
Buried—I believe deep in my soul,
[He stands in dread of me.
In wild weather I saw my face!
I don't know where, perhaps in dark lightning,
My eye frozen in my countenance, like a winternight;
I never saw a grief more grim.
...With all sweet-scented scarletflowers
[He lured me.
Again the pain stirs in my soul
And guides me through all remembrance.
[God weep not,
[Say nothing of the sorrow,
My anguish must not burst forth.
No more faith have I in Woman and Man,
The cord, that tied me to all life,
I gave back to the world
[Willingly!
Out of every sphinxstone my sorrow will burn,
Blaze around all blossoms, like a black spell.
I long for my blind, cast-out solitude,
To find solace, to embrace it, like my child.
I learned to hate my womb, my heart's blood, and him
[Never to know Eve's blood—so much
[As in you, Man!

--Elsa Lasker-Schuler, Styx, 1902

          I sat dumbly.

          Elsa? Elsa Lasker-Schuler? That Elsa?

          I leapt up, knocking over the heavy china cup, which hit the floor, but did not shatter. I ran to the cracked-glass door of the cafeteria, yanked it open, and looked up and down the dingy, rainswept street. And moaned.

          She was gone.

Kee Taytsay: Imagine a Torah World wherein Israelite Women Rule


Kee Taytsay: Imagine a World of Women-Rule

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“A man marries a woman and has relations with her. If he decides he doesn’t like her anymore, and he starts a false rumor that she wasn’t a virgin when they married, the parents of the woman shall stand before the Elder Women of the Town, or a Council of Israelite Women, should such exist at that time,  to plead their daughter’s case.”
--Adapted from Deut. 22:13-14

It so happened that a lazy, stubborn lout of a man, Atzel ben Menucha, brought such charges against his new wife, Betulah. They came before the Council of Eldern Women, and Atzel ben Menucha spoke his piece: “She was no pure creature when I married her,” he said, “and I desire that her parents return to me the bride-price that I paid, one hundred silver shekels.”

Which was false, on the face of it: Atzel had promised to pay the hundred shekels, but had turned over six, in total.

Before rendering judgment with her sisters of the Council, the Chief Eldress purified herself, and entered the Tent of Meeting. And there, she communed with the Spirit of the Shechinah, God’s Feminine Presence, who said to the Eldress, clearly and plainly, “The man is lying, as men will.”

And the Eldress left the Tent, and informed her Sister Judges of what the Shechinah had said; for the Shechinah is loving, and wishes only for the Women of Israel (and most of the men; that is, the honest and upright ones) integrity, affection, and faithfulness. And the Council ruled that Atzel ben Menucha was a scoundrel, unwilling to work but desirous of cheating his in-laws and, were he able to do so, the Women of the entire Town. And Council ordered Atzel to spend four months in the Wilderness, there to repent to do better, after which Azazel, the Demon-Spirit of the Desert, would decide whether he was to live, or die. And so was it done.

“In the case of a virgin who was engaged to a man—if, in the Town, another man comes and seduces her, and she does not cry for help, then you must take them before the Council of Women.”
--Adapted from Deut. 22:23

This was a complicated case and, during the days of the Old Law, both man and woman would have been executed by stoning—that is, being taken to a desert cliff, and thrown off, breaking their necks on the rocks below. When the Old Ones died and the young Council of Women took over, they decided that this was altogether too harsh, horrifying, and primitive. They therefore refused to continue to enforce it.

Instead, they sent the man to the City of Therapeutic Refuge to cure his aberrant display of asocial behaviors: a sentence lasting ten years, with possibility of parole. As for the woman, she was to be treasured, and dandled, and soothed, to help her recover from this tragedy. And the shame of this behavior was eventually removed from the midst of Israel.

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall come into the Congregation of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever be admitted into the Congregation of the Lord, because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey through the Wilderness after the Exodus, and because they hired Bilaam to curse you...but the Lord your God turned the blessing into a curse.”
--Deut. 23: 4-5

It so happened that Pi-Baal, an Ammonite, and Baal-roi, a Moabite, wished to marry two Israelite women, with whom they had attended both school and after-school programs. And the parents of both women cast them out, in right and  proper fulfillment of the above verses.

But the women and their affianced pagan men turned to the Council of Israelite Women, which questioned both Pi-Baal and Baal-roi, though not born Jews, concluding that they were nonetheless willing to enter into the Covenant of the Lord, following proper preparation. And the Eldresses would meet with these men to teach them Ways of Torah, in the open, under a palm tree, to show that they were not violating the laws of modesty. And in due time, these two young men, though not born Israelite, were found to be learned in the Torah of God, and thereby entered the Covenant, once certified by the Council of Women.

“You shall not turn over to his master a fugitive slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him.”
--Deut. 23:16

There came into an Israelite town a runaway slave, an Egyptian, who had been sold into slavery to pay off his financial debts. And his master was cruel, and evil, and used him most harshly; and so, the Egyptian fled, seeking freedom. The townspeople gathered, and gave him water to wash, and both bread and milk, prior to haling him before the Council of Women.

And there were those Israelites who protested the Egyptian’s wish to settle among them, for his people had oppressed the Children of God by enslaving them, decades before. And there were others, more tender-hearted and just, who believed the man should be given a second chance, and hidden, in case any slave-catchers should come hunting him. His name was Smendes, and of a good family of chariot-builders; he was unable, due to lack of mathematical ability, to keep track of his moneys.

And the Egyptian Smendes was brought before the Council of Israelite Women, where his case was heard and deliberated. And the Eldresses declared him free from slavery, but also that he take courses in the Science of Mathematics with the Temple Priests, so that he not err once more, to become, sadly, a slave.

And Smendes settled among the People of Israel, converting to the Faith of God, and taking to wife Neferkare, whose ancestors had been among the Mixed Multitude which departed Egypt, years before. She, too, was Israelite, after her great-great-grandmother had joined the People through conversion.

And, under the wise guidance of the Council of Israelite Women, the land had rest for more than forty years.                                             

The Republican Politicians have Spoken: "Trump is Not a Racist"


·           
·         The Republican Politicians Have Spoken: “Trump is Not a Racist”

by David Hartley Mark

                             A bloody Black body twists in the Southern wind
                             Choking out his last tortured seconds of life

A Japanese-American child squints in the desert Hamseen
                             “I didn’t do anything,” she thinks

                             Nazis whip Jews into chambers
                             Where they scream and cry and die

                             Native Americans huddle in a circle on the prairie
                             Until Bluecoat cavalry mount their Gatling guns
                             And cut them down like flies

                             A sweating Andrew Jackson (Trump’s beau ideal)
                             Directs his troops to murder the Seminole

                             A woman in a burkha, riding the subway,
                             Is set upon and screamed at by a spitting bigot

                             Remember Black Panther H. Rap Brown’s words,
                             “Racism is as American
                             “As Apple Pie.”

                             This is not the way
                             It’s supposed to be
                             “In the Land of the Free
                             And the Home of the Brave”—

                             While the Republicans say, chuckling,
                             “It’s just Trump being Trump,”
                             And
                             “Look at all the good he’s done”
                             --I have looked, and seen
                             Nothing
                             Nothing
                             Less than Nothing

                             “I find his critics even more out to lunch
                             “And over the top,”
                             says Ari Fleischer,
                             Former Press Secretary
                             (O that title!)
                             And parttime Jew:
                             A Hofjude (House Jew)
                             (There are many such
                             In Public Life)
                             aka “Uncle Moses”

                             (They will attack you, Ari;
                             You are not sufficiently ‘over the top’
                             Not to die at the hands
                             Of Trump and his Nazis)

                             “Some very fine people on both sides,”
                             said Trump after Charlottesburg

                             Yes: fine uniforms, flags, tattoos,
                             Carried by haters and cowards
                             Who have guns,
                             Lots of guns
                             Guns
                             For the Race War
                             In their diseased brains

                             “Trump is results-focused
                             “And trying to be all-inclusive,
                             “And the Democrats
                             (Those damned Democrats!)
                             “Are...[using] race
                             “As a divisive issue,”
                             Says Senator David Perdue (R, GA).

                             People will suffer
                             People will die
                  
“Racism is Trump’s shtick,”        
                   Says a Republican Operative (sic)

                   I hope Democracy works
                  
“Stating that ‘the cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy,’ is not apt, if it means that evils may be remedied by introducing more machinery of the same kind as that which already exists, or by refining and perfecting that machinery."
                            
                             --Al Smith or John Dewey

                   Democracy matters

                   What is to be done?
                  
                   Organize
                   March
                   Write
                   Speak
                  
Resist
                   Resist
                   Resist

Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.
                             --Deuteronomy 7:26

(Written by David Hartley Mark, Rabbi, College English professor and Private Intellectual, unlike the Public Intellectuals who infest our media, airwaves, and the Web, without accomplishing very much.

Mark is currently serving a Life Sentence for Possessing an Independent Mind,  in the D.J. Trump Federal Center for Re-education in North Dakota.

(Exact
whereabouts
          •  
          •                 unknown.)
·          








‘I’m not going there’: As Trump hurls racial invective, most Republicans stay silent
, Reporter
, Reporter
, Reporter
August 18 at 6:14 PM
The president of the United States had just lobbed another racially charged insult — this time calling his former top African American adviser a “dog” — but Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) had no interest in talking about it.
“I’ve got more important things on my mind, so I really don’t have a comment on that,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, chuckling at the question.
 Has President Trump ever said anything on race that made Cornyn uncomfortable? “I think the most important thing is to pay attention to what the president does, which I think has been good for the country,” the senator demurred.
What about his constituents back home — are they concerned? “I know you have to ask these questions but I’m not going to talk about that,” Cornyn said, politely ending the brief interview in the basement of the U.S. Capitol. “I just think that’s an endless little wild goose chase and I’m not going there.”

And so it went last week among Republicans: As Trump immersed the nation in a new wave of fraught battles over race, most GOP lawmakers tried to ignore the topic altogether. The studied avoidance is a reflection of the enduring reluctance of Republicans to confront Trump’s often divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, in part because the ­president remains deeply popular within a party dominated by older white voters.
The Washington Post reached out to all 51 Republican senators and six House Republican leaders asking them to participate in a brief interview about Trump and race. Only three senators agreed to participate: Jeff Flake of Arizona, David Perdue of Georgia and Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate.
 2:36
Trump has a history of mocking his black critics’ intelligence
Flake, a frequent Trump critic who is retiring, rattled off examples when asked if there were times he felt Trump had been racially insensitive.
“It started long before his campaign, the whole Barack Obama, the birtherism ... that was abhorrent, I thought, Flake said in a phone interview. And then you know, the Mexican rapists ... on his first official day as a campaign. And then you know, Judge Curiel, the statement that he couldnt judge because of his heritage. Failure to, you know, condemn in Charlottesville. Just the willingness to go there, all the time. Muslim ban. This kind of divide-and-conquer strategy. It’s just — it’s been one thing after another.”
Six other lawmakers granted impromptu interviews when approached in the Capitol, although most declined to be specific about whether they were uncomfortable with any of Trump’s statements on race. One exception was Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, another Trump critic who is leaving Congress in January.
 “It’s a formula that I think they think works for them, as it relates to winning,” Corker said, referring to the use of divisive racial issues by Trump and his advisers. “I think that’s their kind of governing. I think that’s how they think they stay in power, is to divide.”
Several other lawmakers said they did not like some of Trump’s language, especially on race, but did not consider Trump to be racist.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said Trump’s description of former black adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman as a “dog” was “not appropriate, ever.” But he stopped short of pointing to a time when he felt the president had crossed a racial boundary. 
“I just think that’s the way he reacts and the way he interacts with people who attack him,” Thune said. “I don’t condone it. But I think it’s probably part built into his — it’s just going to be in his DNA.”
The month of August — which included the first anniversary of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville — has seen Trump unleash a steady tide of racially charged invective, including questioning the intelligence of basketball star LeBron James, attacking Chinese college students and reviving his attacks on anthem protests by black NFL players. At one point last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she could not guarantee that no audio recording exists of Trump using the n-word, as Manigault Newman alleges in her book.
Republicans have struggled over issues of race since the Civil Rights era, with periodic efforts to appeal to blacks, Latinos and other minorities. Trump’s critics within the party fear that, in an increasingly diverse nation, the president is reopening wounds many Republicans had sought to heal.
Trump and his allies frequently counter by offering economic data that they say is favorable to minorities, seeking to separate Trump’s harsh rhetoric from his policy agenda.
But some longtime party stalwarts worry about the long-term consequences of the party’s near-silence on race.
Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant and vocal Trump critic, bemoaned “the larger moral cowardice that has overtaken the party.”
“Trump’s shtick is that he’s the grievance candidate,” Murphy said. “He’s focused on the economically squeezed Caucasian voter. ... He is speaking to that rage. Mexican rapists, clever Chinese traders, African American people as dogs. Thats Trumps DNA.”
Some Republican lawmakers who have publicly criticized Trump on the issue of race, particularly in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville, believe their best course of action has been to articulate their own views.
“I’m glad that I stood out, was clear and sometimes critical of comments that are inconsistent with the American ethos on the issue of race, the evolution that we’ve gone through as a nation,” Scott said in an interview. “I think I will look back with some pride that I was able to see the forest for the trees.”
Beginning with the violent opposition among some white voters to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Republican leaders began appealing to white voters — especially in the South — with calls for “law and order” and vows to defend states’ rights as the federal government enforced the new laws.
Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” during the 1968 presidential campaign worked to bring longtime Southern Democrats into the Republican fold by courting those dismayed by the civil rights policies pushed by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. Four years later, Nixon further consolidated that bloc in his sweeping reelection victory, in part by picking up voters who had previously backed the White House bid of Democrat and segregationist George Wallace, who was shot and effectively sidelined during the 1972 campaign.
During the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan was criticized for speaking about states’ rights near Philadelphia, Miss., the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964. And George H.W. Bush was rebuked by critics in 1988 for airing a television ad that showed the image of a convicted black murderer, Willie Horton, in arguing that his Democratic rival was soft on crime.
 Alvin S. Felzenberg, a conservative historian who has written extensively on the American right, said Republicans are haunted by this past but also seemingly unable to escape it.
“The Republican Party since the late 1960s has had a particular problem with race and they don’t want to admit it,” Felzenberg said. “They don’t want to admit it once again with Trump because they don’t want to offend their own voters. You can hear the chattering teeth in primaries.”
The presidency of George W. Bush ushered in a period when the national Republican Party sought to grow its support among blacks and Hispanics. As the Republican National Committee chairman in 2005, Ken Mehlman — who managed Bush’s reelection campaign — publicly apologized for Nixon’s “Southern strategy,” calling it “wrong.”
And following Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 to President Barack Obama, the party produced an autopsy report arguing that the party would need to make inroads among minority voters to survive changing demographics.
Trump has largely upended all of that, however, riding to electoral victory by focusing almost exclusively on disaffected white voters, including wooing previously Democratic union voters in the Midwest and Northeast. 
Dianne Pinder Hughes, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on race and politics, said the president’s handling of race is also part of a recurring historical trend: Republicans subtly and not-so-subtly reassure white Americans that their status in the country remains intact amid a fast-changing culture.
“He’s trying to convince white people that the way to keep their long-term status is to keep out people of color, keep out immigrants, and keep blacks down, and they’ll feel better off by doing so,” Pinderhughes said. “In turn, some white people are excited and responsive. It’s not all whites, but it’s significant enough to be recognized by other Republicans, who decide to stay quiet about it.”
There is evidence that Trump’s strategy is working — or at least breaking down along predictable partisan lines. 
 In a January Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted immediately after Trump called African nations “s---hole” countries, 52 percent of Americans said Trump is biased against black people. But among Republicans, 16 percent said Trump is biased against blacks while 79 percent said he was not. Meanwhile, 82 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents said Trump is biased, as did 79 percent of African Americans.
Jonathan V. Last, digital editor at the Weekly Standard, seemed to capture the quiet resignation facing many Republicans as he imagined, in a tweet, the party’s hypothetical response to actual audio surfacing of Trump saying the n-word. “You can’t prove it’s him saying it,” he wrote, before continuing: “So he said it; old news. Thank God he said it; about time someone did. The real racists are the people complaining.”
“In fairness to the Republicans, though, my general view is that Trump is a symptom and not a cause,” Last added, in response to an emailed question about his tweet. “And Trump may have simply revealed the extent to which all of our politics has devolved into grotesque, sub-ideological tribalism.”
The president’s defenders say that he is not racist nor is he exploiting the country’s existing racial divisions. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s lead lawyer for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing Russia probe, noted several prominent African Americans with whom the president gets along.
“If the presidents likes you, he likes you — white, black, whatever,” Giuliani said. “He’s not a fan of Omarosa, but he’s become a fan of Kanye West. He likes Tiger Woods, but he doesn’t like LeBron James.” 
Some of those who find themselves torn — supporting much of Trump’s policy agenda while feeling queasy about some of his language — say they don’t believe he is racist and think Democrats are overplaying their hand.
Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under George W. Bush and was an author of the autopsy report, said he believes that while Trump is squandering opportunities to win over minority voters, there exists a “line between being a boor and being a racist.” 
“While I find his approach endlessly frustrating, I find his critics even more out to lunch and over the top,” Fleischer said, noting that Democrats have lobbed accusations of racism against previous Republican presidential nominees, including Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “They do it to everybody, and they’ll do it to whoever runs after Trump, too. To me, the Democrats have no credibility on this issue.”
Perdue said in an interview that he believes Trump is results-focused and “trying to be ­all-inclusive,” and that Democrats are the ones using race as a political issue.
“Well, I hope they will,” Perdue said. “I have many friends in the African American community and they’re tired of being treated as pawns.” 
But Republicans who believe that Trump has galloped past norms of civil society on race and other issues worry about the costs the party may ultimately pay, both politically and morally.
Stuart Stevens, a Mississippi-born Republican operative who served as a senior strategist on Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the issue of race is definitional.
“Look, George Wallace did a lot of good things,” Stevens said. “He got free school textbooks. He increased access to build roads. But I don’t think history remembers those George Wallace people as the free-textbook-George-Wallace people.”
“Everybody,” he concluded, “has got to come to their own answer about that.”  
Scott Clement, Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report. Share on FacebookShare
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Ashley ParkerAshley Parker is a White House reporter for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2017, after 11 years at the New York Times, where she covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns and Congress, among other things. Follow 
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Seung Min KimSeung Min Kim is a White House reporter for The Washington Post, covering the Trump administration through the lens of Capitol Hill. Before joining The Washington Post in 2018, she spent more than eight years at Politico, primarily covering the Senate and immigration policy. Follow 
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Robert CostaRobert Costa is a national political reporter for The Washington Post. He covers the White House, Congress, and campaigns. He joined The Post in January 2014. He is also the moderator of PBS's "Washington Week" and a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Follow 
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