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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was sideswiped by a reporter on Thursday asking whether President Trump is “most focused on preserving the Confederacy” than he is battling the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
Mnuchin, who was on hand to discuss another record month of job creation as states continued reopening from COVID-19 shutdowns, addressed the odd question with aplomb.
“If you take a look at the president’s Twitter feed over the past few days, he tweeted a video of a supporter yelling ‘white power,’ he’s been tweeting a veto threat if…military bases are named away from Confederate generals, he’s been tweeting a lot about Confederate statues and not wanting them to come down,” the female reporter began.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Is the president more focused on preserving or celebrating the Confederacy than getting this pandemic under control?” she asked.
(Source: Fox Business)
“Let me just say I think the president is focused on everything. I think this issue of statues and everything else is a complicated issue,” Mnuchin began, noting that other Americans have been calling for the removal of Christian religious statues of Jesus, Catholic saints, and others.
“We need to have a balanced view of history,” Mnuchin concluded before moving on, adding, “We’re here to talk about economics.”
The exchange came after Politico’s White House correspondent, Ryan Lizza, asked White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany a similar question last week.
“There’s a national conversation going on right about the proper place of symbols of the Confederacy, statues, memorials, names,” Lizza began. “The president has repeatedly inserted himself in this debate. And I think a lot of people are trying to understand what his view of memorializing the Confederacy is.
(Source: Fox News)
“A couple of questions: One, does he believe, does President Trump believe, that it was a good thing that the South lost the Civil War, and then two, is he interested in following NASCAR’s example in banning the Confederate flag at his own events?” Lizza asked.
“Well, your first question is absolutely absurd. He’s proud of the United States of America,” McEnany responded, obviously bewildered by the query.
“Second, with regard to our statues, Americans oppose tearing down our statues,” McEnany continued. “There is a Harvard/Harris poll released just last week that shows 60 percent of respondents said the statue should remain, and 71 percent said local governments should block groups from physically destroying the statues. So he stands on the side of preserving our history.”
Lizza, as have many other establishment media journalists, appeared to imply, again, that the president is a bigot and that his supporters are white supremacists who backed a return to the days of slavery.
But he was called out by the president’s son, Eric Trump, and several others.
“What an absolutely disgusting question,” he wrote on Twitter.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) June 29, 2020
The Left can’t meme, and they can’t troll either. What a pathetic loser.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) June 29, 2020
Journalists have been making such insinuations since early in the president’s administration.
In November 2017, April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, suggested to then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders that then-White House Chief of Staff and retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly supported slavery because he opposed tearing down Confederate statues.
“It is absurd and disgraceful to keep trying to take [comments] out of context to mean something they simply don’t,” she said at the time.
“Because you don’t like history doesn’t mean you can erase it and pretend it didn’t happen,” Sanders added. “That’s the point General Kelly was trying to make. And to try to create something to push a narrative that simply doesn’t exist is, frankly, outrageous and absurd.”
In an earlier interview with Fox News, Kelly had observed, “One hundred or 200 years from now, people will criticize us for what we do. And I guess they’ll tear down statues of people that we revere today. It’s just very, very dangerous and it shows you how much of a lack of appreciation of history [there is today].”
He also added that the “inability to compromise” is what led, eventually, to the Civil War, which is factually true but incomplete: The ability to continue compromising was what caused the war after previous initiatives like the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act failed to mollify abolitionists.
“The lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand,” Kelly said.
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