Emotional CNN anchor to Trump: The people who live in Elijah Cummings's Baltimore district are Americans too

Go ahead, Donnie from Queens, you’re on the air.

Ain’t no disputing that Baltimore, part of which is included in Cummings’s district, is a dangerous place, with more murders there in 2017 than in vastly larger New York City. But Cummings’s district isn’t poor or a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Maryland’s Seventh actually has lots of suburban (and some rural) residents, many of them upscale and at least one of whom you know well.

“No human being would want to live there,” sneers Trump, except for his own HUD secretary. College education rates are above average in MD-7 too, notes Nate Silver. Play around with this widget, which uses data from 2018, and you’ll find that both the mean and median household income in Cummings’s district is higher than it is in Jim Jordan’s, Mark Meadows’s, Louie Gohmert’s, and Matt Gaetz’s, to name just a few of Trump’s Republican pals in Congress.

So why is POTUS lunging at the claim that it’s “filthy” and rundown? One possibility, which is usually the correct one, is that he’s just regurgitating something he saw on “Fox & Friends” without bothering to look into it himself. The other possibility is that he assumes that any district represented by a black Democrat is a ghetto teeming with crime, drugs, filth — a “sh*thole county,” to borrow a famous Trump bon mot. The Times remembered in its story about this today how Trump made his pitch to black voters on the trail in 2016: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs. What the hell do you have to lose?” Depending on what day you catch him, he’ll tell you either that black Americans are doing better economically right now than they ever have before thanks to the Trump economy or that they’re broke, unemployed, and beset by violent drug-dealing degenerates at every turn.

Except for Ben Carson, I mean. Who, again, lives in the very district Trump is criticizing.

There’s another Trump connection in Cummings’s district besides Carson, by the way. Maybe this helps explain why some of the housing is rodent-infested?

Anyway, this is officially the Trump firestorm du jour, with Pelosi and AOC getting sucked in on Twitter and the media lighting him up for it on various platforms. Most notable is the commentary below from CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who until today was maybe the only host there who *hasn’t* emoted on air about Trump as far as I know. He tried to stay detached for the first half or so of the clip but lost his composure in noting that he too comes from Cummings’s district and that the people who live there are Americans just as much as everyone else, which of course is the dispute at the heart of Trump’s battle with the Squad. (And really at the heart of nationalism.)

The most interesting thing to me about Trump’s tweets today is how clear it is from them that he thinks crime in Baltimore is very much Not His Problem, never mind that part of his pitch in 2016 as a strongman president was that he’d bring law and order to America — and specifically to Baltimore, per a series of tweets he posted shortly before announcing his presidential candidacy. He didn’t cause Baltimore’s crime problem, it’s not a city that voted for him or located in a state that voted for him, so what does he care? Elijah Cummings can worry about their crime problem. That’s not an attitude you’d expect a nationalist to take *if* nationalism is genuinely about easing social crises that afflict average Americans of every stripe, which is certainly the case with crime. It is the attitude you’d expect a nationalist to take if nationalism is fundamentally about tribalism, specifically making sure that your tribe is dominant over others in defining and directing the nation. Blacks and Democrats have a crime problem in Baltimore? Good, let them clean it up.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on November 30, 2022