Meacham Demands Trump ‘Take Responsibility’ for Having ‘Exacerbated Our Fears’

Appearing on MSNBC Live With Veslshi & Ruhle Friday afternoon, presidential historian and journalist Jon Meacham joined his liberal media colleagues in predictably blaming President Trump for the mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats throughout the week. When asked how Trump should respond to the incidents, the author insisted: “Well, he needs to take responsibility for having addressed our fears and exacerbated our fears instead of inspiring our hopes.”

After citing past times of “existential division” in the country, like the Civil War, Meacham lectured: “And one of the things I would say to conservative friends who might be tending to say – to minimize this, is you always can say about an attack that doesn’t work....if you arrested Lee Harvey Oswald on November 21st, 1963 or James Earl Ray on April 3rd, 1968 or John Wilkes Booth on April 11th, 1865 or the hijackers of September 11 on September 10th, and said this is what was going to happen, there would be people saying, ‘Oh, you’re crazy. That could never happened.’”

 

 

Anchor Stephanie Ruhle was amazed by his strained logic, uttering, “Wow.” Meacham went on to proclaim: “And right now, led by the President, we are in an overly passionate era....His language, which is part showmanship and part incendiary, we now have proof positive that it creates a climate where the worst can happen. And it brings out the worst in us.”

Co-host Ali Velshi fretted: “Do we just move on as a people? Do we just decide...that this is not what we want from our president?” Meacham scolded Trump supporters:

What we are dealing with, and what we’re really talking about, and tell me if you all agree, is we’re talking about a 20 to 25% part of the population that have, I think, in exchange for broad prosperity and a dislike of Secretary Clinton in 2016, have decided to commit this kind of Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They are – I call them 401k Trumpers. They’re people who have taken the tax cut, taken the market increases, and closing their eyes to the singular failure of moral leadership that continues to unfold....It’s an unfolding, ongoing failure.

Ruhle quickly agreed with his assessment. Meacham implored those voters to go out and vote for Democrats in the midterm elections: “And I think that those are the folks who have to say, ‘You know what, this is not who we want. We’re gonna vote in 12 days, we’re gonna send somebody to check him, and then we re-engage and see what happens two years down the road.’”

Ruhle wondered: “My question to you then, Ali Velshi, is, is there a tipping point for that voter?” Velshi bitterly replied: “Yeah, I get mocked every time I think there’s gonna be.”

A segment that began under the guise of lecturing the President about civility quickly turned into a get-out-the-vote campaign ad for Democrats. It’s what viewers have come to expect from MSNBC.  

Here is a full transcript of the October 26 discussion:

1:51 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: Alright, I want to bring in Jon Meacham, he’s a presidential historian Jon, this is a week and a day this is actually another important one in the history of America. The good fortune here is that nothing went off. No one, touch wood, has been injured or maimed as a result of these bombs. We are not a 100% sure whether they are – they would have been real or not, but this is a very big deal. Now we’re up to 13 devices that have been sent to prominent people in America. If they had achieved their objectives, there may have been dozens of people dead in America today. What does the President need to do?

JON MEACHAM: Well, he needs to take responsibility for having addressed our fears and exacerbated our fears instead of inspiring our hopes. And I think that even in a – if he could go halfway toward that, that would be progress here. Political violence in America spikes in times of existential division – the road to the Civil War, Reconstruction with the first Klan. And men with guns and bombs do change history, whether it’s Ford Theater or Serajevo or Dallas or Memphis.

And one of the things I would say to conservative friends who might be tending to say – to minimize this, is you always can say about an attack that doesn’t work, “Well, that was just some sort of jake leg operation,” right? But if you arrested Lee Harvey Oswald on November 21st, 1963 or James Earl Ray on April 3rd, 1968 or John Wilkes Booth on April 11th, 1865 or the hijackers of September 11 on September 10th, and said this is what was going to happen, there would be people saying, “Oh, you’re crazy. That could never happened.”

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Wow.

MEACHAM: But it is, in fact, people like this who change history. And you’re right, blessedly this has not worked, but it is an enormous moment.

And it’s – we’re always going to have political division, we’re always going to have political passion, but the singular insight of the American Revolution – not to be overly grand about it, but I mean that – was that we had to find a way for reason to play a role in the arena to check passion. And right now, led by the President, we are in an overly passionate era. We’re in an emotional time. His language, which is part showmanship and part incendiary, we now have proof positive that it creates a climate where the worst can happen. And it brings out the worst in us.

Presidential leadership is almost always on the – reaches greatness – when presidents surprise us. When they reach beyond their base of supporters. He has a marvelous opportunity here. Now, he’s never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, so I don’t think he’s gonna take it.

VELSHI: So, so, Jon, let me – this is a good point that you make, he’s never missed the opportunity to miss an opportunity. So what happens? Because we sort of come, as a people, to rely on the fact that after Oklahoma City, we heard from President Clinton in way that was meant to be healing. After 9/11, we heard from President Bush. After Sandy Hook, we heard from President Obama. After Charlottesville, we heard from President Trump saying “there are fine people on both sides.” Do we just move on as a people? Do we just decide, Stephanie, that this is not what we want from our president?

RUHLE: But hold on, we can’t act like this moment is over. Two nights ago, you remember this, you were standing outside CNN headquarters. President Trump went to rally and wink, wink, nod, nod, was like, “Well, I’m supposed to behave.” He hasn’t pivoted in any way. Jon?

MEACHAM: And we should ban that word.

VELSHI: Pivot.  

MEACHAM: Pivoting is not what we’re dealing with here. What we are dealing with, and what we’re really talking about, and tell me if you all agree, is we’re talking about a 20 to 25% part of the population that have, I think, in exchange for broad prosperity and a dislike of Secretary Clinton in 2016, have decided to commit this kind of Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They are – I call them 401k Trumpers. They’re people who have taken the tax cut, taken the market increases, and closing their eyes to the singular failure of moral leadership that continues to unfold.

RUHLE: Yes.

MEACHAM: It’s an unfolding, ongoing failure.

RUHLE: But is there a –

MEACHAM: And I think that those are the folks who have to say, “You know what, this is not who we want. We’re gonna vote in 12 days, we’re gonna send somebody to check him, and then we re-engage and see what happens two years down the road.”

RUHLE: My question to you then, Ali Velshi, is, is there a tipping point for that voter? Jon, thank you so much.

VELSHI: I – yeah, I mean –

RUHLE: We’ll soon find out.

VELSHI: Yeah, I get mocked every time I think there’s gonna be.

RUHLE: Alright, stay with us.

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