Atkins: Donald Trump, S.C. Sen. Tim Scott to meet today on race
WASHINGTON — Not since the infamous “Beer Summit” between former President Barack Obama, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley has there been so much hype over an informal White House discussion on race.
While that one was dismissed by civil rights leaders as a meaningless show that never held Crowley, who arrested Gates outside his own home, accountable, today U.S. Sen. Tim Scott will try it again. The black South Carolina Republican who criticized President Trump’s Charlottesville response will go to the White House to help Trump get a better understanding of race in America.
That will be a tall order. Trump has made his racial views plain for decades before Charlottesville.
Recall the Central Park Five, the black and Hispanic teens wrongly convicted in 1989 of a brutal attack on a white jogger. At the time, Trump printed a full-page newspaper ad calling for their execution, and a reversal of the state’s capital punishment ban to make it happen.
DNA evidence exonerated them 13 years later. Asked last year about the $41 million settlement the city paid them for the loss of their young adulthoods in the confines of prison walls, Trump didn’t let a little thing like DNA proof sway his views.
“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” he told CNN. “The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.”
It didn’t end there. He was unrepentant for calling former Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Housekeeping.” He called Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel “a Mexican” who was unable to rule fairly in the Trump University litigation. Then there are comments about Mexican immigrants being drug-toting “rapists” and “criminals.” The list goes on and makes clear why Trump can’t shake David Duke’s support.
Trump’s lack of responsiveness to race issues caused Congressional Black Caucus members to stop meeting with him. Will today’s sit-down with Scott be different?
“Neither one of them can afford theatre. Neither one can afford just a photo op,” said Armstrong Williams, a conservative television and radio host who was an adviser to Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.
Perhaps Scott will find a way to get Trump to hold himself accountable. But if history is a predictor, that effort will end in a bust.