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Gasoline on a political fire

We love you?

Called on to diffuse the occupation of the United States Capitol Building on Wednesday, President Donald Trump began his taped remarks by pouring gasoline on the fire. He ranted how the election was “stolen” and once again promoted his discredited conspiracy theories.

All he had to do was order everybody to go home. Surely that is what the people around him were expecting him to say. Go home. He got there eventually, but first he needed to let the armed protesters pillaging the building know how he really felt. He said he loved them and they were special.

His remarks may go down with “Let them eat cake,” in terms of tone-deaf quotes uttered by world leaders on the wrong side of history.

This editorial replaces one that was written earlier in the week. In that editorial, we expressed concern for the president. We were worried about the emotional toll his exit from office was going to take on him. No more Air Force One, no state dinners and trips paid for by the American people, no calling anybody in the world knowing they will answer the phone.

We expected some minor fireworks from Trump loyalists during Congress’ joint session to confirm the results of the Electoral College, but did not anticipate our president inciting an attempted coup.

Over the course of his unlikely presidency, it has been uncanny how Trump dominated the news cycle. Every time he faced trouble, he found a diversion. No matter the gaffe or controversy that seemed certain to deflate his hold on power, he had an answer. An escape.

It felt like he was invincible, or at least Teflon with a Twitter machine gun. Whether it was defaming Gold Star families or ridiculing NFL players who took a stand for social justice, he always managed to turn the tables and walk away unscathed.

How much is too far? Wednesday’s takeover of the Capitol building is a stain on our democracy that will never go away. The tumult rests squarely at Trump’s feet. He orchestrated it and set the fuse with a rally earlier in the day.

His political career has been based on stoking division. He takes every opportunity to widen the gap between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, whites and people of color. Aren’t we all Americans first? That is the country we grew up loving. Time after time throughout history, Americans have proven we can come together to defeat any foe, accomplish any task. United we stand, divided we fall.

This divider in chief has less than two weeks left in the White House. Can he be trusted? Any rational leader would have ordered those protesters to stand down. Our president said he loved them.

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