He showed no signs of accepting a shred of even indirect responsibility for the outburst of violence, even while his own administration harbors white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers.
And he managed to work in a “both sides” defense as well as bizarre boasts about the economy.
It was strange and off-putting, and completely unpresidential.
But Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe showed a far better example to the nation.
In his own statement, McAuliffe did not lament hatred on “many sides,” but rather called out explicitly the “white supremists [sic] and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today.”
“Go home,” he told them. “You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.”
He dismissed these bigots’ claim to patriotism, and while they managed to hurt people as they intended, they can claim no kind of twisted victory.
“We are stronger than you,” McAuliffe declared.
“There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America,” he continued, and “we will not let anybody come here and destroy” what this country stands for.
And I have a message to all the white supremists [sic] and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you’re patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who brought our country together. You think about the patriots today, the men and women who are wearing the cloth of our country, somewhere around the globe, they are putting their life in danger. They’re patriots; you are not.
You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. But my message is clear: We are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America. We work here today to bring people together, to unify folks. I remind you all that we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you’re Native American, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, and since that time, many people have come to our great country to unite us. Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants is what makes us so special, and we will not let anybody come here and destroy it.
So please, go home, and never come back. Take your hatred and take your bigotry.
The seething hatred among the rioters in Charlottesville is frightening and painful to witness. And the tepid, rambling response from Trump did nothing to soothe it.
Thankfully, many Republicans and Democrats, like McAuliffe, provide a far stronger and more comforting example of how to answer such horrific acts.