Ex-Maryland Governor: Trump Operates On Fascist Tactics
SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
We're going to hear now from another person with close ties to Baltimore - that city's former mayor, Martin O'Malley. He also served as governor of Maryland and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Governor O'Malley, welcome to the program.
MARTIN O'MALLEY: Thank you, Sarah. Good to be with you.
MCCAMMON: What were your thoughts when you saw President Trump's tweets describing Baltimore, among other things, as a place no human being would want to live?
O'MALLEY: I am no longer totally shocked or surprised by despicable things that our president does. You would expect more from a leader. But I suppose that he's very annoyed with the fact that Congressman Cummings has been outspoken about the treatment of refugee kids on the border, and so he was taking a shot at him. It's totally demeaning to the office of the presidency, and certainly, people in Baltimore have their back and their pride up now. We tend to do best when we rally together and have some external villain to push back against, so the president's provided that. But it's a shame, really, we expect more from a president.
MCCAMMON: This morning, the president tweeted, quote, "there's nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the city of Baltimore," and said that, quote, "statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category." Now, Cummings' district includes parts of Baltimore City, which according to the FBI's 2017 crime report, is the third-most dangerous city in the country. It's also a district with above average college education rates. You've spent a lot of time in Baltimore. As someone who knows the area well, what do you make of the president singling out the district in this way?
O'MALLEY: I mean, we've seen for three years that he deals in that impoverished vocabulary of a scapegoating fascist. I mean, it's always about the other. It's always about them. And let's be honest. I mean, Baltimore has struggled for the last 40 years with a violent crime problem and drug addiction. For 10 years in the nation, though, from 2000 to 2009 - and, I might add, with Congressman Cummings' advocacy and help - Baltimore led the nation in reducing violent crime and led the nation in reducing incidents of drug overdose deaths. That, sadly, is absent now.
Now, all of that notwithstanding, Baltimore's a resilient city, Baltimore is a proud city. And Baltimore is a great city. And Baltimore will see better days. And we're not going to let his racist tweets dissuade us from making our city a better place for our kids.
MCCAMMON: Going back to the president's tweets, it's not unusual for Trump to attack his political rivals, often in very harsh terms. But these comments aren't just about elected officials. They're directed at a place that a lot of ordinary American citizens call home, a place that Trump called dangerous and filthy. Does this feel different in any way to you than from some of the president's previous harsh rhetoric?
O'MALLEY: Not really. This is a departure from the presidency. It's sadly not a departure from Donald Trump. It is totally in keeping with his scapegoating race-based politics that tries to inflame some of the fears that people have about our economic future and turn us against each other, particularly against people that don't look like us - those people over there with brown skin that are supposedly swarming over our border, those people with black skin who live in the city, those infested places. So this is sadly what happens when - in an atmosphere of fear. Our politics break down, and we elect a man who never before in the history of the presidency is unabashed in using the tactics, the strategies and the language that are the very definitions of fascism.
MCCAMMON: You talk about no longer being surprised by some of the things the president says. There's a tendency for these kinds of statements to spark a lot of outrage, fuel a couple of news cycles, and then we all sort of move on. Do you think this will be any different?
O'MALLEY: I think it'll probably be followed by other outrages, and we probably will move on. You know, I've seen #WeAreBaltimore posted all day, people posting pictures of their city, pictures of themselves and their neighbors and enjoying life in our city. I'm sure there'll be another outrage that'll push this one from the headlines. In the meantime, Donald Trump has brought Baltimore together better than we've been together for a while.
MCCAMMON: That's former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. He's also a past mayor and current resident of Baltimore.
O'MALLEY: Thank you, Sarah.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.