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Story highlights

Issac Bailey: The ethnicity and gender of San Juan's mayor is significant to the President's twitter attack

People of color and women who criticize Trump seem to make him the most unhinged, Bailey says

Editor’s Note: Issac Bailey is an interim member of The Charlotte Observer editorial board and the James K. Batten professor of public policy at Davidson College. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman fellow. Follow him on Twitter: @ijbailey. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN) —  

Nothing in the tweets President Donald Trump sent out Saturday morning criticizing the people of Puerto Rico and the commonwealth’s female mayor revealed anything new about his character. But his supporters’ continued defense of him in the face of such behavior revealed theirs. That’s a bigger threat to our democracy than anything Trump could do, except start WWIII.

Issac Bailey
Issac Bailey

Trump is a small man who has been given a big job for which he has no real qualifications because he is a rich white man in a country that has long believed rich white men are, by default, always the most qualified candidates.

He was born wealthy and was bailed out time and again after misusing or squandering that wealth.

As the horrific humanitarian crisis arising from hurricanes developed on his watch, he took the time to fly back to one of his golf courses, which has become his most consistent act during his presidency. No one in Hollywood could sell such a fantastical-sounding tale, and yet it is real life America, 2017.

But as much as we want to focus on Trump – whose tweet about Puerto Ricans supposedly wanting everything “done for them” harks back to the claims that Trump said black people had a lazy trait (Trump later denied saying this) – this is no longer about him. We know who he is; we always have. This is about the roughly 63 million Americans who put him in office.

Many said they put him there because he stood against political correctness and was a successful businessman and because they liked what he said about our trade policies. They were fed up with the establishment in both major political parties and wanted something different. They said they wanted him to make America great again.

And yet, no matter how low Trump drags America, no matter in how many ways he uses bigotry for transactional purposes, these core voters stand behind him, seemingly incapable of doing anything other than worship the man they gave an office in which he is clearly unfit to serve.

Trump, who is away at his posh golf club, attacked a woman, a mayor in Puerto Rico, who has literally been wading through chest-deep waters with a bullhorn trying to save lives and speed recovery efforts. Yes, it matters that she is a woman and person of color, because though Trump is famous for verbally attacking all manner of people, he seems to reserve his harshest, unhinged critiques for people with those characteristics.

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Kanye West was wrong when he said President Bush didn’t care about black people because of the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. Trump may not hate people of color, but it sure seems he is shocked every time a person of color has the temerity to do anything other than praise him.

We’ve long known that about him. But every time he further reveals his character this way, it gets harder to believe Americans who still support him don’t want him to keep doing what he’s doing.