Behind the fences, Trump may be missing a national moment

A line of policemen keep guard near a metal fence recently erected in front of the White House and meant to keep protestors at bay on June 2, 2020.

This analysis was excerpted from the June 5 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)President Donald Trump is literally and figuratively fencing himself off from a moment of national reckoning. High barriers have sprung up around the White House complex and an adjacent park, formalizing a state of siege amid nationwide protests.

Trump fancies himself a law and order enforcer but the imagery of a President hidden behind high walls from his own people is stark, especially since recent protests have been largely peaceful. He may also be missing something very important: History is littered with failed "conversations about race" in American politics, but this time feels a little different.
In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, some white Americans have begun to examine the personal and institutional racial bias from which they always assumed they were immune. Small anecdotes, like Amazon bestseller lists dominated by books about race and the story of an airline executive's heart to heart with an African American flight attendant offer tentative hints of a societal shift. NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who criticized players for kneeling to protest racist policing during the national anthem, was forced to backtrack on Thursday.
"I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening ... and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen," Brees said. His fellow quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first to take a knee, was driven out of the league and became a target for Trump. But if the NFL were suiting up this weekend, it's certain many more players would follow Kaepernick's example.
    Trump, in his bubble of tweets and self-regard, sure isn't reexamining any of his prejudices. But it would be a huge irony if a President who built a political career on racist rhetoric unwittingly triggered an unprecedented public zeal to understand injustice in America -- even if only for a moment.