Congressman Elijah Cummings invites President Trump to come to Baltimore during his speech at the National Press Club.
For all the time he’s spent investigating him, Rep. Elijah Cummings still doesn’t quite get President Donald Trump. It’s not just that he avoided naming names when, at a speech Wednesday at the National Press Club, he called for an end to racist rhetoric in our politics. No, it’s his idea to invite the president to visit his congressional district in the wake of Mr. Trump’s attacks on him and Baltimore. Mr. Cummings said he would like to show the president the great diversity of his district, from communities with real and profound needs to those that are home to “the richest of the rich,” and perhaps convince him that his description of it as “rodent and rat infested” and a place where no one would want to live was unfair. Maybe even get him to commit the federal government to providing more funds for drug treatment, community building and other vital causes.
That’s just not going to happen.
For starters, Mr. Trump has no political incentive to show actual concern for the needs of Baltimore or any other urban community. He’s not going to win Maryland, pretty much no matter who the Democrats nominate, and if we’ve learned anything about his re-election strategy by now it’s that sees no upside in looking magnanimous. The fight with Mr. Cummings is worth far more to him than images of reconciliation, and he gets applause at his rallies by mocking Baltimore, not asking his core voters to consider the plight of people in circumstances very different from their own. He sees no upside in even pretending to care.
And what if he did come?
There’s no doubt that he and many of his supporters could use a more nuanced understanding of a place like Baltimore. Take, for example, the woman from Connecticut who called on Wednesday to complain about one of our recent Trump-related editorials. After about 10 minutes of conversation, she asked in all seriousness and apparent good intentions whether there were one or two streets anywhere in Baltimore where some of the houses could be saved or whether they really all needed to be knocked down.
If President Trump came here, it wouldn’t be about Baltimore, it would be about him. When he visited a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday to meet with those affected by the mass shooting there, he boasted of “the love, the respect for the office of the presidency” they expressed, and his social media director tweeted that he had been “treated like a rock star” “contrary to what the Trump hating Dems would ever share or say.”
Just as he lashed out at Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown after he left town, we fear he would turn a trip to Baltimore into a well-worn diatribe about Democratic leadership of cities and boasts about how much better he was received than Mr. Cummings, whether that was true or not.
We’ll take a pass. We’ve been used as a political prop enough already.