There’s zero chance Trump accepts Elijah Cummings’ invitation to Baltimore. That’s just as well.

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.

In an ideal world, the president would come here and have his eyes opened to the real world effects of policies like trying to kick 3 million people off food stamps, cut housing aid for the poor; eliminate the grant program that pays for rehabbing housing and abating lead paint contamination; change the definition of poverty in a way that could make millions ineligible for Medicaid, school lunches and more; shift federal transportation funding even further away from transit and into roads; scrap Obama-era rules designed to address housing segregation; or change the standards for bringing a housing discrimination suit. He would see the need for the federal government to help rebuild our century-old water and sewer system or to finally meet its commitments to fund special education programs in our schools. He would see the devastating effects of a generations-long, racially discriminatory war on drugs. He and Mr. Cummings would break bread (or, more appropriately, crabs) and forge a historic, bi-partisan commitment to restore this and all American cities.

But let’s get real, this is not a president who is given to allowing glaring realities to interfere with his preconceived narratives, whether it relates to the size of the crowd at his inauguration, whether Hurricane Maria amounted to a “real catastrophe” in Puerto Rico or whether children are being held in inhumane conditions at the border. It is fanciful to think his disdain for Baltimore would be cracked by exposure to the city’s complicated realities.

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.


Correction: An earlier version of this editorial misstated Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s elected office. The Sun regrets the error.