WASHINGTON — As foreign and domestic emergencies demanded President Trump’s attention — from the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Michael and to the growing evidence that Saudi Arabia was behind the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — Trump instead gave the mic to a celebrity supporter.
In the process, he shined a light on an issue that this administration and every administration has done too little about: mental health.
Trump was scheduled to have a working lunch with rapper Kanye West, among others, to discuss criminal justice reform and violence in Chicago, West’s hometown. It was not billed as a media event. But with West — wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap — seated in the Oval Office before the lunch, Trump invited the media in.
The reason was unclear. Trump has a penchant for using his handful of black celebrity supporters to dismiss criticisms that he fans flames of racism for his own political benefit — recall his statements about “very fine people on both sides” of last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and his reported profane description of African nations.
So there was Ye, praising the president for everything from his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (“You stopped the war!,” West declared) to the “male energy” of Trump’s MAGA slogan.