At a press conference Saturday, President Donald Trump appeared to be confounded by the terms school “busing” and Western-style democratic “liberalism” that was attacked by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Asked about the Russian leader’s attack, Trump thought Putin was criticizing “liberals” and he started to rant about California — Los Angeles and San Francisco in particular.
Trump also talked around two questions about busing from reporters in Osaka as the G-20 Summit in Japan wrapped up. He seemed to think it referred to merely the “primary method of getting people to schools.” He failed to address the issue of busing children to other districts beginning in the 1970s to desegregate American classrooms.
NBC News’ Kristen Welker asked if he believed busing was a “viable way of integrating schools.”
“Well, it has been something that they’ve done for a long period of time,” Trump vaguely responded. “I mean, you know, there aren’t that many ways you’re going to get people to schools. So this is something that’s been done … it is certainly a primary method of getting people to schools.”
Trump on busing: “It is certainly a primary method of getting people to schools.” pic.twitter.com/ersbSr6mj1
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) June 29, 2019
The issue was raised earlier when he was asked to comment about a heated disagreement at the Democratic primary debate Thursday between Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Biden opposed federally mandated busing to desegregate schools, while Harris pointed out that she was a beneficiary of busing as a child.
Trump responded to that question with a mysterious reference to a “certain policy” that “I will tell you in about four weeks.” It’s “going to be very interesting and very surprising, I think, to a lot of people,” he added. He offered no other details.
The president was also asked to respond to Putin’s remarks that the democratic liberalism of the western world — which involves things like free speech, voting and the freedom of the individual — is obsolete. Trump apparently thought Putin was talking about California Democrats.
“He sees what’s going on — I guess if you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco and a couple of other cities, which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people,” he responded. “I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
Trump closes the news conference by acknowledging Putin has a point when he says that western-style liberalism is obsolete, citing "what's happening in Los Angeles, where it's so sad to look," and adds that "at a certain point, I think the federal govt maybe has to get involved" pic.twitter.com/WZ7TWOA45w
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 29, 2019
Even Trump’s critics were taken aback by his comments. Lawyer George Conway, husband of senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, called his answers “completely bizarre,” and wondered if the president was “breathtakingly ignorant” or his answers were a sign of “cognitive decline.”
The Washington Post headlined that Trump’s “apparent ignorance of basic political terms” was on display overseas.
Putin told The Financial Times in an interview on Thursday that Western democratic values such as multiculturalism, open borders and social tolerance were no longer accepted by most people, and had “outlived their purpose.” He also attacked gender nonconformity. He praised Trump for responding to voters who reject those values.
Boris Johnson, who may be the next prime minister of the UK, called Putin “totally wrong ” in his assessment. “Our values, freedom and democracy, the rule of law, free speech, those things are imperishable and they will succeed,” he said.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May responded with a statement saying that the UK “would continue to unequivocally defend liberal democracy and protect the human rights and equality of all groups, including LGBT people.”
OMG- so trump has no idea what busing actually was and thinks he is working on busing policy now…. ok then. #stablegenius 😱😱😱
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) June 29, 2019
If you're shocked that Trump thinks "western-style liberalism" is a reference to California Democrats and "busing" is just about school buses in general, remember that he has repeatedly stated that stealth planes are literally invisible to the human eye. https://t.co/RjptGBnHDZ
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) June 29, 2019
Trump thinks stealth planes are literally invisible"It is stealth, you can't see it. It is real hard to beat something when you can't see it." pic.twitter.com/1QON7Do7fa