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‘I fell in love with Trump’

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

“I fell in love with him because he really talks about helping black people.” The “he” is President-elect Donald Trump. The man that spoke of his love fest with Trump was legendary football great Jim Brown. Brown had barely got the loving words of praise about Trump out his mouth before the predictable debate raged. The critics tore into Brown as being an opportunist, a hustler for his at-risk youth foundation, and a photo-op chaser. And these were the more charitable digs at him.

Brown is hardly the only prominent black to meet with Trump before, during and after the campaign and his election. In fact, the parade of black preachers, businesspersons, professionals, athletes and entertainers that have either trooped to Trump Tower, or met with him in highly staged and orchestrated venues, has been nothing short of breathtaking. Breathtaking, because Trump ran the most vicious, unabashed, race-baiting, Muslim, and immigrant-baiting campaign since state’s rights Alabama governor George Wallace in 1964.

But Brown and the parade of blacks that have met with Trump make the case that he is the president and that it is foolhardy to do the head-in-the-sand routine and deny this brutal reality. They say that there are millions of dollars in contracts, business and professional opportunities, administration appointments, vital federal jobs, education, health and civil rights protection programs at stake with the Trump administration. There’s simply no way to ignore that. There’s an unarguable point to that. Trump will be at the federal helm for at least four years and that’s a lot of time to wreak irreparable program and institutional damage to those programs.

The problem — actually two problems — that Brown has, is first, after marching out of Trump Tower he made absolutely no mention of anything that Trump specifically said or did to assure that he’d commit to any specific program or initiative, or resources that would, say, boost Brown’s Amer-I-Can program. This also applies to dozens of other programs in poor, inner city neighborhoods that mentor, tutor, and provide family support services to at-risk youth. Most of these programs are run on a shoestring budget and are one step away from closing their doors. Other than Brown gushing over Trump, there was stone silence from Trump about what, if anything, he had to offer in return for the black lovefest.

That’s even more strange, since Trump never tires of boasting that he’s a negotiator. So, if Brown, and the other blacks that flock to him do some hard bargaining with him to get his administration to commit to specific programs to aid the black poor and black businesses, then meeting him makes some sense. This will have put Trump on the record and on the spot to deliver on the commitment. If he reneges he will be shown up for the congenital liar that many lambaste him as. As it now stands, the record of the Brown meeting with Trump is that it got Brown a few seconds face time on the news, and for Trump a chance to boast again that there are a lot of blacks that like, or even love him.

The other problem with Brown and the forays other blacks make to Trump is that they’re meeting with him at a time when he’s fast stuffing his administration with the greatest array of generals, military guys and billionaires of any administration in American history. His picks to head the Education Dept., Labor, HUD, HEW, SBA and especially the Justice Department have warred against the very programs that these departments administer. They provide the vast array of program resources, support, and protections for poor and working class blacks. A textbook example is that the day after Brown met with Trump, it was revealed that Commerce secretary-designate billionaire Wilbur Ross cheer-led 2012 GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney’s ill-informed and racial pandering quip in 2012 that 47 percent of Americans are freeloaders on the government, presumably at the expense of the tax-paying middle and upper classes.

During the campaign, Trump tailored the few pitches he made to blacks for their votes to reflect the stock GOP pro-business, free enterprise and healthy economy line as something that blacks also could and should embrace. Brown and the other black Trump admirers took that message to heart. The problem is, did Trump? Neither he nor Brown said, so we must ask, What’s love got to do with it?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.