They Might as Well Have Gone the Whole Nine Yards and Put a Red MAGA Hat on Lincoln

Katie Rogers, reporting for The New York Times:

There was just one catch: While Mr. Trump and many other presidents have hosted inauguration concerts and gatherings on the memorial’s steps, any event meant to draw an audience inside the interior near Daniel Chester French’s sculpture of a seated Lincoln is prohibited. The area beginning with the marble staircase where the columns start constitutes a boundary protected by federal law.

So on Sunday, when the president sat down with two Fox News anchors at Lincoln’s marbled feet during a coronavirus-focused virtual “town hall,” it was because a directive issued by David Bernhardt, the secretary of the interior, had allowed them to do so.

Mr. Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist whose Senate nomination was contested by Democrats who pointed to multiple accusations of conflicts of interest and ethical violations, ordered the memorial temporarily closed for the event, citing the coronavirus.

“Given the extraordinary crisis that the American people have endured, and the need for the president to exercise a core governmental function to address the nation about an ongoing public-health crisis,” Mr. Bernhardt wrote in an order issued Friday, “I am exercising my authority to facilitate the opportunity for the president to conduct this address within the Lincoln Memorial.”

This was a campaign event, no more, no less. We could argue about it if there had been reporters from even a single legitimate non-state media outlet, but even then we should be opposed — and there were in fact no real reporters. The mere idea of holding this event inside the Lincoln Memorial is disgraceful, let alone that it went through. Our national memorials are sacred ground — not in any religious sense, but in a civic sense. Their symbolism is meaningful.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020