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Should Trump decide whether you should be offended?

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Here's another question that, back in the days when we had a president who cared about such quaint old traditions as manners, we thought that we never would be asking ourselves: Should the White House decide whether we should be offended by something that the president has said?

That question came up Monday after President Donald Trump's notoriously short attention span got the better of him.

Standing alongside three Navajo code talkers in a ceremony to honor their service in World War II, Trump's restless stream of consciousness took him off-script and into a sarcastic side comment about Sen. Elizabeth Warren without mentioning the Massachusetts Democrat's name.

"I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people," Trump said softly. "You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her 'Pocahontas.' "

There he goes again.

No, there is no "they." Only Trump has tried as a candidate and as president to re-brand Sen. Warren with the name of the legendary 17th century Native American woman who is associated with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Va.

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Warren, a progressive consumer advocate and former Harvard Law School professor, came under fire in 2012 for claiming Cherokee roots earlier in her academic career. But the Washington Post's Fact Checker found no proof at the time that she ever marked a form to tell the schools about her heritage or that the universities knew about her lineage before hiring her. However, they did question Warren's judgment for relying on family lore rather than official documentation.

But, if anything, Trump's snide comment turned the spotlight back on his own impoliteness. Russell Begaye, the president of the Navajo Nation who was present at the White House event, called the president's remark "derogatory" and "disrespectful to Indian nations."

Warren easily joined that view in a later interview. "It should have been a celebration of their incredible service," she said. "But Donald Trump couldn't make it through without tossing in a racial slur."

"Ridiculous," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "What most people find offensive, she said, "is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career."

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(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.





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