Last Friday, the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, quietly asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her party to leave because her staff was uncomfortable serving a member of the Trump administration. The next morning one of the servers wrote about it on his Facebook page and Sanders confirmed what had happened. The rest of the weekend was then consumed with a firestorm over civility and blah blah blah. Today our commander-in-chief weighed in:
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Charming, as always. But there’s method to the madness: Trump wants to make sure that anyone who criticizes him—directly or indirectly—pays a big price. If that means bringing the hammer of the presidency of the United States down on some poor schmoe in Lexington, Virginia, that’s fine. It sends a message to others that tangling with him just isn’t worth it. This has already worked pretty well within the business community, which appears to have been entirely cowed by Trump already.
This is how people like Trump operate: they shut down criticism by making it too personally costly to engage in. He knows perfectly well what a presidential tweet is likely to produce, and that’s all part of the plan. Eventually, he hopes, everyone will be cowed.