While many Republicans and Democrats alike think President Trump's Monday rebuke of the racists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend was too little, too late, he and some of his most loyal followers have learned a different lesson from the episode: Trump critics can never be appeased.
The president himself tweeted that he "made additional remarks on Charlottesville" only to be reminded that the "fake" news media "will never be satisfied." "Truly bad people!" Trump concluded.
Trump later retweeted a prominent alt-right Twitter user asking why the media was not more interested in the shootings that took place in Chicago over the weekend.
Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest child, arrived at a similar conclusion. "Unfortunately, it will never be enough," Trump Jr. tweeted in response to the criticism of his father's second, fuller set of remarks condemning white supremacists Monday. "That is the sad reality of the game today."
"There is no right answer/response only a moving goal line that can never be reached," the younger Trump added.
The president came under fire for a lackluster Saturday response to the violence in Charlottesville that left a woman dead, blaming "many sides" for the disturbances and failing to single out any of the racist or anti-Semitic groups that were on hand.
Trump attempted to correct the remarks Monday with a full-throated denunciation of bigotry. "Racism is evil," he said. "And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
"We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal," Trump continued. "We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."
Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist who emerged during the campaign as a pro-Trump online polemicist, asked before the president gave his statement from the White House, "When you start disavowing, at what point, logically, do you stop?"
After it was noted that Trump's comments about racism were read from a Teleprompter and lacked the fire of his impromptu talk about radical Islamic terror ("evil losers") or MS-13, Adams claimed vindication.
"Now we begin the ‘Was it heartfelt enough?' phase, along with ‘Why did he NOT mention group X, Y, Z?'" he wrote.
The quickness with which Trump attacked the media and the African-American pharmaceutical CEO who left the president's manufacturing advisory council over Charlottesville reinforced many of his critics. They noted Trump could have avoided the whole controversy if he had condemned Klansmen and neo-Nazis as swiftly and forcefully by name, as he did his political opponents.
Meanwhile, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer dismissed Trump's more detailed criticism of racists as "kumbuya nonsense." "I don't take it seriously," he told reporters at a Monday news conference.
Republicans worry that Trump will diminish their already poor standing among minority and millennial voters. Richard Nixon received 32 percent of the black vote in the 1960 presidential election, but the Republican vote share tumbled to just 6 percent four years later after the party nominated Barry Goldwater, who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for president. The party of Lincoln never did better than the low teens again.
Trump was similarly slow and unsteady in his condemnation of David Duke during the campaign. From birtherism to his criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, he was enmeshed in a series of racially charged controversies. But Trump wound up winning a typical Republican share of black and Hispanic votes in November. Cuban-Americans were instrumental in Trump's carrying Florida.
Democrats see Trump as a politician who ran a racially polarizing campaign and a president who brought the alt-right into the White House. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called White House chief strategist Steve Bannon "an alt-right white supremacist sympathizer" and blamed him for an inadequate Trump response to Charlottesville.
One Republican strategist who requested anonymity to discuss the president candidly said that some of Trump's reluctance to respond more forcefully could stem from his unwillingness to make concessions to his opponents.
"He knows that he and his supporters are seen as the ‘deplorables,'" the strategist said. "He doesn't want to bend the knee. It is counterproductive because it plays into this ‘alt-right' narrative, but that's just how he is."
Pro-Trump Twitter was filled with references to left-wing political violence and criticism of the "Antifa" activists who clashed with white nationalists in Charlottesville Saturday.
Trump leads a Republican Party whose rank-and-file voters often feel unjustly maligned as racists and who in some cases have begun to tune such accusations out. "No matter what this sign says, the media will calls us racists" was a popular placard at Tea Party rallies.
Now it is awfully close to a tweet from the president of the United States.