Opposition Democrats are divided on whether it is acceptable to confront officials with President Donald Trump’s administration while they are in restaurants and other venues.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who is the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, is disagreeing with another California delegation member who has called for supporters to take any opportunity to personally harass administration officials.
“Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable,” Pelosi said on Twitter on Monday. “As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”
In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea. https://t.co/vlpqOBLK4R
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) June 25, 2018
Her tweet included a link to a CNN story about Representative Maxine Waters encouraging harassment of Trump administration officials.
Trump, on Monday afternoon, responded to Water’s remarks, saying on Twitter that the congresswoman — whom he referred to as an “extraordinarily low IQ person” — had called for his supporters to be harassed. In the social media message, the president concluded “Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Last week, protesters yelled at Trump’s chief of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, at an upscale Mexican restaurant near the White House. Earlier, Nielsen had publicly defended the policy of separating children from parents who were apprehended for illegally entering the U.S., a policy the president has since reversed.
Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller, also an immigration hard-liner, was called a “fascist” while dining at a Mexican cantina in a neighborhood in the District of Columbia.
And on Friday night at a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, 186 miles south of the U.S. capital, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was dining with family members and friends, was asked to leave by the restaurant owner.
“I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation,” Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson told The Washington Post, adding she believed that Sanders works for an “inhumane and unethical” administration.
Wilkinson said some members of her staff are gay, and she cited the Trump administration’s stance barring transgender people from serving in the military.
Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to criticize the small, rustic restaurant, calling it “dirty.”
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
Sanders, in a tweet on Saturday, said she “politely left” the restaurant. “Her actions say far more about her than about me,” Sanders said of Wilkinson. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 23, 2018
Some long-time critics of the Trump administration have come to the defense of administration officials, saying they should be allowed to eat a meal in peace in public.
A Washington Post editorial on Monday said that if officials can’t be left alone in public, “down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service. That benefits no one.”
The Charlotte Observer newspaper, which has the largest circulation in the Carolinas (the states of North Carolina and South Carolina), opines “such behavior shouldn’t feel satisfying, and it’s not necessary. It’s liberals trying to beat Donald Trump by becoming Donald Trump.”
But Waters, clearly disagrees with that stance. Speaking at a rally on Saturday, the congresswoman said she has “no sympathy for these people that are in this administration who know it is wrong what they’re doing on so many fronts, but they tend to not want to confront this president.”
Waters told supporters: “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up, and if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
But Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from the state of Florida, said when people become so nasty “to those on the other side that it reaches dining, entertainment and sports,” then that amounts to tribal politics that “isn’t far removed from irrational gang rivalries driven by what neighborhood you live in or what colors you wear.”
Some observers blame Trump, however, for creating the atmosphere — in more ways than one — for the public backlash his officials are beginning to face. They note that at a campaign event in the state of Iowa in February, 2016 he told members of the crowd, “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.”