It started with the dog-whistle presidential campaign: constant plays — some subtle, some blaring — on racial fears.
But it wasn't until the past five days — in a fight over a Southern statue narrowly, and the stain of slavery broadly — that President Trump officially and indelibly divided the nation over race: setting us back decades, at least for now, in our common purpose of healing old, awful wounds:
White House aides say Trump lashed out because he felt that the barrage of media criticism for his Saturday remarks was unfair and wrong — that he was fighting back, campaign style.
A veteran of several Republican White Houses told me: "His imprecise and inarticulate speech worked in the campaign. It isn't working as president. It didn't matter until today. Now, it really matters."
Top Republicans, including West Wing sources, tell Axios' Jonathan Swan and me that Trump can expect to pay a huge price for his self-indulgence, which came at at an event that was supposed to promote his infrastructure plan:
Be smart: It's not just not normal. It's just wrong.
Remember Russia? Or North Korea?
Be smart: A lesson from yesterday for Bob Mueller and Kim Jong-un: President Trump likes to fight when cornered, even if it doesn't seem to be in his interest.
Historian Jon Meacham to Charlie Rose:
The fires of hate burn the brightest when there are moments of economic and social stress. Reconstruction was that kind of moment. The beginning of the institution of Jim Crow into the 1890s. ... You have these moments when some part of the white population, frankly, feels alienated and dispossessed. And the reality of 2017 is ... globalization and its discontents. The changing demography of the country. The changing idea that Information Age brains matter more than Manufacturing Age brawn. ... That's part of the reason Donald Trump is president ...
And so on the racial question, with all respect and affection to my friend [and fellow panelist], Reverend [Al] Sharpton, it is not a dog whistle if everybody can hear it. And I think that's where we are right now. ... I think that you have these moments where the extremes — the hate, the people who are giving Nazi salutes after we have spent so much blood and treasure trying to liberate the world from the form of tyranny — ... it's an extreme manifestation of an underlying reality.
"Cities and states accelerated their plans to remove Confederate monuments from public property Tuesday as the violence over a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, moved leaders across the country to plan to wipe away much of the remaining Old South imagery," AP's Jesse Holland reports:
The above tweet by @BarackObama — from Saturday, amid the hate of Charlottesville — became the most "liked" tweet ever last night, at 10:07 p.m. ET, according to a Twitter spokesman.
It's the fifth most-retweeted Tweet ever.
"At a time when the Trump administration argues that creating manufacturing jobs is a critical national goal ... many factory workers are making a surprising decision: They're quitting," the WashPost's Danielle Paquette writes from Indianapolis in this front-pager:
During his Trump Tower tirade, President Trump reaches into his suit jacket for a piece of paper with his quote from Saturday about Charlottesville.
How the White House spun the meltdown: The Atlantic's Molly Ball tweeted these talking points sent to Republicans on the Hill.
USA Today cover story ... "FBI agents went undercover in Florida's capital for the 'biggest investigation in years,'" by Sean Rossman in Tallahassee:
Buff, bearded and handsome, Atlanta developer Mike Miller sat sipping a cocktail one afternoon last summer outside the spiffy Power Plant Cafe in the city's new central park, ... spinning his grand plans to redevelop a not-yet-gentrified block in the shadow of Florida's Capitol.
The meeting was one of many Miller had with local elected officials and hot-shot developers, beginning in 2015, when he rolled into the steamy, Spanish-moss draped seat of Florida state government. ... Tallahassee was hungry for the likes of Miller, an out-of-towner willing to spend millions to revitalize downtown as the capital city ached to rebrand itself as a place open for business.
But Miller was not what he appeared. After spending nearly two years infiltrating the burgeoning ranks of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and wooing the town's politicians over wine and tapas, he vanished. ... Miller ... was an undercover FBI agent, ... the linchpin in an elaborate scheme to ferret out public corruption, which could lead to huge political shake-ups.
N.Y. Times Magazine cover story by Wil S. Hylton ... "Steve Bannon once said it was the platform for the alt-right. Its current editors disagree. Is the incendiary media company at the nerve center of Donald Trump's America simply provocative — or dangerous?":
For an audio and text series, "Wealth of Westeros," AP's economics team is digging into market lessons embedded in "Game of Thrones." Today's episode: "What you don't know could get you killed," by Josh Boak, Paul Wiseman and Christopher Rugaber: