WASHINGTON — President Trump was wrong to personally attack Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D.-Md., a man widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans alike. But Trump was absolutely right when he called Baltimore "dangerous," "filthy" and "rodent infested" — that is, if you can believe what you read in the "failing New York Times."
In March, the Times Sunday magazine published a heart-rending story titled "The Tragedy of Baltimore," which chronicled the precipitous decline of the city. It described how then-Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) toured the Highlandtown section of southeast Baltimore, as community leaders showed her a block where prostitutes gathered and there were piles of uncollected garbage and a liquor store that allowed drunks to congregate while pretending to wait for the bus. "'Watch your step,' someone called out as the group neared a dead rat," the Times reported.
The city's "regression has been swift and demoralizing," the Times wrote, adding that officials have "struggled to respond to the rise in disorder, leaving residents with the unsettling feeling that there was no one in charge." One resident contrasted the tourist-friendly Inner Harbor with her West Baltimore neighborhood, where, she said, "we're all bolted in our homes, we're locked down."
Residents are locked down with good reason. In 2017, Baltimore had 343 homicides, a new record for killings per capita — more than New York City, which has 14 times Baltimore's population. In 2018, there were 309 homicides, and so far in 2019, there were 171 homicides as of July 11 — up from 147 homicides at the same time last year. Baltimore is quite literally experiencing "American carnage."
While the national poverty rate has dropped from 14.8% to 12.3% since 2014, Baltimore's remains virtually unchanged at 22.4%. Children are trapped in failing schools that can't teach them to read or do math at grade level. No wonder Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., once compared Baltimore to "a Third World country." This is happening in Maryland, the richest state in the country. Talk about income inequality!
Pointing out these facts is not racist. It is also not racist to say that no one would want to live in these conditions — we should all agree that no one should have to. Nor is it racist to point out that this human tragedy is the responsibility of Baltimore's leaders, and the direct result of five decades of Democratic rule.
The tragedy of Trump's presidency is that he should be championing the people of Baltimore rather than using their plight to attack one of his critics. Last year, he was supposed to visit Baltimore to deliver a similar message but canceled. That would have been a lot more effective than a tweetstorm that only prompts Baltimore's beleaguered residents to rally around their incompetent Democratic leaders.
Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.