President Trump, who could botch a Pop-Tart, gave himself an unforced error Monday in a ceremony meant to honor World War II Navajo code-talkers who helped defeat the Axis.
Trump, always a slave to petty impulses, went off course while praising the elderly Marine Corps veterans to take a swipe at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, referring to her (again) as Pocahontas. Trump went there because years ago Warren claimed Native American ancestry on some directories used by job recruiters.
Reached by journalists after Trump's jab, Warren correctly said the president couldn't remain focused on what he was doing and indulged himself in a "racial slur" against her.
I don't agree with Warren, but Chief David Stands With Song does.
A resident of Cobbs Creek, he leads the Eagle Medicine band of Cherokee Indians, a tribe in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that is not officially recognized by the federal government as an indigenous nation.
As it happens, he's not a babe in the woods when it comes to Trump, Warren and Pocahontas. I ask if it was a racial slur, and he responds: "Absolutely."
"I've heard him use that term in reference to her in the past, and it is quite offensive," says the chief, whose given name is David Hughes. "A lot of people think Pocahontas was a myth, but she was a real person."
Yes, she was, and an admirable one, so I don't see it as a slur, as some see "Redskins."
I do see it as a put-down of Warren, deserved for some real cultural appropriation — falsely claiming for personal benefit a heritage that is not hers.
To me, Warren's unwarranted glomming of a culture is more serious than Trump's stupid remark, which was inappropriate in terms of time and location.
"And the world spins on," says Chief David, with a light chuckle. A lot of people who have Native American ancestry don't claim it, he says, and perhaps Warren was being "culturally expedient." He suggests she might benefit from being more plugged into her culture.
"I challenge people to do the research" if they believe they are related to Native Americans, he says.
Warren has never presented documentation of her claim.
Certainly that ceremony was the wrong time and place for Trump to revive one of his greatest hits.
He stood in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, a populist president known for many things, one of which was removal of American Indians from their ancestral lands.
The Trump haters say it was deliberate and racist, but they are so rolled in their vitriol they can't think straight.
Racist? Sorry, I don't see it that way. And deliberate for what purpose?
No, it was accidental and stupid, allowed by staffers who have as much interest in American history as their boss has in dignity.
Other Native American tribes have complained about Trump's use of Pocahontas, I know, feeling that is unauthorized appropriation of something that belongs to them.
I wish they were as vocal about Warren's sticky fingers on their heritage.
Bad behavior is bad behavior, no matter where it originates.