(Reuters/Andrew Kelly)

Donald Trump strokes Kanye West's ego for a third day

The president tweeted that Kanye West has "performed a great service to the Black Community"


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Matthew Rozsa
April 27, 2018 3:04PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump is letting his love shine for a pop star who has unexpectedly emerged as one of his most vocal celebrity supporters, praising Kanye West for the third day in a row.

Just to put that Friday morning tweet in perspective, it came more than fifteen minutes before Trump posted his welcome tweet to an actual head of state, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is set to visit the White House Friday afternoon.

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Also bear in mind that Trump has yet to tweet anything about James Shaw Jr., the man who stopped the Waffle House gunman during a mass shooting earlier this week.

The story of the Trump-Kanye bromance stretches all the way back to the closing months of 2016, when Trump had just won an upset victory over Hillary Clinton and the rapper seemed incredibly impressed with it. In November 2016 Kanye West made waves when he told an audience at one of his concerts in San Jose that if he had decided to vote (which he did not), he would have cast his ballot for Trump, according to CBS News. One month later the rapper visited the then president-elect at Trump Tower, bragging about how they had talked about "life" and staying so that pictures could be taken of the two of them together.

After that incident, however, Kanye's newfound Trump love went silent for a while. It is rumored that this was because his wife, Kim Kardashian West, is very critical of Trump's policies. It could have also been because West himself has tried to align himself with progressive political causes in the past and consequently realized that sympathizing with a far right-wing president could undermine that aspect of his brand.

Whatever his reasons for staying mum on Trump for so long, however, he clearly changed his mind earlier this month when he decided to praise another far right-wing personality, this time Candace Owens, an African-American media personality who has earned the adoration of the far right for her eagerness to demean Black Lives Matter. He also developed a blooming mutual admiration for "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams, who has also identified himself with the far right and with President Donald Trump in recent years.

And, inevitably, this turned into West professing his love for Trump.

Trump returned the Twitter love on Wednesday:

Then on Thursday when the hosts of "Fox & Friends" saw that the president was having a public meltdown about the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign and the Russian government, they decided to distract both him and the American people by bringing up West's relationship with the president.

While West's new political stances have earned him the praise of many on the far right, from Alex Jones to Bill O'Reilly, they have also stirred up controversy among West's own fans, many of whom consider Trump's outspoken racism and misogyny to be utterly unacceptable. It has also allowed Kanye West to, once again, adopt the role of martyr, claiming that a is "mob" trying to silence him.

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Considering that Kanye West isn't the first celebrity to attract controversy with his outspoken support for Trump — Roseanne Barr has also aroused ire for her vocal pro-Trump stances, even though like West she had a reputation for being a liberal before the Trump era — it's probably important to place this controversy in the proper context.

There is nothing shocking or even noteworthy about a celebrity deciding to support a far-right president. For that matter, the only two presidents whose careers started out because they were celebrities — Trump and Ronald Reagan before him — were both very conservative Republicans who pushed America to the right. While Kanye West's political opinions are of obvious relevance to his fans, they are meaningless in terms of the actual political issues of our time. As a result, when West is brought up in this way by Trump or his supporters, the goal isn't to build bridges but to distract the public from tough questions about who Trump is and what he is doing.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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