“Every Republican’s Stench”: Trump’s White Supremacist Tweets Aren’t The Problem. They’re A Symptom Of The Problem
We get worked up about a lot of silly stuff in presidential campaigns, micro-controversies driven by faux outrage that are inevitably forgotten in a couple of days once the next micro-controversy comes along. On first glance, that’s what the kerfuffle over Donald Trump’s latest Twitter hijinks — once again, passing on something from white supremacists — looks like. After all, should we really care what’s in Trump’s Twitter feed, when we’re talking about our country’s future? The answer is that we should care, but it’s not about the tweet. The tweet isn’t the problem, the tweet is the result of the problem.
In case you haven’t heard, here’s what we’re talking about, from The Post’s David Weigel:
It was so close to the message that Republicans say they want from Donald Trump: a tweet describing Hillary Clinton as “crooked” and the “most corrupt candidate ever,” on the morning that the likely Democratic presidential nominee met with the FBI.
But the image that Trump chose to illustrate his point, which portrayed a red Star of David shape slapped onto a bed of $100 bills, had origins in the online white-supremacist movement. For at least the fifth time, Trump’s Twitter account had shared a meme from the racist “alt-right” and offered no explanation why.
Trump’s campaign later did some quick photoshopping, replacing the Star of David with a circle. But as Anthony Smith of mic.com discovered, the image originated on an online forum where unapologetic racists and white supremacists gather to bathe in each other’s vomitous hate. I assume that, as with the other times Trump has retweeted something from the alt-right, he was unaware of its origin; one of his followers tweeted it to him, he liked what he saw, and he passed it on.
It’s just a tweet, and in and of itself it doesn’t make Trump a racist or an anti-Semite. To be honest, it doesn’t even make the top 20 most bigoted things Trump has said or done in this campaign. But it should leave Republicans with even more questions about how to square the ideals they claim to hold with the man their party has chosen to lead the United States of America.
We have to understand that this is about both rhetoric and substance. There’s a stylistic element, the way Trump gives people permission to let their ugliest feelings and beliefs out for display under the guise of not being “politically correct.” But there are also meaningful consequences for the course we would take in the future. Trump tells voters to hate and fear people who don’t look like them, but he also tells them to take action. Just the other day he told a crowd that “We are going to be so tough, we are going to be so smart and so vigilant, and we’re going to get it so that people turn in people when they know there’s something going on,” complaining that too many people are worried about being accused of racial profiling to turn in their neighbors. So if you spot a Muslim, go ahead and dial 911. When a woman at one of his events suggested that we “Get rid of all these heebeejabis they wear at TSA, I’ve seen them myself,” Trump responded, “We are looking at that. We’re looking at a lot of things.” I’ll bet.
By this time we’ve all become accustomed to this pas de deux of hate between Trump and his supporters. When he says that a Latino judge from Indiana can’t do his job because “he’s a Mexican,” we shake our heads. When he tells an apocryphal story about a general executing Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig’s blood as a lesson in how America ought to act, our shock doesn’t last more than a day. When he laments the fact that the Islamic State can behead people while we’re restrained by our laws and morality, saying “They probably think we’re weak” and “You have to fight fire with fire,” we barely take notice. When he weds his support of bigoted policies like bans on Muslims to a fetishization of violence and brutality, promising to use torture and telling his supporters how he’d love to beat up the protesters who come to his rallies (“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya”), we predict that any day now he’ll “pivot” and start acting “presidential.”
And we forget that not long ago the man now leading the GOP made himself into America’s most prominent birther, going on every TV show he could to claim that President Obama might be the beneficiary of a decades-long conspiracy to conceal the fact that he was actually born in Kenya. If you’re wondering whether that’s just stupid and crazy, or if it’s inherently racist, let me clear it up for you: Yes, it’s racist.
In my analysis of American politics I try as often as possible to put myself in the shoes of people I disagree with, to take their arguments seriously and understand where they’re coming from even when I’m convinced they’re wrong. And I’ve argued that there are perfectly rational reasons a committed Republican would grit their teeth and support Trump even if they found him to be an ignoramus and a buffoon. But there comes a point at which one would have to say: Even if a Trump presidency would deliver much more of what I would want out of government policy, from the Supreme Court to domestic policy to foreign policy, I simply cannot be a part of this. Donald Trump’s appeal to Americans is so rancid, so toxic, so foul that my conscience will not allow me to stand behind him, even with the occasional protest that I don’t agree with the latest vile thing he said, or the insistence that my fellow Republicans and I will do our best to restrain his ugliest impulses.
You might respond: Easy for you to say. Would I be saying that if I had something to lose, if we were talking about some liberal version of Trump who had secured the Democratic nomination? If it meant handing the Supreme Court over to conservatives, and repealing the Affordable Care Act for real, and privatizing Medicare, and dismantling environmental and worker protections, and so many other things that would pain me?
To be honest, I can’t say for sure, partly because I cannot fathom who a liberal version of Trump would be or what that person’s equally noxious campaign would look like. The closest analogy in my lifetime to this situation is the Lewinsky scandal, where Democrats argued that although Bill Clinton’s behavior in having an affair with a 22-year-old White House staffer was repugnant, it wasn’t an impeachable offense and could be separated from his performance as president.
But the difference then was that it could be separated from his performance as president. Clinton wasn’t trying to persuade the country to embrace adultery, or counting on fellow adulterers to put him in office, or promising to institute a government program of adultery.
Donald Trump isn’t hoping that he can keep his bigotry a secret; he’s running on it and promising to enshrine it in federal government policy. He may not be responsible for all the things his fans say, and you might even excuse him for passing on some of their hate by mistake. What he is responsible for is all the reasons those people became his fans in the first place. It isn’t because of economic anxiety, or because he’s an outsider, or because he tells it like it is. It’s because Donald Trump appeals directly to the worst in us, and the worst of us.
And every Republican who stands with him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them or how much they wish he would change, will have that stench on them for a long time to come.
By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, July 4, 2016
“The Stuff He’s Saying Is Just Incendiary”: Gary Johnson, Toughening Rhetoric, Says Donald Trump Is ‘Clearly’ Racist
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson on Sunday went where Hillary Clinton has refused to go, saying Donald Trump is “clearly” racist.
“Based on his statements, clearly,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I mean, if statements are being made, is that not reflective?”
Critics of Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — including some in his own party — have said that he makes racist statements, such as when he argued that a Hispanic judge is incapable of presiding fairly over a case involving Trump University. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called that the “textbook definition of a racist comment.” But most have stopped short of declaring that Trump is racist.
Clinton, too, has distinguished between what Trump says and who he is. When MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked last month whether Trump is racist, this was Clinton’s response:
Well, I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I know what he’s saying with respect to the judge, that’s a racist attack. With the attacks on so many other people, he is calling them out for their ethnic background, their race, their religion, their gender. I don’t know what else you could call these attacks other than racist, other than prejudice, other than bigoted.
For Johnson, averaging about 8 percent in national polls, calling Trump racist represents a notable ratcheting up of campaign rhetoric. The mellow former governor of New Mexico said during a CNN town hall on June 22 that he did not plan to “engage in any sort of name-calling” aimed at either of the leading major-party candidates. His running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, called Trump a “huckster” at that event, though.
On Sunday, Johnson initially tried to focus only on Trump’s comments — specifically his recent statement that he is “looking at” replacing Muslim Transportation Security Administration agents with veterans.
“He has said 100 things that would disqualify anyone else from running for president, but [it] doesn’t seem to affect him,” Johnson said. “And just turn the page, and here’s the page turn: Now we have another reason that might disqualify a presidential candidate. That statement [about TSA agents] in and of itself — it really is, uh, it’s racist.
Johnson added that “the stuff he’s saying is just incendiary.”
“Incendiary, but do you think he himself is racist?” asked CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
At that point, Johnson said Trump “clearly” is.
By: Callum Borchers, The Washington Post, July 3, 2016
The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
First un-endorsement — Sen. Mark Kirk. “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President.”
— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 7, 2016
On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:
Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.
— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016
Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.
“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s
“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.
Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:
“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.
“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.
“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”
By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 7, 2016
In the weeks following Trump’s mathematical lock on the GOP nomination, the candidate and party establishment have attempted to come to a detente and make overtures toward tacking to center in the general election. We have seen high-profile politicians say that Trump’s political racism and bigotry is an act he put on to win the primary election that he will drop in the general. We have seen Trump himself attempt to use more generically populist pitches than the specifically nativist themes he has consistently used to win Republican support.
But the problem is that Trump’s personal history and personality are going to make it very difficult for him to move into a less offensive general election mode.
Even the most casual observer can see that Trump is a classic narcissist. Like most narcissists, Trump tends to do and say whatever is best for him even at the expense of everyone else. Most importantly, he is congenitally unable to apologize and take responsibility for past bad behavior, or even concede that a critic might have a valid point. His reaction to being criticized is to immediately engage in childish and petty personal attacks against his critics.
The problem with petty personal attacks is that they quickly tend to devolve into bigotry. So it is that when a judge with a Hispanic surname ruled against Trump in the ongoing scandal of his fraudulent ponzi scheme “university,” Trump’s reaction wasn’t to suggest that all the facts had yet to come out, or that the judge had misinterpreted the data, or even that the judge had a politically motivated agenda as a secret liberal. These are the sorts of defenses that people who aren’t egomaniacal narcissists might make.
But not Trump. Trump’s reaction was to slam the judge for the crime of being Hispanic.
Trump goes for the jugular every time to silence his critics by placing himself (in his mind) on a level above them and denying them the right to even dare to judge him, by virtue of some innate inferiority on their part. It’s classic kindergarten bully antics. And in adult political life, it’s almost impossible to engage in kindergarten bullying without repeatedly stepping across lines of racism, sexism, and bigotry. This isn’t just a problem for him as a candidate, of course: it’s a problem for the entire Republican Party, which is aghast
But then, the GOP did this to itself. You can only use dogwhistled racism and sexism to deprive the middle class of its living standards for so long until that middle class stops buying into the hidden rhetoric and the plutocrat-friendly ideology, and starts to want more overt policies designed to help members of their own tribal identity.
It just happens to be that Republican voters picked a narcissist bully who will be constitutionally unable to do what it takes to win a general election. He just can’t help himself.
By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 5, 2016
In an interview with John Dickerson that aired Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, Donald Trump didn’t just hold on to his notion that a judge with Mexican heritage is incapable of treating him fairly in court, he agreed that it was “possible” that Muslim judges wouldn’t be able to either. Referring first to U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Mexican American judge who is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit, Trump reiterated his accusation of prejudice:
[Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans, I’m doing very well with them in my opinion.
So in Trump’s mind, despite his big beautiful wall idea, he’s still “doing very well” with Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexicans, just not the ones that are members of pro-Mexican clubs or societies, and judges. And then there are those Muslims: Dickerson asked Trump if be believed he would also be unable to receive a fair shake from Muslim judges as a result of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Trump responded, “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”
When Dickerson asked Trump whether he also believed in the American tradition “that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from,” he replied:
I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense, okay? [Curiel’s] somebody, he’s proud of his heritage. And I think that’s great that he’s proud of his heritage. … You know, we have to stop being so politically correct in this country. And we need a little more common sense, John. And I’m not blaming. I’m proud of my heritage, we’re all proud of our heritage. But I want to build a wall.
Then again, Trump’s pseudo-suggestion that justice is more important than an intense love of one’s racial or ethnic heritage may not register with at least some of his own supporters.
In other news, RNC chair Reince Priebus has told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanics would likely evolve between now and the election in November:
I’ve said that I do think Donald Trump understands that his tone and rhetoric is going to have to evolve in regard to how we’re communicating to Hispanics across the country,. I think he gets that. Now, there’s a lot of time between now and November, and I think you’re going to see an evolution on that particular issue.”
Of course, that theory of evolution is not yet supported by evidence outside the minds of establishment Republicans who now find themselves chained to the Trump Express.
Referring to the Trump University lawsuit and Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, Priebus added that, while he didn’t know much about the case, “I wouldn’t invoke race into any sort of attack or commentary.”
By: Charles Danner, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 5, 2016