Unlike the general media, I’ve avoided writing much about Donald Trump. The media, while decrying all the attention that he gets, have been using up the oxygen in the GOP presidential candidate field with its concentration on The Donald. Prime example is Meet the Press, with “I-hate-the-Trump-attention” Chuck Todd who talks about little else now.
Personally, I think that Trump has done a service by showing how they will say anything to get public approval. His position that babies born in the United States to immigrants—as Jeb Bush would say, “anchor babies”—should not be citizens despite the edict of the U.S. Constitution infected most of the GOP field. Just one candidate, Scott Walker, switched his opinion on the subject three times in the past week. Last Monday, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked Walker if he wanted to end the 14th Amendment’s automatic citizenship to all children born in the U.S. He answered, “Yeah, absolutely, going forward.” He said, “It’s about enforcing the laws in this country.” By Friday, he wouldn’t take a position on the question, and on ABC’s This Week yesterday, he stuck to “enforce the laws.” This time, however, he picked the U.S. Constitution, opposite to his laws a week ago. Once first in Iowa, Walker has dropped to third of fourth.
Like others, Walker imitates Trump with claims that he is not part of the GOP Washington establishment and wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants. Despite his assertions, he’s adopted these positions since Trump’s popularity. Walker also plans to be more spontaneous—not exactly a spontaneous comment.
Ben Carson said that he wanted to use drones against undocumented immigrants although he backed down to say he didn’t want to intentionally kill them. Bobby Jindal wants to arrest mayors of the so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t exist. Rick Santorum joined Jindal and Lindsey Graham in jettisoning the 14th Amendment for citizenship. More despicable comments came from Iowa radio host, Jan Mickelson, who first wanted to make undocumented immigrants “assets” and then “slaves.”
Rand Paul attacked Trump for being a “fake conservative” and lacking substance. Trump would fail, according to Paul, just like Silvio Berlusconi—who served three terms as Italy’s prime minister. Pretending to be the leader in the race, Jeb Bush first ignored Trump, then he patronized him, and finally attacked Trump, perhaps under directions by his donors. Bush’s ratings just keep going down. Having watched the venom directed at other attackers, Ted Cruz stays nice to him and agrees with him about doing away with blanket citizenship for babies born in the U.S.
No matter what the opposition does, Trump’s ratings keep going up. An online survey showed 32 percent of Republicans backing Trump, up from 24 percent last week, and double the support for Bush. Carson comes in at 8 percent. A CNN survey shows that 45 percent of Republicans think that Trump is the best candidate to improve the economy while Bush, the next closest contender, trails at 8 percent.
A month ago, Timothy Egan wrote a piece for the New York Times that is rather prescient when he explained that Republicans so terrified and appalled by Trump actually created the campaign monster that they cannot control. Those protesting denigrating veterans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t rich, fail to recognize that the protesters have ignored facts and reason in their march toward an oligarchy. When the GOP tries to make itself look respectable, they claim that they are the party of Abraham Lincoln, but that claim is true in name only—not ideology. As Republicans in Congress work to start another war in the Middle East, they neglect GOP President Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the U.S. becoming influenced by a military industrial complex.
Trump is the brand of the crazies cherished by the GOP media. Early in President Obama’s first presidential term, the media cheered when a GOP representative, Joe Wilson, stood up at the president’s State of the Union speech to shout, “You lie!” Brian Williams wrote about the “change in mood” surrounding the president’s speeches after the most recent SOTU:
“[J]ust the general din, the chatter, people making comments, the laughter that followed the applause after he said he was not running for office anymore, his line designed to answer back, I don’t know, in the windup of the speech, looking at the wording, was intended to be a call to our better selves, a call to a better era from a system thoroughly broken.”
Just as Republicans justified the right to rudeness toward the president, Trump gains ratings with the same offensive disrespect toward anyone who tries to get in his way. The GOP supported the hatred pointed at the president, but Trump has made it intramural. Trump said that POW John McCain was not a war hero, and Republicans fought back. Bush demanded “respect and admiration” for McCain. Yet 11 years ago, the Republicans smeared a Navy veteran with a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts, and no Republicans supported John Kerry’s war record. As Florida governor, Jeb Bush used official stationery to praise the men who orchestrated the smear campaign against then-presidential candidate Kerry.
The last Republican to show any “respect” was McCain when he refuted a woman’s claim that presidential candidate Barack Obama was an “Arab” during the 2008 campaign. The crowd booed McCain’s response that his opponent was “a decent person.”
Trump knew that his racist comments about Mexicans would not cause him problems because Rep. Steve King was re-elected after he said undocumented immigrants had “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” Yet half the presidential candidates spoke at King’s Freedom Summit in January. In July, Rick Perry called the public response to Trump, “a toxic mix of demagogy, meanspiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if followed.” He was one of King’s speakers and said nothing about King’s racist remarks. Perry was also the governor who said that Texas might have to secede from the United States.
Comments to Egan’s piece:
“I’m old enough to remember that back when I was a child, the democrats preached hate. Then all the bigots changed parties, I think because when LBJ became president he signed the civil rights act, and all the bigots fled to the republican party. Same philosophy, different party. Trump like all white male politicians of the 50s and 60s, says to blame minorities for everything, crime, poverty, etc., so that people do not blame the politicians, the white males in power, for their actions. I was amazed in the 60s when I went to Berkeley and found that people said the same things about Mexicans there that the people here in the South said about blacks. Always blame anyone but the white male politicians is the rule. And it works too often.”
“They fail to understand that what they sense—the complete failure and fiction of 40-years of ‘trickle down’ economics which has resulted in the decimation of a once vital middle class—is actually the result of a deeply flawed, failed Republican ideology. So they scapegoat. They blame the people who have even less—the ‘takers,’ the ‘moochers’—you know, the poor, immigrants, people on disability, the unemployed. Their self-loathing and their ignorance makes them vote against their own interests, and has them looking for a savior–a rich, self-made man.”
“I’m a Vietnam vet. The line we crossed was Vietnam. We waged war for the profit built into every bullet. There is nothing we won’t do for money. What goes around comes around. The insanity in our society is the result of living with that elephant in the room for several generations.”
“Sen. Graham asked other Republicans to call out Trump’s initial hateful comments because they are bad for the party. But how about calling them out because they simply are toxic for the country? How about saying that it is wrong to encourage fear of immigrants and of Mexicans, that no group deserves to be reduced to rapists and drug dealers?”
“The news media has finally found something that scares them more than a nuclear- armed Iran, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and his name is Donald Trump.”
With Trump consuming the media, GOP standard bearers such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Michael Barone are forced to spend valuable newspaper inches fighting him while Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Breitbart form the cheering section for Trump’s lack of “political correctness” (aka incivility). The establishment is failing to support its positions of cutting Social Security, increasing immigration, and expanding free trade. A past GOP would have a backroom with people who could destroy Trump, but now the Tea Party is the tail wagging the elephant. People don’t want rules and don’t want to be careful of what they say. Trump gives them permission to follow their basest needs, and the GOP doesn’t know what to do about it.
In another piece of craziness, Bill Kristol suggests Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, among others, to be the 18th GOP Presidential candidate, joining ten governors and four U.S. senators. Think Progress has called Alito, “the most partisan justice” on the current court.