Thursday Reads: “We’ll Be Lucky To Live Through It.” — Daniel DreznerPosted: August 11, 2016
I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for hours now without writing anything. I’m so overwhelmed by the insanity Donald Trump has been spewing since the end of the conventions, that I’m really at a loss. I honestly feel as if I’m in shock.
This morning, the media is struggling to explain away Trump’s latest–his claim in a speech last night that President Obama “founded ISIS” and “Crooked Hillary Clinton” was the co-founder.
“Isis is honoring President Obama,” Trump said of Islamic State. “He is the founder of Isis. He founded Isis. And, I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”
Trump’s declaration echoed an attack he made against Clinton last week, also in Florida, in which he said the former secretary of state “should get an award from them as the founder of Isis”.
Republicans have long sought to blame the turmoil in the Middle East on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, often criticizing the president for underestimating the threat posed by Isis. But Trump has routinely gone a step further by stating directly that Obama is sympathetic to terrorists.
The former reality TV star employed the same tactic on Wednesday, referring to the president by his full name – Barack Hussein Obama – and repeating it several times for emphasis of his claim that Obama had founded Isis.
The origins of Isis trace back to the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group has been deemed an offshoot of al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks on 9/11. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant terrorist viewed as the founder of Isis, was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad in 2006.
I’m afraid to think what ghastly thing Trump might say today, but I’m sure there will be something. Just imagine how Vladimir Putin feels!
The first link I opened this morning was from Time Magazine: Inside Donald Trump’s Meltdown. Next I opened Twitter and found that the article had been trending for a couple of hours. It’s an extended list of Trump’s outrageous remarks along with hand-wringing by desperate Republicans who just want him to stop saying stupid things. But Trump obviously can’t help it. The piece is a must-read. Here are just a couple of samples:
When Donald Trump mucks things up, the first person to let him know is usually Republican Party boss Reince Priebus. Almost every day, Trump picks up his cell phone to find Priebus on the line, urging him to quash some feud or clarify an incendiary remark.
The Wisconsin lawyer has been a dutiful sherpa to the Manhattan developer, guiding him through the dizzying altitude of the presidential race and lobbying the GOP to unite behind a figure who threatens its future.
But every bond has its breaking point. For this partnership, the moment nearly arrived in early August. Priebus was on vacation when he learned that Trump had declined to endorse Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and a close friend. The chairman had a frank message for the nominee, according to two Republican officials briefed on the call. Priebus told Trump that internal GOP polling suggested he was on track to lose the election. And if Trump didn’t turn around his campaign over the coming weeks, the Republican National Committee would consider redirecting party resources and machinery to House and Senate races.
Trump denies the exchange ever took place. “Reince Priebus is a terrific guy,” Trump told TIME. “He never said that.” Priebus could not be reached for comment. But whatever the exact words spoken on the phone, there is no doubt that the possibility Republicans will all but abandon Trump now haunts his struggling campaign.
Of course. Trump also denies the Secret Service spoke to his campaign about his implied threat against Hillary.
Republicans groan that the difficult task of keeping their Senate majority gets tougher with each outré remark. Which is why the RNC is considering shifting some cash and staff away from the presidential race and toward down-ballot contests. That plan is already in motion among powerful outside groups that typically spend hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of the party nominee. “There’s going to have to be some resource reallocation,” says a senior Republican official familiar with internal party deliberations. A second senior party official routinely instructs Senate campaign managers to distance their candidates from Trump. “Don’t worry about the appearances,” the official said on a recent conference call. “Worry about winning.”
That explains why Republicans running for office this year don’t meet Trump’s plane at airports or introduce him at rallies. In some places, the avoidance strategy seems to be working. Senator Pat Toomey is in a statistical tie in his re-election bid in Pennsylvania, a state where Trump trails by about 10 points. In the key swing state of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio is running ahead in his re-election bid even as Trump narrowly trails Clinton. But in New Hampshire, Trump’s troubles may be dragging down Ayotte, who plummeted from a virtual tie to 10 points down in a recent poll.
On calls with Senate campaign donors, Trump often comes up, as moneymen probe for details on coordination with the top of the ticket. “What Trump campaign?” one swing-state Senate campaign manager snapped at a volunteer recently. “We have more offices than they do.” ….
Like the rest of the party, Trump’s staff has been flummoxed by his political naiveté. They describe a candidate who doesn’t understand the basics of modern campaigns, from why you knock on doors to how to read a poll to why he should be dialing for dollars more aggressively. His headquarters has enough palace intrigue and warring fiefs to rival the fictional badlands of Westeros. “You’re always afraid of getting fired,” says one staffer, “but it’s his fault, not ours.”
These staff members are still cashing checks but have begun to lose faith that their boss can or should win the top prize in American politics. Most highly regarded Republican operatives have stayed away from the campaign, wary of being blackballed for future gigs. “If someone applied for a job and brought in a résumé that had Trump 2016 on it,” says a GOP fundraising consultant, “I wouldn’t give them an interview.”
There’s much much more at the Time link, so be sure to check it out.
So what’s Trump up to this morning? He’s doubling down on his “found of ISIS” and “second amendment people” remarks. Politico reports: Trump ramps up attack on Obama as founder of Islamic State.
Donald Trump on Thursday escalated his attack on President Barack Obama, doubling down on his accusation that he’s a founder of the Islamic State and claiming that both Obama and Hillary Clinton remain the terrorist group’s most valuable players….
After first leveling the terror-related accusation against Obama and Clinton at a Wednesday night rally, Trump made the claim three more times on Thursday — all before noon.
“Our government isn’t giving us good protection. Our government has unleashed ISIS,” he said as he addressed the National Association of Home Builders in Miami. “I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They’re the founders. In fact, I think we’ll give Hillary Clinton the — you know, if you’re on a sports team, most valuable player, MVP, you get the MVP award — ISIS will hand her the most valuable player award. Her only competition is Barack Obama.”
His remarks echoed his sentiments earlier Thursday during a phone interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” during which he also named Obama the MVP of ISIS.
“He gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary, she gets it too. I gave her co-founder if you really looked at this speech,” Trump said. “But he and Hillary get the most valuable player award having to do with Iraq, and having to do with the ISIS situation, or as he would call it, ISIL. He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and he probably wants to bother people by using another term, whether it’s more accurate or not.”
And Trump sees no problem with calling the President of the United States a terrorist.
The Manhattan billionaire bristled at the notion that referring to the president and his former secretary of state as the co-founders of a terrorist group intent on killing Americans was somehow inappropriate. He said that he has been successful thus far as a political outsider throughout the election cycle by speaking his mind, and if that ends up costing him the general election, so be it.
“Is there something wrong with saying that? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?” Trump said. “Look, all I do is tell the truth. I’m a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth.”
Unbelievably, there is even more at the link.
Here’s Daniel Drezner at The Washington Post in response to Trump’s implication that Hillary should be assassinated: The 2016 campaign is getting out of control. We’ll be lucky to live through it.
The Trump campaign is trying to spin this every which way they can. Claims that his remark about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was just a “joke” don’t really hold water in the sense that jokes still mean something, particularly in presidential campaigns. Furthermore, the statement was serious enough for the Secret Service to have a conversation with the campaign about this kind of rhetoric. The fact that Trump won’t apologize for a joke gone bad is indicative of the many other dangerous statements that he never walks back.
And there are consequences for this kind of violent rhetoric. Read some examples at the link.
This is the kind of thing that Trump supporters think is funny. From the Buffalo News last month: Festival apologizes for ‘Hillary Clinton in a coffin’ car show entry.
It seems there’s no escaping the politics of bad taste when a presidential campaign is in full swing. Just ask Leslee Chilcott.
The Village of Hamburg resident has attended BurgerFest for 20 years. But this year, she cut her visit short after visiting the car show with her four children. Hitched to a 1920s Model-T Ford was an open coffin on a trailer hitch with a full-sized doll inside representing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. An image of Donald Trump’s face, attached to the rear car window, making it appear as if Trump is looking down on Clinton’s smiling-but-dead mannequin body. The coffin also featured beer taps on the side.
“That was enough for me,” said Chilcott, who abruptly took her disappointed children home early Saturday afternoon.
When her 6-year-old son asked her why there was a coffin with a dead woman in it named Hillary, Chilcott said, “I had to explain to him that some people are mean. For me, it wasn’t a political stance for this person to have the dummy. It was a living person.”
What’s next? I shudder to think. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread. I’ll add a few more stories there too.