Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Second Amendment Storm

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The storm broke on Tuesday afternoon, responding to part of Trump's campaign speech in North Carolina.  It was a speech attacking Hillary Clinton, and specifically talking about her as President appointing Supreme Court justices.  Here's the quote:

 “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The Trump campaign immediately asserted that the comment was political--the political power of "the Second Amendment people."  But the term is widely known as a euphemism for gun violence, as in "Second Amendment remedies."

So the Huffington Post could headline: Donald Trump Suggests Shooting Hillary Clinton, Her Supreme Court Picks, Or Both.

With more temperate language, the New York Times began its story: Donald J. Trump on Tuesday appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun control measures...".

The ensuing storm so far includes calls for a Secret Service investigation, a fundraising letter with the headline "Trump just suggested someone shoot Hillary Clinton."  But also seeing the comment in a similar light was the editor of a gun advocate newspaper.  According to Politico, he tweeted "That was a threat of violence," and condemned the comment.

The NYTimes noted the increasingly dark mood of the Trump rallies, so perhaps Democratic Senator Chris Murphy's tweet is most pertinent:  "This isn't play. Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump."

The Guardian collected early Internet response, as well as from the Trump campaign.  A later Guardian story began: Donald Trump has been accused of a making an “assassination threat” against rival Hillary Clinton, plunging his presidential campaign into a fresh crisis.

Update: Both the Washington Post and the New York Times editorial boards denounced Trump's statement, but once you've said he's dangerous and unqualified, what more is there to say?

Why would Trump say something like this?  I add up the threads of analysis that have made the most sense to me: Trump channels the most popular issues on right wing talk radio, his model is Roy Cohn, his method derives from studio wrestling, he's a classic bullshitter/troll out to get reaction and attention.

 And right now there's one more that pertains: Benjamin Wallace-Wells at the New Yorker points out that Trump has a lot of time to fill in his campaign speeches, and he now he very little to say.  He used to spend a significant portion of his speech bragging about polls, but he can't do that anymore.  And he has none of the usual campaign speech topics: his record and accomplishments in office,  his party's philosophy, etc. "He does not recount the suffering of ordinary individuals because he has not met many of them."

Trump cannot go into detail about Obama policies or Clinton proposals or his own proposals because he knows no details.  His speeches are word salads of simple assertions, that he is a winner and will change everything for the better, and that his opponents are complete disasters.  Trump appears to absorb bits of information from cable television, right wing talk radio and the work of very rabid right authors, probably as described to him, and then he riffs.  He has a lot of time to fill on the campaign trail and nothing else to fill it with.  No wonder he gets in continual trouble.

But this Second Amendment comment suggests even more the extent of Trump's desperation and the violence he casually summons as a result.  Ed Kilgore:

Donald Trump managed to descend to new depths today by repeating a tedious gun-lobby argument that Hillary Clinton wants to “essentially abolish the Second Amendment” and then turning it into a “joking” suggestion that “Second-Amendment people” might hold the only way to deal with that threat. Nothing like a little assassination humor to liven things up on the campaign trail, eh?

Kilgore's column places this reference in context of the rabid right approach to the Second Amendment as an instrument of potential insurrection.  He considers Trump's comment to be "thinly veiled sedition."

The remark threatens to turn this week into an even worse week that last for Trump. As this storm continues, other elements of the Trump catastrophe also continue.  New state polls show Clinton ahead in Ohio (+5) and Iowa (+4) and increasing her lead in PA (+11.)

CNN reports that: Two former administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency under Republican presidents endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, citing her plan to tackle climate change and Donald Trump's "profound ignorance of science."

A major Republican donor is going to work for Clinton's election: Hillary Clinton on Tuesday added another name to the rapidly growing list of major Republican donors she has taken away from GOP nominee Donald Trump -- former MGM CEO Harry Sloan. Sloan is a mainstay of Republican fundraising, having served on national finance committees for John McCain and Mitt Romney.

It seems significant to me that these GOP defectors are not doing so quietly, but are all dumping on Trump in the same way.  Sloan: "He is unprepared and temperamentally unfit to be our President. Most of my Republican friends feel the same way. As a businessman, a father, and a conservative it is clear to me that Hillary Clinton is the right choice in this election."

Politico reports that the Clinton campaign has been encouraging Republican defections for months, and that an organization "Republicans for Hillary" may be unveiled as early as tomorrow.

Several articles, including this one by Jonathan Chait, suggest Trump may fail to show up for one or more of the scheduled presidential debates.

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