What odds can I get in Vegas that he’ll find a reason to return to the fold before November 3?
— JD-800 ? (@thejd800) October 1, 2020
What if the reason Trump hasn’t tried to debunk the “Charlotteville hoax” over the past three years is that it’s not a hoax?
Trump’s views of white supremacy also led to an unusual confrontation today between Kayleigh McEnany and, of all outlets, Fox News. John Roberts asked McEnany to denounce white supremacism clearly at today’s briefing:
Kayleigh McEnany dances around a question from Fox News asking her to categorically condemn white supremacists. Very bizarre. pic.twitter.com/7xoyMHPTxa
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 1, 2020
It’s a bizarre exchange. Will you denounce white supremacy right now? asks Roberts. I just told you that the president has denounced that repeatedly, she replies. No, but I mean right now, Roberts continues.
He came away feeling gaslit, I guess, because not long afterward he was complaining on Fox’s airwaves about the White House and not trying to hide his annoyance:
On Fox News, @johnrobertsFox is visibly angry that @PressSec won’t offer a clear denunciation of white supremacy: “Stop deflecting. Stop blaming the media. I’m tired of it. ” pic.twitter.com/GcPcOsAHqJ
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 1, 2020
McEnany had a solid zinger in response to that afterward:
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 1, 2020
It’s true that Trump has denounced white supremacy and/or prominent white supremacists in the past. There are two reasons why people keep after him about it, one of which is simple partisanship. Obviously it’s in Democrats’ interest to keep him on the defensive on this subject. Every time it’s raised and a condemnation is requested, it raises a doubt in voters’ minds about whether that condemnation will be issued. “Is Trump a racist?” is a good news topic for a party that’s scrambling to consolidate black and Latino voters.
The other reason, though, is that his denunciations of white supremacists invariably come off as halfhearted and perfunctory. One thing about Trump: When he doesn’t like you, he’s not shy about it. Here, for instance, is what he thinks of Never Trumpers:
The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
Clear as a bell. By contrast, here’s what he said in 2016 when asked about David Duke, who’d expressed his support for Trump a few days earlier:
The Sunday uproar started when Trump was asked by Tapper whether he would disavow Duke and other white supremacist groups that are supporting his campaign.
“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said.
Trump was pressed three times on whether he’d distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan — but never mentioned the group in his answers.
“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”
He was 70 years old at the time. I’m confident he had a basic sense of who Duke was and what white supremacists stand for. A few days later, after the resulting uproar, he was much clearer. “David Duke is a bad person, who I disavowed on numerous occasions over the years,” he told MSNBC. “I disavowed him. I disavowed the KKK. Do you want me to do it again for the 12th time? I disavowed him in the past, I disavow him now.”
He’s not opposed to denouncing anyone if it serves his political interests to do so. It’s just that he’s never going to fire off a “human scum” tweet about you or rant angrily about you at one of his rallies unless you’ve committed the only true sin, which is being critical of him. We’ve all watched him daily for five years now. You know the difference between when he’s attacking a person with relish, clearly enjoying himself because he’s laying into someone whom he regards as an enemy…
“Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp” — Speaking in a state with one of the largest Somali populations in the country, Trump goads his fans into booing refugees, prompting “lock her up!” chants directed at Ilhan Omar pic.twitter.com/dT2yuHxFDZ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 1, 2020
…and when he’s going through the motions, as he does when some reporter browbeats him into saying something mildly disapproving of the KKK. One response is “high energy,” the other is “low energy,” to borrow one of his favorite terms. For Trump, I think it always boils down to whether he has some reason to feel *personally* aggrieved against a target. He’ll never attack someone or some group spontaneously simply because they’re immoral. What does he care about morality? But if they’re against him then he’s against them. Never Trumpers are “human scum” but David Duke is just someone to be casually disavowed as requested.
That’s what I think Roberts was agitated about in his exchange with McEnany, even though she repeatedly assured him that the president condemns white supremacy. What he’s really saying to her is make me believe it. Don’t give me some box-checking mealy-mouthed “Yeah, fine, I disavow” answer. Talk for five seconds about the Ku Klux goddamned Klan with the same degree of contempt with which Trump talks about, say, Nancy Pelosi.
I’ll leave you with this, which was tweeted as I was writing this post. Wish I’d been quicker to place that bet in Vegas.
Today I learned that agreeing with Democrats and saying I won’t vote for Trump makes them hate me extra and threaten me. So I’ll be voting for Trump.
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) October 1, 2020
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