When Donald Trump said President Obama was “the founder of ISIS,” he wasn’t ad-libbing. He believes the president, and Hillary Clinton, are traitors. (More)
“Well, I disagree”
A less arrogant buffoon than Trump would have realized he was off the wingnut cliff when wingnut talk show host Hugh Hewitt tried to pull him back:
Hewitt: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.
Trump: Well, I disagree.
That comes at the end of a long exchange where Hewitt repeatedly tries to steer Trump toward arguing that President Obama’s foreign policy – withdrawing from Iraq under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement negotiated by President Bush – created space for ISIS to emerge. Many mainstream Republicans have made that very argument. I disagree with it, but that argument alleges that President Obama made a mistake … not that he actively sought to encourage ISIS.
But Trump refused to be walked back, as Slate’s Josh Voorhees explains:
Things only get more muddled from there, as they often do when Trump speaks. But after all of Hewitt’s prompting, Trump finally nodded vaguely to Obama’s “bad policies” and how “if he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS” – but even with those caveats, he made it clear his conclusion hadn’t changed: “Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS.” Hewitt then countered one last time by suggesting that he personally would use “different language” to communicate the same criticism. Trump’s response was remarkable for its awareness. “But they wouldn’t talk about your language,” he told Hewitt, “and they do talk about my language, right?”
That remark is telling, and it illustrates something that should be obvious by now but is often lost in the noise of each new controversy that comes every time Trump says something outlandish and/or obviously untrue. This was not some ad-libbed comment that went awry, a bad joke that did not land, or the candidate going “off message,” as Beltway pundits call it. In fact, he’s completely on message, and this has been the message for years, dating back to Obama’s first term, during which Trump used the birther movement to lay the foundation for his current presidential run. More than anything, Trump has built his campaign on (white) America’s fears of the other, and what better way for him to harness those than by othering the sitting president of the United States, be it by questioning his citizenship, his faith, or his loyalty. It doesn’t matter to Trump whether his wild-eyed accusations are true; it doesn’t matter to him whether they’re offensive. All that matters to him is casting an illusion his supporters want to believe in.
I agree with Voorhees’ analysis, and I’d add this. Trump knows his remark was off-the-wingnut cliff, and he’s proud of that. That’s why he boasted that the media “talk about my language.”
Of course, this morning Trump pretended he never meant what he plainly said:
Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) "the founder" of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016
In plain terms, he’s a troll, and he’s proud of being the trolliest troll around.
“I would say they could be tried there”
Indeed accusing the President of the United States of being a secret Muslim agent wasn’t the trolliest thing Trump said yesterday. Consider his interview with the Miami Herald:
A President Donald Trump might push for Americans accused of terrorism to be tried in military tribunal at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Republican nominee told the Miami Herald on Thursday.
“I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine,” Trump said in a brief interview ahead of his speech to home builders in Miami Beach.
Under current federal law, it’s illegal to try U.S. citizens at military commissions. Changing the law would require an act of Congress.
An act of Congress at the very least. There’s also that pesky Sixth Amendment:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
That leaves no wiggle room for whisking American citizens away to Guantanamo Bay for a military tribunal. But Trump “doesn’t like [the Sixth Amendment] at all,” as he made plain yesterday:
“Would you try to get the military commissions – the trial court there – to try U.S. citizens?” a reporter asked.
“Well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all,” he said.
But Julian Assange worries about Hillary Clinton suppressing dissent. Because, umm, uhh….
So okay, now he’s threatening to ship U.S. citizens off to Guantanamo for trial in military courts. Can we finally stop quibbling about the definition of fascism?
Photo Credit: Chris Carlson (AP)
Good day and good nuts