Donald Trump decreed last night that the sporadic violence at his rallies, the assaults on dissenting fellow Americans, are motivated by “great love for the country, it’s a beautiful thing in many respects.”
I’m glad Der Leader cleared that up.
The 12th Republican debate predictably featured lots of lies: Ted Cruz said that President Obama conducted a global “apology tour,” a stale Mitt Romney whopper that was fact-refuted years ago; Trump said that our GDP growth is “zero.” GDP grew by two percent in the third quarter of ’15 and one percent in the fourth; Trump said that he’s beating Hillary Clinton “in many of the polls” but since Feb. 1, she has beaten him in 19 of 20 polls; Cruz said that warring Americans “have never targeted innocent civilians” (he’s never heard of Dresden?); and so on. But one particular Trump assertion, about rally violence, captured the prize.
The topic was ripe for discussion, given the dark forces increasingly at play. Dissenters at Trump rallies – some of them vocal, some sitting peacefully – have been variously kicked, punched, dragged, headlocked, and serenaded with expressions of patriotism such as “monkey” and “go home, n—–r.” An Arab-American journalist was recently assailed as a “terrorist.” In North Carolina last week, a Trump fanboy in his 70s cold-cocked a black protester and quickly made it clear that punching was insufficient: “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
So last night, moderator Jack Tapper asked Trump: “Do you believe that you’ve done anything to create a tone where this kind of violence would be encouraged?”
In response Trump sought to stay low key, because this was the night he decided to be Presidential. He’s on the cusp of becoming the presumptive nominee, and clearly he was determined to exude the vibes of a high-road Cicero. He tackled the question so soporifically, I had to assume that he’d filched some torpor pills from Ben Carson:
I hope not. I truly hope not. I will say this. We have 25 (thousand), 30,000 people — you’ve seen it yourself. People come with tremendous passion and love for the country, and when they see protest — in some cases — you know, you’re mentioning one case, which I haven’t seen, I heard about it, which I don’t like. But when they see what’s going on in this country, they have anger that’s unbelievable. They have anger. They love this country. They don’t like seeing bad trade deals, they don’t like seeing higher taxes, they don’t like seeing a loss of their jobs where our jobs have just been devastated. And I know — I mean, I see it. There is some anger. There’s also great love for the country, it’s a beautiful thing in many respects. But I certainly do not condone that at all, Jake.
But then Jake fired a fastball at his vanilla head:
Some of your critics point to quotes you’ve made…at these rallies including February 23rd, “I’d like to punch him in the face,” referring to a protesters. February 27th, “in the good ol’ days, they’d have ripped him out of that seat so fast.” February 1st, “knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, OK, just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise, I promise.”
A well-deserved fastball indeed – because Der Leader has long been egging on his acolytes, unleashing their inner id. Worse yet, some of them sat in the debate hall. As Tapper read off those repulsive quotes, they cheered. That’s how low we’ve sunk, folks. A candidate for President of the United States verbally stokes violence, and his followers get rapturous.
Anyway, Trump responded to the quotes with this gem:
We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and they start hitting people. And we had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people, not only the loudness, the loudness I don’t mind. But doing serious damage. And if they’ve got to be taken out, to be honest, I mean, we have to run something.
That was the lie of the night. There is no documented evidence whatsoever, from the ubiquitously videoed Trump rallies, that any “bad dudes,” that any “big, strong powerful guys,” have been “hitting people” and “doing damage to people…doing serious damage.”
But did any of Trump’s rivals demand that he substantiate his claim? Of course not, because they’ve given up on challenging him. At this point, they’ve surgically removed their own spines.
When Cruz was asked to comment on Trump’s rally violence, he fled to the safest topic in the Republican arsenal: Barack Obama “who behaves like an emperor.” When John Kasich was asked for comment, he said that people are worried about jobs. When Marco Rubio was asked for comment, he said he was against “violence in general,” then segued to a misty yarn about his grandpa.
And when CNN put Trump on the air immediately after the debate, did anyone ask him to substantiate his claim that dissenters are hitting people and doing serious damage? Not a chance. His sole role (inexplicably) was to critique his own performance at the debate. Oh, and he said the debate itself was “elegant.”
And so, our dark descent continues. Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, gets the last word:
“I want to vomit on everything there is, and never stop vomiting. The goal of this debate was to damage Trump. Nobody did….They deserve to lose.”