Saturday, June 4, 2016

Clinton IDs Trump as "dangerous lunatic"

OK, so she stopped just short of that. But her speech was a real Trump-buster. Greg Sargent (Washington Post/Plum Line) asks whether Republicans actually agree with her.

Hillary Clinton unleashed a brutal attack on Donald Trump in her speech yesterday, hitting him as temperamentally unfit for the presidency, hammering his threat to ban Muslims and attacks on Mexican immigrants, and lacerating him as a divisive and unstable figure who should never have access to the “nuclear codes.” She blasted his ideas as frighteningly “incoherent.” In short, without quite saying so, she portrayed him as a dangerous lunatic.

But here’s the question: How many Republicans responded on Trump’s behalf? Given that Clinton has now telegraphed that she will continue casting him in these terms, how forcefully will Republicans push back?

The answer, apparently, is not very much.

... Even as Clinton’s attacks on Trump were receiving widespread media attention and being digested by the political classes, Republicans were actually in defensive mode about the very criticisms of Trump that Clinton launched.

For instance, the New York Times reports this morning that legal experts worry that a Trump presidency represents a genuine authoritarian threat and could precipitate a real constitutional crisis. In the article, Senator John McCain gamely defended Trump, saying he did not think that a Trump presidency endangers the nation. McCain added: “We have a Congress. We have the Supreme Court. We’re not Romania.”

Oh, John. Remember Trump is the guy who dissed your military record? And you're defending him? Oh, John.

Meanwhile, in a radio interview earlier this week, [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell said he did not fear Trump would trample the rule of law. “He’ll have a White House counsel,” McConnell said. “There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.”

But Trump keeps his own counsel so advice from those "others" may not carry all that much weight in a Trump presidency.

That doesn’t exactly seem heavy on conviction. And regardless, in a separate interview with CNN, McConnell actually conceded that Trump’s divisive rhetoric could harm the GOP in a lasting fashion among Latinos, just as Barry Goldwater’s 1964 candidacy harmed the GOP with African Americans.

In other words, broadly speaking, Republicans are either mounting weak pushback against the charges Clinton is now amplifying, or not defending Trump’s positions at all.

Even Paul Ryan’s declaration yesterday that he would vote for Trump had a faint-hearted feeling to it. At first his staff wouldn’t even confirm that his vote for Trump constituted an endorsement. Overall, Ryan exhibited all the enthusiasm of someone getting marched off to the gallows with a sack over his head.

And so, it’s worth raising the question: How many Republicans actually disagree with Clinton’s depiction of Trump, anyway?

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