Thursday, August 11, 2016

Was Trump's second amendment remark an incitement to violence? Maybe not.

Read this whole post. Please!

I will start with the mainstream reporting and then place Trump's remarks in larger and larger contexts.

The assassination interpretation

Wolf Blitzer (CNN) masterfully led Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter into a trap. (Snippets from Daily Kos.)

Once in a while, not that often but every once in a while CNN comes through in the clutch. Wolf Blitzer just had GOP congresssludge Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) on to discuss Cheeto Jesus latest outrage, his “2nd amendment people” call for Hillary Clinton’s assassination. I thought we had left this behind with that Tea Party toad Sharron Angle.

Hunter gave it his best shot. He told Blitzer that Trump was speaking metaphorically, calling for action at the ballot box to stop her. He said that as a politician he has repeatedly used the phrases of “Stopping him” or “stopping her” and was always referring to beating his opponent at the ballot box, the media was blowing this completely out of proportion, there was no story here. This has become the standard surrogate mantra for the day in dealing with the crisis. Even the campaign has released a statement to this effect.

And then he sprang it.

Unfortunately, Blitzer wasn’t buying it, and set out to demolish Hunter. And he did it beautifully. He started out by reading the statement intact;

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

Then m’man Wolf went for the jugular, using simple common sense. He told Hunter that when Trump spoke of Clinton appointing judges, that was an obvious admission that she had already won the freakin’ election! If she was selecting judges, she was the President, mobilizing 2nd amendment right voters to the polls would be useless, the election was over. What else could he possibly be talking about but assassinating either Clinton or Federal Justices?

(See below for a qualified answer.)

Hunter had no out. He retreated to the mantra that Trump was not a natural politician, his semantics were not always going to be well polished and perfected, especially when speaking off of the cuff, but all of the air had been sucked out of him

Well done Wolf! See what you can do every once in a while if you use your brain for something more than just reading the words off of the teleprompter or script?

"Second amendment people" means exactly what Trump meant. It ranks right up there with "short for treason", "lock her up", and "bloodbath."

Wink-wink does not work. The facts, which Blitzer relied on, and which Trump is short on, exposes the real meaning of Trump's quote as an incitement to violence.

Or does it? (Humbling disclosure: I wrote the above before doing my own fact-checking.)

Update #1: AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona) covers most of the media ground about Trump's "2A" quote. But there is a part of what Trump said that is not reported. Here is the "full" quote published by the Meanie.

Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. [Pause] Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know. But I tell you what, that’ll be a horrible day.”

The media reporting, including the story in this blog, has left out the last sentence which confirms Blitzer's interpretation.

And that, this morning, triggered my own fact-checking by a simple Google search.

Update #2: Politifact goes yet further in reporting of Trump's remarks and puts them in the largest context with a video clip.

Actually, the Blue Meanie's quote was not the complete quote. Politifact has it.

Here are Trump’s remarks -- which are actually quite brief -- in their full context.

"So here, I just wrote this down today. Hillary wants to raise taxes -- it's a comparison. I want to lower them. Hillary wants to expand regulations, which she does bigly. Can you believe that? I will reduce them very, very substantially, could be as much as 70 to 75 percent. Hillary wants to shut down energy production. I want to expand it. Lower electric bills, folks! Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick --if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know. But I'll tell you what, that will be a horrible day, if -- if -- Hillary gets to put her judges in."

Politifact concludes:"Our only conclusion: Trump’s rather elliptical words certainly left room for interpretation."

You could still argue that the reference to the "Second Amendment people" is a dog whistle for gun-toting loonies. But the evidence for that is compromised by the full context of Trump's remarks.

Trump is a lousy human being, an ignoramus, a braggart, a bully, a bullshit artist. He would be a horrible president, continually walking back his insane shots from the lip. But it detracts from the credibility of those of us who think so to take his remarks out of context.

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