I discuss the Trump questioner below. With regard to the Jeb questioner -- who asked about attracting African-American voters to the GOP -- Shaw's evidence of Democratic skulduggery is (surprise!) extremely flimsy:
I’m willing to stick my neck out right now and predict that if anyone does any serious checking this weekend you’re going to find that this guy was a plant for the Democrats. It’s not that the question of expanding the tent and finding a way for the GOP to carry a larger share of the minority vote isn’t a valid one. It absolutely is. But when I hear the way the question was phrased... look around the room and count the black faces... that’s not how somebody concerned about winning the next election would phrase it. It’s also an invitation for somebody from the establishment wing to mouth an answer which the Left can quickly light up like a torch. Almost as if following a script, Bush stuck his foot in his mouth.Hunh? Why was this clearly an invitation for Jeb to start ranting about black people being seduced by Democrats and their "free stuff"? And why wouldn't a real Republican -- at least a Republican of an establishmentarian bent -- say "count the black faces"?
Here's a passage from the Republican Party "autopsy" after Mitt Romney's 2012 loss. This is the gospel according to the Republican Establishment -- and, well, it's about counting non-white Republicans:
America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the wayThere's an entire section of this report dedicated to black outreach, with recommendations such as "The RNC should develop a nationwide database of African American leaders." Nowhere does the phase "free stuff" appear.
GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.
In 1980, exit polls tell us that the electorate was 88 percent white. In 2012, it was 72 percent white....
If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show
This was a perfectly valid question from a mainstream-GOP point of view. It was exactly the opposite of the famous question posed to Trump: Trump said nothing substantial in response to a question that was meant to be offensive and insulting, whereas Jeb, in response to a question that was meant to be polite and inclusive, stupidly read from the talking points Republicans use among themselves, rather than the ones the GOP Establishment wants used in public. But nothing about this question compelled Jeb to say what he said.
But Shaw goes completely off the rails with regard to the famous Trump questioner:
The now infamous “Muslim Question Guy” at Trump’s rally earlier in the month turned out to be a dedicated Democrat supporter. It’s a pretty good tactic if you think about it, but having seen it rolled out multiple times the GOP candidates need to be prepped and ready for these tricks.Really? It's been proven that that guy was sent by the Democrats?
Hardly. Shaw's link directs us to a Fox Nation thread titled "Was Trump's 'Muslim Question' Guy A Liberal Plant?," which in turn directs us to a Breitbart post titled "EXCLUSIVE: LIBERAL GROUP PUBLICIZED TRUMP ‘MUSLIM QUESTION’ GUY YEARS AGO." So now, working backwards in this game of Wingnut Telephone, we've gone from "questioner was definitely a Democratic plant!" to "was questioner a Democratic plant?" to "liberals made note of questioner in the past."
And even that last claim turns out to be shaky -- Democrats made note ofsomeboy in the past, but it's not at all clear that it's the same guy, or that the previous attention is at all relevant to the Trump incident. Here's the complete text of the Breitbart post:
A man who looks exactly like the notorious “Muslim question” guy from last week’s Donald Trump rally was previously the star of a liberal anti-Tea Party campaign, Breitbart News has learned.So all Breitbart is telling us is that Muslim Question Guy "looks exactly like" someone whose photo has appeared frequently on liberal sites. The fact that someone's photo appears on lefty Web pages tells us exactly nothing about that person's ties to liberalism.
The man, whom some suspect to have been a liberal or Democratic plant in Trump’s audience, was featured in a meme in the spring of 2013 that was credited to aattp.org, the website of the group Americans Against The Tea Party.
The man was depicted participating in a rally holding a sign that read “Impeach the Muslim Marxist.” The photo spread on left-wing message boards.
“Glenn Beck Is My Hero,” the man’s shirt read.
The photo has been used as a stock image by liberal sites including The Daily Banter and Forward Progressives.
We know now that the left-wing media and activists were aware of this man more than two years before last week’s Trump rally, where he stated that President Obama was a Muslim and sparked mainstream-media controversy. Trump was criticized for not repudiating the man for his comments.
Anti-Trump blogger Nolan Dolla even featured the photo in a recent blog post about the Trump controversy.
So what photo are we talking about? It's this:
What do we know about this photo? We know that it's photo #4 in a slideshow accompanying a Huffington Post/AP story on the 2009 rally by Glenn Beck's "9/12" movement. Despite an erroneous dateline on the HuffPo story, we can date the photo to September 12, 2009. (Here it is being linked on a message board that day; here it is being posted on another message board the following day.)
So this is a straight news photo of an anti-Obama demonstrator at a rally that took place six years ago. And if you think there's something hyperbolic or fake about him, check out this collection of photos from various 9/12/09 anti-Obama rallies. Muslim Marxist Guy seems quite typical. (Sample slogans on some of the other signs: "OUST THE MARXISTS USURPERS! ... HIS CZARS AND THUGS!"; "It's 1939 Germany all over again"; "OBAMACARE IT'S ABOUT POWER! When we smell the burning flesh from the ovens it will be too late for us all.")
Now, does Muslim Marxist Guy look "exactly like" Trump's Muslim Question Guy? Here's Muslim Question Guy (in a still from this video clip):
Is it the same guy? I can't tell. It's a white guy with a long face. I think there are a lot of those in America. And if it's the same guy, he actually seems to have gotten younger in the past six years.
But if it really is the same guy, he's a sincere wingnut. He's not a Democratic plant -- he wasn't one in 2009 and he isn't one now.
And yet as this Breitbart post percolates through the right-o-sphere, it will become common "knowledge" on the right that Muslim Question Guy was "unmasked" as a Democratic plant. Right-wingers really do feel entitled to not just their own opinions, but their own facts.