Then Chuck Todd was asked for his thoughts. Here's what he said:
At first he seemed to be expressing an appropriate level of concern:
Well, I tell you this: Look, Donald Trump's been playing with fire for some time.But he doesn't want his commentary to seem unbalanced or anything:
He does take his crowds and he fires them up. And sometimes it's a positive reaction he gets, and sometimes it's negative.Some would say it's always positive as far as the crowd goes. For any dissenters, not so much.
He can be very mean to the protesters, as Peter pointed out, very vicious, frankly, in calling out the press corps. So he can single out individuals, and so this has been a concern. This has been a concern of mine, frankly with just the press corps and others that are there.Todd seems much more focused on the threat to journalists than to civilians. But I guess he would be. It's good that he's expressing concern, right?
But this is Chuck Todd, so you knew there was going to be an "on the other hand."
That said, look, we know politics has been messy in this country for hundreds of years, so let's not pretend that this is the first time that we've seen something like this happen.Hey, it's not unprecedented, so what are you people getting so worked up about? A political candidate urges his audience to engage in thuggish behavior. Blah blah blah! Been there! Done that!
However, in this day and age of social media, it is he responsibility of the campaign -- they can't be responsible for violence that takes place, but they can set the tone better.Oh, so this is a story about the Internet? I'm sorry, I thought it was a story about a presidential candidate advocating violent behavior before live audiences. Let's look at the Peter Alexander report that preceded Todd's commentary, particularly 1:26 to 1:50:
And why can't the Trump campaign "be responsible for violence that takes place"?
Todd goes on to say:
John McCain in 2008, as his rallies toward the end started to get a little raucous and rowdy and sometimes over the line, he himself would say, "You know what? That's not right. That isn't what you do." Donald Trump at some point needs to take control of this situation and do that at one of his rallies.Oh, yeah, that's going to happen.
That's the problem: Trump doesn't "need" to do that. He's winning votes without doing that -- he's winning votes in part because he's not doing that. Being a buzzkill for his goon squads is going to lose him votes. Todd should at least acknowledge the possibility that Trump's just going to keep encouraging violence.
Todd says we've seen this before, and he's right, although the last time was before he was born. It was the 1968 George Wallace campaign:
... another presidential candidate, Alabama Governor George Wallace, also turned protesters into props for an audience hungry to see order restored -- if necessary by force. In 1967, anti-Vietnam protesters laid down in front of President Lyndon Johnson’s car. In 1968, in speech after speech, Wallace roused crowds by saying, falsely, that the “protesters had threatened his [Johnson’s] personal safety,” but if “some of them lie down in front of my automobile, it will be the last one they’ll ever want to lie down in front of.”It was alarming then. It's alarming now. And the fact that it's happened before doesn't make it any less disturbing.
“The confrontation with the hecklers became a highly stylized feature of every Wallace rally,” writes Lloyd Rohler in his book George Wallace: Conservative Populist. “Violence seemed always to be lurking in the background and it frequently burst forth.” At a Wallace rally on October 29 in Detroit, reported the Chicago Tribune, “wild, chair-swinging violence erupted” as “Wallace supporters and some of several thousand hecklers clashed, first with fists and then with folding chairs ... Wallace supporters struck handcuffed hecklers as they were being led away by police, who did not interfere.”