That New “Black Site” Plan Isn’t New, It Came From Mitt Romney’s CampaignThis brings me back to an argument that I found infuriating during the campaign. Many pundits, and at least one Democratic strategist, argued that the receptiveness of Republican voters to Donald Trump was all the fault of Democrats. According to this argument, we'd said such horrible things about other Republican candidates that the GOP electorate had no reason to believe us when we said the same things about Trump. We had, in other words, "cried wolf."
A draft executive order reviving Bush-era detention and interrogation policies that circulated on Wednesday is a revised version of the “most comprehensive” executive action on the topic proposed for the first 100 days of a Mitt Romney White House.
The original text of the document was prepared in September 2012 by then-presidential candidate Romney’s legal and policy advisers as a potential executive order....
Most of the text that appears in the Trump document appears in the 2012 document as part of a package of options, “ranging from the narrowest (Option 1) to the most comprehensive (Option 2)” to address “the fight against international jihadist terrorist groups.”
Here was Frank Bruni making the case in The New York Times back in September:
Conservative commentators and die-hard Republicans often brush off denunciations of Donald Trump as an unprincipled hatemonger by saying: Yeah, yeah, that’s what Democrats wail about every Republican they’re trying to take down....There are a lot of problems with this argument -- it doesn't explain, for example, why Dempocrats don't turn to dangerous demagogues, given the fact that our candidates are routinely described as civilization-destroying Antichrists. But maybe the best reason to reject the argument is a simple one: Previous Republicans really were very, very dangerous.
Howard Wolfson would be outraged by that response if he didn’t recognize its aptness.
“There’s enough truth to it to compel some self-reflection,” Wolfson, who was the communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008, told me this week....
“I worked on the presidential campaign in 2004,” he said, referring to John Kerry’s contest against George W. Bush. He added that he was also “active in discussing” John McCain when he ran for the presidency in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.
“And I’m quite confident I employed language that, in retrospect, was hyperbolic and inaccurate, language that cheapened my ability -- our ability -- to talk about this moment with accuracy and credibility.”
Here's torture advocate Trump proposing to bring back black sites -- and he's following a blueprint prepared for the Romney campaign. Here's Trump's extreme Cabinet -- and we see that many of his most dangerous appointees have deeper roots in the GOP than he does, advocating what are now the Trump administration's most nakedly ideological policies as officeholders (Tom Price, Scott Pruitt) or donors (Betsy DeVos). Trump's policies are scary, but nearly all of them are long-time Republican policies.
The Wichita Eagle is reporting that extremist Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach is claiming a role in both Trump's voter-fraud probe and his anti-immigration executive orders. Kobach, of course, was a top Romney adviser on immigration in 2012, a year when Romney backed "self-deportation" and Arizona's "papers, please" law and opposed the DREAM Act.
So this is the pattern: Trump seems to be at the extreme edge, but he's where many Republicans, including some we were said to have "cried wolf" about, have been all along. We know how extreme Republicans have been at the state level in Kobach's Kansas, in Scott Walker's Wisconsin, in Bobby Jindal's Louisiana. They've been extreme even when the figureheads haven't been loose-tongued bomb-throwers like Trump. So why shouldn't we have cried wolf in previous elections when there's good reason to believe that even "nice"-seeming Republicans are wolves at the door?