Friday, November 18, 2016


Jonathan Chait writes:
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign bludgeoned modern norms about the acceptability of racism. The candidate proposed a religious test for immigrants, and called a federal judge unfit on the grounds of his heritage. Trump could have decided to put the racial demagoguery of the campaign behind him, and it could have been remembered as a divisive ploy to win that did not define his administration, like George Bush’s manipulation of white racial panic to defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. But Trump, perhaps predictably, is making a different choice. His early staffing choices are redefining the boundaries of acceptable racial discourse in Republican politics.
Chait lists Steve Bannon, of course:
That Bannon’s ex-wife has testified to his hatred of Jews has attracted a great deal of attention, but this fact both over- and understates the racial nature of his beliefs. Bannon’s journalistic work is centrally dedicated to the task of refashioning conservatism along white-identity lines. His publication, Breitbart News, has promoted the “alt-right.” Breitbart itself defines the alt-right as a more intelligent version of skinheads...
He also lists General Mike Flynn, who'll be Trump's national security adviser, and attorney general-designate Jeff Sessions. He's certainly right about Sessions:
When he was a U.S. Attorney, Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general declared that “I wish I could decline on all” civil rights cases. Sessions called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired” organizations. He joked that used to think the Ku Klux Klan were “ok” until he found out they were “pot smokers.” He once called a black former assistant U.S. Attorney “boy.”

And his actual record is arguably even worse. “Jeff Sessions got his start prosecuting voting rights activists in Alabama on bogus voter fraud charges,” notes Sam Bagnestos, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the number two official in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division under Holder. “Throughout his career, he has shown hostility to the historically important work of the Civil Rights Division. The damage he can do to civil rights enforcement as attorney general is incalculable.” Nothing about his subsequent history suggests that he’s changed.
And Flynn is a piece of work:
On three occasions, Flynn tagged in his tweets Jared Wyland, an alt-right, anti-Semitic commentator who has tweeted about the "Liberal Jewish media." ...

In February, Flynn made waves when he tweeted it was rational to fear Muslims.

"Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions," Flynn said with a link to a video claiming Islamophobia was rational and that Islam wanted 80% of humanity enslaved or exterminated.
Flynn said in August that Islam is "a political ideology" rather than a religion. He also previously called Islam "sick" and described it as a “malignant cancer.”
The former general ... was responding to accusations by the Clinton campaign that Russia was behind a hack of the Democratic National Committee, and a subsequent leak of e-mails, in order to help Trump's candidacy.

Flynn wrote that "the corrupt Democratic machine will do and say anything" to get Clinton elected. "This is a new low," he said, retweeting a message that read: "Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore."
Chait writes that "Trump’s presidential campaign bludgeoned modern norms about the acceptability of racism." But I'm not sure those norms are gone exactly. Since Trump announced his presidential candidacy, quite a few minor officials, mostly in state and local politics, have made racist statements or written (or retransmitted) racist online postings. Those people continue to get in trouble for doing this sort of thing. For instance, just this week a mayor and a director of a county development corporation in West Virginia left office under pressure after the public learned about a jolly online exchange in which they agreed that First Lady Michelle Obama is an "ape in heels."

But what Trump proved in his campaign is that it's easier to survive if you make dozens of offensive remarks than if you make one. One (justifiably) puts a target on your back. A multitude ought to rally the public against you in a big way, but instead you're marked as someone so brazen that the public and the political world respond with paralysis.

That's what Trump appears to be counting on in filling his administration: that there'll be so many appointees giving so much offense that no one will quite know where to start in attacking them. Obviously it worked in the campaign. It'll probably work in the presidency, too.


mlbxxxxxx said...

Wonder what Atty Gen Sessions has in store for local/state marijuana legalization? Think "states rights" will win the day? I don't. I think the jackboots are going to hit Colorado, California, etc. like a plague of locusts.

Feud Turgidson said...

Okay, he was a champion bigot for the Bigot Party, and won. Then he was "their" champion, and his side won off more Rs coming out to vote Bigot than non-bigots McCain & Romney granted them, plus vote suppression, plus statistical variance, plus the other side's GOTV did a crappier job for a less attractive candidate, and all that means he should septuple down with his Bigot act?

That could get old quick. And that could stick on his party like a tattoo, as well.

rclz said...

mlbxxxx, I said before the election the only thing standing between legalized pot and the feds is a democratic president. The only thing states like Washington, Colorado can do is decriminalize it to the point that it's more or less legal but that won't get them them the windfall tax money they've gotten since pot went legal. It will however keep some kid with a few joints in his pocket out of jail, which has never made any sense.

The feds may go back to raiding farms and dispensary's but they aren't going to stand on the corner busting the locals. They don't have the man power for it.

Feud Turgidson said...

We appear to assume that McConnell can hold his caucus together on these Dump noms. I'm not so sure.

There are some anti-Dumpsters in that crowd, a few vocal, some others not up for election this time, some of those not even next time, and a pretty larger percentage of them are both independent enough from Dump, and even the GOP, that they could well withstand primary challenges. Some are even in states where supporting Dump, especially on racist and/or nutso noms could work against their hopes for re-election in 2018 or 2020.

I've counted up 11 or so. Some of them, others would no doubt see as a stretch. But some of the 11 or so fall into every one of the 'baskets' I've described above. Think Alaska, Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, and Maine in particular (Doesn't SC have a black senator?). None of those are states where being tied to a well-known racist or nutbag isn't going to be thrown back in their faces in state-wide election. Some are so senior they're almost institutions and so largely immune from challenge: think Arizona and Utah.

Assuming the Dem caucus stays at 48 (The Louisiana US Senate seat Vitter had is now headed for a jungle vote in January, which, since every polling outfit - ha! - predicts will go the R, I'm counting in the R pile.), the Ds would only need 3 of those 11 or so to break from caucus.

Do I see that as likely? Not with any other incoming president and his whackoid nominations.

Also, I hear Sessions is not exactly popular or even well thought of in the Senate, by anyone other than a few fellow Rs in Dixie.

Feud Turgidson said...

I didn't see the below until I posted the above, but it seems the Jeff Bezos-owned, Marty Barron-run WaPo has been thinking along these lines as well:

Victor said...

'One death is a tragedy. A million, is a statistic."

One bigoted comment is a terrible mistake. A million of them are a statistic!

We're fucked.

And the horors have only just started!

Jimbo said...

The MSM says that Sessions is well-liked on both sides of the aisle. I find that hard to believe since he hasn't been shy about his racism. He was extremely rude to Sonia Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings. I'm not sure whether he would be able to abolish the Civil Rights Division but enforcing civil rights, voting rights and anti-trust enforcement would just go out the window. Who knows whether any "mainstream" Republican Senator would vote against Beauregard (Tim Scott at least?). I personally doubt it. I guess I'm hoping that the Trump "Administration" will be so utterly bad that there's a severe backlash. But that depends upon the Democrats doing a serious outreach to rural voters. Hmmmm.

petrilli said...

Victor, I borrowed (stole) the basis for your brilliant comment for a FB post. Thanks.