Saturday, August 18, 2018


So I guess this guy got stuck with the job of trying to prepare the ground for a Donald Trump N-word tape, unless he volunteered:
A Georgia state lawmaker said he would not have an issue if President Donald Trump used the n-word in the past and argued that holding a president accountable for mistakes made before entering office would "set a bad precedent."

"I will always say using the n-word is wrong, and it's bad, and should never be accepted in our society. But just because (Trump) might have done it years ago, not as our president, doesn't mean we need to continue to berate him because he used it," GOP state Sen. Michael Williams, who is white, told CNN's Victor Blackwell on "New Day Saturday."

Williams said it is "always wrong to use that word," but that Trump, as President, has not used that word.

He added, "To hold somebody accountable for something he did years ago as our president today, I think it sets a bad precedent."
I assume Williams was invited on just so he could make this point. There's no other reason he should be of interest to a national audience -- yes, he just ran for governor of Georgia, but he got only 4% of the Republican primary vote. He attracted a fair amount of national attention because he campaigned in an anti-immigrant "deportation bus," but the primary winner, Brian Kemp, also suggested that he'd personally round up "criminal illegals" (in a pickup truck), so Williams never broke through.

I assume that the national party wants somebody out there trying to minimize the impact of a potential Trump N-word tape, and that no Republican with a national profile wants the job. Me, I don't understand why Republicans are afraid of the tape at all, or why there's a perceived need to explain it away preemptively -- it'll go over just fine with the base.

In other words, I hope Brian Beutler is right, but I don't believe he is:
As revealing and embarrassing as Trump’s enduring popularity with Republican voters is—as easy as it is to imagine them as a kind of unbreakable dam—I trust Trump to know where he’s vulnerable better than I trust my own cynicism about self-identified Republican voters. Those voters have cheered or tolerated all of Trump’s racism. But that is racism as it should be defined. As I noted last week, millions of Americans believe racism only describes people who use forbidden slurs in casual conversation. Hearing Trump do that would, as a matter of almost mathematical certainty, be a turning point for some of them, and Trump can’t really afford to lose even a small sliver of his remaining support.

Like the Access Hollywood tape, an n-word tape would thrust Trump into a severe crisis, and like the Access Hollywood tape, we might then confront the possibility that Trump survives it, leaving his millions of dead-enders feeling further empowered in their bigotries.
But I don't accept the notion that the members of Trump's base "believe racism only describes people who use forbidden slurs in casual conversation" -- i.e., that you're not a racist until you utter a racial slur. I think they believe Trump wouldn't be proven a racist even if he were heard on tape saying the N-word. They'd think the tape was a fake. Or, as Williams says, they'd think it was unfair "to hold somebody accountable for something he did years ago," when he wasn't president -- after all, years ago he was pro-choice and a Clinton donor, so surely he's changed! And besides, Obama said the N-word! (Never mind that he was doing it to make a point about racism.) And Hillary Clinton said "superpredators"! And Robert Byrd was in the Klan! And Dinesh D'Souza says the Democratic Party has always been the party of racism! And ... and ... and ...

I'm not saying that there won't be some immediate fallout. Beutler cites the Access Hollywood tape -- and he's right, it did "thrust Trump into a severe crisis." But it did so temporarily. A couple of weeks later, the Republican electorate had rationalized it into insignificance, because nothing could be worse than electing Hillary. So if there's an N-word tape, Trump's poll numbers will drop back to the mid-30s for a week or so. And then we'll be on to the next (probably Trump-generated) story, and it'll be yesterday's news.

The GOP shouldn't even bother looking for someone to pre-minimize this. Unless it lands a week or so before the midterms (or the 2020 election), it just won't matter.

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