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Hullabaloo


Thursday, June 09, 2016

 

Donald the mind-killer

by Tom Sullivan

"Fear is the mind-killer" is familiar to legions of Dune fans. Jamelle Bouie's post at Slate suggests Republicans might ought to memorize the Litany Against Fear. Watching them at once condemn and yet pledge themselves to vote for Donald Trump is, if not mind-killing, at least mind-numbing:

Republicans, from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ballot, are caught in a bind. If they don’t say anything to counter or condemn Trump’s rhetoric, they are complicit in the Trump candidacy. If they say anything, they become fodder for Democratic efforts against their party. The only alternative is to try to walk the line of criticism without disavowal. But as we see with Paul Ryan—who was savaged by both mainstream and conservative press for looking past Trump’s racism even as he bemoans it—that’s almost impossible.

In the same way that fear of a third-party candidacy drove Republicans to craft and embrace a “pledge” that did nothing but tie their fortunes to Trump, fear—of backlash from pro-Trump Republican voters, of attacks from Democrats, of opprobrium and contempt from everyone else—is driving them to hedge and hesitate in the most craven way possible. Fear is the mind-killer, and Trump has scrambled their ability to think clearly about their dilemma.
Lay down with dogs, the saying goes. Republicans have made their bed with Trump and now face the inevitable. For comedians, Trump jokes write themselves, but the most devastating attacks coming against Trump are no joke. Abigail Tracy observes at Vanity Fair:
Using Trump’s own words against him has already emerged as a theme in Clinton’s campaign and she is doubling down on it. On Monday, a Clinton super-PAC, Priorities USA, also released an ad that criticizes Trump for mocking Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times journalist who suffers from a condition that limits the movement of his limbs, during a speech in November of last year. Roughly 20 seconds into the emotional spot, parents of a young girl, Grace, who was born with spina bifida condemn the New York billionaire for his derisive and widely criticized impression of Kovaleski. “When I saw Donald Trump mock a disabled person, I was just shocked,” Grace’s mother, Lauren Glaros, says. “The children at Grace’s school all know never to mock her, and so for an adult to mock someone with a disability is shocking.” Politico reports that the ad, which is part of a $20 million campaign and will run for six weeks in seven states, reflects the findings of a number of focus groups. According to the outlet, Trump’s taunts provoked some of the highest negative ratings responses toward the presumptive G.O.P. nominee.
Trumps attacks against a federal judge born in Indiana of Mexican heritage are taking a toll on Republicans (or is that troll?).

Weakness is the cardinal sin on the right and the ultimate conservative insult. They fear it. It is why you can count on Republicans always to double down and never back down. "I will never, ever back down," Trump said in his speech on Tuesday. Tracy writes, "Trump—brash and outspoken egomaniac that he is—can’t resist responding to any fight." The way the Clinton campaign can set the terms of the fall campaign is to play a tune to which Trump cannot resist dancing. Attack him as weak and he will walk right into it. Every time. Trump cannot help himself. And in trying to refute it, he will only confirm it.