The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trumpbait Redux

Donald Trump has everyone’s number. Whenever he’s in trouble — when he’s caught making an outrageous comment, or revealing the depth of his ignorance, or when he says something untrue, or simply when the polls aren’t to his liking — he says something that gets the Mainstream Media to get its collective dress over its head. Trump’s supporters all rush to his defense, eager for a fresh fight.

In fact, if you listen closely to Trump when he does his stream of consciousness answers you can actually hear him do this mid paragraph — throwing out non-sequiturs, red herrings, and entirely unrelated insults. And it works almost every time. I’ve taken to shouting “squirrel” at the TV whenever he uses this rhetorical trick.

So the polls weren’t to his liking in Iowa. He walks out, reads a statement about “shutting down” all Muslims coming into America. He doesn’t “clarify” that he didn’t mean American citizens until the next day. That in itself was rather remarkable. What’s the point of presidential candidates writing policy proposal down if they don’t reflect any more consideration than his usual brain flatulence? 

What happens? Everyone – and I do mean everyone — takes the bait. We’re doing it here at NRO — we have several items up on the topic right now, and no doubt more to come. That giant sucking sound you hear isn’t the supposedly job-sucking economy of Mexico, but Donald Trump hoovering up all of the media oxygen. Legal scholars weigh in on the constitutionality of it. Debates over the nature of fascism sprout up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. It is an entirely unserious proposal taken seriously by just about everyone, including the people who condemn it. 

The media loves it for all the obvious reasons, including good ratings and the more comfortable storyline than Barack Obama’s myriad failures. Hillary Clinton loves it because it harms the serious GOP candidates, sows discord in the ranks of the Republicans, and supports her unfolding argument that the GOP is a vessel of warmongering, bigotry, and silliness. ISIS loves it (in this case) for remarkably similar reasons because it bolsters their efforts to say that the West is bigoted towards Muslims. Trump supporters love it because they’ve somehow convinced themselves that attacks on Trump prove he’s right. I would love for Trump to come out and declare 2+2 equals 17 just to see who gets booked on cable news to defend the proposition.  

I have no solution for the problem. If conservatives and Republicans ignore it, the media and the Democrats will insist that silence equals agreement. If we join in the frenzy we only make the frenzy greater and give Trump exactly what he wants: all of the limelight. It’s all so transparent and pathetic. But it is also simply where we are. 

 

Most Popular

Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More