If you spent absolutely no time online or paying attention to the news this weekend . . . congratulations, you’re probably a happier person.
You can hear and assess Trump’s statement about Megyn Kelly’s debate moderation here.
TRUMP: Well, I just don’t respect her as a journalist, I have no respect for her. I don’t think she’s very good, I think she’s highly overrated. But when I came out there, you know — what am I doing? I’m not getting paid for this. I go out there, and they start saying this stuff [garbled]. But you know, I didn’t know there’d be 24 million people. I knew it was going to be a big crowd because I get crowds, I get ratings. They call me the ratings machine. So I have, you know, she gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her . . . wherever. But in my opinion, she was off base.
Erick Erickson, interpreting the remark as a reference to (sigh) periods, ultimately disinvited Trump from the Red State Gathering event this weekend. He asked for clarification beforehand:
When I talked to the Trump campaign on Friday night, the campaign manager only wanted to focus on the “blood in her eyes” part. When I brought up the “wherever” bit, he kept going back to the “blood in her eyes” part.
So I asked for a clarification or apology and he said I needed to do it in writing.
I put it in writing with the full quote.
The campaign manager called back and said Mr. Trump meant “whatever,” not “wherever” because he was trying to get Don Lemon to move on in the CNN interview.
Today, on the Sunday show circuit, Donald Trump is denying he meant anything other than bleeding from Megyn Kelly’s nose or some such and that only a deviant would think otherwise.
I think it is unfortunate that Donald Trump’s campaign could not offer that clarification until eight hours after their initial attempt was that Trump had meant “whatever.”
So Trump spent the weekend denouncing the Red State Gathering, which he had previously been scheduled to attend.
Asked this morning on Morning Joe whether he’d spoken to Fox News president Roger Ailes over the weekend, Trump declined to say.
CNN has played the “blood” comment dozens of times; Fox News has shown it once. Some of this may reflect CNN’s eagerness to showcase a CNN interview, and Fox News being reluctant to showcase a comment made while appearing on a rival network. But then, for what it’s worth, Gabriel Sherman, author of a scathing biography of Ailes, claims Fox News guests are being instructed to not mention Trump’s comment.
This morning, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports Trump “may be changing his position and pledge to forgo independent bid. Pressure building on him from GOP.”
Mike Allen of Politico adds, “We’re told from the inside that because of ballot complications, he’s unlikely to run independent, anyway.”
Extremists Taking Shots at Our Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
Meanwhile, out in the real world:
The U.S. consulate in Istanbul came under gunfire on Monday and at least eight people were killed in a wave of separate attacks on Turkish security forces, weeks after Ankara launched a crackdown on Islamic State, Kurdish and far-left militants.
The NATO member has been in a heightened state of alert since starting its “synchronized war on terror” last month, which has included air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq. It has also rounded up hundreds of suspected militants at home.
Police armed with automatic rifles cordoned off streets around the U.S. consulate in the Sariyer district on the European side of Istanbul, following the gun attack there.
Local media reports said two attackers, a man and a woman, fled after police fired back. There were no immediate reports of civilian injuries. Broadcaster NTV said police later detained the female suspect, who was wounded in the gunfire.
The Dogan news agency said the woman was aged 51 and had served prison time for being a suspected member of the far-leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C), which is virulently anti-American and is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey.
I still remember Thomas Friedman’s 2003 column whining that the U.S. consulate in Istanbul looked too fearsome and uninviting, with high walls and lots of security measures.
Why You Can’t Build a Lasting Movement on Middle-American Radicals
So who are Trump’s supporters? Matt Continetti, among others, explains their lack of concern about Trump’s distinctly un-conservative stances and moments — from “Single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland” to the donations to Democrats to his enthusiasm for eminent domain — by concluding they’re not really conservatives. They’re the “radical American middle”:
Formerly known as the Silent Majority, then the Reagan Democrats, these voters had supported Ross Perot in 1992, and were hoping the Texas billionaire would run again. Voters in the radical middle, Newsweek wrote, “see the traditional political system itself as the country’s chief problem.”
The radical middle is attracted to populists, outsiders, businessmen such as Perot and Lee Iacocca who have never held office, and to anyone, according to Newsweek, who is the “tribune of anti-insider discontent.”
Discussions on and offline about the Trump phenomenon have focused whether the Trump fanbase is what Sam Francis described as “Middle American Radicals”:
Middle American Radicals are essentially middle-income, white, often ethnic voters who see themselves as an exploited and dispossessed group, excluded from meaningful political participation, threatened by the tax and trade policies of the government, victimized by its tolerance of crime, immigration and social deviance, and ignored or ridiculed by the major cultural institutions of the media and education.
(I’ve witnessed big arguments about whether “Archie Bunker” is a fair shorthand for this group or not.)
You hear a lot of commentary that “even if the Republican party can’t stand Trump, it needs a way to win over his fan base.” I’m not so sure that’s possible, and even if it is, it isn’t sustainable.
For starters, Middle-American Radicals appear to awaken every ten years or so, shout loudly, and then go back to muttering about something else. You probably remember John Derbyshire; back in 2010, he, pointed out that Middle-American Radicals can be intensely passionate, but that passion rarely lasts:
Also like bridge, insider politics has its own stylized language of phrases and signals, not easy for the newcomer to master. Archie [Bunker] may grumble picturesquely about the state of public affairs. If his job or property values are threatened, you may get him out to a rally. Eventually, though, his heart will return to where it belongs: his family, his TV, his job, his skeet club. He is, after all, middle-aged (to judge from the Tea Party gatherings) and cannot easily acquire new habits. Meathead knows all this and can wait the situation out.
There’s one clear policy preference for the Middle-American Radical: serious border security and a deportation of those in the country illegally. After that, it gets fuzzier.
The Middle-American Radical/Trump fan feels wronged and victimized. He’s convinced that he’s not doing as well as he feels he should because of malevolent outside forces — illegal immigration (but there’s probably some disapproval of current levels of legal immigration, too) and affirmative action. It’s too simple and unsympathetic to dismiss the MARs as racist, but it’s fair to wonder how many find the increasing ethnic diversity of America a good thing.
You don’t have to be a Middle-American Radical to look around and feel like you’re losing something – in particular, the America you grew up in. Notice Trump’s perfectly simple, hopeful rallying cry, “Make America Great Again.” It is hopeful, but driven by a sense of loss. Interestingly, even though these people feel like losers in the economic game, they’re convinced that the people running America are the ones who deserve to be called “losers.” Trump’s fans love when he calls somebody a “loser.”
(After being disinvited from the Red State gathering, Trump assured us that “not only is Erick [Erickson] a total loser, he has a history of supporting establishment losers in failed campaigns so it is an honor to be uninvited from his event.” If that’s the case, why did Trump accept the invitation in the first place?)
What many of us see as name-calling, a lot of Trump’s fan base sees as very effective arguments — “You’re an idiot! You’re a moron! You’re a loser!” (How many of us know someone in real life who reverts to this when in an argument?)
“Things were better when I was younger” is a common sentiment, and in some cases may be true. But the United States government is not a time machine; it is hard to imagine a set of policies that would mimic the nostalgic vision of America in the minds of the MARs.
One of Those ‘How Did I Get Here?’ Moments
Boy, Sunday-morning interview segments don’t get much more awkward than this, huh?
JAKE TAPPER: But are you offended by him personally attacking Megyn Kelly or are you offended by how many are interpretation — interpreting his remarks about blood?
CARLY FIORINA: They were completely inappropriate and offensive comments, period.
TAPPER: But do you think that Trump’s remarks were sexist? Do you think he was specifically referring to Megyn Kelly? I can’t believe . . .
FIORINA: (INAUDIBLE) . . .
TAPPER: — I’m even saying this . . .
FIORINA: — look . . .
TAPPER: — having her period?
FIORINA: — you know, look, I can — I started out as a secretary. And as I made my way up in the business world, a male-dominated business world, I’ve had lots of men imply that, um, I was unfit for decision-making because maybe I was having my period. So I’ll say it, OK? When I…
TAPPER: I did say it.
FIORINA: — when I started this campaign, I was asked on a national television show whether a woman’s hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office. My response was, can we think of a single instance in which a man’s hormones might have clouded his judgment?
TAPPER: I can.
FIORINA: The true — yes, me, too. Maybe in the Oval Office.
FIORINA: The — the point is, women understood that comment. And yes, it is offensive.
ADDENDA: From Justice Don Willett: “William Shatner deserved an Emmy for his brave performance in the Nightmare at 20,000 Feet episode for Twilight Zone.”