If you missed his most recent toxic comments, Trump told a crowd in North Carolina this week that “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”
Did Trump imply that his second amendment supporters could assassinate Hillary Clinton? Democrats and many in the press are convinced that’s what he both said and encouraged. A number of key Republicans felt his comments were out of bounds and did more damage to both Trump and the GOP. Even former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said if anyone else had made a similar comment, they would be arrested and riding in the back of a police wagon.
So goes another day in the unpredictable and often “over the top” presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Remember, this is the guy who said only a few months ago that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue to shoot someone, and he wouldn’t lose a single vote.
What Trump fails to realize is that words matter, and words have consequences. This is especially true if you are a major party’s nominee for President of the United States. Trump’s message of running against the system and throwing the rascals out hits a responsive cord to many Americans. But it is also an outlier’s message; one that engenders emotional responses from rabid supporters. And zealous devotees can often cross the line and do despicable things.
Inciting violence is nothing new in American politics. President John Kennedy said on his final flight to Dallas that “we are going into nut country today.” It was a “nut” from New Orleans that killed JFK. And where else could you look for a pattern of incendiary and over the top pomposity than in Louisiana during the reign of Huey Long. Some folks down in the Bayou state still think that President Roosevelt was complicit in the assassination of Huey, seeing the Louisiana Senator as a populist threat to his re-election in 1936.
Pulitzer prize winning historian John Meacham was on my nationally syndicated radio program recently. He outlines three elements history tells us that presidents need in their temperament. One is a sense of proportion; knowing that any statement made will be scrutinized. Second, a president needs as sense of humility and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes. And third, a sense of dignity; a respect for how such leaders handle themselves. According to Meacham, Trump falls woefully short in all three essentials.
Is Donald Trump advocating fascism and a call for violence and uprising? No. And I don’t think he meant to call on someone to assassinate Hillary Clinton. Trump rambles off the top of his head, often without thinking. His verbal drifts have endeared him to millions of his supporters. But he too often makes outrageous comments without thinking them through and realizing the consequences.
Trump has hijacked the Republican Party, but he didn’t do it alone. He is a quintessential media conception, a creation of the press. For months, broadcasters and newspapers have covered his every move, legitimizing his campaign and giving him unlimited free news coverage that was the envy of all his Republican opponents during the primaries.
Now, Trump seems to be turning on friend and foe alike. The press created him, and now are wondering how the country got into this mess. Many in the news media ought to look into the mirror as to who’s to blame for creating the Donald Trump show. So Trump’s contemptible statements will no doubt continue. And just think. We still have thirteen more weeks to go before Election Day.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t campaign at all, I’ll just, you know, I’ll ride it right into the White House.” Donald Trump.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.