For a candidate who is supposedly "shoot-from-the-hip", I would submit that celebrity reality-show personality Donald Trump has a pretty good idea of what the "optics" of his candidacy means to the people watching. I'm pretty sure that when he talks about the obese heckler who showed up at one rally, a lot of fat white folks chuckled because sure: they're glandularly-challenged. But that protester was a got-dambed lazy welfare queen.
(I'm quibbling here--I'm what in Yiddish is called "zaftig" myself. I should talk.)
The way an elected official talks matters. Trump wants to have things both ways: he can racially foghorn (because that shit is not a dogwhistle) but also pretend he is simply clean and honest and truth-slinging--but check this shit out:
“It could be the great Trojan Horse of all time,” he continued. “When I look at the [immigration] line, I see all strong powerful men. And I see very few women, and I see very few children. There’s something strange going on. And if you look at what’s happening in Europe, a lot of bad things are happening in Europe.”
After pointing out that a majority of the Syrian refugees were, in fact, women and children, Stephanopoulos wondered if Trump would bring back waterboarding, which was banned by President Barack Obama.
“We have to be strong,” the candidate insisted. “You know, they don’t use waterboarding over there, they use chopping off people’s heads, they use drowning people.”
First off--when someone points out he's lying, he blows it off. Lets point these things out more aggressively, hm, journos? But look at how he refers to waterboarding.
Even Dick Cheney pretended we were waterboarding to interrogate people for intelligence purposes. I think he's kind of indicating a Trump Administration would just use waterboarding as a tactic to threaten people with the idea that we could. We just could and would.
(I bolded the bit about women and children because this thing is sort of "truthy" . There are a lot of children. There might be slightly more males--but that isn't necessarily a threatening thing, for one thing, that's marginal, for another, they are all kinds of vetted.)
I don't think journalists should be handicapping what Trump says because of his popularity and relative newness to national politics. Reporters should be facing up to what he's actually saying, and how it would work as policy. That his supporters are radicalized towards minorities should be concerning. And that the resonance his message has with so many people is pulling the other 2016 GOP candidates dangerously toward facism should be seen as horrifying.
To me, leadership would be pulling the wet blanket down on this incendiary hate-speech. But for the sake of ambition, no one apparently wants to go there.
What won't he lie about?