I am as horrified by Donald Trump as any post-Bronze Age member of Homo sapiens, but I am never surprised by him. And let’s not pretend he’s any different from the rest of the GOP 2016 field.
Today, the political world is aghast because Trump said that “for now,” Muslims should be barred from entering the country.
That’s awful, of course. But let’s remember that mere days ago, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and other “mainstream” Republican candidates were saying that the U.S. should only help the Christians among the Syrian refugees. This is not only a no-Muslims policy, it’s a Christians-only policy.
How is this less awful than what Trump is saying today? If anything, it’s worse. It’s not only saying that one group is on the outs, it’s saying that there is only one group of people worthy of compassion at a time of utterly desperate need.
(And this doesn’t even begin to address the lunacy of Lindsey Graham, who Dave Weigel at the Post just referred to as a “moderate,” who is maniacally obsessed with total war with large swathes of the Islamic world.)
Jeb, Cruz, Rubio, they all like to contrast themselves with Trump to show themselves as somehow above his demagoguery. But be it on this issue, or on many, many others such as women’s rights, LGBT rights, and even acceptance of scientific facts of existential importance, when it comes to what they themselves say they believe, they are all Trumps. They just suck at it.
I always believed that Trump would be a real contender for the nomination, even when the press laughed him off. Every time he’s said something awful, about Mexicans, Muslims, women, it’s presumed that it will be the beginning of the end for him, and every time I’ve said, actually, no, this is exactly what the GOP electorate wants to hear. And every time, he’s solidified his base and built on it. The only recent exception is Ted Cruz topping a new poll in Iowa (for whatever Iowa polls are worth), and let’s be honest, Ted Cruz is Trump with an elected office and a smarmier face.
Trump is the GOP. He may not be what the plutocrats who bankroll the party want the GOP to be, he may not be what the Family Research Council wants the GOP to be, but it is what it is. These other candidates are just as cynical, just as backward, just as eager to feed off of the fear and hate of the electorate. They’re just not nearly as good at it.
Except Cruz. He’s really good at it. Watch out for that bastard.