No, Donald Trump Did Not Call For Hillary Clinton’s Assassination (This Time…)

Donald Trump already provides ample evidence that he is temperamentally unsuitable to be US president without the biased, pro-Hillary American media putting words in his mouth

There is a particularly pernicious story making the rounds at the moment that Donald Trump supposedly called for the assassination of Hillary Clinton (again).

From the New York Times:

Donald J. Trump once again raised the specter of violence against Hillary Clinton, suggesting Friday that the Secret Service agents who guard her voluntarily disarm to “see what happens to her” without their protection.

“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Miami, to loud applause. “I think they should disarm. Immediately.”

He went on: “Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It’ll be very dangerous.”

In justifying his remarks, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that Mrs. Clinton wants to “destroy your Second Amendment,” apparently a reference to her gun control policies.

[..] On Friday night, breaking from his prepared remarks and turning his gaze from the teleprompters, Mr. Trump looked straight into the crowd as he made the insinuation about Mrs. Clinton’s safety. He gestured emphatically with his hands as he spoke, at one time pointing to a member in the crowd to find agreement.

And the US Guardian:

In a sometimes bizarre 45-minute speech on Friday night, which opened with the unfurling of a new “Les Deplorables” battlefield flag backdrop, the Republican nominee went off-script to call for his opponent’s bodyguards to “disarm immediately” – adding, “Let’s see what happens to her.”

“Take their guns away!” Trump demanded to loud cheers during a section of the speech in which he said his rival wanted to “destroy your second amendment” and he accused Clinton of “arrogance and entitlement”.

In a statement, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook denounced Trump’s comments: “Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, has a pattern of inciting people to violence. Whether this is done to provoke protesters at a rally or casually or even as a joke, it is an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief.”

“But we’ve seen again and again that no amount of failed resets can change who Donald Trump is.”

The call to leave the Democratic nominee protected by unarmed secret service agents, first made by Trump in May, raised eyebrows as a reversion to the undisciplined candidate of the primaries rather than the more scripted one of recent weeks. Trump also suggested in August that if Clinton was elected president, “the second amendment people” might be able to stop her from appointing judges. That statement was widely interpreted as a veiled assassination threat as well at the time.

The tone and inference of both of these articles are shockingly misleading.

The point that Donald Trump was making was that it is rather hypocritical of Hillary Clinton to advocate for stronger gun control laws which potentially limit the ability of the citizenry to defend itself when she herself is surrounded by the best trained and equipped armed guards in the world, and does not have to worry for her own safety. Trump was suggesting that were Clinton’s Secret Service protection revoked, forcing her to provide for her own personal security, she might not be so keen to limit the types of weapons available to private citizens.

Now, one can disagree with the premise of Trump’s point and poke all kinds of holes in the logic (though this blog considers the basic thrust of the argument to be quite sound), but by no stretch of the imagination does this amount to a snide assassination threat. It does not even amount to a charge of inciting his supporters to imagine the horrific scenario of an assassination. It is merely a reductio ad absurdum argument intended to make the point that well-protected senior members of the US government should perhaps refrain from dictating to ordinary Americans the manner in which they can defend themselves.

John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog makes the same point:

Trump obviously was making the point that he and countless others have made many times before: liberals like Hillary Clinton, who are protected 24/7 by armed guards, are deeply hypocritical when they try to disarm millions of Americans who don’t have taxpayer-funded protection and rely on their own firearms for self-defense. The point is a powerful one, which is why liberal reporters don’t want to acknowledge it. Instead, they absurdly pretend that Trump was hinting that Hillary should be assassinated.

This kind of thing fools no one. Millions of Americans are quietly fuming over the press’s overreach, going over the top, day after day, to defeat Donald Trump. The blowback is building, and will continue building until election day.

At one point, when I was opposing Trump during the GOP primaries, I said to the press: Stop attacking Trump! Liberal reporters often began with a valid point, but their hysterical hatred for Trump caused them to go too far, making arguments that were patently unfair and unsustainable. Therefore, the more they attacked Trump the more his support grew. The same thing is happening now: most Americans have a pretty good sense of fair play, and they know that Trump is being treated badly by the establishment–a group for whom most Americans have no great affection.

But the media, always on the lookout for the next Trumpian outrage, refused to see reality in these terms. Rather than reporting Trump’s rather simplistic but sound argument – one which was worthy of discussion and a response – many media outlets instead chose to claim, with no evidence, that Trump had done something far worse.

This blog has no problem calling out Donald Trump’s extreme and unacceptable language when he actually says something bad – the infamous “second amendment remedies” comment in August being of another order altogether. But on this occasion, Trump was not making an extremist or reckless point, though the media chose to report the two stories with the same level of outrage.

And it is this behaviour, right here, which erodes public trust in the mainstream media. It is tawdry, opportunistic media overreaches like this, so clearly betraying a seething partisan agenda, which drive decent but concerned citizens into the arms of the extremist fringe and the conspiracy theorists.

Sometimes, to watch the American media openly campaign for Hillary Clinton, one wonders if everybody else inhabits a slightly different universe. We all witnessed disturbing footage of Clinton’s lifeless body being dragged into the back of her waiting secret service van on the occasion of the 9/11 memorial in New York City, yet the chirpy presenter on MSNBC that afternoon casually announced that she merely “stumbled” a little – the definition of “stumbled” having been temporarily extended to include loss of motor control and even consciousness. What we see with our own eyes and what the media choose to report are increasingly two very different things.

And while Donald Trump has a treasure trove of past incendiary statements positively bulging with potential scandal, that is apparently not enough for the media – they must also twist Trump’s words and breathlessly and falsely report to the public that the Republican presidential nominee just called for the assassination of his rival.

You don’t need to admire or support Donald Trump to be outraged at the lazy, biased journalism on display here. This blog is certainly no Trump fan. But if someone does happen to support Trump then these unnecessary extra efforts by the media to demonise the candidate and his supporters will only harden their support and erode what little trust is left in the media.

Those perpetually outraged American liberals in the media, on the hunt for their next anti-Trump scandal, should bear in mind that hysterical and obviously-inflated charges will not have the effect of somehow “bringing Trump supporters to their senses”. On the contrary, it will simply drive Trump loyalists and even wavering voters to alternative, less scrupulous sources which echo rather than castigate their beliefs.

Lying to the American public and pretending that Donald Trump’s remarks were a de facto call for Hillary Clinton’s assassination will not cause a single person to flip from supporting Trump to supporting Clinton. But it will ensure that a number of readers wave goodbye to the New York Times and the Guardian, instead placing their trust in pro-Trump outlets like InfoWars or Mike Cernovich.

Now, is the catharsis of manufactured outrage and liberal media grandstanding really worth the potential risk of shoring up Trump’s base?

 

Donald Trump Rally

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Donald Trump, The Republican Fringe And Their ‘Second Amendment Remedies’

Donald Trump is not the first politician to invoke the Second Amendment as a potential tool for remedying grievances

From all of the media outrage, one would think that Donald Trump is the first major political candidate to ever hint at encouraging an armed uprising – that we are somehow in entirely unprecedented territory for a major party candidate to talk this way.

This is what Donald Trump actually said earlier this week:

“Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish – the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick – if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Trump’s apologists, including the increasingly unbearable Rudy Giuliani, leapt to their man’s defence, insisting that Trump was referring to the unified power of pro-2A lobbying efforts and the combined political might of gun owners. This is – how best to put it – a bold faced lie. If Trump was speaking about political activism he wouldn’t have said “maybe there is”. He would have issued a much stronger, more ringing call to arms, and probably specifically name checked the National Rifle Association while doing so.

Everybody knows that the NRA and allied Second Amendment supporters can muster a strong political campaign in support of gun rights – Trump’s “maybe” clearly refers to something else, something left unsaid but which no serious person can reasonably doubt (whether the suggested target is Hillary Clinton or her judicial picks).

It is sad to see Tim Stanley, whose American political commentary is usually so on the money, accepting this weakest of excuses:

Second, some people seem to want to condemn Trump for things he did not say. This is unnecessary: there’s plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike him without having to make more up. Trump did not say, for instance, that gun rights people should shoot Hillary Clinton to save the Constitution – he actually said that second amendment fans should lobby her to stop her unbalancing the Supreme Court.

Nope. No no no. That isn’t what Trump said at all (ironic, considering the thrust of Stanley’s point was criticising people who put words into the mouths of political candidates). If Trump wanted to make the point that Tim Stanley makes, he could have uttered words to that very effect. But he didn’t. We can be charitable and assume that Trump was joking when he made his comments, but what we cannot do is pretend that he meant something innocuous when the ominous suggestion was clearly left hanging open.

Besides which, Donald Trump knew exactly how his remarks would be interpreted and picked up by the media. He doesn’t find himself topping the news headlines every day by some quirk of chance – he deliberately says things and does things, knowing that they will be interpreted a certain way while still leaving himself just enough wriggle room to claim plausible deniability.

In this parallel universe, Trump didn’t mean to suggest that Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly was menstruating when he talked about “blood coming out of her…wherever”, he was going to say “nose” but couldn’t be bothered to finish his own sentence. He wasn’t really imitating a disabled reporter, he was just indulging in general mockery. This remark is just the latest in a litany of similar under-the-radar provocations.

But does this latest statement from Trump amount to “fighting words”, or a clear call to violence? No – and those authoritarian critics shrieking for Trump to be interrogated by the FBI (as though he is seriously hatching assassination plots) or thrown in prison need to go away and take a good long look at themselves. One can (and should) defend Trump’s technical right to skirt the line between passionate rhetoric and dog whistle politics while still abhorring his behaviour; not everything we despise should automatically be illegal.

(Reading online comments, one is also struck by the number of people who openly yearned for somebody to assassinate Donald Trump who are now clutching their pearls at Trump’s own casual allusion to violence).

Besides, the Republicans have form when it comes to this type of behaviour. This is why the current GOP elites who reach for the smelling salts every time Donald Trump says something inflammatory have no right to be shocked, because they are guilty of presiding over the dramatic increase in GOP craziness over the past eight years, mistakenly thinking that whipping people into an unthinking frenzy would offer them a short cut back to power.

Case in point, here is former Republican senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, fighting a tough senate race against Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, playing to the Tea Party crowd back in 2010:

 

This is what Sharron Angle says about the Democratic-controlled Senate and her opponent Harry Reid:

“You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. In fact you know, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every twenty years. I hope that’s not where we are going, but, you know, if this, this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? And I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. 

What Trump is saying is nothing new, and nothing surprising about the morally debased Republican Party.

The only difference is that six years ago, they were funding and supporting a senatorial candidate in Nevada whom the majority of people nationwide and worldwide were paying no attention to. Now their ultra high-profile presidential nominee is saying the same things and they suddenly find it uncomfortable. Why? Because the GOP is willing to indulge in scummy behaviour when they think that nobody will notice, but get visibly upset when they are caught doing the same thing in the media glare of a presidential election.

So has this episode taught us anything new about Donald Trump, about the Republican Party or about this presidential election? No, it has not. We already knew that Donald Trump is a man who believes that any publicity, including (or especially) the screeching condemnation of the establishment media, is good publicity. We already knew that the Republican Party routinely trawls for votes by pretending that the Second Amendment itself is teetering on some kind of precipice when it clearly is not. And we already knew that this depressing presidential election comes down to a question of temperament.

And that question is as follows: Do the American people want as their leader and as the commander-in-chief of their mighty armed forces somebody willing to jokingly hint that “Second Amendment people” should take unspecified action against his political opponent (who, let’s face it, is so centrist and focus group led that she would never dream of touching the Second Amendment as long as there are votes to be lost by doing so) in order to protect their gun rights from a largely nonexistent threat?

In these highly charged times, when somebody not so smart and not in on the joke could easily miss the nuance and take the political rhetoric very literally, is suggesting that “maybe there is” something that Second Amendment people can do to protect their rights from a nonexistent threat a responsible way for a presidential candidate to behave?

Nobody is suggesting that the Donald Trump or the Republican Party actually want a lone wolf Second Amendment fanatic to take the defence of the Constitution into their own hands and start taking pot shots at Hillary Clinton or her potential judicial nominees. But the Republican Party does have a tawdry recent history of trawling for votes among people  who would heartily approve of such a course of action – always with just wiggle room in the comments to allow plausible deniability when called out.

At this point, nobody expects any better from Trump himself. But some of those politicians and commentators now leaping to his defence have reputations which presumably they would like to maintain beyond this presidential election cycle.

They should think on that the next time Donald Trump says or does something appalling.

 

Donald Trump Hosts Nevada Caucus Night Watch Party In Las Vegas

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