In a characteristically dangerous move, Donald Trump has decided to make the midterm elections all about the migrant caravan.
It’s not entirely clear why he decided to go that route given that, for now anyway, there’s still plenty of juice to be squeezed from the “booming economy” narrative before the sugar high from the stimulus wears off.
Yes, the stock market had a disastrous month at the worst possible time in October, but let’s face it, it’s not as if Trump’s base benefited from the equity rally in the first place.
As I’ll never tire of reminding you, Trump voters don’t own any stocks. That’s a generalization, and clearly there are ultra-wealthy individuals who support the President, but if you take one look at a Trump rally and make a common sense assessment about what the median net worth of the people in the crowd likely is, it’s obvious that the “base” isn’t comprised of folks who sit around and stare at a Bloomberg all day. With that in mind, consider this visual:
But just because Trump’s base isn’t benefiting from higher stock prices doesn’t mean the President couldn’t make the midterms all about the still ebullient economic numbers. For instance, in Q3, private-sector wages rose the most since 2008.
To be sure, the White House tried to craft an election message that wasn’t solely centered on immigration. For instance, the President made a half-hearted effort to improve the optics around the tax cuts late last month by announcing a “resolution” he says is indicative of a plan to roll out a 10% tax break for middle income Americans.
But that went horribly awry.
The media immediately seized on the fact that with Congress out of town, it simply wasn’t possible that Trump was telling the truth when he said, in Nevada, that a “major” tax announcement was coming “before November.” The White House attempted to clean that mess up by suggesting a “symbolic” vote on Trump’s “resolution”, but ultimately, the absurdity of Trump’s claim was laid bare and his bombast was exposed for exactly what it was: A callous and disingenuous effort to marshal support from middle class voters by lying to them about a tax plan that in fact was not in the works.
So, with the stock market reeling and the tax cut gambit having failed, Trump opted instead to rally the base around a caravan of Central American migrants who he says are hell-bent on “invading” the United States.
That characterization is wildly ridiculous. There is no army on the face of the planet capable of launching a successful land “invasion” of the U.S. mainland, and yet Trump is trying to make voters believe that several thousand destitute Central Americans are somehow the functional equivalent of the PLA when it comes to their capacity to overwhelm U.S. defenses on the way to, I guess, conquering Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and claiming them for Honduras.
Unfortunately, Trump has managed to rope the Pentagon into this charade. As you’re probably aware, the U.S. military intends to have some 5,000 actual soldiers (so, real soldiers, not the National Guard), stationed at the border by the end of this week. Trump claims that number could rise to as many as 15,000. Here, I’ll let him explain it:
Got that? He’s “not fearmongering at all”. Except for the fact that he is now proposing to send more troops to battle a caravan of unarmed Hondurans than the number of U.S. soldiers currently fighting the Taliban.
Let that sink in: Donald Trump is deploying a fighting force to the U.S. border with Mexico that is larger than the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.
Worse still, Trump continues to double down on the George Soros conspiracy. As noted here earlier this week, that is a blatant attempt to employ a long-standing fear tactic utilized by bigoted populists in Europe. It has echoes of 2015 in Hungary and the GOP knows it.
Last week, Soros was of course targeted in the series of mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats and also to CNN. Despite the terrible optics, Trump continued to rail against “globalists” following the attempted mail bombings and the massacre in Pittsburgh – everyone knows “globalists” is just dog-whistling for anti-Semitism.
Well, on Wednesday, he did it again:
It is difficult to convey how egregious that is. For a sitting U.S. President to blow the anti-Semitic dog whistle days after a synagogue massacre and a week after Soros was the target of an actual assassination attempt is so outlandish that one struggles to comprehend how it is that every lawmaker on Capitol Hill who isn’t a racist isn’t calling for impeachment.
That is not hyperbole. If you don’t understand the connection here, please do read this from the Washington Post.
Trump’s latest effort to justify this racist circus came on Wednesday evening when, during an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, the President claimed the caravans are actually larger than the estimates that have been floated in the media. Asked how he knows that, Trump said this:
I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size.
Apparently not, because he continues to insist that his inauguration crowd was the largest on record, when in fact … well, you know the story on that.
We’ll leave you with the relevant portion of the transcript from the ABC interview and let you judge where, on a scale of 1 to “covfefe”, this insanity falls.
JONATHAN KARL: Okay, you’re talking about 10,000, maybe 15,000, active-duty U.S. military to the border –-
DONALD TRUMP: Yeah.
JONATHAN KARL: — more than we have fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. More than we have fighting ISIS in Syria. You’re really going to do that?
DONALD TRUMP: It’s very important. We have to have a wall of people –- very highly trained people, terrific, dedicated patriots. That’s what they are. You have caravans coming up that look a lot larger than it’s reported actually. I’m pretty good at estimating crowd size. And I’ll tell you they look a lot bigger than people would think. So we’ll find out. They had a very rough one just formed in El Salvador if you can believe it. And it was very nasty, you saw what took place. And you look at what’s coming up through Honduras through Mexico. And Mexico is helping us. But these are rough people in those crowds. And Mexico suffered a lot of damage in the last skirmish.