Nobody ever accused Donald Trump of being one to take the high road or otherwise let things slide in the interest of calming frayed nerves.
The president on Tuesday persisted in his efforts to stoke divisions within the Democratic party, taking to Twitter to blast out tweet after bombastic tweet aimed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, who, during a joint press conference on Monday afternoon, delivered a scathing rebuke of the commander in chief’s inflammatory remarks.
Trump, expert stirrer of hornet’s nests, inflamed racial tensions over the weekend, and made a bad situation immeasurably worse on Monday when he told reporters at the White House that Omar “hates Jews and loves al-Qaeda”. (Trump’s characterization of Omar’s comments about 9/11 and terrorism is laughably false.)
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, and yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party”, Trump shrieked, before falsely accusing Omar and Tlaib of saying things that are “horribly anti-Israel, anti-USA [and] pro-terrorist”.
Omar and Tlaib have, of course, done nothing of the sort. For anyone who hasn’t read the verbatim quotes from Omar that Trump (and conservative propaganda outlets) have seized on, you’re encouraged to review them here. “Out of context” isn’t even the correct way to explain this situation. Rather, the president is simply lying, and so are Fox’s Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, who have each sought to whip Trump’s base into an Islamophobic frenzy.
In a truly “impressive” example of glass-house-stone-throwing, Trump on Tuesday chided Tlaib for “shouting of the F…word” in public. This is the same Trump who, at a September 2017 rally in Alabama, called African American NFL players “sons of b*%ches” and who, late last year, branded Adam Schiff “little Adam Schitt”. During a March 29 rally in Grand Rapids, Trump cursed loudly and called Schiff a “pencil neck”. Days later, the official Trump-Pence website began selling “pencil neck” T-shirts featuring Schiff’s head impaled on a pencil.
Somehow, Trump’s exhortations for Tlaib to stop saying “the F-word” in public seem a bit disingenuous.
In any event, there is a method to Trump’s madness in this case, although it looks as though it could be backfiring by virtue of his having pushed things a bit too far. He’s attempting to identify the entire Democratic party with “The Squad” and thereby with communism and terrorism. Sadly, many American voters are undereducated and thus predisposed to falling for that manifestly absurd narrative.
Pelosi has famously clashed with AOC this year and while Trump is undoubtedly pleased to have put the speaker in an even more uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the party’s biggest star, he isn’t wholly enamored with Pelosi’s decision to call a vote on a resolution condemning what she called “disgraceful” and “xenophobic language” in the tweets Trump sent Sunday.
The problem with the resolution for Trump is it forces House Republicans to choose between signing on at the risk of infuriating the president or not signing on and giving Democrats ammunition. Any Republican who refuses to back the resolution will be associated with Trump’s Sunday tweets, and with the possible exception of Steve King, I doubt if there is anybody on Capitol Hill who is excited about the prospect of having their picture superimposed atop the phrase “Go back to the crime-infested places from which you came”.
As WaPo noted on Monday, “Republicans don’t even want to talk about Trump’s tweets, much less vote on them”.
And so, Trump tried to play some defense disguised as offense. “Those Tweets were NOT Racist”, he shouted, in yet another series of tweets. He continued:
I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show “weakness” and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said. Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!
As ever, Trump is feeding the public misinformation. The polling numbers to which he’s referring were reported by Axios over the weekend, and in addition to quoting the wrong figures (the numbers are actually 22% and 9%), he fails to mention any of the critical details.
For instance, the poll was seemingly leaked by “top Democrats” seeking to undermine Ocasio-Cortez, who is increasingly seen as the face of the party. “If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk”, one top Democrat who is involved in 2020 congressional races told Axios. “She’s getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races”, that person complained.
You’d be forgiven for suggesting that the reason AOC gets “all the news” is because she’s the only one doing anything worth doing (or really, doing anything at all) and/or saying anything that’s worth saying. Chances are, the “top Democrat” who leaked the poll is someone you’ve never heard of despite him/her apparently being a senior party leader.
But more importantly, consider that the poll in question “included 1,003 likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education”.
It thus comes as absolutely no surprise that AOC is polling low among that demographic and Omar even lower. After all, what do you imagine an undereducated white man is likely to think about a Somali-born woman who wears the hijab? Well, I’ll tell you: That undereducated white male is likely to think “Terrorist”, which is why Trump spent most of Monday falsely claiming that Omar “loves al-Qaeda”, despite the fact that the congresswoman has never said anything of the sort.
Other results from this poll showed that the same voters (so, again, undereducated white people) have an unfavorable view of socialism. That is hardly surprising either, given how Republicans have gone out of their way to explicitly equate socialism with Venezuela rather than, for instance, prosperous European nations.
“Socialism is toxic to these voters”, the same “top Democrat” told Axios.
Rather than try to educate the public, or otherwise explain to this demographic that, in all likelihood, AOC’s policies would disproportionately benefit undereducated Americans who almost by definition are not reaping the benefits of capitalism (which they viewed favorably 56% to 32%), the Democrat establishment would rather ostracize its own rising stars in order to pacify these voters who they believe they need in swing states.
That, folks, is the truth behind this widely-trumpeted internal Democrat poll.
It is, in short, a joke and the ultimate irony is that if anyone should know how unreliable these polls can be when it comes to that particular demographic, it’s Donald Trump, who earlier this year fired some of his own internal pollsters for leaking bad news to the press.
In any event, this situation is a colossal mess befitting of the state of America’s democracy which, at this point, can be more aptly described as an early-stage authoritarian state.