It’s time to Break It Down!
On a day when the country was focused on the horrors of 9/11 and on honoring the 2,977 victims (not including the 19 hijackers), and also a day when both major Party candidates were scheduled to be off the campaign trail, it is difficult to imagine how one of them could actually go a long way toward upstaging the thematic focus of the day. But one did…and to my personal surprise, it was not one named Donald Trump. Yikes!
Hillary Clinton, who was diagnosed with having pneumonia last Friday, but instead of following her doctor’s orders to rest, opted to try to power through. A decision she has since admitted did not work out so well. Although, apparently, she was forced to make this admission only after she got “overheated” at a 9/11 event in NY this past Sunday, the 15th Anniversary of that fateful day.
I first wrote about the catastrophic details of that day on the 10th Anniversary in 2011, and reprised it in 2013 (in a post entitled “Calling All Patriots; Nine-Eleven Ten Years Later” (https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/2013/09/11/calling-all-patriots-nine-eleven-ten-years-later/), when the blog posted on the Anniversary date. Today’s brief reference was intended to provide a highly appropriate nod to the seriousness of that day, to the degree to which Americans rallied after the tragedy, and to acknowledge that we continue to pay tribute to nearly 3,000 lives senselessly lost to terrorism. Mrs. Clinton’s ill-timed health scare was just an unfortunate coincidence that warranted mentioning, primarily due to the irony that she planned for it to be low key, no fuss kind of day. So perhaps it’s true, “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”
Alternately, the Title of today’s post draws from a comment Hillary Clinton made last Friday at a rally in New York. According to a report from Time Magazine, she said:
“Half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables” characterized by “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” views.
The statement, quite possibly made after her physician recommended rest, has sparked quite the kerfuffle. Team Trump has attempted to frame it as on par with Mitt Romney’s 47% gaffe. The entire statement is:
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
Now, as quiet as it has been kept, that is not all she said. In that Time Magazine story it was also noted that she said:
“The other half of Trump’s supporters feel that the government has let them down” and are desperate for change. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
I like the Trumpsian spin. There are a couple of reasons why I like this move. First, the facts justify the remark. Admittedly, it was impolitic for Clinton to say it. However, that doesn’t make it a false statement. What’s wrong with a little truth telling? After all, isn’t it Trump and his supporters who are always railing against political correctness?
Let’s attempt to put this in some degree of context. Mr. Trump has:
- Called Americans stupid
- Called for a Muslims ban
- Called for monitoring Mosques
- Called for a Wall separating Mexico from the U.S.
- Called Mexicans rapists (while stating maybe some are good),
- Asked blacks what the hell have they got to lose
- Praised Putin
- Praised Saddam Hussein
- Assailed a “Mexican” Judge, who is actually American, because of his heritage
- Offered to pay legal fees of supporters who attacked protesters at his rallies
- Taunted a journalist with disabilities
- Conveniently failed to remember who David Duke was after choosing not to run himself as a member of the Reform Party…because of David Duke’s involvement
- Acted as Birther-in-Chief; insisted President Obama was not born in America
- Implied President Obama is a Muslim
- Accused POTUS of having founded ISIS/ISIL
*Refused to apologize for any of the above…in fact, tried to spin much of it as logical, normal, or otherwise, perfectly reasonable
So if Trump, who appears to have winked and nodded at David Duke and his ilk, in an effort to curry favor with that segment of the electorate, chooses to insert himself into the conversation about deplorables, he must at some point accept the role that he so expertly defined for himself. Well, the truth is he doesn’t really have to accept it, but if the voters are paying any attention whatsoever, they will see it for themselves, which is more important anyway.
The second reason I like Mr. Trump’s protestation is because a number of journalists are finding their voices and pointing out the obvious; the Trump campaign has consistently stoked, promoted, and yes provoked the flames of anger, blame, hatred, bigotry, and racism that a number of Americans, mostly white, coincidentally, harbor. One of those journalists, Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank, framed it thusly:
“As a matter of statistics, it is probably true that people expressing racist sentiment … constitute more than half of Trump supporters,”
In an interview with on CNN’s “Newsroom,” Milbank effectively told Brook Baldwin that, half, the only aspect of the comment that Clinton apologized for, was likely understating the case. About that he said:
“More than half of Trump’s supporters display racist or bigoted tendencies”, according to data collected by the American National Election Studies. He went on to add, “You actually can unpack those numbers. It’s really quite shocking. Something like 62% of white voters have these sorts of sentiments, and by better than two-to-one, they vote Republican.”
I understand very well, no one wants to be called, thought of, or in anyway characterized as racist. I suppose that is especially true of Trump supporters, since he has directly appealed to their sense of righteous indignation over the Clinton comments. That is all well and good. It would be a considerably more compelling argument if Team Trump were as diligent in distancing itself from some of its many statements and actions of record. Unfortunately, in the America that Trump and many of his supporters harken back to in order to make America “Great Again,” we would return to the pre-civil rights era when the Constitution and the rights it ensures were largely deemed the sole province of white men.
In addition to Mr. Milbank, a number of journalists of color have also weighed in on the deplorable state of Trump backers. The list of luminaries includes Ta-Nahisi Coates of the Atlantic, Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, Charles Blow of the New York Times, Bakari Sellers of CNN, Juan Williams of Fox News, and James Boule of Slate. Boule in particular had this to say on “Face the Nation:”
“But ‘half’ wasn’t wrong. ‘Half’ wasn’t a gross generalization at all. ‘Half’ was by all indications close to the truth. . . .”
“I’m inclined — so I’m inclined to see it as strategy and not so much as a gaffe because when I heard the remark, my first question was, well, is this true, right? Regardless of how it sounds or what it looks like, is it actually — what is the case about Donald Trump’s supporters?”
“And if you break down the numbers and you look at the Real Clear Politics average and that gives Trump about 43 percent of the registered voters. It was about 30, 31 million people. Compare that to polls that show 65 to 70 percent of all Republicans who say that Barack Obama either wasn’t born in the United States or is a Muslim. You look at pilot data from the American National Election Study and it shows upward of 40 percent of Republicans saying things like, blacks are more violent, blacks are lazier, Muslims are more violent, Muslims are lazier.”
“Among Trump supporters in particular, 60, 50, 70 percent of them agree with statements that political scientists categorize as being explicitly racist. So I’m — I’m looking at Clinton’s statement and half, which is about 31 million people again, doesn’t really seem that out of bounds. Forty to 50 percent of Republicans I would say, looking at the full spectrum of data, agree with beliefs that we would categorize as explicitly prejudiced. So regardless of whether or not Clinton needs [to] walk it back or not, I think she’s being correct and accurate. . . .”
I have previously written about the pretzel-like contortions many Republicans have resorted to, ostensibly because of Trump. A number of prominent members of the GOP have called Trump’s words or actions deplorable, or worse, or words to that effect. Yet, they still find themselves locked into a position of saying they will vote for him, either in an effort to save the GOP Congressional majority, salvage their own re-election bids…or both. That’s politics; I understand. But none of that does anything to make Hillary’s “Basket of deplorables” any less real. An that is, “Downright Deplorable: Accompanied by the Stats to Back it Up!”
I’m done, holla back!
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