Trump’s strategic attack on ‘The Squad’ unfolding as he planned
Once again, President Trump has flaunted his scorn for the media-defined norms of the American political conversation. Under those informal rules, Republicans can be labeled racists with impunity, and America can be trashed as irredeemably racist, evil, and shameful. But any criticism of "people of color" for expressing such views is racist, as Nancy Pelosi discovered so recently.
Many Republicans have internalized these norms, knowing that their colleagues in professions dominated by an educated and credentialed workforce have scorn for Trump's attacks on the four freshman congresswomen Nancy Pelosi ruefully dubbed "The Squad." Their neighbors in upscale communities are equally likely to be "aghast" that anyone would mention that people who frequently proclaim a racial and ethnic identity that sets them apart from just plain Americans would be reminded that, unlike in communist East Germany, for instance, they are free to leave. And they can come back after showing how well their ideas work in the places they imply America has impoverished and oppressed.
President Trump has, from the beginning of his campaign, cared not a whit about the criticism he receives for violating those norms. He believes that those rules of the game slant the conversation toward victories for the Left, eagerly enforced by the mainstream media, academia, and the cultural institutions dominated by progressives.
He also knows that people who already believe him to be a vulgar, racist, unacceptable "occupant of the White House" (as Ilhan Omar called him yesterday, unwilling to concede that he is a lawfully elected president) will criticize anything he says. So there is no loss to him in provoking more criticism from that camp.
The key group that he must worry about are the undecided voters who swing elections and the vaunted suburban women, who shun harshness and who live in neighborhoods where Trump may be less than popular. Plus all those conservatives who have gritted their teeth and supported him, even though his style is alien to their own.
I think Trump is calculating that in any contest between The Squad and Trump in terms of alienating these persuadables, sustained attention will favor him. Yesterday's press conference by The Squad, which has received obsessive media coverage, made that bet pay off.
YouTube screen grab.
Here are all 22-plus minutes of The Squad being The Squad yesterday, and saying things that may play on the Upper West Side but won't help win swing districts and swing states for the Democrats. (Here is one list of the crazy stuff they said.)
Sean Davis noticed:
Imagine being a “conservative” who spent all day sanctimoniously defending Ilhan Omar’s virtue and courage and contributions to American democracy, only to have her hold a press conference where she refused to denounce Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 15, 2019
Tucker Carlson's broadcast last night made a congruent point: that by attacking The Squad, just as Nancy Pelosi and the Dem Establishment were putting distance between themselves and the radicals, Trump has forced them back together and made The Squad the public face of the Democrats. He begins, "The consensus in Washington is that Trump made a mistake" and goes on to show why (once again) the consensus is wrong.
This morning, President Trump drove the point home in two tweets, preforming political jujitsu on calls for the House of Representatives to censure him, when they couldn't get it together to censure obvious anti-Semitism from Squad members.
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, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
.....shouting of the F...word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
I frequently remind readers to recall that Trump is the undisputed master of reality television and understand what a story arc is — how a drama involving conflict unfolds, and what kinds of words and symbols evoke emotional reactions from the television-viewing audience. This group includes many voters whom members of the intelligentsia rarely meet and even scorn.