One of the recurring mantras we keep hearing through the campaign is that when Donald Trump says something horrific, people moan, "I thought he'd gone as low as he could go, but I can't believe he just went lower." One would have thought demeaning a grieving Gold Star mother would be the bottom, and yet days later he accepted a Purple Heart medal, saying he was thrilled how "easy" it was to get. And then kicked a baby out of his press conference.
All bottom-feeding stuff, although attacking the Gold Star mother was as low as you'd think he could go.
Oh, silly you.
Because there Donald Trump was, saying -- and I have a hard time even typing this.
"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."
This is beyond hate-filled and repugnant, it's dangerous. Silly hinting in his "I don't know" way about violence to anyone, but especially a presidential candidate. Good Lord, how sick the man must be. Yet his eternally-beleaguered spokesman Jason Miller, who took the job by choice, selling his self-respect in the process, tried desperately to explain the unexplainable away, rather than falling on his knees, begging for mercy and forgiveness, and attempted to scam the world by saying that Trump wasn't speaking literally. "It's called the power of unification -- Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power."
Forgetting for the moment that this makes no sense, which is the first step in obfuscation, I hope Jason Miller starts preparing a similar flim-flam for himself when he meets St. Peter, though it's not likely to do him any good. You don't get to be the guardian of the Pearly Gates by being stupid and gullible and violently hate-filled. No, despite what tripe Mr. Miller is trying to sell, this is not called "the power of unification," it's called "inciting to riot," and when someone in the public does it towards a president or presidential candidate, it brings them a visit by the Secret Service. And yes, the Secret Service has said they're aware of Donald Trump's quote, though not commenting on their own actions.
As you might expect, the Clinton campaign didn't accept the fact, shameful reply and were rightfully outraged. "This is simple," the campaign responded through a spokesman: "What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way."
The campaign also chimed in later again, whining about how the media was misinterpreting their venal Talking Head. Because, of course, it's the media's fault what Donald Trump said. Because he's the best victim, the best. Believe me. I've read many people say that. Many. No one is a better victim. The problem is, when you've run as relentlessly cold, mean-spirited and violence-encouraged campaign as Trump has, you haven't built up a reservoir of good will to believe anything other than the worst. For the campaign to suggest this is just simply about energizing Second Amendment zealots to political action is empty and pathetic. Remember: Donald Trump used his infamous, glib shrug and smirking "... I don't know," the way he always does, to make sure you know exactly that he does know. Because after all, if he was merely saying oh-so innocently that people could get energized and "unite," then there's no reason on earth to be "maybe" unsure if they could and really folks, "I don't know." Because of course they could. Of course they could. And any half-wit knows that. It's the whole core foundation of the American system. And if you want to inspire your minions with some soaring "power of unification" -- you do so. You say it. "You can do this people! You can unite and put the wrath of holy pressure on your representatives!" You don't shrug and say, gosh, hmm, maybe, jeepers, I don't know. The only reason Trump tends to casually adds his "maybe" and gee whiz "... I don't know," is solely because he wants to hint, wink-wink, that he absolutely knows you know. But is too cowardly to say it outright.
Of course Donald Trump didn't "mean" that people should really kill Hillary Clinton. Or judges. (And how horribly does it speak about a human being like Donald Trump when you have to add, "I assume...") But it's despicable. Does Donald Trump not realize that people can actually hear him when he talks?
Centuries ago, King Henry II is famously recalled having said about the troublesome Thomas Becket, "Who wouldst rid me of this turbulent priest?" He didn't really mean it, he insisted. He was just sighing out loud. Perhaps his head of the exchequer explained it away as the "Power of Unification." And maybe he actually did mean it. But let's give King Henry the benefit of the doubt that he was just being careless with so many armed soldiers and aides around. Not long after, Becket was dead.
Hey, Thomas Becket did at least get sainted, and had several plays written about him, and an Oscar-winning movie. So, it wasn't all bad. Just mostly.
As has often been said, with awesome power comes awesome responsibility. Unfortunately, as awesome as Donald Trump thinks he is, he's just a little, little man. Whose sense of humanity is smaller than his hands. And who may never have had a sense of responsibility since even before his father sent him to military school to teach him some.
But there's the thing, the bottom line: if anyone thinks the complaints about what Donald Trump actually said are over-the-top hand-wringing, and that it's all the media's fault for misinterpreting it, consider the reaction if Hillary Clinton had said this about Donald Trump.
Just consider that. I can wait.
If Hillary Clinton ever said these exact words, it might turn away so much of her support that she'd lose the election. In Trump's case, though, of course, he's been heading in that direction anyway. But his most maniacal adherents at the far edges tend to be fine with such violent rhetoric. I do suspect that those more in the middle, though, might be finding reason to dive away.
Whether Speaker Paul Ryan is one of those, we'll see.
One other big thing to keep in mind, too: this of Donald Trump finally (again) pivoting, keeping to the script and acting presidential. One whole day after his Big Economic Speech, which was a bust. To any Republican who think Donald Trump pivoting is possible (or even meaningful at this point, as if we all will forget his horrific, endlessly empty irresponsibility that goes on and on and on), and hope that it will all turn around and all will be well... Do You Get It Now?
Donald Trump is not pivoting. Donald Trump is not going to become Presidential. Donald Trump is not moving to the center. I wrote this 2-3 months ago. This is who Donald Trump is. His whole life. And he's 70 years old now. It's got him to this point. HE IS NOT CHANGING. He's a thoughtless, empty, egomaniacal, racist, misogynistic, sociopathic, mean-spirited bully. He is not pivoting.
By the way, I've posted several Olympic videos produced by my friend at NBC, Clare Duffy. But she doesn't just do sports. Mainly, she works for NBC News, and has done a lot over the years with Tom Brokaw. This is a piece she produced with Brokaw nine months back when he did a commentary on Donald Trump's call to ban all Muslims from the United States. As un-American and despicable as that was, it almost seems quaint today after so much else. But Brokaw puts it and Trump in excellent perspective. And there's an ironic ending to the video -- the Muslim soldier killed in war that Tom Brokaw singles out is named... Khan. And Brokaw talks about how Trump can't exclude him from the list of Muslims he wants to ban. No, this is a different Khan from Humayun Khan whose eloquent parents started Donald Trump down his latest descent into Hell. But what a proper, meaningful perspective.
One keeps hearing that "I didn't think Trump can go any lower, but he did." I think Donald Trump will have to travel a long way to go lower than he did today -- though I think he has it in him to.
To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.