That Basket Thing

Forget Hillary Clinton’s health problems, even if the man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned  – even if chronic traumatic encephalopathy, that eventually renders former professional football players nearly brain dead, has nothing to do with poison. There is also the argument that Hillary Clinton use a body double after falling ill at 9/11 memorial appearance – that wasn’t really her looking chipper and happy a few hours later. And then there’s one of Donald Trump’s state chairmen:

Daniel Tamburello, who is also a Republican New Hampshire state representative, said on Facebook that based on his father’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, he believes that Clinton’s pneumonia is evidence she has the disease too.

“Hillary has been rumored to have Parkinson’s for some time, as one of the theories to what ails her. (Personally I would surmise it is more than one illness),” he wrote on Facebook, as first flagged by BuzzFeed.

Tamburello wrote pneumonia is “one of the most common secondary conditions” that occurs with Parkinson’s, noting that it’s “very common” for Parkinson’s patients to die of pneumonia.

“This in a combination with the recent fondness of mumus, makes me think she is concealing a deep brain stem battery pack that counters her tremors from Parkinson’s (my dad has this battery pack too),” he wrote. “They may have admitted HRC has pneumonia, but that’s not WHY she has pneumonia. I believe she has pneumonia caused by Parkinson’s disease.”

There’s a lot of this going around. Everyone has a theory that shows, at best, that Hillary Clinton is unfit for office, or at worst has her at death’s door, unless that is a best-case scenario – but Donald Trump isn’t going there. He has wished her well. He has said that he hopes she feels better. That’s decent of him, or a political calculation made by his team, to tone it down and for him to stop being loony, one that this time they actually convinced him to try out. They may have told him not to go there, but go here instead:

Donald Trump pounced Monday on Hillary Clinton for calling half of his supporters a “basket of deplorables” late last week, launching a new attack ad and arguing on the stump that the remark disqualifies Clinton from the presidency.

The Republican nominee, speaking Monday at the National Guard Association’s annual conference, called on Clinton to apologize for and retract her remarks, arguing that she had “slandered” millions of Americans. Trump’s outrage Monday was a significant political statement for a candidate who has repeatedly offended millions of Americans throughout his controversial campaign.

That’s a coordinated effort, his speech and a matching attack ad – something new for his campaign, something actually focused:

“The disdain that Hillary Clinton expressed toward millions of Americans disqualifies her from public service. You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter,” Trump said. “You can’t lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens.”

Trump, who has not apologized for any of his political attacks or offensive statements throughout his presidential campaign, appeared shocked that Clinton had not yet apologized for her comments and called on her to do so.

“Hillary Clinton has not apologized to those she slandered. In fact, she hasn’t backed down at all,” Trump said. “If Hillary Clinton will not retract her comments in full, I don’t see how she can credibly campaign any further.”

This is good. She’s still unfit for office, but he doesn’t come off as a creep for harping on her age and failing health. He is one year older that she is, after all. There’s no need to let people put two and two together, so this will work. She’s insulted good Americans.

Unless she hasn’t:

Clinton’s national press secretary Brian Fallon responded to Trump’s statement Monday, saying “the larger point of what she said on Friday remains true and it’s something we’re not going to apologize for.”

“That Donald Trump continues to not just condone but welcome, promote and lift up, divisive, hate-filled elements in this country that he’s giving a platform with his campaign,” Fallon told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “The idea that somebody is running a campaign that is engaging in this kind of hate-filled demagoguery in 2016 is deplorable.”

Vice President Joe Biden defended Clinton on the campaign trail in North Carolina, saying she gets a bum rap and that if Trump were held to her standard, then “He’d be in trouble.”

Trump’s condemnation of Clinton’s comments come less than a month after he expressed regret for sometimes saying “the wrong thing” over the course of his campaign, during which he has offended Hispanics, Muslims, disabled Americans and veterans.

This is complicated so his running mate tried to clear things up, and that didn’t go well:

Louisiana Senate candidate and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke says he’s pleased that vice presidential nominee Mike Pence declined to call him “deplorable” in an interview on Monday.

“It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media,” Duke told BuzzFeed News. “The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana – I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It’s ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that nonviolent Klan four decades ago.”

In an appearance on CNN on Monday, Pence was asked about Duke’s support of his running mate Donald Trump. Pence replied, “We don’t want his support and we don’t want the support of the people who think like him.”

Asked if Duke is “deplorable,” Pence said “I’m not in the name-calling business.”

Perhaps he should be, as Josh Marshall offers this:

Mike Pence refusing to label David Duke as “deplorable” is a good example of why “Deplorable” was always far more of a double-edged sword than the Trump crew seemed to realize.

That’s because it was only the “half” part of Clinton’s remarks that got her in trouble:

Some argue that you should never attack a candidate’s supporters. That’s probably true if you place the percentage so high. But Trump’s white nationalism and embrace of dominance politics is both what gives his campaign fuel and keeps it locked at about 40% support nationwide. The racist demons Trump has brought openly into the public square are a major liability for him.

Just today Trump’s campaign started running ads in a series of swing states basically repeating Clinton’s quote and casting them in the light of contempt for ordinary Americans. That’s probably effective in stirring up Trump’s base. But that’s not where he has problems. They are 110% committed. The tipping point voters in this election have been college educated whites, especially college educated white women who don’t really like Clinton but are repelled by Trump’s racism and sexism. They are the ones most in play. White men without college degrees aren’t moving; non-whites aren’t moving.

Those are the folks he needs. And I’m sure the “contempt for hard working Americans” gloss will have some traction with these voters. But far more than that it shifts attention back to Trump’s big liability: his open cultivation of white supremacists, racists and haters of all stripes. That’s more likely to hurt Trump than help him, because that’s what’s alienated most of these voters in the first place.

Those nasty folks should remain hidden, not defended:

The Trump campaign wants to keep the conversation to a broad mass of supporters. They don’t want to get into litigating who’s deplorable and who’s not. After all, even if they’re way fewer than half, Trump has a huge following of noxious “deplorable” followers… This whole part of the campaign debate is now in a chaotic flux, made more so by Clinton’s illness. But this could easily turn against Trump. And I suspect it will.

Jonathan Chait is a bit more specific about that:

Following the classic definition of a gaffe as a politician telling the truth, Hillary Clinton’s comment about Donald Trump’s supporters (“just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it”) was the purest and most classic example. The national media has spent a year and a quarter documenting in exquisite, redundant detail the rabid, anti-intellectual nationalistic bigotry of Trump’s hard-core fan-base. But it has taken Hillary Clinton’s affirmation to transform this by-now-banal observation into a scandal.

She actually may have said that “basket” thing on purpose, to stir things up:

Back in February, Wall Street Journal editorial columnist Bret Stephens mourned that it had once been a slander that “Republicans were all closet bigots,” but “Not anymore. The candidacy of Donald Trump is the open sewer of American conservatism.” Stephens proceeded to argue that Trump’s carefully hedged disavowal of David Duke failed to dent his support – “If anything it has enhanced it.” Now that Clinton has made the similar point in milder terms, absolving a larger proportion of Trump’s supporters than Stephens did, and choosing the gentler metaphor of a basket rather than a sewer. The Wall Street Journal editorial page is scandalized that Clinton was caught “attributing hateful motives to tens of millions of Americans.” Americans! Hateful! In large numbers! How dare she!

Yeah, sure, but there’s no reason they should have been surprised:

To the extent that Clinton’s comment had any novel quality, it was her loose calculation that the bigoted make up half of Trump’s support. Clinton has dutifully apologized (“I regret saying half”). And, depending on how one calculates it, this could be high. Committed white nationalists comprise a small minority of the Trump vote. On the other hand, it could also be low.

The facts argue for that latter:

The overwhelming majority of Trump aficionados support his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants – a policy many Republican elected officials opposed as an unconstitutional religious test – while two-thirds of them register unfavorable views of American Muslims. A plurality of Republicans supported Trump’s claim that a Mexican-American judge was inherently biased and therefore unfit to preside over his fraud trial. (In the same poll, a huge majority of Republicans deemed Trump’s comments not racist, despite Paul Ryan’s admission that it constituted a textbook example of racism.) Two-thirds of voters who like Trump consider President Obama a Muslim, and three-fifths of them believe he was not born in the United States.

This raises some questions:

Do Trump’s supporters legitimately share all of his deranged beliefs, or are they merely signaling some kind of tribal affinity? It is a bit of a distinction without a difference. Trump’s supporters are first and foremost authoritarians. They are authoritarians in the sense, identified by Stephens and many others, in that they yearn for a strongman who can override the systemic constraints on presidential power. They are also authoritarians in the sense of having authoritarian personalities. Political scientists have found that Trump has capitalized on the trend toward authoritarianism in the Republican electorate, which works in concert with the growing levels of white racial resentment in the Republican electorate.

And that leads to an odd place:

The combination of these sociological trends has placed Trump in his current role as tribal leader of Red America. In this role, Trump is free of any intellectual accountability so long as he stays loyal to the elemental identity markers of his tribe. He can lie blatantly, reverse himself back and forth repeatedly, or stammer incoherently without consequence, because his supporters have placed complete faith in him as an authentic representative of the volk.

He is the tribal leader of Red America:

Clinton controversially described half of Trump’s supporters as “irredeemable.” Trump earlier this year framed the same idea in a more colorful and perhaps more damning way: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Both statements reflect the same underlying truth: Trump enjoys a hard-core support that lies beyond persuasion, utterly immune to even the starkest factual evidence. Clinton committed a gaffe because she acknowledged a reality that literally every other person in America, including Donald Trump himself, is permitted to speak aloud.

Why not talk about it? Slate’s Jamelle Bouie offers this:

Some members of the political press were swift with their judgment. “No. 1 rule of presidential politics. Okay to mock your opponent. Never a good idea to mock the electorate,” said Michael Barbaro of the New York Times on Twitter. “Any more appropriate place for Clinton to make her ‘basket of deplorables’ comment than at a fundraiser with Barbra Streisand?” asked Aaron Blake of the Washington Post. “Memo to candidates: Stop generalizing and psychoanalyzing your opponents’ supporters. It never works out well for you,” wrote Domenico Montanaro of NPR.

But “half” wasn’t wrong. “Half” wasn’t a gross generalization at all. “Half” was by all indications close to the truth.

He cites the same data as Chait, and adds that Trump cannot hide from that:

We can debate whether this is blindness or denial, but the data is clear: Large numbers of white Americans hold anti-black or racially resentful views, and for a substantial portion, those views are politically salient. They drive decisions about voting and party identification. Donald Trump did not win the Republican presidential primary because he out-organized or out-campaigned his competitors; he won because he played directly to those views, and Republican elites refused to challenge him.

Which gets to a larger truth: The Republican Party of the Obama years is an ethno-nationalist formation of white Americans. The ideological conservatism of its elites is less important than the raw resentment of its base. Trump has harnessed that and given voice to more virulent forms, to the point where key members of his campaign share neo-Nazi memes on social media.

They do – Bouie has the links – so Clinton was just doing what she should do:

The dismay over Clinton’s comments – the insistence that it represents some kind of insult and not a statement of truth – reflects the degree to which many of our reporters and observers still shy away from these facts. But this moment demands clarity. Readers don’t need to know whether Clinton made a “gaffe.” They need to know whether she was right. Do millions of Americans hold explicitly racist views? Yes. Do roughly half of Donald Trump’s supporters fall into a so-called “basket of deplorables?” Yes.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent sees the same problem:

The American people know what Trump is doing. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that American voters say by 59-36 that “the way Trump talks appeals to bigotry.”

In the end, this flap inevitably leads us back into the endlessly debated question at the heart of Trumpism. Are Trump’s appeals resonating because of many voters’ own raw bigotry? Or is their susceptibility to bigoted appeals rooted in legitimate economic and cultural grievances? No question, many Trump supporters may be motivated by nothing more than dissatisfaction with our trade and economic policies, or anger at Washington’s dysfunction, or reasonable objections to current terrorism or immigration policies. In this context, people are missing the importance of the Clinton remarks that came after the incendiary ones.

That’s because Clinton also said this:

That other basket of people are people who feel that government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures. They are just desperate for change. Doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.

Sargent:

In other words, Clinton is also saying that many Trump supporters are not motivated by bigotry, i.e., that many people supporting Trump have legitimate anxieties. Trump is trying to prey on those anxieties by scapegoating Muslims and undocumented immigrants, but this might not be why many support him…

The underlying argument here – that Trump is running a bigoted campaign that tries to prey on legitimate grievances and bigotry alike by scapegoating minority groups – is inarguable, and the reality it identifies is far worse than Clinton’s broad-brush overreach was. If anything, “deplorable” is too mild a word for it.

That was the shown in North Carolina, in Asheville, in this:

Just as Donald Trump on Monday was decrying Hillary Clinton for having called “half” of his supporters “a basket of deplorables,” an altercation broke out in the stands above him.

Protesters are nothing new at Trump rallies, but before a group could be escorted out of U.S. Cellular Center here Monday evening, a man from the crowd went over to violently confront them.

NBC News video of the incident shows the man with his hands on a protester’s neck. Moments later, his hands furled into fists, the man lobbed a blow at the protester.

After the one protester was escorted out, the man pulled another toward him and shouted back and forth with a third, female protester while a member of Trump’s advance team held him back.

He also screamed at a female protester wearing a hijab who was not with the group but was also escorted out.

The unidentified man was allowed to remain for the rest of the rally, and Asheville police did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment on why the aggressive man was allowed to remain inside after his actions.

Yes, the Asheville police let that ride, but it should be remembered that Asheville is where they locked up F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, after she went quite mad. The old asylum burned down decades ago, but Asheville is still where crazy people end up – unless that angry guy was a Clinton plant, sent there to prove her point.

That’s unlikely. The tribe was being attacked, and John Cassidy points out that this works for Clinton:

Instead of seeking to shift attention to other subjects, like Clinton’s policy initiatives, her campaign appears keen to keep the focus on Trump’s links to extremist and conspiratorial groups, even if that also helps keep the “basket of deplorables” story in the news. “This is what his campaign has always been about,” John Podesta, the chairman of the campaign, said in a statement on Saturday evening. “And this is a fight we’re eager to have. As Hillary said today, we won’t back down.”

In a data-driven campaign, the hope seems to be that emphasizing Trump’s ties to Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, and other figures who used to be confined to the right-wing fringe will scare off some moderate Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are thinking of voting for Trump. And that hammering at Trump’s “bigotry and racist rhetoric” – a phrase that appeared in both the Clinton and Podesta statements – will help raise Democratic turnout, especially in urban and minority districts.

She meant to say just what she said, and Charles Blow distills her message:

Donald Trump is a deplorable candidate – to put it charitably – and anyone who helps him advance his racial, religious and ethnic bigotry is part of that bigotry. Period. Anyone who elevates a sexist is part of that sexism. The same goes for xenophobia. You can’t conveniently separate yourself from the detestable part of him because you sense in him the promise of cultural or economic advantage. That hair cannot be split.

Furthermore, one doesn’t have to actively hate to contribute to a culture that allows hate to flourish.

It doesn’t matter how lovely your family, how honorable your work or service, how devout your faith – if you place ideological adherence or economic self-interest above the moral imperative to condemn and denounce a demagogue, then you are deplorable.

And there is some evidence that Trump’s supporters don’t simply have a passive, tacit acceptance of an undesirable platform, but instead have an active set of beliefs that support what is deplorable in Trump.

Clinton couldn’t say that, not that directly, but perhaps she should have:

I understand that people recoil at the notion that they are part of a pejorative basket. I understand the reflexive resistance to having your negative beliefs disrobed and your sense of self dressed down.

I understand your outrage, but I’m unmoved by it, but if the basket fits…

And now it does:

Roger Stone, a Donald Trump ally, and Donald Trump Jr., have shared a White Nationalist symbol on Twitter.

The two were responding to Hillary Clinton’s recent controversial comment about half of Trump’s supporters falling into a “basket of deplorables.”

“I am so proud to be one of the Deplorables,” Stone tweeted, along with a Photoshopped image swapping out characters from the 2010 movie “The Expendables” poster with the heads of Trump and nine of his family members and allies.

The image includes photos of Stone, Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Eric Trump, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), Donald Trump Jr., Infowar’s Alex Jones, conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos and a frog meme associated with the alt-right movement – all under a large heading that reads “The Deplorables.”

And the frog is cute:

The frog, called Pepe, is a white supremacist meme, the Southern Poverty Law Center told NBC News.

“It’s constantly used in those circles,” said SPLC’s Heidi Beirich.

“The white nationalists are gonna love this because they’re gonna feel like, ‘Yeah we’re in there with Trump, there’s Pepe the Frog.'”

Pepe the Frog is often shown feeding Jews to the ovens, smiling:

Donald Trump Jr. shared the same image on his Instagram account.

It seems that Hillary Clinton has goaded these guys, and that guy in Asheville, into proving her point – not bad for a decrepit old woman with walking pneumonia, or Parkinson’s – but they’re easily goaded. She also goaded Trump into making this “basket” thing an issue. He should have looked in the basket. But he’s easily goaded too. Perhaps he should go back to talking about that wall or something.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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