In Fairness to the Hand Wringers and Garment Renders, Let’s Give the Devil His Due

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Jonathan Chait, Benjamin Hart, and Margaret Hartmann, Will Trump’s Racist Tweets Work?

Jim VanderHei and Mike Allen, Trump’s premeditated racism is central to his 2020 strategy

I remain of the view that, when the facts are viewed objectively, and when they are viewed as a whole, the case that progressives should wring their hands and move en masse to New Zealand is not persuasive. But …

First, Let Us Give the Devil His Due

Giving the devil his due, Messrs. VanderHei and Allen channel the political thinking of Trump and his henchmen this way:

It might seem like improvisational madness when President Trump tells American citizens in Congress to “go back” where they came from, but those close to Trump say there’s a lot of calculation behind his race-baiting. …

The rough calculation goes like this: 

Trump knows that in 2016, he won the white vote by 20+ points.

He hopes he can crank their turnout even higher, especially among older, white evangelicals. He knows most of those voters are unlikely to ditch him, no matter how offensive his comments.

He watches Fox News and knows AOC, in particular, is catnip to old, white voters, especially men. She is young, Hispanic, female and a democratic socialist — a 4-for-4 grievance magnet. Last week, AOC got nearly as muchonline attention as all 2020 Democrats combined.

Trump believes he did better than Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters because many who came here and went through the legal process agree with his views.

Axios sat in ona focus group in Michigan where white swing voters agreed with Trump on immigration. Carlos Algara, a political scientist at UC Davis, told the N.Y. Times that a forthcoming analysis of the 2018 midterms found that even without Trump on the ballot, “white Democrats with high levels of racial resentment were likely to vote … Republican.”

Facebook is often his incubator. He has spentthree times more than all Democratic contenders combined on Facebook, with a mix of message-testing immigration lines to appealing to Hispanics who seem susceptible to his worldview.

So Trump calculates that (white voters + some Hispanic voters) * (tough immigration rhetoric + race-baiting language) = narrow 2020 win.

Evaluating the Tactic that’s Intended to Support the Strategy

So that’s the strategy. The Chait, Hart, and Hartman printed conversation elaborates on an important tactic intended to advance the strategy: flirt with open racism, stir up controversy, stir up your base, deny that you’re a racist, and claim to be victimized. (And, maybe as icing on the cake, simultaneously detract from the Epstein connection.)

Political genius or not political genius? Chait makes two points that persuade me. First, the political genius inherited peace and prosperity, and his political approval stands at 42 percent. Second, he came so close to calling his oponents ——– that a goodly number of his supporters felt uncomfortable.

And Let Me Add …

… a few more points.

Trump played the racism card in 2018 and it redounded badly against him. Not proof of what will happen in 2020, but, surely, it’s very relevant to the prognostication.

Also, don’t you think he’s in a bit of a box? That if he’s going with peak racism, then his racism has peaked too early?

Because, here’s the thing. When Trump says the next racism-flirtatiously thing, the headline will be, “Well, There He Goes Again.” Soon, the headline will no longer be on page 1, it will be on page 17L

“Trump Tweets Another Racist Tweet.”

And, in other news,

“Dog Bites Man.”

No, to keep on doing this, he’s going to have to come up with new shocks. Next time, he can’t just tell a black congresswoman to “go back to Africa.” He did that before. If he does it again, the shock value will have worn off. Next time, he will have to say something even worse. And the time after that, something worse still.

His strategy and tactics will drive him to bigger and better shocks. And we will learn more bad news about how many hard core, unrepentant racists live among us. And we will see whether they are enough to win the election.