July 31, 2016 Leave a comment
Erza on Trump’s ludicrous and truly shameful response to Khizr Khan’s speech:
Trump’s slander of Ghazala Khan was cruel. It was factually untrue. But it was also deeply, profoundly counterproductive — a man so angry about being cut off in traffic that he crashes his own car in revenge.
The Democratic National Convention was, by all accounts, a rousing success. What Trump needed to do was move on from it as quickly as possible — get the press talking about something else, get voters thinking about something else.Instead, he’s managed to not only extend the DNC’s dominance of the news cycle, but to extend the most powerful moment, and the most compelling speakers’, time in the spotlight.
It’s easy to forget now but the Khans didn’t appear in the 10-11pm hour carried by the networks. They were a sensation on Twitter, and I’m sure millions saw their words on Facebook, but the truth is most Americans, as of Friday, had no idea who they were or what they had said. I remember, after the speech, listening to Democrats lament that the Clinton campaign hadn’t put them higher on the schedule: the Khans were clearly the most effective anti-Trump messengers at the convention, but barely anyone would know it.
Luckily for the Clinton campaign, Trump has solved that problem for them. Now the Khans will be in the press for days…
Even aside from its gauge as a measure of Trump’s cruelty, this episode reveals a few important truths about Donald Trump.
First, Trump is great at getting into the headlines, but he’s not great at getting the headlines he wants. He operates off of an all-press-is-good-press strategy that might have worked when he needed to stand out in a crowded primary but is a disaster now that he needs to win over undecided voters in Ohio…
The second thing, as Salam says at the end of his argument, is that Trump is easily baited. He couldn’t swallow his hurt and anger over the Khan’s speech, he had to lash out, to fight back, to smear them in response. This doesn’t make sense if you understand the goal of an election as getting elected, but it does make sense if you understand the goal of an election as playing out an endless series of dominance games.
This is a point TPM’s Josh Marshall has repeatedly made about Trump. A need for dominance, Marshall writes, “is the key to understanding virtually everything Trump does…
The Khans’ speech hurt Trump. He watched it. He read the coverage of it. He felt slighted, inferior, humiliated. And so he needed to rebalance the scales. He needed to regain his dominance. He seems confused that anyone faults him for this — isn’t it obvious that they attacked him, and so he should get to attack them back?
This is the logic of a schoolyard bully, which Trump is. But it’s a dangerous mindset for a president.