Trump Will Trump

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TPM Reader DC checks in on how Trump’s response to Orlando plays:

In response to Josh’s thoughtful post about how Orlando and Trump’s reaction to it will not necessarily help him:

There is recent evidence for exactly this phenomenon. Remember when “Benghazi” happened, which in some ways could have been much worse politically for the incumbent party (though certainly fewer lives were lost), namely a sitting American ambassador killed by what was clearly an organized attack on our embassy in Libya. The event threatened to bespeak the weakness of a nation state, the inability to protect it’s own high-level personnel.

Romney then appeared on media the next day as almost gleeful and self-assured in his criticism. Obama and Clinton by contrast appeared serious and sorrowed. Romney’s numbers sank immediately. Along with the 47 percent comment, it was one of the most damaging moments in the general election campaign (probably underestimated in the post-mortem analysis of the 2012 contest).

Another important note this morning. Clinton has come out saying that she does not mind using the term “radical Islamism” or “radical jihadism.” But she is drawing the line on action, not semantics, rejecting Trump’s call for policies aimed at all adherents of Islam.

Besides the fact that I agree with Clinton that “radical Islamism” is appropriate for cautious deployment as a term of reference in the current environment, it is also politically smart. Her careful choice of language, and her distancing of semantics from policy, will help de-mine some of the language about “political correctness.”

Of course, anything can happen in the coming weeks and months. More attacks could change the equation. But these are reasons to think that Trump’s and Clinton’s reactions to this event will not necessarily feed Trump momentum or votes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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