They Can’t Stay in Character

I want to strongly recommend you watch this video clip from CNN after the jump. It’s a simple package of a segment of a Donald Trump speech followed by a brief interview by CNN’s Brianna Keilar with former Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), now serving as a Trump surrogate.

The video captures something of a new dynamic in the Trump campaign.

There’s a long history of Republican candidates making nominal ‘outreach’ to African-American voters not for the purpose of attracting African-American voters but to signal to moderate and/or educated white voters that they’re not racist. This isn’t always as cynical as it sounds. African-Americans are a strong Democratic constituency. On a generous read this can sometimes be non-racist candidates who know they have little shot at making inroads with African-American voters nonetheless wanting to signal to white supporters the non-racist nature of their candidacy. For present purposes, let’s simply stipulate that this is a well worn part of the Republican playbook with various shades of cynicism behind it. It’s a standard script, not difficult to execute.

Over the last week, this has been the new message from Trumpland, the fauxist sort of outreach to African-American voters. As with everything Trump, it’s of the most cartoonish variety, a tour of major urban centers where Trump picks an outlying all-white exurb and ‘appeals’ for African-American votes by railing at the post-apocalyptic urban hellholes in which he imagines they live their lives. For Trump, black life in America is living in a bombed out urban housing project circa 1977. (Watch the video and see if I’m exaggerating.)

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With all that as prologue, here’s what I want to focus on. In the two segments in this single video we see the same dynamic which has played out all over the Trump campaign over the last few days. Put simply, they’re so wrapped up in racial antagonism that they can’t keep track of whether they’re trying to execute the standard faux outreach act or just angry trolling. It’s all so close to the surface they can’t help blurting out lines that sound more like something you might say shooting the shit with David Duke. Trump’s ‘appeal’ amounts to a diatribe against African-American life which bristles with contempt. Kingston is the same, just in a different form. In the following interview, when Keilar presses Kingston on why Trump is doing ‘outreach’ from all white suburbs, he tries to parry her question but then he blurts out: “Maybe it would have been nicer if he had a backdrop with a burning car!”


Like I said, they’re so off the rails they can barely stay in character.

Watch the video.

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