Very Telling


TPM Alum Benjy Sarlin and Katy Tur have this article out this afternoon on Trump’s tirades and conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the Orlando attacks. This passage is particularly telling …

While Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement before Trump’s comments that Democrats “bury their head in the sand on how dangerous the world is,” Trump’s insinuations go much further than mainstream Republican leaders are usually willing to go.

A source who works closely with the Trump campaign, granted anonymity in order to speak freely to NBC News, said after Sunday’s attack that the party had asked the candidate to offer condolences and then to stay silent. Trump clearly chose a different approach.

Now, one might suppose this is just ass-covering. But to rework the phrase ass-covering is the compliment self-preservation pays to foresight. Whether folks at the RNC said this to Trump Sunday morning or now want people to think they did is sort of beside the point. They clearly want to distance themselves from it now.

As I wrote yesterday, there’s a long history of effectively politicizing foreign attacks and terrorist atrocities. Trump is just temperamentally unable to do so. Handing out a round of self-congratulatory high-fives, shooting off incendiary partisan remarks hours after a major terror attack and hinting that the President may be cooperating with terrorists targeting America is not the way to do it. No one but the most ferocious Trumpite true-believers want to hear stuff like that. As I’m sure the folks at the RNC realized, far better to make a few dignified remarks, refer broadly to his better ability to keep America safe and then wait a few days before laying out a fuller indictment. But that’s not the way thinks. It’s not a way he’s capable of acting no matter what he thinks.

As I noted yesterday, there’s a big additional factor that changes the politics of national security in this instance: Donald Trump. Questions about his ‘temperament’ – which let’s be honest in this case means emotional stability, maturity, ability to act rationally – are already at the forefront of the public mind. Even imputing the most craven motives, most candidates would be cautious not to move too quickly to politicize something so brutalizing to the national psyche. RNC apparently tried to save him (and themselves) from himself. To no avail. Because Trump lacks impulse control, indeed any level of self-control, he is unable to avoid making the case against himself.