Hidden message in Trump’s tweets

Tuesday - 16/07/2019 12:02
President Donald Trump has been widely condemned for his recent racist comments, but Trump is merely using a tried and tested strategy to engage his base. Pic: APSource:AP
President Donald Trump has been widely condemned for his recent racist comments, but Trump is merely using a tried and tested strategy to engage his base. Pic: APSource:AP
Donald Trump’s racist comments are words that most leaders would never dare say in public. But for Trump it’s a calculated move with a hidden message.

Defiant in the face of widespread censure, President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that his tweets suggesting four Democratic congresswomen of colour return to their countries “were NOT Racist,” and he appealed to fellow Republicans to “not show weakness” and to resist a house resolution condemning his words.

“I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Mr Trump exclaimed on Twitter, a day after declaring that “many people agree” with his assessment of the four freshman politicians.

“Those tweets were NOT Racist,” Mr Trump wrote on Tuesday amid a continued backlash to his weekend tweets that progressive women “go back” to their “broken and crime- infested” countries.
 


 

The tweets, which have been widely denounced as racist, were directed at Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

All are American citizens, and three of the four were born in the US.

Mr Trump alleged again on Tuesday that the women, who strongly oppose his policies and comments, in reality “hate our country.”

The four politicians fired back on Monday, condemning what they called “xenophobic bigoted remarks” and renewing calls for Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings.

FEEDING HIS BASE

The episode served notice that Mr Trump is willing to again rely on incendiary rhetoric on issues of race and immigration to preserve his political base in the lead-up to the 2020 election. He shrugged off the criticism.

“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” Mr Trump said on Monday at the White House.

“A lot of people love it, by the way.”
 

From left, US Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, respond to base remarks by President Donald Trump. Picture: AP
From left, US Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, respond to base remarks by President Donald Trump. Picture: APSource:AP

 

At the Capitol, there was near unanimous condemnation from Democrats and a rumble of discontent from a subset of Republicans, but notably not from the party’s congressional leaders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said Mr Trump’s campaign slogan truly means he wants to “make America white again,” announced on Monday that the House would vote on a resolution condemning his new comments.

The resolution “strongly condemns” Trump’s “racist comments” and says they “have legitimatised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour.”

In response, Mr Trump tweeted anew Tuesday about the four congresswomen: “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the party’s White House nominee in 2012 and now one of the president’s most vocal GOP critics, said on Monday that Mr Trump’s comments were “destructive, demeaning, and disunifying.”

Mr Trump dug in.

“If you’re not happy in the US., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave, you can leave right now,” he said.

C ALCULATED MOVE

Mr Trump, who won the presidency in 2016 in part by energising disaffected voters with inflammatory racial rhetoric, made clear he has no intention of backing away from that strategy in 2020.

His words, which evoked the trope of telling black people to go back to Africa, may have been partly meant to widen the divides within the House Democratic caucus, which has been riven by internal debate over how best to oppose his policies.

And while Mr Trump’s attacks brought Democrats together in defence of their colleagues, his allies noted he was also having some success in making the progressive politicians the face of their party.

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. Picture: APSource:AP

 

The Republican president questioned whether Democrats should “want to wrap” themselves around this group of four people as he recited a list of the quartet’s most controversial statements.

“Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party,” he wrote on Tuesday, adding: “See you in 2020!”

“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” he tweeted on Monday afternoon.

“That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”

At a news conference with her three colleagues, Ms Pressley referred to Mr Trump as “the occupant of our White House” instead of president.

“He does not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that that office requires and that the American people deserve,” she said, encouraging people “not take the bait.”

Ms Pressley said Mr Trump’s comments were “a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people” — prescription drug prices, affordable housing, health care.”

Ms Omar, a naturalised US. citizen born in Somalia, accused him of “openly violating” the Constitution and sounded the call for impeachment proceedings.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez said Trump “does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally.”

TRIED AND TRUE

Mr Trump has faced few consequences for such attacks in the past. They typically earn him cycles of wall-to-wall media attention and little blowback from his party.

He is wagering that his most steadfast supporters will be energised by the controversy as much, or if not more so, than the opposition.

Ben Rhodes, a former national security adviser to Barack Obama, tweeted:

“Trump launched his political brand eight years ago saying the first African American President was born in Africa. It has always been about racism, and the fact that this has ever been a controversial thing to say is part of the problem.”


 

The president has told aides that he was giving voice to what many of his supporters believe — that they are tired of people, including immigrants, disrespecting their country, according to three Republicans close to the White House who were not authorised to speak publicly about private conversations.

Mr Trump singled out Omar, in particular, accusing her of having “hatred” for Israel and expressing “love” for “enemies like al-Qaeda.”

“These are people that, in my opinion, hate our country,” he said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the president who golfed with him over the weekend, advised him to “aim higher” during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends, even as he accused the four Democrats of being “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.”

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said “I don’t think that the president’s intent in any way is racist,” pointing to Mr Trump’s decision to choose Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, as his transportation secretary.

Ms Chao is one of the few minorities among the largely white and male aides in high-profile roles in Mr Trump’s administration.

She is the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who declined to comment Monday on Trump’s attacks.
 

Trump stepped up his attacks on the congresswomen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." Picture: AFP
Trump stepped up his attacks on the congresswomen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." Picture: AFPSource:AFP

 

Among the few GOP politicians commenting Monday, Rep. Pete Olson of Texas said Trump’s tweets were “not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people” in his district.

“I urge our President immediately disavow his comments,” he wrote.

In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from February 2017, half of Americans said the mixing of culture and values from around the world is an important part of America’s identity as a nation.

About a third said the same of a culture established by early European immigrants.

But partisans in that poll were divided over these aspects of America’s identity.

About two-thirds of Democrats but only about a third of Republicans thought the mixing of world cultures was important to the country’s identity.

By comparison, nearly half of Republicans but just about a quarter of Democrats saw the culture of early European immigrants as important to the nation.


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 Keywords: Donald Trump

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