Thursday, June 16, 2016

"I've run out of adjectives"

Actually this is the third or fourth time in recent months that Republican senator Lindsey Graham has used that line regarding his reaction to the things that one Donald J. Trump has to say.

But it underscores the problem that journalists, too, are having in capturing the utter vileness and recklessness of Trump's most recent statements regarding the Orlando massacre, in which he explicitly accused all Muslims in America — and even the president of the United States — of willful complicity in the attack.

Even the New York Times seemed to be at a loss for the words and means to lay out exactly what Trump actually said, taking refuge in standard journalistic shorthand designed for describing the normal evasions of normal politicians: "implied" "suggested" and the like and ran a story with the very nice journalism school headline "Trump and Clinton Differ on Terror Approach."

It's worth assembling a timeline of Trump's astonishing statements of the last 72 hours to grasp the enormity of what he has brought the country to:

• June 13 early morning, on "Fox and Friends":
We're led by a man who is very -- look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind. And the something else in mind, you know, people can't believe it.... People cannot believe, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and he can't even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on.... He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It's one or the other

• Later that morning, on the "Today" show:
Well there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn't want to get it 

• Later that day, Trump pulls the Washington Post's press credentials for covering his campaign, accusing the newspaper of being "dishonest" and "phony" and "incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting," specifically for a story reporting that Trump had connected Obama to the Orlando attack.

• June 13, afternoon, in a "major foreign policy address":

Now, the Muslim communities so importantly, they have to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. And they know it. And they have to do it and they have to do it forthwith. … They know what is going on. They know that [the Orlando shooter] was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what, they didn't turn them in, and we had death and destruction. … When people know what is going on and they don't tell us and we have an attack and people die, these people have to have consequences. Big consequences.

• June 14, having dismissed as dishonest and phony the Post's report that he had accused Obama of deliberately siding with terrorists, Trump sent the AP a statement accusing Obama of deliberately siding with terrorists:
[Obama] claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people
• June 15, 6:38 am, Trump sends out a tweet with a link to a right-wing conspiratorial hoax — which has been circulating for years on the Internet — claiming that a "memo" proves that Obama is siding with ISIS. Completing the circle of illogical denials, Trump simultaneously accuses the media of being inaccurate for claiming that he had "insinuated" the things he did (actually, he didn't insinuate: he asserted), while also claiming  that this "evidence" shows he was "right" all along in claiming the things he is claiming he didn't claim:

Asked how they can continue to support a man who cites conspiracy theories to accuse the president of treachery, who claims that the entire American Muslim community is complicit in terrorism and will face "big consequences," the leaders of the Republican Party have come up with new and even more creative ways of avoiding the subject altogether. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a particularly bold moral stance, telling a reporter, "I'm not going to be commenting on the presidential candidates today."