How long, O Lord, must we suffer outbursts of dangerous rhetoric from Donald J. Trump? The latest example, this time in Wilmington, North Carolina, is reported in the New York Times:
The Republican nominee, reports the Times, “appeared to raise the possibility that gun rights supporters could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints judges who favor stricter gun control measures to the bench.”
The candidate then “warned that it would be ‘a horrible day’ if Mrs. Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tie-breaking Supreme Court justice.”
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know
Kayleigh McEnany, a surrogate for Trump, spoke with CNN with her “spin”, saying her candidate was referencing the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Here is her “spin” and the clip of Trump’s threat:
During the reign of England’s King Henry II, in December 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered.
A United Kingdom Learning site records that history this way:
When Becket asked the pope to excommunicate the Archbishop of York who had taken sides with the king [Henry II], it was a very serious request and a very serious punishment for someone who could claim that he was only being loyal to the king.
Henry was furious when he found out what Becket had done. He is said to have shouted out “will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?”
Four knights heard what Henry had shouted and took it to mean that the king wanted Becket dead. They rode to Canterbury to carry out the deed.
The knights were Reginald FitzUrse, William de Tracey, Hugh de Morville and Richard le Breton. On December 29th 1170, they killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. After killing him, one of the knights said “Let us away. He will rise no more.”
History never repeats itself in precise ways. But history sends echoes through the centuries to remind us of consequences that flow from men of power speaking irresponsibly, carelessly and foolishly.
History records that King Henry II walked on his bare feet to Canterbury to repent of his role in the murder of Thomas Becket. The death of Becket, and its consequences, are captured in the movie, Becket.
Donald Trump shows no sign of repenting of his statement, that some commentators have said was a thinly-veiled call for assassination.
That is probably not the case. It was most likely not intended as an actual threat. but merely the exaggerations of a bully who thinks he is being subtle in front of his gang.
Trump is not walking in bare feet anywhere, unless he is relaxing in a spa in one of his hotels. Instead Trump left it to his campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, to provide the campaign explanation to this latest outburst.
Miller tried to “spin” Trump’s outrageous language by saying the candidate was referring to the “power of unification”.
Miller claimed Trump was speaking of “Second Amendment people”, who “have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”
The response to Trump’s outburst has been overwhelmingly negative. The Times looked for some of them.
The implied threat against Clinton prompted a reaction from a Secret Service spokesman, who refused to identify himself, who said the agency was “aware of the comments”. He did not elaborate.
The Times also reported:
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, wrote on Twitter that Mr. Trump “makes death threats because he’s a pathetic coward who can’t handle the fact that he’s losing to a girl.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign events have grown increasingly vitriolic, with angry chants and jeers directed at Mrs. Clinton. People at his rallies have, with greater frequency, loudly called for violence against Mrs. Clinton — catcalls that Mr. Trump has generally let pass.
We have to assume that Trump will go off-script on many occasions, leaving surrogates to clean up behind him.
His staff has tried to clean up his act. But performers like Trump don’t change under command. He operates the way a comedian riffs when performing before a rowdy nightclub audience, responding to the emotional and value level of his audience.
Good judgment is not in his makeup. A crying baby serves him as a foil like a character in a silent movie. He tolerates the crying, saying he loves babies. Within minutes he orders his minions to boot the baby out of the hall.
This is a man who craves adulation and affection and whose communication skills are sadly limited to that of a schoolyard bully.
Trump will continue to belittle his betters with whatever language he dregs up from decades of business battles, many of which he lost.
Each time he dips into his pool of irrational thoughts and blurts them out to others, exposes him as untrained, uninformed and utterly incapable of holding any government position where he has any power over human lives.
Some Republican officials have been reported in search of a way to usher Trump out of the nomination. They nominated him; they now desperately need a way to de-nominate him.
Polling shows him headed downward in states he needs to win in November. But do these polls accurately reflect the passions of his angry followers?
If the polls are wrong, and Trump actually wins in November, then we are headed for the sort of national calamities Ghostbuster Bill Murray described as those of “biblical proportions”.
Trump has promoted his name brand in business and on reality television. He rode his brand through the Republican primaries. Now, facing the actual task of running the nation, he may be preparing to leave the stage.
Why else would he be talking of the general election being “rigged” against him. Could this be his strategy for a brand-saving exit?
On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan won his Republican primary race to retain his Wisconsin congressional seat. Ryan had earlier “reluctantly” agreed to be House Speaker.
Is it possible Ryan will now “reluctantly” step in to save his party and save the nation from the embarrassment of more Trumpian outbursts?
The clock is running.