The only major legislative accomplishment of Donald Trump and his party is the rich man’s tax cut. They couldn’t keep the primary promise the GOP has been making since the day Obamacare passed, namely to repeal it—although certainly they are trying hard to sabotage our healthcare system. So taxes are it. And that’s what Mr. Popular Vote Loser had been prepared to talk about on Thursday in West Virginia. But his heart just wasn’t in it, so instead he went where his passion led him. Here’s what he told the crowd:
This was going to be my remarks — it would have taken about two minutes, but what the hell — that would have been a little boring.
What Trump ended up doing was to rant and rave about immigrants and, most specifically, Latinos, in a rambling, off-the-cuff monologue aimed at raising fear and anger toward brown people—and pitching himself as the only one who can protect Americans from them. That nakedly political aim is the same one this racially exploitative demagogue has employed since he announced his White House campaign by characterizing immigrants from Mexico as “rapists” who are “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime.” In fact, he even referenced those 2015 remarks in West Virginia the other day, along with engaging once again in blatant fearmongering about violent Latino gangs and criminals:
We cannot let people enter our country — we have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from. We don’t know if they’re murderers, if they’re killers, if they’re MS-13.
Trump went through a litany of lies—some old and some new—about immigrants, each of which are debunked by Linda Qiu here. There was the old saw about voter fraud; he mentioned California specifically, with its immigrant-heavy population. There was a lie about a terrorist bringing in over twenty of his relatives. Then there was the issue that’s been in the news most recently, the “caravan” of refugees heading north from Central America through Mexico. Trump railed about women in this caravan being “raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.” He bizarrely used this (non-)fact as validation of his 2015 language about Mexican immigrant rapists. Those on the ground with the caravan say different, including a reporter with Buzzfeed:
IÃ¢ÂÂve been with the caravan for 12 days and havenÃ¢ÂÂt seen or heard of anyone being Ã¢ÂÂraped at levels that nobody has ever seen before.Ã¢ÂÂ
— Adolfo Flores (@aflores) April 5, 2018
It’s not like this president would just make something up, right?
Trump has been ginning up fear about the caravan for days now (as has just about the entire right-wing media ecosystem—the coverage was so laden with falsehoods that a Breitbart reporter (!) had to call it out as “incorrect”):
Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. Ã¢ÂÂCaravansÃ¢ÂÂ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2018
Going back to the West Virginia remarks, Trump attacked Democrats by saying that they support “very weak laws” and “the worst laws” on immigration, laws that make Americans less safe. He stated: “this is what the Democrats are doing to you, and they like it because they think they’re [it’s not exactly clear who this refers to, but presumably it’s pro-immigration Latinos] going to vote Democrat,” and added: “They’re doing it for that reason, and other reasons.” That’s what the West Virginia remarks were really about: electoral politics.
The Trump tax scheme has already begun to bleed support in recent polls—after peaking at levels significantly lower than currently enjoyed by Obamacare (50 percent-39 percent were in favor according to Huffpost’s Pollster average). Worse (for Trump), two recent polls found that barely a quarter of respondents had seen their after-tax take home pay increase thanks to the new law. The one poll that asked found that only 38 percent of those who said they’d seen a change said the tax plan helped them either “a great deal/a fair amount,” while 62 percent said “some/just a little” or “not much.” A solid majority said they’d seen no change to their paychecks.
Maybe Trump has figured out that the tax scheme isn’t selling, or maybe it just didn’t get his blood pumping the way lying about immigration and crime does. Fearmongering about immigrants has always been at the core of Trumpism. In fact, Trump’s Director of Surrogate & Coalitions Outreach, Kelly Sadler, has been sending out emails on behalf of the White House to conservatives in the media that, in recent months, have focused almost exclusively on this theme. On a broader note, these emails demonstrate how the White House and the right-wing media cooperate to spread their propaganda, feeding off one another’s amplification of a particular story or topic. Some examples of subject lines from Sadler’s emails follow:
CRISIS AT OUR SOUTHERN BORDER
MS-13 Is ‘Taking Over the School’ One Teen Warned Before She Was Killed
CRIMINAL ALIENS SET FREE BY SANCTUARY CITIES
National Security Threats—Chain Migration and the Visa Lottery System
‘I wish I had killed more of the mother‐‐‐‐‐‐-,’ says illegal immigrant accused of killing two cops
U.S. PERMANENTLY RESETTLED NEARLY 142K BANGLADESHI NATIONALS ON BASIS OF FAMILIAL TIES
Previously Deported Mexican National Convicted of Raping 9-Year-Old Girl in Sanctuary City
Republicans thought that running on Trump’s rich man’s tax cut plan would help them. It didn’t help them in PA-18, where Conor Lamb won by opposing it in a congressional district Trump had carried by 20 points. Trying to scare voters last November about immigrants and crime didn’t work either, as shown by Democratic victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Trump even tried the immigration stuff—bringing up “chain migration” and MS-13, for example—when he campaigned unsuccessfully against Conor Lamb last month.
Republicanism—which Donald Trump exemplifies—is morally bankrupt. The primary accomplishment it can cite since taking over the White House and Congress consists of borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to cut taxes overwhelmingly for those at the top—borrowing that they’re already using as an excuse to call for cutting entitlements that benefit those at or below the middle. His millionaire supporters are laughing all the way to the bank, but he has to give something meaningful to the rest of his supporters. When Trump took the stage in West Virginia on Thursday, he just knew that the crowd wouldn’t respond—not the way he needs them to in order to feed his ego at least—if he stuck to his script about taxes.
So instead the Orange Julius Caesar literally tossed the paper on which his speech was printed (at least he didn’t throw it into the crowd like he did with the paper towels in Puerto Rico, but I digress). Trump wanted to talk about the things he’s really passionate about, what’s in his heart. That’s why his white working-class fans love him, right? And what’s in his heart, ladies and gentlemen, is hate.