After Trump’s blatantly racist tweets telling nonwhite Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they came from (all but one were born in America), we have waited a full day for Republican officials—any Republican officials—to muster even the barest shreds of condemnation of what is unambiguously a racist attack.
Even now, however, all but the smallest sliver of Republican lawmakers and officials are still remaining silent, backing Trump and his attacks rather than standing up for the integrity of their own party and putative beliefs. Others have chosen to defend Trump explicitly.
The most prominent Trump protector has been, of course, Trump golfing buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham scurried to the Fox & Friends cameras this morning to mount his own attack. “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country. […] They’re anti-Semitic, they’re anti-America.” (He then suggested that Trump should “aim higher,” focusing on “policies” rather than attacking the people Graham just called “communists” and “anti-America” “personally.”)
Some have chosen the path of lying. This includes Trump’s campaign toady Matt Wolking, who insisted Trump did not tell the congresswomen to “go back” to where they “came” from despite Trump’s quote being visible for all to see. Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris chose this path, suggesting that Trump “could have meant go back to the district they came from, to the neighborhood they came from.” Trump specifically said “countries”; Harris is gaslighting.
Of actual condemnations, or statements that creep up on condemnation, Rep. Chip Roy seems to have been the first one capable of squeezing out an approximation—though only as “both sides”-styled condemnation, calling Trump “wrong” while attacking Trump’s targets as representatives who “refuse to defend America.” Rep. Paul Mitchell tweeted that “we must be better than comments like these.”
Rep. Fred Upton did slightly better, dodging an explicit condemnation of Trump’s remarks on morning radio but calling them “uncalled for” and “disappointing,” while noting that they served to “unite” Democrats to “circle the wagons” against such rhetoric—”as all Americans should.”
And Sen. Susan Collins? The famous fretter released a statement noting that she “disagree[s] strongly” with some of the “far-left members” of Congress but that Trump’s tweet was “way over the line, and he should take that down.” So there’s that.
Of the rest of the Republican Party writ large, few others seem to be willing to offer up even the lukewarm condemnations that Roy and the others managed. They have chosen the path of silence. They have done so very explicitly; despite furious insistence by Republican leaders that the party does not tolerate or condone racism, none of its top leaders have mustered even the most trivial possible evidence of such claims—not tolerating a statement that is, on face, explicitly racist. They are not cowards. They have chosen this path on purpose.
Within the White House itself, it is business as usual. Trump can do no wrong; not even the slightest critique of his acts will be tolerated. Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, set the tone.
Asked whether Trump’s tweets were racist, Short replied: “I’m not going to acknowledge that that is. I’m not.”
And that, in the White House, is that.
Sen. Tim Scott musters a very weak reply, attacking Trump’s targets at length before calling Trump’s comments “unacceptable personal attacks” and “racially offensive.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski weighs in: “There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments—they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop.”
On CNN, Texas Rep. Will Hurd called Trump’s tweets “racist”, “xenophobic”, and “unbecoming.”