Gage Skidmore / Flickr Ed Gillespie...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Something jogged Donald Trump from the media-stupor he has been locked in since NBC broke the story of Trump’s Secretary of State and presumed lackey, Rex Tillerson, calling him a “fucking moron,” which became the banner story of domestic media outlets not to mention the world press. Perhaps John Kelly decided to try and distract Trump with a little previously scheduled campaigning work for Republican candidates who wish to still be standing politically past November 7. In all events, Trump decided to insert himself into the Virginia gubernatorial race last night with this:

What Trump’s latest blast of policy and piffle translates as is that Ralph Northam is purportedly an advocate of tattoed brown men running amok on the streets of Virginia. Ed Gillespie is running TV ads depicting just that, focused specifically on MS-13’s iconic motto, Kill. Rape. Control.

If you’re having a feeling of deja vu, right you are, you saw this last when Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was attacked for furloughing felon Willie Horton. Ed Gillespie and Donald Trump have gone full on Willie Horton:

The Gillespie ad’s use of sexual assault imagery resembles the infamous Republican television ad attacking 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for furloughing the felon Willie Horton. That ad explicitly appealed to voters’ racial animus by emphasizing that the furloughed Horton, a black man, went on to rape a white woman. The ad’s creator, Republican operative Lee Atwater, later expressed regret for the poisonous role the television spot played in American politics.

Ginning up racial animus used to be done via dog whistle but that was pre-Trump. Now the dog whistle is an air raid siren, subtlety a thing of the past. White People v. Brown People is how Gillespie is framing the contest. Plus, Trump endorsing Gillespie is an interesting conundrum on its face, the pussy grabbing misogynist endorsing a candidate that says he wants to protect women from out of control men. Right.

The notion about Ralph Northam favoring sanctuary cities is also a non issue. Daily Kos writer Gabe Ortiz did a diary yesterday on this topic, quoting Huffington Post:

The 40-second spot, which describes the predominantly Latino MS-13 as a group that “pushes drugs and turns young girls into sex slaves,” inaccurately accuses Northam of effectively enabling the gang to flourish in Virginia.

“MS-13 is a menace. Yet Ralph Northam cast the deciding vote in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the street, increasing the threat of gangs like MS-13,” the narrator says as ominous music plays in the background.

There are no sanctuary cities in Virginia. The “deciding vote” cast was a tie-breaking vote in February “to defeat a state Senate bill that would prohibit localities in the state from creating so-called “sanctuary cities” ― or adopting policies that limit their cooperation with the federal government on immigration enforcement.”

As for the MS-13 presence in Virginia, The Hill  reports that “Gillespie faced criticism after one of the ads showed images of Northam alongside purported MS-13 members. The men pictured weren’t MS-13 members, however, but were prisoners in El Salvador.”

It’s GOP Propaganda 101 tactics; the more they change the more they are the same.

But one new element might be considered: The last time Trump went stumping for a candidate, Luther Strange, it turned into a pyrotechnic failure of Hindenburg dimensions. Maybe the Strange Syndrome will be in effect on November 7 in Virginia as well. Polls indicate that Gillespie trails Northam by 12 points and Virginia was the only deep south state that voted blue in 2016.

It could be that the times they are a changin’ and we’re going to win this one. But let’s not speculate, let’s do it. Here are links that you need:

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