Former President Barack Obama, responding to the white nationalist terrorist attack in El Paso that has left 22 people dead, urged U.S. leaders to “soundly reject language” that “feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments” —and although Obama didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines. Not surprisingly, some of Trump’s carnival barkers at Fox News, including Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends,” have reflexively rushed to the president’s defense. And in doing so, Kilmeade has promoted some ideas about Obama’s presidency that are badly flawed.
Trump, known for watching Fox News religiously, tweeted what Politico’s Quint Forgey described as a “distillation of a sentiment” Kilmeade expressed: Trump’s tweet read, “‘Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control.’ ‘Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.’ @kilmeade @foxandfriends.”
It’s true that mass shootings occurred when Obama was president. The United States suffered mass shootings not only under President Obama, but also, under President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. But here’s the problem with the notion that Obama didn’t do enough to prevent mass shootings or political violence: it was Republicans who, in 2009, gave former Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano hell for warning about the terrorist dangers of white nationalism.
“Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.” @kilmeade @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
Napolitano, a centrist Democrat who previously served as governor of Arizona, had strong evidence for her fears: an intelligence report by Daryl Johnson, a former senior analyst and domestic terrorism expert for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In his report, Johnson specifically mentioned “right-wing extremism” and was concerned that extremists might try to recruit returning military veterans.
Republicans in Congress and in the right-wing media were furious. Some demanded that Johnson be fired; some wanted Napolitano fired as well. And DHS, as Johnson noted in an August 21, 2017 article for the Washington Post, “caved to the political pressure.” Johnson’s work in the area of far-right and white nationalist extremism was halted because of the Republican backlash. Kilmeade’s colleagues at Fox News, never missing an opportunity to bash the Obama Administration, painted Johnson’s perfectly legitimate investigation as a partisan attack on the GOP — which it wasn’t.
The New York Times’ Paul Krugman, in a column published this week, asserts that Republicans endangered public safety by objecting so vehemently to the DHS’ investigation of white nationalism.
“The party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene,” Krugman recalled. “More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term ‘right-wing extremism’ was unacceptable.”
Of course, Johnson’s fears were perfectly justified. The August 3 shooter in El Paso, according to law enforcement, was motivated by exactly the type of far-right white nationalist extremism that Johnson was worried about — and that Republicans have failed to take seriously.
Kilmeade and his colleagues at Fox News can criticize Obama and praise Trump all they want. But the fact is that Johnson and the DHS, under Obama, tried to investigate and prevent white nationalist terrorism — and the Republicans gave them nothing but grief for it.
The pundit class is freaking out about socialism — and they’re utterly clueless about where politics is headed
On Saturday, Jonah Goldberg, the well-known conservative pundit, tweeted approvingly an article by Jonathan Chait, the well-known liberal pundit. Chait was writing in a mode critics often call “Democrats in Disarray!” He was worried that Joe Biden might be too old to lead a party too far left to be led anywhere next year.
In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, an exotic political theory promoted by the party’s most left-wing flank suddenly gained wide circulation. The appeal of Bernie Sanders proved Democrats were ready to embrace socialism, or at least something close to it; and Donald Trump’s election proved a nominee with extreme positions could still win. These two conclusions, in combination, suggested the party would move as far left as activists preferred at no political cost (all italics mine).
The Democrats’ weird quasi-impeachment process is basically as bad as doing nothing
House Democrats are finally pursuing an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump. Or maybe not. It depends on whom you ask, and when. “The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced a resolution that some Democrats say amounts to opening an impeachment inquiry while others say it means nothing,” reported The Huffington Post last week. A day earlier, The New York Times had reported that “the second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, was unequivocal: An impeachment investigation of President Trump is not underway.” A day later, he backtracked. On Monday, Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler announced that a hearing scheduled for today would be designated “as an impeachment hearing.”
Trump is a wannabe dictator in training
In a view shared by many, it is easy to believe that what Donald Trump really wants is not to be president of the country, but dictator of it.
Indeed, he has suggested how good it might be for him to enjoy a third term, perhaps more, even though the Constitution forcefully forbids it.
In a Father's Day tweet he fantasized over the possibility, suggesting the public might “demand” that he serve a third term. The [good news], he wrote, “is that at the end of six years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT)….”