Columnist rips GOP’s ‘ugly rhetoric’: Hostilities with Iran have ‘brought out the worst’ in Trump supporters
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

It is entirely possible to express negative views about the late Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani yet believe that killing him was a terrible move on the part of the Trump Administration: for example, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that one of the negative consequences of Soleimani’s death is the U.S. having to suspend its military campaign against the terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria). But some Trump supporters have been conflating opposition to the killing with loving the repressive Iranian government, and journalist Paul Waldman asserts in a Washington Post op-ed that such rhetoric underscores the contempt Republicans have for the majority of Americans.

“Perhaps it’s no surprise that the possibility of yet another war in the Middle East has brought out the worst in so many conservative supporters of President Trump,” Waldman asserts. “But even if that prospect seems to have been put off for now, it’s likely that the ugly impulses that have surfaced will emerge again and again as we approach the elections in November.

Waldman cites some examples of the type of things Republican Trumpistas have been saying about opponents of the Soleimani killing. Rep. Douglas A. Collins of Georgia asserted that Democrats are “in love with terrorists. We see that they mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley claimed, “The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership,” while White House Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted, “The alarmists and apologists show skepticism about our own intelligence and sympathy for Soleimani.”

And on Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) smeared Nancy Pelosi, saying: “I never thought that there would be a moment in time when the speaker of the House of Representatives would actually be defending Suleimani."

Waldman writes, “Republicans are quite certain not only that the American public shares their belief that the Soleimani assassination was the right thing to do, but that anyone who disagrees must love terrorists.”

The journalist goes on to note that according to a USA Today polls, 55% of the public believe Soleimani’s death makes them less safe.

“America, it seems, is a nation of ayatollah-sympathizing, terrorist-loving Soleimani-mourners,” Waldman asserts. “Or maybe, most people just don’t buy the proposition that unless you support every decision Donald Trump makes, you’re a traitor.”

Ugly rhetoric from Republicans, Waldman stresses, will only increase between now and the November election — and Democrats will need to call them out.

“As we get closer to the election and the possibility of Democratic victory becomes real,” Waldman warns, “Republicans will get more extreme in their words. Their predictions of cataclysm — the governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, recently said that if Democrats win the Senate, ‘we will take that first step into 1000 years of darkness’ — will regularly bleed over into accusations that if you don’t support Trump, then you wish for the apocalypse and therefore, hate America. That kind of rancid bile shouldn’t go unchallenged for a second.”