Tuesday, July 16, 2019

President Trump Stands By 'Go Back' Comments

This was the big story yesterday, at the New York Times, via Memeorandum, "Trump Tells Freshman Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From."

Great. I love it!

At the Los Angeles Times, "As Trump doubles down on racist comments, House to vote on condemning them":

Reporting from Washington —  President Trump delivered some of the most incendiary comments of his presidency on Monday, signaling that he intends to build his reelection bid as much around divisive racial and cultural issues as on low unemployment and economic growth.
The rhetoric sparked unusual pushback from several Republicans, and led to a dramatic clash in which four first-year House Democrats — all women of color — denounced Trump’s language as “xenophobic,” “bigoted” and unworthy of a sitting president.

Earlier, Trump had vilified the four elected members of Congress as “people who hate our country.”

“They hate it, I think, with a passion,” he told reporters.

The House is planning to condemn Trump’s comments as “racist” in a resolution to be voted upon as soon as Tuesday. The four-page resolution praises immigrants and condemns Trump’s comments, which have “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

Trump was asked Monday if he was concerned that white nationalists had found common cause with him after he had urged progressive Democrats to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” Trump said. “And all I’m saying is if they want to leave, they can leave.”

Trump questioned the patriotism of the four lawmakers — all U.S. citizens and three born in the United States — at an event intended to highlight American-made products.

His rhetoric trampled over the economic populism his aides had sought to convey with the visual display of motorcycles and military equipment, providing new evidence that Trump’s “America First” agenda is as much about identity politics as it is about trade.

Trump views his efforts to fan racial and ethnic tensions as a political positive for his reelection campaign, even as others worry about the long-term damage to a country that has long struggled to reconcile its commitment to pluralism with its historical racism.

Overall, Trump’s taunts to the four — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — served to unify Democrats just as they were facing one of their most serious fractures since taking control of the House in the 2018 election.

Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Tlaib in Detroit. Omar was born in Somalia and came to the United States in 1997 as a refugee, later becoming a U.S. citizen.

But it also elevated the four progressives in the public eye, potentially causing more problems for Democratic leadership.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has been at odds with the four over the direction of the House majority, including a recent border spending bill. For weeks, progressives viewed Pelosi as pandering to more politically vulnerable moderates in the caucus.

But the four focused only on Trump Monday in a 20-minute news conference at the Capitol.

“This is the agenda of white nationalists,” said Omar, who accused Trump of tweeting to distract Americans from his policies. “We can continue to enable this president and report on the bile of garbage that comes out of his mouth or hold him accountable for his crimes.”

The president can’t defend his policies, “so what he does is attack us personally and that is what this is all about,” Ocasio-Cortez agreed. “He can’t look a child in the face and look all Americans in the face to justify why this country is throwing [them] in cages,” referring to migrant detention camps on the Southwest border.

“Despite the occupant of the White House’s attempt to marginalize us and silence us, please know we are more than four people,” Pressley said. “We ran on a mandate to represent those … left behind.”

Elected Republican officials were largely silent on Sunday, but several condemned Trump’s language on Monday, collectively forming some of the most significant pushback the president has seen from fellow Republicans.

“I am confident that every Member of Congress is a committed American,” tweeted Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). Trump’s tweets “were racist and he should apologize. We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it.”

Some of the president’s sometime-critics — including Republicans Rep. Will Hurd of Texas and Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — spoke out.

So did Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who called Trump’s comments “destructive, demeaning, and disunifying” in a tweet. He added, “People can disagree over politics and policy, but telling American citizens to go back to where they came from is over the line.”

But unexpected critics arose, too.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) said Trump “was wrong to suggest that four left-wing congresswomen should go back to where they came from. Three of the four were born in America and the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine.”

Some Republicans supported Trump, however, suggesting that his mark on GOP politics would probably continue even after he leaves office.

“There’s no question that the members of Congress that @realDonaldTrump called out have absolutely said anti-American and anti-Semitic things. I’ll pay for their tickets out of this country if they just tell me where they’d rather be,” tweeted Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.)...