Monday morning, I was on TV talking about Barack Obama’s anemic speech in the Oval Office, and I was promoting my latest column, titled: “How the Democrats Flubbed San Bernardino.”
This morning, I was on TV condemning Donald Trump for wanting to ban all Muslim travel to the U.S., and today, I’m writing this piece.
This is a microcosm.
Monday, the media cycle was focused on radical Islamism and President Obama’s inability to counter it. Today, Donald Trump has changed the subject. But it’s not just that. Yesterday, the view that radical Islamism was a serious threat that President Obama has not taken seriously (polling backs this up) was a persuasive mainstream position that evoked sympathy and agreement. Today, it’s marginally harder to make that argument.
If you are a Republican, you have two choices: You can either defend the indefensible (Trump’s ridiculous proposal), or spend your valuable time and energy policing your own side — and attacking someone who was ostensibly on your “team.”
Aside from the fact that this comes with an opportunity cost (if you’re spending your time distancing yourself from a crazy conservative, you’re not spending your time criticizing the Left) it also potentially drives a wedge between you and some in the Republican base.
So we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. For politicians, especially, policing your own side (especially if that requires calling for moderation) is a thankless task. Even if I think he finds this serious situation a bit too humorous, Erick Erickson is spot-on here with his political analysis:
All the people attacking Trump on his immigration proposals now attacking him on this have done themselves no favors within the primary process.
Have none of these people read Art of the Deal? This is an opening, bombastic salvo to set the terms of negotiations and the other candidates except Ted Cruz just decided to negotiation [sic] in Barack Obama’s position. And it comes at a time some polls are suggesting Trump is starting to fade in places like Iowa.
So will Trump’s ridiculous policy proposal actually help him politically — at least, in the short term? As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a reason my book is called Too Dumb to Fail.