Michael Hayden on Trump's "Second Amendment people": If anyone else had said it, they'd be arrested; Update: Trump clarifies

Well, okay, but if any other government official had mishandled classified information “extremely carelessly,” they’d be facing trial in federal court. This is the sort of calculus our two nominees have led us to this year.

I agree with Justin Green that Trump wasn’t suggesting assassination, but I really have no reason for believing that apart from my gut instinct that even Trump isn’t so much of a blowhard that he’d say something like that.


Trump doesn’t seem to be talking about voting; he’s referring at the beginning of the excerpt to what happens after Hillary’s already president and she’s filling court vacancies. He probably meant that gun-rights activists could lean on their senators to block confirmation of anti-gun judges. They’re organized; they’ve got plenty of muscle on the Hill via the NRA. Although admittedly, that assumes that Trump has a basic sense of how the judicial confirmation process works. Does he? This is a guy known for saying that judges sign “bills.”

The NRA came to Trump’s defense this afternoon, sort of:

So did Mike Pence, of course:

Jeff Sessions defended him too, insisting that Trump wasn’t inciting violence. It’d be easy to give the benefit of the doubt to a traditional politician who said the same thing Trump did since the hallmark of professional pols is caution. They wouldn’t come within 100 miles of winking at assassination for fear of the political blowback they’d get. With Trump, who specializes in freewheeling commentary at his rallies and prizes himself for his political incorrectness, who knows what sort of tacky joke might escape from his mouth before he’s taken a second to think it through? He probably meant this innocently and was misinterpreted, although I remember last summer Leon Wolf writing presciently at the start of Trumpmania that Trump’s rallies and press conferences are the rhetorical equivalent of a jet firing off chaff or flares to blind missiles. Sometimes there’ll be half a dozen inaccurate or off-color things he’ll say in a 20-minute period and the media simply can’t decide which is the important one to focus one because there’s so much stuff hanging in the air. There’s an element of that to this controversy too. Was he serious? Joking? Innocent and being misinterpreted? It’s increasingly hard to see any individual “gaffe” clearly enough to tease out motive. There are too many lights in the sky.

Update: A decent job of clean-up, although those who think he was talking about assassination, jokingly or not, will likely dismiss it as spin.


On the other hand, how eager are you to have the most powerful man in the world in constant clean-up mode?

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Jazz Shaw 5:01 PM on March 22, 2023