Now comes the phase in the media’s “GOP controversy” ritual where other Republicans who haven’t said boo about closing mosques or registering Muslims must either condemn Trump or stand accused of agreement by ignoring him. Jeb checks the box:
“There are no Christian terrorists wandering around the world trying to take out peace-loving Muslims. This is a serious problem,” Bush told CNBC Friday. “[But] it does not mean we should be disrespectful of Muslims in our country or anything like that. In fact, I find it abhorrent that Donald Trump is suggesting we register people.”…
“You’re talking about internment, you’re talking about closing mosques, you’re talking about registering people, and that’s just wrong, I don’t care about campaigns,” Bush said. “It’s not a question of toughness, it’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears; that’s not strength, that’s weakness.”
Hillary, who insisted yesterday that Muslim culture is “tolerant” despite ample evidence, polling and otherwise, to the contrary, took the easy lay-up as well:
This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country. -H https://t.co/qs2TJI5spu
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 20, 2015
To be clear, I didn’t mean to imply in my post yesterday that Trump was “trolling” when he refused to rule out the reporter’s proposal of special IDs or warrantless searches for Muslims. My point was that Trump doesn’t seem to care about policy details, including the details of his own immigration policy, so you can fart out pretty much any ol’ idea and if it sounds “tough,” he’ll either play it safe by refusing to rule it out or he’ll casually endorse it amid a flurry of generalities about how we need to do “a lot of things.” You could ask him if we should use a catapult to send illegals back over the border to Mexico and he’d probably just say, “We need to be tougher. Our leaders aren’t tough.” He’s running a big-picture campaign, after all. If you want someone who’s going to bore you to death with the minutiae of military strategy in Syria or how we can improve immigration enforcement, talk to Rubio or Cruz. If you want someone who’s going to promise to kick the sh*t out of ISIS and deport all the illegals and bring the Chinese to their knees on trade without ever actually explaining how, you’ve got Trump. Maybe Joel Pollak’s right that Trump understood the question about registering Muslims to refer to new entrants into the U.S., not Muslim-American citizens (whether the feds could single out people of one religion for special scrutiny even if they’re non-citizens would be an interesting legal question), but again, I don’t know if Trump approaches questions like this with that much attention to detail and distinction. I think his approach is, “What would the ‘tough,’ non-PC response be here? What’s the opposite of what Jeb Bush would say?” And that’s the answer he gives. The result may be ugly but in terms of pure political instinct, saying the opposite of what Jeb would say is pretty good advice in a national primary. Just look at the polls.
By the way, Rubio got a question last night too about Trump’s proposal to close down some mosques. You can watch that below. Rubio fans on Twitter were indignant that anyone would compare what he says here to what Trump said, as Rubio focuses not on mosques per se but on radicalization more broadly. Be it a mosque, a cafe, even a website, he says, if it’s being used to “inspire” jihad, it’s subject to closure. That’s an interesting legal question: Can you shut down an entire mosque because, say, there’s an imam there who’s preaching terrorism? Why not just arrest the imam? And can you arrest the imam, bearing in mind that even pro-terrorist speech is probably protected unless there’s reason to think it will encourage the commission of a crime imminently? (The First Amendment test for incitement leans heavily towards allowing controversial speech.) Trump’s not the only would-be president who’d face some stiff court challenges over his policies, although he’d be less articulate in defending them than Rubio would.