A perfect complement to the Ben Sasse post, which wondered how many Americans agree that the lines are drawn between “militant Islam” and “everyone else.”
CAIR spox Ibrahim Hooper on Trump: "Where is there left for him to go? Are we talking internment camps? Are we talking the final solution?"
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 7, 2015
He’s not just talking about immigrants and refugees, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski emphasized. He’s talking about tourism too. No more Muslims until we “figure out what is going on,” whatever that means.
It’s a perfect Trumpian play, though. It’s highly politically incorrect; the media will go positively batsh*t over it; the rest of the GOP field, especially his new rival Ted Cruz, will squirm about how to respond; and the more heat Trump takes from all sides, the more his fans will love him for it. This is why so many Trump critics, me included, thought that Trump was agreeing with that reporter a few weeks ago when the reporter started asking him about a database of Muslim citizens. That proposal would accomplish most of the same things politically for him that this one does. Maybe he’s saving it for when Cruz crosses 35 percent in Iowa.
Cruz, by the way, also wants to restrict Muslim immigration — but only a particular type, namely refugees, and only from Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria that contain “territory substantially controlled by a foreign terrorist organization.” Tourists and immigrants would presumably still be welcome. Trump’s strategy here, I take it, is to show blue-collar Republicans that Cruz is, to borrow the phrase of the day, a “total pussy” for not being as hard-ass against Muslims as he is. What it’s going to end up doing in practice is making a lot of center-right Republicans more comfortable with the idea of nominating Cruz as a less demagogic alternative to Trump if it turns out that Cruz is the only guy in the race who can realistically stop him. In fact, a Twitter buddy tweeted at me after Trump put this statement out that Trump is a stalking horse for Cruz, a guy whose role in the race is really just to advance Cruz’s political interests. I don’t buy that — they’re too different ideologically — but I’m less skeptical of the idea than I used to be. Give Trump another month of high polling and you’ll have Jeb Bush donors quietly sending money to Cruz Super PACs to take him down.
Meanwhile, the line to denounce Trump is forming:
.@Realdonaldtrump has gone from making absurd comments to being downright dangerous with his bombastic rhetoric.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 7, 2015
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 7, 2015
Graham and Flake are Gang of Eight-ers but I bet you’ll even see some immigration hawks slam Trump’s idea as overbroad and unfair to innocent people.
Update: Christie jumps in.
— Kyle Blaine (@kyletblaine) December 7, 2015
Update: Trump keeps upping the ante rhetorically on Muslims, I think, not just because his fans like it but because he knows Cruz is eventually going to attack him as eight flavors of RINO on things like eminent domain, health care, protectionism, you name it. Being ever more hardline on immigration and terrorism is a sort of defense to that, if you don’t take conservatism too seriously to begin with. The risk he’s taking, though, by escalating his rhetoric is that eventually some Republicans will decide that they just can’t vote for him if he’s the nominee — not on political grounds but on moral grounds. The former isn’t an unsolvable problem; lots of people who prefer candidate A right now will claim that they could never vote for candidate B as nominee, but that’ll change once the “candidate B will advance more of my agenda than Hillary would” logic of a general election campaign sets in. If people decide they can’t vote for you in good conscience because they object to you morally, though, that’s a harder nut to crack. The only way to undo it might be to tack to the center. And if someone like Trump did that, he’d blow up the reason why many of his fans like him in the first place.
Update: Here’s Fiorina.
"Unfortunately I think Donald Trump's over reaction is as dangerous as Obama's under reaction," says Fiorina on Trump's Muslim statement.
— Danny Freeman (@DannyEFreeman) December 7, 2015
Bush and Rubio are givens to criticize Trump but they haven’t commented yet.
Update: A terse statement from Ted Cruz.
Here's Ted Cruz's full response in South Carolina to Donald Trump's remarks about Muslims. pic.twitter.com/SJznNoQZP2
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) December 7, 2015
Right, I described his policy above. He’s going to get badgered by the media to elaborate, though. That’s another clever part of this for Trump: In a way, his competition will take more heat for it than he will.
Update: And here’s the Bush denunciation:
Donald Trump is unhinged. His "policy" proposals are not serious.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 7, 2015
Update: This is also true, needless to say. If you doubt it, go look at the numbers I posted in the Sasse thread.
Anybody who thinks this will hurt Trump has slept through the past five months.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) December 7, 2015
Update: If you’re an American Muslim on vacation abroad and the Trump plan goes through, you’d better get comfortable where you are. Apparently you don’t get to come home.
When asked by The Hill whether that would include Muslim-American citizens currently abroad, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks replied over email: “Mr. Trump says, ‘everyone.'”
Obviously this is a very serious proposal from Team Trump. So serious it’d make your head spin.
Update: Good point from Ben Shapiro:
Kiss Our Intelligence Apparatus Goodnight. We need to work with Muslims both foreign and domestic. It’s one thing to label Islamic terrorism and radical Islam a problem. It’s another to label all individual Muslims a problem. That’s what this policy does. It’s factually wrong and ethically incomprehensible. Donald Trump has just transformed into the strawman President Obama abused on Sunday night.
So no, this isn’t a good idea. It’s a rotten idea all the way around: legally, ethically, practically. Trump’s supporters need to realize at some point that knee-jerk extreme reactions to events of the day don’t substitute for good judgment. It’s ugly when it’s President Obama looking to grab guns from American citizens without due process, and it’s ugly from Donald Trump. Given the poll numbers, it’s not clear whether Americans will get wise to that truth.
Update: And here’s Rubio.
I disagree with Donald Trump's latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 8, 2015
Incidentally, Trump apparently told Greta Van Susteren during an interview tonight that Muslim-American servicemen would be allowed to return home. Also he has many Muslim friends and they’re good people.