Via Mediaite, it’s Sam Clovis, whom you might remember began last year as the chairman of Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa. Perry’s funding dried up, he couldn’t pay the bills, and before long Clovis was aboard the Trump train. Perry’s campaign was short but memorable for the speech he gave, which seems more prescient every day, warning of the threat Trumpism poses to conservatism. Most of political media laughed that off as a desperation play by a guy who was gasping for media oxygen. The CW back then was that Trump was a novelty act who’d fade in winter as voters got serious, as surely as Herman Cain did. Six months later, here’s Perry’s former right-hand man proving his point by denying the plain meaning of English words about political violence, simply because it benefits his boss to do so. (He’s not the only Trump supporter to do so this week on CNN either.) Maybe Clovis would have held this opinion no matter who he was working for, but I tend to doubt it. Trumpism corrupts. This is just today’s example.
Heather MacDonald, a staunch border hawk, asks the same question I’ve been asking: How would righties like Clovis react if Obama idly suggested that riots might follow if he didn’t get his way on something?
[D]on’t assume that given enough encouragement, working-class Trump backers can’t be worked up into some Bacchanalian violence themselves. And while such self-indulgent tantrums may not reach the same scale as the recent rioting in Baltimore, Ferguson, and Oakland, they would be just as corrosive an attack on civil order.
Faced with each latest example of Trump’s megalomaniacal boorishness and appalling manners, his supporters inevitably claim: Oh, the Left is so much worse. That is not always the case. Trump has achieved a level of vicious, personal invective, and wildly irresponsible public pronouncements that is unprecedented in recent memory. And I speak as someone who supports his immigration positions 100 percent and who takes a fiendish delight in his scourging of the Republican establishment and its open-borders ideology. But some things are more important than a stated willingness to enforce the immigration laws (especially when an alternative candidate exists who is equally committed to immigration enforcement), and the maintenance of civilized society is one of them.
Ironically, Trump occasionally positions himself as the law-and-order candidate. But his recent threat of riots disqualifies him from that position and shows him to be clueless about the fragility of civil order and the profound responsibilities of a leader for maintaining that order. His self-indulgent, undisciplined pronouncements should disqualify him from the presidency as well.
It’s a fine line between being a “law-and-order candidate” and being an authoritarian, and Team Trump’s really making no effort to walk it. In fact, watch both clips below and you’ll find Clovis making another dubious remark about the prospect of a brokered convention: If delegates don’t end up on the Trump train, he warns, they’ll end up “under it.” Oh? What would it mean to end up under the train? Normally I’d dismiss that as mindless hyperbole but threats are a regular part of Trumpist discourse with critics. I’d be curious to know what sort of reprisals are planned for delegates who insist on sticking with Ted Cruz.
One point in Clovis’s defense, though. Some righties are laughing at him for what he says in the first clip about the RNC needing to respect the will of “the Republicans and the Democrats and the independents who’ve voted for Mr. Trump.” It does seem ridiculous that the Republican Party needs to bow to the preferences of Democratic voters, but how is that Clovis’s fault? That’s what the party gets for holding open primaries. If you want to reduce Democrats’ say over the GOP nominee, close all of the primaries in 2020. Simple as that.