Yet Wehner now views the party — including the party as it existed before Trump — “through the clarifying prism of Donald Trump, who consistently appealed to the ugliest instincts and attitudes of the GOP base.” In other words, despite the fact that Trump is doing exactly what he promised he would do, Wehner has come to the view that Trump’s allegedly racist words, during the 2016 campaign and today, are the dominant source of his continuing Republican support. This is not remotely plausible.
Indeed, the “clarifying prism” Wehner describes is grossly distorted. He cites no polls or other evidence for generalizing about the attitudes of Trump’s base, much less the GOP as a whole. Of course, Trump has said some harsh and unworthy things about immigrants. For all I know, maybe he himself harbors racist attitudes. But to say that his “base” — whatever that is — and the whole Republican party hold these views, or support Trump because of them, is a scandalously unfounded charge.
Ironically, in the absence of any other support for his assertion about the GOP, Wehner cites George H. W. Bush’s use of the Willie Horton ads in his 1988 campaign as an example of racism, and of a past incident that his new “prism” has brought into focus. While running these ads may say something about Bush 41 — a president in whose administration Wehner ultimately served — they say nothing about the people who voted for him, and certainly nothing about Trump’s base or GOP voters today.