Almost the entire political establishment, including almost all his Republican rivals for the nomination and even war criminal Dick Cheney, has attacked Donald Trump’s most recent statement that no Muslims should be allowed to enter the US for the foreseeable future, with Jeb Bush going so far as to call it “unhinged”. Trump, predictably, has brushed off the criticisms.
“We need a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States while we figure out what the hell is going on,” he said, prompting a huge roar. The crowd of about 500 Trump faithful stood up as one and bellowed its approval.
“I wrote something today that was very salient, very important,” the candidate said, adding that it was “probably not politically correct”. Then, as the crowd hung on his every word, he lowered his voice to an intimate whisper, leant into the microphone, and said: “But. I. Don’t. Care.”
And you know what? I think this widespread criticism will simply add to his luster among his supporters as the true outsider, the one who cannot be intimidated or bought, and that it will further cement his position as the leader of the pack. Look at this graphic that plots his poll numbers along with his outrageous statements.
Back in the 2008 election, it became clear, especially after John McCain’s disastrous choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, that Obama had a steady lead in the polls and was heading for a win. But the media needs a competitive race and so their commentators would seize on anything that happened and speculate that it would help the McCain campaign, suggesting that now the race was getting closer when it was doing nothing of the sort.
This resulted in a running joke in the blogs that supported candidate Obama, where they would take any blunder by McCain or Palin and write that ‘this is good news for John McCain’.
But in this election, it looks like that this is no longer a joke. Trump has discovered that there are no depth of tribalism, xenophobia, and racism that will alienate his supporters. Everything that happens actually is good news for Donald Trump.