So on Wednesday we had Donald Trump going to Mexico and meeting with their president Enrique Pena Nieto. Following it, he lavishly praised the Mexican people and said that the two had a cordial discussion, and that they did not discuss the wall or who would pay for it (something that the Mexican president later contradicted), suggesting to observers that he was going to change his approach on the divisive issue of immigration.
Then he immediately went to Arizona, a border state, and delivered a speech that was even more hardline than anything he has said so far. Josh Marshall watched the speech and says:
This was as wild and as unbridled a speech as I’ve seen from Trump. Even if you couldn’t understand English, it would be stunning to watch the slashing hand gestures, the red face, the yelling. It’s hard to imagine any presidential candidate in living memory giving such a speech. And again, this is if you didn’t know what the words even meant.
More than anything, perhaps the most chilling part of this day is the contrast between the two men – a measured, calm statesman figure we saw this afternoon and this railing, angry demagogue figure who captured the emotional tenor of Klan rally. As I said, the ability to shift from one persona to the other is a sign of danger in itself.
On balance, Trump doubled-down on just about everything.
Charles P. Pierce was also dumbfounded and said of the speech:
Quite simply, for almost 98 minutes, the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties did a very convincing imitation of someone who should not be allowed out in public without a keeper, and whose keeper should not be allowed anywhere near him without a net, sufficient backup, and a tranquilizer gun capable of inducing coma in a herd of drunken elephants.
Intrigued, I started out to watch the speech below.
His speech starts at the 22:00 minute mark after the usual warm up acts. The speech was really something and I could not take more than 30 minutes of it. He started out by saying that undocumented immigrants pose one of the greatest challenges facing the country today. Really? Then after praising the Mexican president and expressing his love for the Mexican people and how under his leadership the two nations would build a new relationship, he then abruptly switched at the 25-minute mark to say that the media and the politicians and other interests were hiding the truth from the American people that these immigrants were destroying our country.
He gave story after story of immigrants who had killed people here and were taking our jobs, painting a picture of the streets not being safe to walk on because of marauding hordes of immigrants and refugees. He threw in attacks on the media elites and Washington insiders and Hillary Clinton (of course), saying that they all favored open borders, amnesty, and releasing criminals, and treated these criminal immigrants better than American veterans by wanting to give them Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. He said that Clinton had pledged amnesty in the first 100 days of her administration and, in passing, he threw in attacks on sanctuary cities, global warming, and special interests.
This was a flat-out fear-mongering speech (at lest the part that I watched) that was devoid of almost any factual basis. This was a Willie Horton speech, for those who remember the 1988 election campaign in which George H. W. Bush accused Michael Dukakis of favoring the release from prison of murderers.
McKay Coppins looks at whom the speech was aimed at.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s hardline immigration speech Wednesday night, Republicans throughout the party largely abandoned discussion of a late push to win over Latinos, and seemed instead to focus on a new question: Which white voters can the candidate still reach?
Trump’s much-hyped speech in Phoenix came after two roller-coaster weeks in which the nominee flailed and flip-flopped on the immigration issue, and suggested he was “softening” his stance. This brief flirtation with moderation led many to speculate that Trump was courting Hispanic voters — a theory that was buoyed by the candidate’s last-minute meeting with the Mexican president Wednesday.
But interviews with a wide range of Republicans — from unabashed Trump supporters to #NeverTrump bitter-enders — suggested few in the party are still clinging to that hope.
David Kochel, an Iowa-based Republican operative and former campaign strategist for Jeb Bush, interpreted Trump’s immigration speech as a “decision to play directly to [his] already secured base.”
“It has to be their calculation that they can drive up turnout in white working-class areas of battleground states to dizzying heights,” Kochel said. “Otherwise this move makes no sense 69 days from the election.” In any case, he added, “The ‘softening’ of Trump’s immigration policy died tragically on Wednesday night in Phoenix. Foul play is suspected.”
Cato Institute immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh, meanwhile, said, “Trump’s aim was to shore up his base — in late August. … The speech was one big dog whistle to anti-immigration populists.”
Nowrasteh, who opposes Trump, added, “After this speech, nobody can claim Trump has softened his policy. When he loses in November it will be because his immigration stance is wildly out of step with voters.”
So while the speech was one of the worst examples of fear-mongering and pandered shamelessly to the audience by making the most outlandish promises that drew great applause (saying that all criminals would be gone within the first hour he is in office), it clarified what he wants to make this election all about, and that is that immigrants are destroying America and that everyone other than he and his supporters are colluding in that endeavor and that only he can stop them..
So brace yourself folks for a campaign that is going to reach stratospheric heights of nativism, xenophobia, and racism. Every other issue, such as the economy, jobs, foreign policy, climate change, is going to be presented within this one overriding theme.