Trump's Hateful Montana Rally Previews the GOP Midterm Strategy of Sexism and Racism
Donald Trump’s Montana rally showed the trend moving toward the midterm election—the same, only worse. In a rambling, Trump-focused rant that only occasionally remembered that he was supposed to be there supporting a local candidate, Trump returned to the themes that served him so well in 2016: Racism, sexism, racism with sexism, and simple cruelty. Resigning EPA administrator Scott Pruitt did not get a mention, and neither did the whole issue of family separation—but Trump did take time out to say that he would have forced the protester who climbed the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday “to jump.”
In an extended attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump revived his “Pocahontas” insult over and over, adding to it a statement that if she ran for president, he would demand that she take a DNA test—though, as the New York Times reports, he didn’t, of course, offer to take one himself. Or to turn over his taxes. Trump offered to give a million dollars to charity “paid for by Trump” if Warren proved “she’s an Indian.” Considering Trump’s previous record of paying off his promises to charities, no one should count on that money.
In his attack on Warren, Trump also took a sideswipe at the #MeToo movement, saying that when he threw the DNA test at the senator, he would have to do so carefully, because he wouldn’t want someone from the “MeToo generation” to claim she had been injured. Trump’s addition of MeToo to the targets of his attack came on the same day that he appointed disgraced Fox News executive Bill Shine to the White House staff. Shine resigned from Fox News after complaints that he promoted a toxic work environment and ignored repeated incidents of sexual harassment or assault.
Trump also returned to his attacks on Representative Maxine Waters as a “low IQ individual,” but took it even further. Trump declared that the IQ of the African American congresswoman from California was “somewhere in the Mid-60s.”
And Trump leveled a sneer at Therese Okoumou, who climbed up the base of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July in protest of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy and its effect on families. According to Trump, he would have made “that clown” jump, which he followed by saying that they should have just gotten some nets and waited, and which he closed with “I would have done it” in case anyone doubted he was serious about his desire to humiliate or harm.
That was far from all the hate Trump had to hand out on Thursday night. He also went after John McCain and, to the puzzlement of even the Trump-fans on hand, George H. W. Bush. And he lied about the military budget, election resultsand about economic numbers, before returning to two of his favorite targets for blowing his racist bullhorn—unpatriotic NFL players and the infestation of MS-13.
But he did have some good things to say … about Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un.
Trump didn’t restrict all his hate for women—he also went after the elderly and the ailing, making attacks on both John McCain for his support of health care and George H. W. Bush for his “thousand points of light” campaign theme. Trump declared repeatedly that he couldn’t understand what the “points of light” statement was about; a comment which seemed to momentarily silence the Montana Trumpists.
If the NFL thought that merely humilating players by keeping them off the field would make Trump happy, they need to think again. Trump declared that staying in the locker room was “actually worse” than kneeling, and again demanded that players stand or be fired.
On MS-13, Trump did what he’s done in every discussion of the gang—exaggerate their numbers, misstate their origins, and brag about accomplishments that didn’t happen. According to Trump, ICE has deported “thousands” of MS-13 members. But ICE puts the number at 405.
Trump did have some respect to hand out. That went to Kim Jong Un, with whom he “got along really well,” to Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping who “you have to admire” and to Vladimir Putin. Trump waved off concerns that Putin was KGB with a “Putin’s fine,” and ideas that he might be unprepared to meet the Russian leader with the same “I’ve been preparing for this my whole life” that he used before his meeting with Kim Jong Un. On the other hand, Trump spent some time attacking NATO allies and how the US pays for everything, saying that the United States was the bank that “everyone else steals from.”
Trump followed up his rally with a kind of summary tweet that boiled down many of his themes—though he prefers to deliver his sexism in person.
If that sounds about one half-step removed from declaring that it’s too dangerous to hold elections in the fall, that’s because it is.
Note: Because there doesn’t seem to be an official transcript of this rally, I’ve relied heavily on my own notes and on the Twitter feed from Toronto Star correspondent Daniel Dale.