Thursday, September 1, 2016

Echoes of a dictator: Trump's performance on immigration

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 7:47 AM

click to enlarge STRONG WORDS: Josh Marshall goes extreme on Donald Trump's day of immigration.
  • STRONG WORDS: Josh Marshall goes extreme on Donald Trump's day of immigration.

A flat, factual recitation doesn't do justice to Donald Trump's two-faced turn on immigration yesterday — a placid photo op in Mexico and a return to red-faced, screaming nativism in Arizona.

One who got at the truth of the day was Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, who dared touch the third rail of political commentary by referencing a certain famous dictator of yore. Justified in this case? You decide:

Let me start with a general comment on tone. 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.

As the speech was unfolding, I said something on Twitter that I'm sure many will find extreme or beyond the pale. But watching this speech, compared to the press conference today in Mexico City, what kept coming to my mind was the contrast between Hitler's uniformed rally speeches from the hustings and the suited, statesman Hitler we see in the old news reels in Munich and at other iconic moments in the late 1930s. Hitler is sui generis, of course. His crimes are incomparable. But the demagogic style, the frenzied invocation [of] familial blood sacrificed to barbaric outsiders - these are not unique to him. When we see this lurid, stab-in-the-back incitement, the wild hyperbole, the febrile railing against outsiders who will make us no longer a country - the similarities are real. 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.
But what if it proves a winning political formula? It did for that other guy. It seems that, whatever Trump says, it's a winner in Arkansas. 

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