Heather Digby Parton realizes
Donald Trump sees an America that is terrified of foreigners of all stripes, and wants the media to help him stoke that fear for his own purposes. One cannot help but wonder what President Trump would do if a modern-day Timothy McVeigh managed to pull off one of these horrifying terror plots he doesn’t seem to notice or care about. We will have to hope the American people will understand where to lay the blame.
If they do not, Democrats will be partially to blame.
When on February 3 federal judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order against President Trump's refugee/immigration limitation/ban, The New Republic's Jeer Heet writes
If the U.S. is hit by a terrorist attack that can be connected to Islamic radicalism, Trump will blame his opponents, whether they be the courts, politicians, journalists, or whomever; the terrorist attack will be anyone’s fault but his own. Knowing this, Democrats must be ready to play politics in return.
Thus far, they are not. Typical is the response of Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, who stated
If the president were serious about bringing our country together and keeping us safe, he would rescind this arbitrary and discriminatory order and recall what makes our country great. Immigrants and refugees have enriched our country since its founding.
The people who care about immigrants and refugees and discrimination, even about arbitrariness (or nuance, for that matter), already are repulsed by the President's order. And if hordes of voters were "serious about bringing our country together," the candidate who campaigned against "crooked Hillary" encouraged "lock her up," suggested "Second Amendment people" might want to address the problem of a Clinton presidency, and praised Vladimir Putin wouldn't have been elected.
Trump has succeeded in making the American people, already on edge about terrorism, arguably more frightened than in the past sixteen years. Heer continues
if an attack can be tied to Islamic radicalism, Trump will say “I told you so”—and argue that he was trying to protect the American people, but was hamstrung by the courts and other enemies. He will use Americans’ anger over terrorism to discredit the institutions that have a constitutional duty to check him, and he will push for more presidential power.
Notwithstanding the omission in Trump's list of 78 terrorist incidents of "mentions of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil perpetrated by non-Muslims or people who didn’t sympathize with the Islamic State," it is by no means certain that (if deadly enough) the President won't blame even a non-Islamic attack on the courts- or the Democratic Party.
Whatever love, patience, or tolerance Americans have toward immigrants or refugees will dissipate rapidly as someone is blamed when- uh, er, if- there is a terrorist attack on the "homeland" (thank you, Third Reich!). The Democratic Party now must emphasize the message that President Trump's order makes the nation less safe rather than more safe- and that his policies make an attack likely.
The invitation to fear goes against the instincts of most liberals and progressives, whose presidential candidate raised invitation of fear to an art form. Leahy is not alone among Democrats to argue that the restrictionist Executive Order the President (briefly) implemented is dangerous for women and children and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. (See Minority Leader Schumer, above, calling it "mean-spirited and un-American.") Meanwhile, Heer understands, "Trump is preemptively trying to insulate himself from blame for terrorist attacks (and) it’s up to the Democrats and the broader anti-Trump coalition to push a counter-narrative immediately."
Fingers will be pointed, and even though Trump's policy probably encourages such acts, the American people will not understand where to lay the blame. Democrats must make sure those fingers are pointed away from them, thus toward President Trump and his band of 300+ sycophants.
A collateral advantage of this approach, Ed Kilgore explains, is that it would enable Democrats to resist
the temptation to 'rally around the president' if his adminstration does suceed in provoking or failing to prevent or intercept future attacks. Whether or not you think George W. Bush bore any responsibility for 9/11, there is no question he exploited the atmosphere of post-attack solidarity to lauch an unnecessary preemptive war against Iraq.
Jeer Heet realizes "While Trump is trying to use the fear of terrorism to shore up his own power, his opponents need to show that he is already mishandling national security, making America less safe. A major terrorist attack under his watch will be a fireable offense." American voters will believe it unacceptable and a fireable offense- for President Trump or for the opposition party.