Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Reprehensible Does Not Mean "Deranged"


On Sunday, Donald Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a tweet which concluded "He has a DEATH WISH . Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chao!:"

Later that morning, former McConnel advisor Scott Jennings, appearing on CNN's State of the Union, recognized the tweet was "outrageous. It's beyond the pale. Every Republican should be able to say this."  Immediately prior, however, Jennings  had stated

I mean, if you read that whole thing out loud, if you were on the street and you heard someone muttering that on the street corner, you wouldn't say "here, let's hand that person the presidency or the Republican nomination for President." You'd say "Call 911 because it sounds like an unhinged, deranged person has gotten loose and is out on the street and may be a danger to themselves and others." "this is outrageous. It's beyond the pale. Every Republican should be able to say this."



In defense of Jennings (must I?), that was well over 50 hours ago when he labeled the tweeter "unhinged (and) deranged," before it was clear that no GOP official would criticize Trump for the his "outrageous" and "beyond the pale" remarks  Jennings could not have assumed (though he should have been asked) that his former employer would remain silent when confronted with a bigoted attack upon his own wife, a Taiwanese-American who is ethnically Chinese.

A little shy of Sunday afternoon, it was reasonable to speculate that Donald Trump appeared unhinged, dangerous, and "a danger to themselves and others."

Nonetheless, with the benefit of hindsight, it is legitimate, albeit politically incorrect, to argue that Donald Trump's tweet was not a tactical blunder but strategically wise.

The ex-President was able to condemn Mitch McConnell (vastly underappreciated by the Republican street;  hurling a bigoted attack against an Asian-American, which is not underappreciated by the Republican street) and reinforce the notion that he's the only man standing between the USA and mainland China.

Instinctively, Trump realized that he'd be able to get away with slamming an antagonist's wife, which normally would incur a swift response from any self-respecting man or one who respects his wife. He can do so not only because he is Donald Trump, emperor of the Republican Party, but also because in this, he has Mitch McConnell by the short hairs.

This was accomplished by inclusion of "China loving" in the tweet. McConnell does not want to risk incurring engagement with Trump on the issue of his wife being "China loving" because it is a credible accusation. In 2019 The New York Times reported

Ms. Chao has no formal affiliation or stake in her family’s shipping business, Foremost Group. But she and her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have received millions of dollars in gifts from her father, James, who ran the company until last year. And Mr. McConnell’s re-election campaigns have received more than $1 million in contributions from Ms. Chao’s extended family, including from her father and her sister Angela, now Foremost’s chief executive, who were both subjects of the State Department’s ethics question...

Over the years, Ms. Chao has repeatedly used her connections and celebrity status in China to boost the profile of the company, which benefits handsomely from the expansive industrial policies in Beijing that are at the heart of diplomatic tensions with the United States, according to interviews, industry filings and government documents from both countries.

Now, Ms. Chao is the top Trump official overseeing the American shipping industry, which is in steep decline and overshadowed by its Chinese competitors.

Her efforts on behalf of the family business — appearing at promotional events, joining her father in interviews with Chinese-language media — have come as Foremost has interacted with the Chinese state to a remarkable degree for an American company.

(In December of 2020, the Transportation Department's inspector general referred this evident malfeasance to the Justice Department, which declined to prosecute Chao.)

Viewed in that context, Mitch McConnell's silence in the face of a denunciation of his wife is shrewd, however cowardly. And if you're Donald Trump, looking for publicity and to energize his base, upbraiding a dark-skinned woman for being cozy with the Red Chinese and her husband for allegedly playing ball with Democrats is not the work of a lunatic yelling mindlessly on a street corner.

 


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