Thursday, October 1, 2020

Are Republicans embarrassed enough yet to stand down and not vote for Donald Trump this year, or will you proud boys and girls stand by him knowing exactly what he is?


I have a Republican friend down Key West way, who quietly voted for Donald Trump in 2016. My friend is an Army Special Forces combat veteran. He spent quite a while in the banking industry in Key West, before going to work for a company that manages wealthy people's money. He is the chairman of a local charter school. He serves on many non-profit boards. He is on the local newspaper editorial board. He is chairman of a local non-profit that hosts candidate events. He is the moderator for those candidate events. He often is the moderator for candidate events hosted by other non-profits in Key West. "That was an embarrassment of a debate," he texted me yesterday morning. 

I read online this morning that thought is being given to allowing the moderators of the next two presidential debates to turn off a candidate's mic. I proposed a kill switch in yesterday's post at this blog. However, I don't think the moderator should have discretion. I think the moderator should be required to turn off the mike of the candidate who is not speaking, and I think the moderator should be required to tell the candidates and the audience that at the beginning of the debate.

During the embarrassment of a debate:

(CNN)Asked directly during Tuesday night's debate to condemn the Proud Boys hate group, President Donald Trump told them to "stand back and stand by."

His family (Donald Trump Jr.) and top campaign aides (Jason Miller) quickly moved to argue Trump had simply made a verbal error in not condemning the Proud Boys, who the Anti-Defamation League's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, told CNN on Wednesday "unequivocally are a hate group" -- and that his intent to condemn the group was clear.
"They style themselves as a quote pro-Western fraternity, but their rhetoric frequently invokes antisemitism, misogyny, xenophobia, particularly targeting immigrants, anti-Muslim bias and both homophobia and transphobia," Greenblatt added.
But this episode feels eerily similar to a number of moments as both a candidate and as President in which Trump seemed to condone (or, at the very least, failed to slap down) racists and hate groups who count themselves as his backers.
* In February 2016, CNN's Jake Tapper asked Trump, then a candidate for the Republican nomination, whether he would flatly reject the support of white supremacist groups and, in particular, former longtime KKK leader David Duke. "Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?," Trump responded, adding: "I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists." Trump's comment sparked a massive controversy; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was competing against Trump for the nomination at the time, said Trump's inability and unwillingness to distance himself from Duke made him unelectable. The following day, in an appearance on the "Today," show Trump blamed a "bad earpiece" for his answers (or lack thereof).

And this:

In a stunning walkback of his remarks during the 2020 presidential debate that the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist organization, should “stand back and stand by,” President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that he doesn’t even know who the Proud Boys are — yet he refused to explicitly condemn them.

In response to a question from a reporter outside the White House Wednesday afternoon requesting he clarify his remarks, Trump replied:

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition because I don’t really know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work. Law enforcement will do the work more and more as people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is, law enforcement is gonna come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don’t know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down. Let law enforcement do their work.”

And this:

President Trump’s refusal to condemn an extremist right-wing group in his first debate with Joseph R. Biden Jr. sent a shudder through the Republican Party at a critical moment in the 2020 campaign on Wednesday, as prominent lawmakers expressed unease about Mr. Trump’s conduct amid mounting fears that it could damage the party on Election Day.

It was the second time in two weeks that a collection of party leaders broke with Mr. Trump over behavior they regarded as beyond the pale. Last week, Republicans distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to promise a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

This time, the subject was racist extremism and the president’s response to a demand from Mr. Biden during Tuesday night’s debate that he denounce the Proud Boys, an organization linked with white supremacy and acts of violence. Mr. Trump answered by telling the group to “stand back and stand by,” a message taken by members of the organization as a virtual endorsement.

On Wednesday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, called it “unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” without criticizing Mr. Trump by name, while Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the president should “make it clear Proud Boys is a racist organization antithetical to American ideals.”

And this:

So, my question to my Key West friend, and to Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and all Republicans is: Are you embarrassed enough yet to stand down and not vote for Donald Trump this year, or will you proud boys and girls stand by him knowing exactly what he is?

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