Trump Time Capsule #88: Crickets

Hillary Clinton in Reno today (Aaron Bernstein / Reuters)
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

As with a previous “Crickets” installment, #13, this one notes something we have not heard, and whose absence is remarkable in the history of presidential campaigning.

Today the Democratic nominee for president said this about the Republican party’s chosen nominee:

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America’s two major political parties….

He promoted the racist lie that President Obama isn’t really an American citizen – part of a sustained effort to delegitimize America’s first black President.

In 2015, Trump launched his own campaign for President with another racist lie. He described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals….

Since then, there’s been a steady stream of bigotry.

And she went on, in detail. It amounted to as blunt a criticism as one nominee has made about another since … well, I can’t remember a comparable case.

And here is a list of the first ten senior Republican party officials who sprang to their nominee’s defense. These were the senators, governors, cabinet secretaries, former candidates who rushed to say that of course he’s not a bigot, of course he’s not playing on prejudice, of course he’s not legitimizing racism:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

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You could say that Hillary Clinton veered away from the real truth in presenting Trump as something alien to the modern Republican party, rather than a conclusion it has been building toward. President Obama, not on the ballot himself any more, could afford to be more direct when he asked: “What does it say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?”

You could say that the Republican “leaders” are trying to have it both ways, officially “supporting” Trump but looking the other way when Hillary Clinton, accurately, points out what he stands for. Neither changes the fact that the party’s nominee is called “dangerous,” “unfit,” “reckless,” and now a trafficker in racism, and no one in party leadership steps up to say: Not true!

I am trying to confine myself strictly to things that really haven’t happened before, and … whew.