Donald Trump and the diminishing returns of ‘you racist!’ hyperbole

I’ve gotten a lot of reaction to my piece about not voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and I would say the positive and the negative are roughly equal. In case anyone needs to hear me say this: I don’t write pieces for the reactions one way or the other — via emails, blog comments, social media, even the occasional phone call or letter — they will produce. I hope people will consider what I write as they form their own opinions, but the likelihood people will praise me or blast me for what I’ve written doesn’t enter my head.

Herman Cain waves to the  crowd before introducing Ivanka and Tiffany Trump in Marietta, Oct. 26 (AJC Photo / Brant Sanderlin)

Herman Cain waves to the crowd before introducing Ivanka and Tiffany Trump in Marietta, Oct. 26 (AJC Photo / Brant Sanderlin)

All that said, I do listen to what people say in their reactions as I try to understand what people are thinking out there in this wide world of ours. I’ve been listening in particular to what supporters of Trump have been saying in response to the many negative things I’ve written about the man. It doesn’t mean they have changed my mind (obviously). But I have listened, because I’ve been curious to know how so many people came to vote for a man who a) doesn’t meet the standards many of these same voters set for previous candidates in all kinds of elections, and b) was always likely, if chosen as Republicans’ nominee, to blow the golden opportunity this election presented for the GOP and conservatives to right our ship of state from its leftward drift.

They have said a lot — not all, or even much, of which can be attributed to the kinds of things liberals want to blame for Trump support. They’re not all, or even mostly, racists or misogynists or bigots. They think Clinton is corrupt, wrong-headed; I’ve also heard the word “evil” from numerous people not normally given to hyperbole. They think our country is headed in such a bad direction that they are willing to risk a radical correction, even an over-correction.

Importantly, they are not cowed by the accusations that Trump is, or tolerates the support of those who are, a racist or misogynist or bigot. Those labels have a whole lot of lost their effectiveness. I think we have to understand why that is true. And where better to start than with an admission from one of the left’s favorite celebrities, on the Friday broadcast of his HBO show, that he has overindulged in that kind of talk about past Republicans:

BILL MAHER: “To the young people, like they say in the action movies, the s— just got real. I know you’re young and idealistic so I’ve heard these young people out in the news and they say things like, ‘Well, Donald Trump, I don’t like him but Hillary, I can’t vote for a liar.’

“I mean, first of all it’s just apples and oranges, and orange. But, kids, I’ve been doing this for 23 years on TV. I’ve seen a lot. I know politics. This is different. I promise you this will not make your life better. And also once fascists get power they don’t give it up. You’ve got President Trump for life.

“I know liberals made a big mistake because we attacked your boy (George W.) Bush like he was the end of the world. And he wasn’t. And Mitt Romney we attacked that way. I gave (Barack) Obama a million dollars because I was so afraid of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wouldn’t have changed my life that much or yours. Or John McCain.

“They were honorable men who we disagreed with and we should have kept it that way. So we cried wolf and that was wrong. But this is real. This is going to be way different.”

“We cried wolf.” You think??? Heck, Maher is doing it even as he admits his past exaggerations: “You’ve got President Trump for life.” Really? If you buy into this kind of rhetoric, you are no better than the red-state “rubes” you so disdain for calling Obama a dictator who himself spent eight years scheming how to stay in the White House for more than eight years.

In case you’ve forgotten the kinds of things Maher and Co. said about Bush and McCain and Romney before Trump’s candidacy brought them a Strange New Respect, Ben Domenech has some reminders in this morning’s edition of his Transom newsletter:

“That’s all well and good for Maher to say now. But it doesn’t matter. Maher himself is a perfect encapsulation of why this will never change. Back in 2004 and 2005, he compared George W. Bush to Hitler on more than one occasion — joking in his book that unlike Hitler, Bush wasn’t a decorated combat veteran, and that Hitler actually got more votes than his opponents in 1933. He compared Laura Bush to ‘Hitler’s dog’ while using National Enquirer photos to suggest that the president had given her a black eye while drinking again. Oh and here he is again, comparing Mitt Romney to Hitler in the scene from Downfall.”

And guess what? Despite Maher’s protestations that “this is different … way different,” Domenech looks into a plausible future in which a post-Trump GOP gets the Trumped-up treatment from him and other liberals:

“(T)he point is how readily leftist commentators will be doing the exact same thing four years from now. ‘Say what you will about Donald Trump, he wasn’t the anti-abortion extremist Ben Sasse is.’ ‘Say what you will about Donald Trump, he didn’t hate gay people the way Tom Cotton does.’ ‘Say what you will about Donald Trump, he didn’t want to lead us into a bunch of irresponsible wars like Marco Rubio does.'”

And so on. You know it will happen. And that’s a big reason the left’s self-appointed police of “right-wing extremism” have lost all credibility with anyone who might even dream of voting Republican: They have been crying “extremist!” for decades now. (Charles W. Cooke wrote something similar the other day that is also very much worth your time.)

There’s a diminishing return to this, and not just politically. It really is good in society to reject racism, misogyny and bigotry — so the weakening of those labels through overuse and abuse is a very bad thing beyond the context of elections.

Reader Comments 0

478 comments
Aboli
Aboli

President elect Trump.

Frank Dancy
Frank Dancy

If the election was accurate. Given all the dirty tricks of Clintons snd media, you would be a fool to just accept without verifying

juvenal
juvenal

I'm a bigot because I don't want unborn humans killed? They have no color-but a lot of them would have born not white

Arthur Allen
Arthur Allen

I went to my polling station today, stood in line for four hours, then was asked to leave without getting to cast my vote. I asked why I was being led out without getting a chance to vote, the officer replied, Mr. Allen, Wal-Mart is not a polling station

Cole Cole
Cole Cole

No we dont just 4 years then Pence

Carole Holloway Lancaster
Carole Holloway Lancaster

Dribble, dribble, dribble. Most of AMERICA HAS awakened to the fact that the print and broadcast media are trying to swing our elections.

Farrah Bearrie Faith
Farrah Bearrie Faith

The only thing he is gong to be president of is the "I ran for president and lost club".

Stephen Scruggs
Stephen Scruggs

Lies, vote Trump. Killary has done nothing for 30 years. She is a crook. No other choice.

Bruno2
Bruno2

 RGVT: "Conservatives have turned over their movement to racists and religious bigots.  They turned it over to anti-logic, anti-science folks unencumbered by fact after years of right wing media saying scientific evidence and fact are hooey if it does not support the narrative of hatred and obstructionism. Who could be surprised by Trump?"

I just wanted to repeat the post by RGVT that VC thinks we Cons should simply accept gracefully.  And you wonder why no one is in the mood to cooperate these days......

Bruno2
Bruno2

 VC: "You folks could help out a tad by dropping this silly "race card" business every single time your political opponent so much as brings up race."

So, the proper response for Cons should be to simply hang our heads in shame and admit that all of our criticisms of Obama are due to racial animus alone??  Yep, it's Good vs. Evil out there, VC, with your team fighting the Good fight while we Evil Cons think up new ways to ruin the country....

Sounds like a good strategy to gain the cooperation of the Cons........Not.  You have to give respect in order to get respect, something that doesn't seem to be in your playbook.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Bill Maher?

A faux populist buffoon always on the lookout for a running crowd to jump in front of and yell, "Wait! Where are you going? I want to lead you!"

If that's the best you have to offer... well, it's weak tea.

Just sayin'.

lvg
lvg

Where 's little Barry and his usual scumbag references? banned?

Getting kind of boring here.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

I don't understand nate silver. Yesterday he had Clinton with 65% chance of winning and now its 71%. Are polls changing that much right before an election? He has been up and down through out. Seems like he mostly measures the mood of the country rather predict the election.


The election has been decided long ago. We are now going to see the results.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Interesting from the guy that wrote Hillary will be more liberal than Obama who you think is the most liberal to date. Door seems to swing both ways.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

The reason that i vote for a Democrat is because of the appointments made by the president. George H.W. Bush was a decent man but some of his appointees were terrible and his son was a disgrace from day one.

Tell Burke
Tell Burke

Dang thing doesn't like anything truthful about Hillary; Hillary has been on public dole and lying to America for 40 years!

Tell Burke
Tell Burke

On occasion, even liberal media hits close; Hillary has been on public dole and

Valerie Barker
Valerie Barker

Do not rely on another person's Vote as if it is your own. GET OUT AND VOTE

lvg
lvg

Biggest factor in who wins the election:



""""""On his last day of barnstorming to preserve his legacy, President Barack Obama is approaching peak popularity.

Obama’s approval rating hit 56 percent in Gallup’s tracking poll on Monday, a reminder of his power as a surrogate as he travels to Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania to drum up the vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s rare for a two-term president to be in such high demand on the trail, and that level of popularity has been rare in Obama’s tenure. It’s the highest his rating in that poll has been since October 2012, shortly before he was re-elected, when he hit 57 percent.Other polls over the past month have shown similarly high ratings — all vastly better than those for either Clinton or Donald Trump.

“Whatever credibility I've earned after eight years as president, I am asking you to trust me on this one,” Obama said on Monday in his appeal for Clinton at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It’s a pitch his numbers show he can safely make.""""

from Politico today.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@lvg Obama being gone is so far the only guaranteed positive result of this election.

The big fear is he won't shut up in private life.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @lvg


If Newt can continue babbling on after his term has ended. Then Obama will do so as well.

lvg
lvg

@JohnnyReb @lvg Next Supreme Court Justice to replace the GOP hack who died.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Hillary Clinton is a repugnant individual. She has no concept of truth. Think again America because she is a very sick Pathological Liar that knows how to professionally embellish, blame, distort, and spin the facts for her benefit. Her entire staff and the DNC have been caught lying, committing fraud and cheating. What is more disturbing is that this sick behavior doesn't bother her supporters. What does this say about America? The truth is that she only cares about herself, money and the power, and will say and promise anything to get it. She has broken the law and is an Unindicted Felon at the moment. People have lost their jobs and been imprisoned for much less. The Clinton's have acquired an enormous amount of wealth in a very short time. However, the Clinton's have never worked or owned a business in the private sector their entire life. That should tell you she has no idea how to create jobs in America. The Clinton's have accepted millions from the Middle East Countries that abuse women and gays for treasonous political favors. The only way one gets rich in politics is to be a corrupt and fraudulent and dishonest one! This woman shouldn't even be on the ballot! Brighten up America! She should be in Prison. Say NO to Hillary for President!

Ross Olivia
Ross Olivia

"Thou shall not bear false witness," most of your diabrite is just "talking points" without subtance ... or will you prefer the p**y grabber in chief? I guess yes,.... BTW, a bible and guns is an oxymoron, ... what type of gun would Jesus choose?

Kyle Alexander Summers
Kyle Alexander Summers

Ok, Hilary lies. True. Do you just shut your brain off to the hordes of video evidence of trump lying, back pedaling and flip flopping. I really do not understand the cognitive dissonance necessary to notice her lies and not his.

Sven Voigt
Sven Voigt

Enough with the constant propaganda AJC. You're not convincing anyone this late in the game to vote for your chosen one if they weren't already going to do so. Back to real news and let the people vote for who they want to vote for without coercion.

Lori Burroughs
Lori Burroughs

We get tired of u calling us racists. Takes one to know one.

rodertrudis
rodertrudis

I'm not voting against Hillary exactly, although that's how it will be measured. I'm voting against the MSM. For this reason primarily: Not one question from MSM moderators about climate change. Not one. The most pressing problem of our age and our MSM does not even believe it warrants a debate question. When people say the media is rigged, they're right. But it's not rigged to favor one candidate over another necessarily, but it is rigged so that we ignore the coming catastrophe.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@rodertrudis

So you're going to vote for the guy who thinks climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese?

lvg
lvg

@JohnnyReb @rodertrudis Bet you have no idea who made a speech about forcing democracy and free elections on the  Arabs while in Cairo in 2005 and starting the Arab Spring followed by Hamas being elected in Gaza.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@rodertrudis Obama and Hillary made a mess of the Middle East.

Media colluded with the Hillary campaign trying to pick a president.

Obama thoroughly politicized the Justice Department.

The IRS has been used as a weapon against political opponents.

Health care has been wrecked.

The debt is at 20 trillion.

Hillary wants to flood the country with immigrants who cannot be vetted sufficiently to say they will not be terrorists.

But you think a scientific theory that keeps changing when actual events don't agree is the most pressing problem of our age.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Anyone else notice that the ONLY THING that the democrats have is the race card?

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

They are mentally impaired, so bereft of any decent moral thought, that all they can do is call every one else racists.


Let's do away with this disease on our country.


Get out and vote.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

@lvg @IReportYouWhine You even further prove my point. The hecklers at Trump rallies are bought and paid for by the clinton campaign. Want to see the email correspondence? Yes, it isn't beneath the democrats to find a disabled child and use him as a prop in their hate filled schemes. They are equal opportunity users of minorities to gain their own political power.


Trump booted whites, blacks, men and women from his rallies when they got disruptive. He is an equal opportunity booter.

PJ25
PJ25

@IReportYouWhine And as Kyle pointed out, it means next to nothing anymore.  Remember about month into Obama's first term anyone who didn't like him or was against Obamacare was a RACIST especially when commenting on a blog like this? 
Today is is going to be yuuuuge BTW! 

lvg
lvg

@IReportYouWhine @lvg Trump asked to have the disabled boy removed or was that Dem imposter with orange hair plastered on their bald head?

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@MarkVV And he's talking to himself again. Not a good sign.