No line of attack is too low for Trump
WASHINGTON — Is there nothing, no matter how vile, on which Donald Trump will not capitalize to attack a political foe?
This president constantly trolls the daily news digests on television and the internet for fresh material with which to demean his target of the day. He has now seized on the apparent lone-wolf terrorist rampage that killed eight cyclists in Manhattan to assail New York Sen. Charles Schumer.
The senate minority leader — who recently, along with House Speaker Pelosi, was cozily referred by Trump as “Chuck and Nancy” — now stands accused by Trump as a culprit-by-association. The reason: He once supported the legislation by which the captured Uzbek truck driver in New York entered the country in 2010.
The law in question was a visa diversity measure aimed at enhancing legal immigration by a broad range of foreign applicants; it also provided a means for such immigrants to pave the way for family members to follow later.
Trump has asserted that the accused assailant, Sayfullo Saipov, now a 29-year-old legal U.S. resident, enabled 23 family members and other immigrants to enter the country, in what the president has called “chain migration” that imperils national security. He wants it eliminated, saying the family members “certainly could represent a threat.”
Under the law, designed to encourage a diversification of the immigration pool, up to 50,000 immigrants are admitted in the diversity visa lottery out of about a million green cards granted every year. Trump is supporting a bill by Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas to halve immigration in a decade and end the diversity lottery.
Trump’s attack on Schumer is part of a now-familiar pattern of glomming onto a sensational news event capturing public attention and striving to make political hay of it.
Another part of his modus operandi is to blow his own horn, as seen recently when he touted his personal response to the hurricanes that devastated Texas, Florida and the Puerto Rico.
In Texas and Florida, the president made prompt visits and lauded his Federal Emergency Management Agency for its rescue and recovery work. In the latter case, he made a tardy visit and came in for criticism from Puerto Rican elected officials. Trump harshly pushed back, blaming the mayor of the capital city, San Juan, as inept.
In the case of the recent mass shooting outside a Las Vegas luxury hotel committed by another apparent lone wolf assassin, Trump paid a condolence visit but made no reference to the public demand for broader gun control legislation, which he opposes as a staunch NRA member.
In effect, the president joined the gun lobby’s position that the event, the worst domestic example of civilian gun violence in American history, should not be “politicized,” though at least 58 individuals were killed in the mayhem. It would have been hard, even for Donald Trump, to find a rival politician to blame for the massacre in Las Vegas, where other fellow high-rise luxury hotel owners have property.
There should be no mystery by now why this president spends so much time glued to the boob tube. It provides the raw material for his endless assaults on his political and personal critics, even as he assails the broad world of journalism as the “fake news.” Indeed, he has been the primary practitioner of fake news, starting well before his election to the presidency and ever since.
The country, and the world beyond, can only await the next news flash, or minor or major eyeball-catching public event, to learn what has captured the whim and attention of our fickle and capricious chief executive with which to attack his naysayers.
Editor’s note: Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power,” published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.