In just 17 days, America may finally get the chance to say goodbye to Donald Trump, assuming the polls are right and he goes quietly. But we are going to have to start getting used to Curt Schilling.
The former Red Sox star announced this week that he plans to run as a Republican against Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018 and his first national campaign stop came Friday when Schilling and his flannel shirt sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Like Trump, whom he has endorsed, Schilling put forward his plans to run as a political “outsider,” noting that he is registered as an Independent and is currently “as fed up with the Right” as he is with the Left. It didn’t take long for Tapper to bring up what would be one of Schilling’s biggest obstacles in getting deep blue Massachusetts to vote for him: his history of overt racism.
Last year, Schilling was temporarily suspended by ESPN for sharing a meme that compared Muslims to Nazis. Earlier this year, the network ultimately fired him for a Facebook post that mocked transgender people. “You're going to have to defend that post to progressive voters,” Tapper said.
In an attempt to correct Tapper, Schilling said, “I compared Muslim extremists to Nazis,” stressing the “extremist” part of that equation. “If you take the word ‘extremist’ out it's incredibly racist post, which is why the word extremist is in there,” he said. But in his next breath, Schilling added, “There's a very long standing connection between Islam and the Nazi party and you can go back to before the second World War and talk to that one.”
Schilling then defended the transgender cartoon by saying he was simply reposting someone else’s material, the same way Trump has defended retweeting white supremacists. “My comment was men should use the men's room and women use the women's room,” he said. “Why do we need the federal government telling us otherwise?”
Finally, Tapper, predicting Democrats would try to make Schilling the “Massachusetts version of Donald Trump,” asked Schilling to weigh in on the 2005 video of the Republican presidential nominee bragging about sexually assaulting women. Instead of addressing the video, Schilling did what many Trump surrogates have done and pivoted to WikiLeaks and the Clinton campaign’s emails.
Then, he started going after Tapper directly. “I’m assuming you will vote for Hillary Clinton,” Schilling said to the host, who informed him that he doesn’t vote in presidential elections. But then he took things a step further.
“I would like to ask you something as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith and have since you were young,” Schilling said. “I don't understand, and maybe this is the amateur, non-politician in me, I don't understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic party which over the last 50 years have been so clearly anti-Israel, so clearly anti-Jewish Israel.”
Tapper calmly informed Schilling that he doesn’t “speak for Jews,” nor does he speak for either major political party. “I would imagine, just to try to answer your question that one of the reasons many Jews are Democrats has more to do with Democrats’ support for social welfare programs and that sort of thing than it does for Israel.” Adding that many strong Jewish supporters of Israel do vote Republican, he stated once more, “But again, I don’t speak for Jews.”
Later, in a separate interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Schilling — this time in a suit and tie — forcefully defended his question to Tapper. “I'm apparently an anti-Semite, because I had the gall and the audacity to ask someone of the Jewish faith why or how they believe people of Jewish faith vote Democrat,” he said, laying on some thick sarcasm. “God forbid I listen to someone of the faith, rather than the media, who clearly are not biased and don't have an agenda.”
“I don't need Chris Matthews to tell me why people of Jewish people vote the way they do,” he continued. “And I don't have a problem asking people questions like that, because I'm not trying to be offensive or racist.”
In response, Matthews explained to Schilling that it may not be wise to “ask a person of a religious faith or a race to speak for that religious group and ask them to sort of account for it.”
“Not true!” Schilling shot back, once more channeling Trump. “Liberals do it to Christians all the time.” As a “white male Christian,” he complained that people just assume he’s a “racist," adding, “I'm tired of hearing the media tell me what I should care about.”
If Schilling really wants to beat Elizabeth Warren in two years, he’s going to have to do better than this.