It was a well-earned ass-kicking. President Obama stepped up to a live microphone today and unleashed a long-overdue rhetorical bruising on a bully who has been allowed to stalk the schoolyard for far too long.
The president blasted Donald Trump’s incendiary language, slamming his proposed ban on Muslims traveling to the U.S., and even took a shot at his rantings on social media. In singling out the presumptive Republican nominee, President Obama laid to waste the idea that his administration has been soft on terrorism.
“If there is anyone out there who thinks we are confused about who our enemies are—that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we have taken off the battlefield,” he said.
In the wake of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which claimed 50 lives and left dozens more injured, yesterday Trump openly questioned the president’s commitment to protecting the American people.
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said in a Fox News interview Monday. “And the something else in mind—you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
It was far from the first time Trump attempted to fuel conspiracy theories about President Obama. His entire political career was built on the unfounded allegation that the nation’s commander in chief is unfit for duty because he isn’t a native-born citizen.
The notion of a Manchurian president began making the rounds during the 2008 campaign, but it was Trump—in April 2011—who claimed he was sending a team of investigators out to find the “truth.” He not only questioned Obama’s place of birth, but also demanded that he release his college transcripts to prove he deserved his place at Columbia and Harvard.
Five years later, without uttering the words, Trump still wants people to believe that the president is a secret Muslim—and one who, presumably out of an allegiance to Allah, refuses to put American interests and lives first.
And so the president took off the gloves and promptly shattered Trump’s glass jaw. In a brief address, broadcast on national television, Obama beat the proverbial brakes off of the real-estate magnate.
You see to question the president’s commitment to fighting the war on terror is to also to question the commitment of our nation’s armed forces—the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in defense of this country.
“That would come as a surprise to those who spent these last seven and a half years dismantling al Qaeda in the FATA,” President Obama said. “For example—including men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk, and the special forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria.”
Notably, it’s a role the draft-dodging son of a construction millionaire knows nothing about.
“Where does this stop?” Obama demanded to know. “Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Place them under special surveillance? Discriminate against them because of their faith? Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that’s not the America we want. It doesn’t reflect our ideals.”
Whether they agree or not, Trump’s promises—as Obama accurately described them—do reflect the values of all the Republican leaders who have endorsed their party’s presumptive nominee.
Frankly, it’s been a tough summer for Republican leaders who not so long ago, they were lining up in Trump’s office suite, trying to curry his favor for one candidate or another. He was a rock star back then, lording over a popular reality television show, author of bestselling books, making frequent appearances on any cable news network that would have him, and noshing on pizza with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The Republican leaders begging favors from him collectively ignored Trump’s public record, including accusations of housing discrimination, a vicious rhetoric aimed at five black teenagers wrongly accused of raping and beating a jogger in Central Park, and his quixotic search for President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
In the gilded upper reaches of Trump Tower, none of that seemed to matter as long as the cameras were rolling and the cash was flowing.
Despite the bombastic campaign he has led since announcing his presidential bid last summer and despite everything else we know about his public dealings, it was difficult to imagine how Trump might trump himself as he stood before a teleprompter Monday afternoon. Breathlessly extolling the virtues of nativism and religious-bigotry, all the while, he eschewed the confines of the law and, well, facts. But, Trump seems comfortable spewing his conspiratorial vagaries and appears to take genuine offense to the notion that people might find him vulgar and unworthy of the Oval Office.
To parade him before the GOP national convention as the party nominee is to say: Hey, he’s alright with us.
Precious few Republicans have stepped up to challenge the bloviating businessman. Not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, not RNC chairman Reince Priebus and, until last week, not even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—who spent his spring trying to “normalize” Trump with leaders on Capitol Hill— expressed any concern about Trump’s racism. Collectively, they gave tacit approval to his misogyny, his racial and religious intolerance, his derision for people living with disabilities, and his utter loathing for anyone who dared call out his charade.
They had to have known—as Mitt Romney, who took Trump’s endorsement nonetheless in 2012, apparently did—about Trump’s shady dealings. They had to know about the countless failed businesses, his questionable finances, and the scheme otherwise known as Trump University that was designed to bilk unsuspecting, hard working Americans out of their life’s savings.
Their words and actions say they don’t mind having an insolent, dull-witted, con man control nominations to the Supreme Court or the federal bench. They don’t mind handing him the pen to sign executive orders or command of our nation’s armed forces.
In the end, Republicans have only themselves to blame: for nominating a block-headed narcissist with a nascent understanding of public policy—and for the public verbal thrashing he received at the hands of the current president today.