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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Economic anxiety? Yeah, right.

Trump is a blatant racist and head of a blatantly racist political party. No denying it now.

These are straight news stories with a Republican slant: if Republicans aren’t outraged, well, there it is. How can we be? But at least they’re getting the racism right.

Michael Scherer/waPo:

White identity politics drives Trump, and the Republican Party under him

Trump’s combustible formula of white identity politics has already reshaped the Republican Party, sidelining, silencing or converting nearly anyone who dares to challenge the racial insensitivity of his utterances. It also has pushed Democratic presidential candidates sharply to the left on issues such as immigration and civil rights, as they respond to the liberal backlash against him.

Left unknown is whether the president is now on the verge of more permanently reshaping the nation’s political balance — at least until long-term demographic changes take hold to make nonwhite residents a majority of the country around 2050.

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Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

Tiptoeing around Trump’s racism is a betrayal of journalistic truth-telling

But a crucial part of being careful is being accurate, clear and direct. When confronted with racism and lying, we can’t run and hide in the name of neutrality and impartiality. To do that is a dereliction of duty.

Former New York Times reporter and columnist Clyde Haberman, in a Sunday tweet, put it simply and well, describing his own transition:

“Despite decades of evidence that Trump is a racist, I’ve resisted calling him one because it’s polarizing language that’s rarely helpful. But his go-back-where-you-came-from harangue tears it for me. He’s a bigot, and if GOPers don’t call him out, they’re complicit.”

That goes for the news media, too.

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Carl Hulse/NY Times:

A Blaring Message in Republicans’ Muted Criticism: It’s Trump’s Party

While a smattering of Republicans chastised Mr. Trump on Monday, most party leaders in the House and Senate and much of the rank-and-file remained quiet about the president’s weekend tweets directing dissenters to “go back” where they came from. He followed up on those comments on Monday with harsh language directed at “people who hate America” — an inflammatory accusation to be leveled against elected members of the House.

With Mr. Trump far more popular with Republican voters than incumbent Republican members of Congress, most are loath to cross the president and risk reprisals. The case of Representative Justin Amash, the Michigan lawmaker who was forced to leave the party after he dared to suggest Mr. Trump should be impeached, serves as a cautionary tale.

At the same time, many Republicans are seeking to label the four congresswomen and their ideas as “far left,” seeing it as a potential foundation of a sweeping critique of Democrats in 2020. In an appearance on Fox News, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called the four “a bunch of communists,” a step beyond the president, who said he was at the moment only willing to go so far as calling them “socialists.”

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Ishaan Tharoor/WaPo:

Trump’s racism cements his party’s place among the West’s far right

Trump saw a white nationalist seam in Republican politics and pulled at it to achieve power. He kept tugging and tugging and has dragged in his direction the entirety of the Republican Party — a party, as New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie wrote, “that elevates its narrow, shrinking base as the only authentic America and would rather restrict the electorate than persuade new voters.” Only a smattering of prominent GOP politicians came out to denounce the president’s remarks; many stayed silent or echoed Trump’s jabs at their Democratic opponents.

It was evidence, once more, of what some analysts see as Trump’s steady assault on norms in American political life — in this instance, the supposedly entrenched belief in the equality of all American citizens, no matter their ethnicity or place of birth.

“But a norm that was built up through speech, persuasion, and belief can be undermined the same way,” observed political philosopher Jacob Levy in a 2018 essay. “Trump’s own racism, his embrace of white nationalist discourse, and his encouragement of the alt-right over the past two years have, through words, made a start on that transformation.”

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Trump just denied his attacks are racist. He only confirmed the worst.

The flat-out denial that any of this is racist is also a key ingredient here. This denial is more than just an effort to minimize the political damage such racist displays might do among swing voters (while keeping up the dog whistling to the base). It’s more than a “doubling down.”

Rather, the denial is crucial to the overall statement: The explicit idea here is that Trump is free to engage in public racism without it being called out for what it really is, that is, with no apology or capitulation to those who label it as such

Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

Trump Tells America What Kind of Nationalist He Is

In a series of tweets attacking four Democratic congresswomen, the president reiterated his belief that only white people can truly be American.

When Trump told these women to “go back,” he was not making a factual claim about where they were born. He was stating his ideological belief that American citizenship is fundamentally racial, that only white people can truly be citizens, and that people of color, immigrants in particular, are only conditionally American. This is a cornerstone of white nationalism, and one of the president’s few closely held ideological beliefs. It is a moral conviction, not a statement of fact. If these women could all trace their family line back to 1776, it would not make them more American than Trump, a descendant of German immigrants whose ancestors arrived relatively recently, because he is white and they are not.

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David Remnick/New Yorker:

A Racist in the White House

The foundational cause of Trump’s fledgling political career was not tax policy or the nuclear deal with Iran; it was the promotion of “birtherism,” the conspiracy theory that Obama was lying about his citizenship and place of origin. After the election, a ban on Muslim immigration was among Trump’s top priorities. His ongoing cruelties directed at men, women, and children at the southern border is a naked attempt to strike fear into would-be migrants throughout Mexico and Central America and to arouse the approval of white voters. The President’s views are clear: black athletes who dare to protest police violence are “sons of bitches”; African countries are “shitholes”; and there are some “fine people” among the bigoted thugs who carried tiki torches and chanted “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville. …

Trump can hardly run a reëlection campaign on policy triumphs. His polling results show him trailing the top four Democrats: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. And so he will sling as much filth as possible and hope his base comes out in sufficient numbers. This is what he knows how to do. This time around he will shout about “socialism” and “You can leave.” He will make ugly caricatures of “the Squad”—the four members of Congress whom he targeted this weekend. “I hear the way she talks about Al Qaeda,” Trump said of Omar. “Al Qaeda has killed many Americans. She said, ‘You could hold your chest out.’ ” Ilhan Omar, of course, has said no such thing.

Reaction in the Republican leadership has been, at best, nervous. By the pusillanimous standards of the G.O.P., you could almost count Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, as positively courageous. Graham went on Fox News and called the four congresswomen a “bunch of communists.” Hardly surprising. He has been bowing and scraping to Trump since the election. But he also gently counselled Trump to “aim higher.”

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Hugh Bailey/CT Post:

Himes heeds call for ‘clarity and conviction

Elaborating on Facebook [pre-inauguration], Himes discussed “the threat of a completely unqualified individual” ascending to the presidency, and said we needed to do “what’s right, even if it’s hard — encouraging the Electoral College to say no to Donald Trump.”

This being social media, the first comment on his thoughtful Facebook post says, in full, “Eat it Himes!”

But he was right then, and he’s right again now. Himes last month became the first member of the Connecticut delegation to come out in favor of starting an impeachment inquiry against the president, and he did it after a long, public process weighing the benefits and potential pitfalls of an investigation. He ultimately decided, rightly, that nothing was more important than doing everything possible to hold the president accountable.

There’s a huge danger for people who believe the president is a menace but do not think impeachment is the answer. They say the best course is to defeat him at the polls, which raises the question: What if you don’t? If Trump wins in 2020, what possible method of keeping him in check would remain?

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Boston Globe:

Ayanna Pressley has done more than weather Trump’s attacks. She’s winning

Ayanna Pressley was steely and forceful Monday afternoon as she led off the response by four Democratic congresswomen who have been taking Twitter fire from President Trump.

No drama or personal attacks, just a firm insistence that she and her colleagues would not be intimidated by attacks against their patriotism or their right to be heard.

“This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people,” Pressley declared.

Pressley is not the member of the so-called Squad who has attracted the most national attention in their short time on Capitol Hill. But she was the most effective at countering Trump’s decidedly unpresidential behavior.

Hey, remember these guys?

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And finally, everyone predicted this:

Reuters:

The national survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Trump told the lawmakers they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” showed his net approval among members of his Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72%, compared with a similar poll that ran last week.

Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents since the Sunday tweetstorm.

Among independents, about three out of 10 said they approved of Trump, down from four out of 10 a week ago. His net approval - the percentage who approve minus the percentage who disapprove - dropped by 2 points among Democrats in the poll.

Base, shmase. The important effect is on everyone else.

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