Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump Doubles Down on the Crazy

Eugene Robinson is right that hiring Breitbart's Stephen O'Bannon drives the Trump campaign further into the alt-right fever swamp in The Washington Post.

Shaken by the fact that he's losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right -- and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let's see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.
Trump has reportedly been feeling "boxed in" and "controlled" by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

Bannon runs Breitbart News, a website that creates its own ultranationalist far-right reality -- one that often bears little resemblance to the world as it really is. As I write, the site is claiming that Hillary Clinton has some serious undisclosed health problem (her doctor says she is just fine), that one of Clinton's aides has "very clear ties" to radical Islam (which is totally untrue) and that Clinton herself has "clear ties" to Russian President Vladimir Putin (when in fact it is Trump who often reveals his man-crush on the Russian leader).

He is a practiced provocateur, however, with a gift for reinforcing the worldview of far-right true believers. Bannon gives readers the impression that the nation is in grave and imminent peril, that Muslims are conspiring to impose Shariah law throughout the land, that Mexican immigrants are running rampant in a wild crime spree, that only Trump can save us -- and that polls showing him far behind Clinton are somehow skewed, incompetent or irrelevant.
None of this is true, not a word.  It's all a paranoid fantasy, designed to exploit anxieties about demographic and economic change. And Trump has decided that his best chance of winning is to peddle this garbage, some of which he may actually believe.
So if anyone was wondering if this election cycle could get any worse for the GOP, it just did.

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