Yesterday Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He issued a press release and followed up with a speech at the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. In the speech Trump described his proposal as “very salient, very important, and probably not politically correct.” C-SPAN has posted a video of the speech here (one very entertaining hour, great on the Bergdahl and Iran deals at 27:00).
Trump’s latest is the kind of statement that has worked for him in the past. It’s reasonable to think it will work for him again now. Erick Erickson therefore deems it “a brilliant move” on Trump’s part, but this seems to me the least interesting observation that can be made about it. For a contrary opinion, see John Podhoretz’s “Trump the shock jock: A pre-mortem.”
Erickson may well be right on the narrow point of whether the statement serves Trump’s immediate interests. Even so, however, I think it is bad for those of us who take the issues seriously.
I understand Trump’s appeal. Indeed, I feel it. I vibrate to his call for the restoration of American greatness. I appreciate his emphasis on the importance of national borders and his opposition to illegal immigration. I agree with him that Muslim immigration raises a special problem that needs to be addressed. I second his condemnation of the mainstream media.
However, Trump is an embarrassment to those of us who care about the issues that have made him a frontrunner. He damages the prospect of sane reform. What Joe McCarthy was to the cause of anti-Communism, Trump is to the issues that have served him so far. That’s my fear.
Caitlin Huey-Burns reports that Dems see Trump as a big asset. I’d like to get Erickson’s take on the Dems’ perspective. I think they accurately perceive their self-interest.