Trump dumps insults on questioners, insists on control

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

In Trump vs. Ramos, conservatives pick a side.

SPOKANE, Wash. Donald Trump booting Jorge Ramos out of his press conference seems to be the straw that has broken the camel’s back when it comes to Latin artists and Trump.Let’s imagine for a moment the kind of country that Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential hopeful, wants America to become if he’s elected. “Trumpland” would feature a 1,954-mile-long wall along the United States’ border with Mexico, to be constructed after the deportation of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s proud of kicking one of the country’s best-known Spanish-language journalists out of an Iowa news conference — the latest in a series of clashes with the media. “I think I handled that well. On August 26, Ricky Martin wrote an “open letter” to Trump saying “enough is enough.” The arrogance shown against Jorge Ramos reflects on a man who didn’t learn from the history that so hurt the United States and caused so much suffering due to inequality among races. Of course, Trump would ensure that the U.S.-born children of these immigrants lose their right to American citizenship, so they’d be deported as well.

Although politicians and journalists clash every day—exchanging insults and trading slights—this tussle has spilled into the quick-moving media stream because neither Trump nor Ramos is a normcore performer. The latest spat for Trump comes as his rivals continue to grapple with how best to compete against the unpredictable billionaire businessman, who has skyrocketed to the top of summertime polls. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had just walked away after two activists claiming to represent Black Lives Matter interrupted one of his appearances in Seattle. Obviously, Trump believes that immigrants from Latin America are to blame for many of the country’s woes, and he’s trying to sell voters on his utopian vision. Bush went on to criticize Trump’s immigration plan, specifically his proposal to build a massive border wall, calling it impractical and out of step with conservative principles because of its cost. “It is not feasible to build a wall as the sole solution,” Bush said. “It’s a simple thing to say and I’m sure it’s great for our friends in the press, but it’s not practical and it’s not conservative.” He also criticized Trump’s clash with Ramos, saying all journalists should be treated with “dignity and respect.” He added that Trump needs to be held accountable by reporters.

The whole exchange was dramatic, riveting TV—illustrative of Trump’s aggressive disdain for journalists, and a notch against him for the millions of Hispanic Americans who watch and respect Ramos, sometimes called the “Walter Cronkite of Latino America.” The most interesting moment of the news conference came a little later, however, when Trump was talking about money, and fundraising in particular. Ramos was ultimately allowed back into Trump’s news conference, and they quickly resumed their argument over his immigrations proposals, interrupting each other during an extended back-and-forth. I join the voice of my friend and compatriot, Ricky Martin, and that of millions of Latins who have grown up, studied and work day to day in this country. The dispute didn’t go unnoticed on the Democratic side of the campaign, as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton seized on Trump’s immigration rhetoric to argue his positions aren’t all that different from those held by the long list of other Republican candidates. Jorge Ramos, the Univision and Fusion anchor, stood up at the start of Trump’s press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, and started in on a question about immigration.

The aftermath has dominated political news for 24 hours, with Ramos, perhaps the most recognizable Latino reporter in the country, winning accolades for refusing to sit down and let Trump talk. Cooke and Allahpundit, who don’t necessarily admire Trump, rose to praise Ramos’ ejection. “Having a press credential in your pocket does not entitle you to behave like Code Pink,” wrote Cooke, while Allahpundit accused Ramos of “grandstanding” and “heckling.” Cooke and Allahpundit are right, of course, but a political news conference is not a memorial service at which all in attendance must keep their heads bowed.

A lobbyist, a person, very good person, came to me, offered $5 million, ‘please, I want to give you $5 million for the campaign.’ I said I have no interest in taking that. During his conversation Wednesday with Ingraham, Trump toned down his attacks against Kelly, saying their spat was “not a death struggle, not a big deal.” The high solemnity of political news conferences confers upon a politician priestlike or kinglike status: He stands a foot or two higher than the mortals questioning him, looking down. In fact, it’s the first time I think he’s ever been turned down. […] He’ll be coming to me and he’ll be saying in two years, in one year, in four years, he’ll be representing a country, maybe a company or maybe a person—I’m not doing anything for him.

But let’s not forget that in Trumpland, the 14th Amendment would be repealed, so the children of undocumented immigrants would be stripped of their citizenship. All of this fits with earlier rhetoric; in early August, Trump needled his GOP rivals with this tweet: “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?” Whether he knows it or not, this anti-lobbying oratory is a potent message—the kind of rhetoric that could bridge his appeal to the mainstream.

Far from opposing these imperious ways, many reporters, especially those who consider themselves members of the journalistic guild, applaud the arrangement. In an analysis for the Democratic Strategist and the Washington Monthly published earlier this year, pollster Stan Greenberg drew a connection between the high-dollar fundraising of modern political campaigns and the deep government distrust from working-class whites, working-class white men in particular: “While white working-class women are more likely to see campaign contributors and party leaders as having the most influence, white working-class men again cite special interest groups and lobbyists: amazingly, 60 percent say these groups hold the cards in Washington.” For Greenberg, it’s this—more than anything else in politics—that fuels anti-government cynicism.

The conservative blogger Jim Hoft used the confrontation to promote the (long disclosed) fact that Ramos’s daughter worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Not to get all Chomskian on you, but by virtue of their obedience, the guildsmen can count on the king’s attention and convert that attention into bylines. These voters agree with progressive economic principles, he notes, but “everything they have seen says that government is gridlocked and is bought and paid for by big donors and special interests, and politicians rig the system for the most irresponsible companies.” They want government to work in their favor, but they don’t trust that it will. Fox News’s Jesse Watters, who specializes in on-camera confrontations with left-wing subjects, said that Ramos “acted like an illegal immigrant” and was treated accordingly.

Instead, they assume that government will take their taxes and spend it on “individuals and corporations vastly more wealthy and powerful than themselves.” His solution, as a Democratic pollster, is an explicit reform agenda: for Democrats to loudly commit to policies that curtail lobbying, take money out of politics, and shrink influence from special interests. It’s just too easy for the organizers of news conferences to ban a known agitator from the premises, and nobody wants to view (or participate) in a news conference that’s turned into a mosh pit.

Mexicans, not Canadians, would be the main concern in Trumpland, so construction would begin on a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico, while the northern border would stay as is. When you’re speaking open-borders ‘truth’ to security power, your righteous urgency leaves no room for professional courtesy.” Today, at a campaign rally for Sen. But if Trump persists through the year and into the primaries—and if he survives past Iowa and New Hampshire—then he’ll need a broader message than anger against unauthorized immigrants.

Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in this eastern Washington city, every voter who was asked about the Trump/Ramos faceoff said that Trump had gotten the better of it. “You know what Trump showed me?” said Debra Goodwin, a local Tea Party Patriots organizer. “That is a man in charge. But if Greenberg is right—and millions of Americans are open to an explicit message against the wealthy donors and fundraisers that dominate American politics—then Trump’s message of financial independence could be his key to a broader constituency. And he won the argument.” Meanwhile, in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump was litigating the details of the Ramos argument.

Hewitt, who will help ask questions in the next televised Republican debate, was on his side. “He was screaming, and I thought it was actually very unfair not so much to me, which I guess you could say it was, but it was certainly very unfair to all the other reporters that were waiting with their hands up to take questions,” said Trump. “I would have gotten to him, 100 percent. Journalists like Sam Donaldson of ABC News and Chris Wallace of NBC News were right to start screaming their questions any time he appeared in public. In fact, in 2013 more undocumented immigrants from China entered the U.S. (147,000) than from Mexico (125,000), according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. The “competition” between Donaldson and Wallace grew so heated, the New York Times reported, that the two “engaged in a shoving match over positions in the briefing room to broadcast their reports.” At least Ramos didn’t push anybody.

Republicans terrified of a third-party Trump candidacy should consider this, as well: 58 percent of Americans say that both parties benefit equally from the vast amount of money in political campaigns. A modern article of journalistic faith holds that journalists should never become the story, and by putting himself out there to unsettle the Trump show, Ramos did just that. Ramos didn’t splash Trump with pig’s blood or anything, he merely violated convention in an attempt to break news on his own terms by speaking out of turn. One strike against Ramos, offered by the journalistic orthodoxy, is that he’s not an “objective” journalist but an advocacy journalist, therefore he and his work can’t be trusted. The billionaire real estate mogul’s grand scheme would not lead to a greater nation; it would only give birth to a realm of bigotry, xenophobia and divisiveness.

Yet advocacy journalism has enjoyed a rich and glowing history in the United States: Such partisans as Tom Paine, William Lloyd Garrison, Elijah Lovejoy, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Then came the muckrakers and their contemporary inheritors—Jessica Mitford, Michael Harrington, Ralph Nader, Jack Anderson, the gangs at Ramparts and Mother Jones magazines, and such current partisans as Glenn Greenwald, David Corn and others who have made important news without sacrificing their personal views. Add to that the fact that Trump has already filed suit against Univision for dropping his Miss Universe pageant, and his tirade against the network’s most high-profile journalist was doubly inevitable. Disrespected by Ramos, the always-ready-to-insult mogul did what he always does when he feels abused—he took out the verbal strap and started whipping. Trump wisely allowed Ramos back in the room and took his questions, positioning himself as the disciplinarian who can humanize himself when necessary by adding a sprinkle of mensch, as they volleyed back and forth.

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