First: Here's exactly what The Donald said:
The first to do so: The U.S. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI) who said, "Normally I do not comment on what's going on in the presidential election."
That sounds like something Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House Minority Leader, would say. Or, that the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate Harry Reid (D-NV) would say. Which he did.
Jumping right into the fray to give his assessment, Reid expanded beyond attacking The Donald to attribute his comments to every 2016 Republican candidate for the presidential nomination. In a somber and sullen tone intended to demonstrate his deep and heartfelt concern, Reid observed:
Like Ryan, Reid also has an agenda: To scare the bejeezus out of anyone who seeks entry into the United States by painting the Republicans as "anti-immigrant." Reid would like legal and illegal immigrants to believe that the Democratic Party will be their friend and protector.
Then, there was the White House, which came out using language that, according to National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, was "very Trumpian and not very Obama-like." Here's what Josh Ernest said:
The Trump campaign for months now has had a 'dustbin of history'-like quality to it. From the vacuous sloganeering to the outright lies to even the fake hair, the whole carnival-barker routine that we've seen for some time now. The question now is about the rest of the Republican Party and whether or not they're going to be dragged into the dustbin of history with him. And right now, the trajectory is not very good.
The good news is that U.S. history demonstrates that all of this has happened in previous election cycles. The election cycles of the late-1800s were far more confrontational and divisive. Just check out Thomas Nast's political cartoons. More recently, both sides of the political divide savaged Ronald Wilson Reagan in 1976 and 1980.
But, more notable in this 2016 election cycle may be the page of the playbook The Donald's political opponents are using.
Back in the 1964 election, the Johnson political operation floated a number of falsehoods about the Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). The Motley Monk remembers one falsehood in particular: Goldwater was going to madate that kids attend school on Saturdays so the nation wouldn't fall behind the Soviets in science and mathematics. It was the era of the "space race." That falsehood caused lots of kids to tell their parents not to vote for Goldwater.
During that election cycle, the Johnson political operation also ran what is perhaps the paradigm of effective, negative campaign commercials. The ad was titled "Daisy" and was meant to scare the bejeezus out of voters so they would never allow a conservatrive, war-monger, nut job like Goldwater to place his finger on the nation's nuclear trigger:
Everybody, everybody--now Paul Ryan has joined in--everybody condemning Donald Trump. The conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump's insane, he's a lunatic, crazy. This is dangerous. This is bad. It's un-American. It's unacceptable. He's gotta go....
This latest Donald Trump episode is a glittering, glaring example of how he is playing the media like a Stradivarius. And I tell you, folks, for all of you people who have complained and whined and moaned about the media over the years, and how unfair they are to Republicans and how unfair that makes the whole process and, "What are we gonna do?" You need to be studying Donald Trump. I don't care whether you think what he says is outrageous or wrong or whatever. That's the wrong way to look at this right now.
This latest quote/unquote "outrage" from Trump is a perfect example of how he plays the media, how he knows exactly what to do and how to do it to own their attention and airtime. He says things that he knows will drive them crazy. He says things over and over that he knows will drive them insane, and then when they go insane, he doubles down on it and drives them even crazier. He also knows that his audience is in on what he is doing.
He knows that a lot of Americans agree, to a certain extent, with things that he says. He also knows he's the only one reaching those people. And then he sits back and watches (no doubt with a huge smile) the media cover what he says over and over and over and over again. Then they analyze it over and over and over, and they talk about it over and over and over again. He's confident that a lot of his voters are gonna be able to strip away the bombast and be able to get to the nuts and bolts of what he's saying, the kernel of truth of what he's saying.
In the meantime, he ends up occupying political positions exclusively that many support.
However, their reactions to his provocative statements may indicate something else, namely, fear. What do they fear losing if The Donald proves successful in achieving his political ambitions?
The lesson to voters? Be very careful of buying into a political narrative early on, jumping to conclusions about who the political enemy is, only then to find out in the end that the candidate who "cared" so much about the people really had only a singular intention: To increase the size and scope of the federal government.
Remember the "New Deal" and the "Great Society"? And let's not forget about all of the "Hope and Change." As Margaret Thatcher famously observed about socialism:
Let the discussion begin...