Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann set out to read off all the shocking things Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail so far. The result: a very long video — running at 17 minutes.
Here’s just a small sampling of some of Trump’s remarks that came up:
- Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” to the US.
- He said John McCain was not a “war hero” because “he was captured.”
- He got into a public feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim military veteran over his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.
- He said the families of suspected terrorists should be killed.
- He called President Obama the “founder of ISIS.”
- He has repeatedly retweeted white supremacists — on top of making many racist remarks throughout his career and campaign.
- He has encouraged people at his campaign rallies to physically attack protesters.
The list goes on and on, with Olbermann’s tally of outrageous comments totaling 176 remarks. (And chances are Olbermann missed some comments. Trump talks a lot.)
It can be easy to just look at these comments and laugh at them — just another show of how wacky Trump is. But this is someone who’s running for president. We shouldn’t be numb to all of this — yet it seems we are, considering most of these comments did not get major media coverage in the same way other candidates’ gaffes have and do.
Earlier this week, Matt Yglesias noted how these ridiculous remarks have become normalized. After watching an interview earlier this week in which Trump made an offhand racist remark about Sen. Elizabeth Warren — calling her “Pocahontas” — and got basic facts on monetary policy wrong, Yglesias wrote:
Seriously. Stop. Take a breath. Now imagine if Mitt Romney had run exactly Mitt Romney’s campaign but then suddenly in mid-September went on television and called Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for no reason. It would have been huge. …
But the truly scary thing is that Trump is redefining the concept of a gaffe out of existence. It turns out that if you just boldly repeat something often enough, it goes away as a story. We’ve become numb, as a society, to what Trump is doing. In the process we’ve normalized casual racism, intense personal insults as an approach to politics, and completely decentered the idea that elected officials should grapple with difficult policy questions. Half the crazy things Trump says or does barely merit a mention on Twitter, much less the front-page coverage they would have merited in previous campaigns.
Trump may lose in November — if the polls are accurate, he likely will. But he has shown future politicians that they can numb everyone to some outrageous comments by simply making many such remarks over and over again. It’s hard to say what kind of effect this will have on future presidential campaigns, but it can’t be good.