Speaking at a rally this afternoon, Donald Trump wittily observed that even though Hillary Clinton thinks there should be some legal restrictions on who can buy firearms she also believes that Secret Service agents should carry firearms. There is obviously no contradiction here, or really anything remotely resembling a contradiction, but the observation amused Trump so greatly that he joked around with his audience that her Secret Service agents should be disarmed.
“Let’s see what happens to her.”
Trump says Clinton is against 2nd Amendment, jokes about disarming her bodyguards: 'Let's see what happens to her' https://t.co/6gWaUt6cuK— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 16, 2016
Trump’s not exactly calling for Clinton to be assassinated here. He’s really just saying that if someone were to shoot her, it would be kinda maybe poetic justice given her stance on gun regulation. Or something.
This would not be so noteworthy except Trump already weathered a firestorm of controversy weeks ago over speculation that “second amendment people” might have a way to stop her from appointing Supreme Court justices if she won the election.
Some other things Trump did today:
- Lied to the press about the nature of his event at the Trump Hotel in Washington today to garner 25 minutes of free airtime.
- Lied on stage about the origins of birther conspiracy theories.
- Said some more stuff about birtherism that wasn’t true.
- Somehow turned the whole thing into an infomercial for his hotel.
- Offered two different versions of the third version of his tax plan, with a minor $1 trillion difference between them.
- Walked away from a years-long pledge to donate $5 million to charity if anyone could prove Obama’s citizenship.
- Attacked Hillary Clinton for supporting wars he also supported.
- Misstated African-American youth unemployment.
Which is all just to say that you never know with Trump.
Did he “joke” about someone shooting Clinton as part of a deliberate effort to rile people up and distract attention from the birther controversy or the fact that his economic plan makes no sense? Or did he do it because he’s just entirely out of control? When journalists draw attention to things like an irresponsible joke that will possible end up inspiring political violence with tragic consequences, are we playing into his hands?
Trump is numbing us to bizarre behavior, and when he pokes us hard enough that we can feel it despite the numbness it’s natural to wonder if we’re just being manipulated.