Yes, Drumpf Declined to Denounce David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan
March 8, 2016
Look, here’s the timeline: As Jim Geraghty points out,
- Year 2000 — Donald Trump, a. k. a. Drumpf, left the Reform Party, and denounced David Duke by name as a Klansman:
“The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”
- August 26th, 2015 — Drumpf said he wouldn’t want David Duke’s endorsement.
- February 26th, 2016 — Drumpf tersely “disavow”ed Duke’s endorsement:
- February 28th, 2016 — Drumpf claimed not to know anything about David Duke:
Drumpf is literally a “Know Nothing”.
Jake Tapper gives Drumpf several invitations to denounce the KKK; Drumpf steadfastly declines them all.
There is no good interpretation of Drumpf’s embarrassing performance in this interview. You can take your pick of possible explanations, but none of them sound good.
Your answer, I think, depends on how charitable you want to be to Trump. Most charitable: He was tired and had a brain fart under pressure, knowing that Tapper was putting him on the spot. How hard is it, though, to field a question that boils down to “KKK, yes or no” even when you’re tired? A less charitable theory: Trump is so narcissistic that he can’t bring himself to harshly criticize someone who’s praised him, even if that someone is David Duke. In Trump’s world the moral fault line between good people and bad people seems to lie between whether they’re pro- or anti-Trump. (See also Putin, Vladimir.) The problem with that, though, is that Trump’s condemned Duke before, as noted. Maybe not “harshly” (at least not since 2000), but if all you want is to hear him say that he doesn’t want the support of a particular Trump fan, well, he’s said it already.
Which brings us to the least chartable possibility. Maybe he really is mindful of the racist minority among his supporters and didn’t want to say anything in a high-profile format like a Sunday news show that might piss them off before Super Tuesday.
. . . when you watch the Tapper interview, it becomes clear what is really going on: He think condemning the Klan will hurt him with conservatives or southerners or both. He needed aides to tell him, “Mr. Trump, sir, it’s okay to disassociate yourself with the KKK.” And so he took to Twitter to clean up the mess he created.
In other words, the issue isn’t that conservative opponents of Trump think he’s a Klan supporting racist, it’s that Trump thinks many of his conservative supporters are. And that’s just one reason I don’t want this guy speaking for me.
The broader problem is that whether or not Trump is consciously pandering to white supremacists, he lacks the consistent backbone to say so clearly, or even the rudimentary political skill to remember what he said earlier this week. That means it will be child’s play for the Democrats to use him to Krazy Glue every horrible they can imagine to the entire party. As bad as this interview looks if you think Trump is truly on board with the white supremacists, from a political perspective, it’s even worse if he’s not.
I’ve heard a number of different arguments attempting to explain away what Donald Trump said (and didn’t say), but they’re all terrible. Goldberg again:
It is obvious to me that Trump didn’t want to denounce David Duke and the Klan in the Jake Tapper interview. The “bad earpiece” explanation is a transparent lie, and when others invoke it, they are simply carrying water for Trump.
Trump quite clearly heard the question. He mentioned David Duke’s name himself several times. He simply didn’t want to denounce Duke. And when Tapper mentioned the KKK, Trump still didn’t say, “Wait a second . . . ” and rip into the Klan.
Most of the other attempted explanations (such as that the media “ambushed” Trump or that he genuinely had no idea who David Duke was) are precluded by the timeline of events.
Watch the video again, and watch how Trump responds; watch it knowing that Trump already knows what David Duke and the KKK are.
Update (March 8th, 2016): The Washington Post reports, “In 1927, Donald Trump’s father was arrested after a Klan riot in Queens”:
In Queens, 1,000 white-robed Klansmen marched through the Jamaica neighborhood, eventually spurring an all-out brawl in which seven men were arrested.
. . .
It’s not clear from the context what role Fred Trump played in the brawl. The news article simply notes that seven men were arrested in the “near-riot of the parade,” all of whom were represented by the same lawyers. Update: A contemporaneous article from the Daily Star notes that Trump was detained “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.”