Trump’s equivocal response to pipe bombs is rogue element in midterms
প্রকাশিত তারিখ : October 27, 2018 | আপডেট সময়: 7:01 AM
Thirteen top Democrats and Trump critics were the targets of mailed pipe bombs this week but calls for political unity over the attacks swiftly unraveled, as Donald Trump reverted to blasting the media and seemingly giving credence to rightwing conspiracy theories.
In response to the first reports of packages containing explosive devices being mailed to prominent figures including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the president adopted a somber tone. But with the midterm elections less than two weeks away, he quickly returned to the aggrieved rhetoric that many argue helped create such a fraught political climate.
“President Trump has departed from the way most presidents behave when there’s an act of domestic terrorism,” said Michael Cornfield, associate professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. “Anger is the fire of politics, and fire can be productive and useful or it can get out of control.”
Many Republicans echoed the president’s assertion that the media was in part to blame for the attempted attacks. Democrats insisted the president should take a long look in the mirror.
Even as a suspect was arrested on Friday, some high-profile figures on the right continued to push conspiracy theories, claiming the attempted attacks as a “false flag” planted by the left ahead of the 6 November elections.
As Trump tweeted: “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
The president’s use of quotation marks around the word bomb was interpreted by many as giving credence to conspiracist thinking. It came after he sharply condemned the media and continued to single out CNN, which was forced to evacuate its New York City offices on Wednesday.
Trump’s aggressive posture gave Republicans defending majorities in Congress a familiar dilemma: side with the president or seek to keep quiet.
Ted Cruz, fending off a tougher-than-expected challenge from the Democrat Beto O’Rourke in the Texas Senate race, denounced the failed bombings as an act of terrorism. But he was quick to defend Trump against critics who said his attacks on his political opponents might have been a motivating factor.
“The media’s doing what the media does, which is any narrative they can twist against Trump they will do so,” Cruz told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Unsurprisingly, Democrats felt differently.
“There’s incredible incendiary rhetoric used by the president at his rallies from time to time,” Claire McCaskill, a senator facing a tough fight in Missouri, said at a debate. “We all know that. I’m not blaming it all on him but how can you get through this question without acknowledging it?”
Michael Steele, a former chair of the Republican National Committee, said it was too early to tell if Trump’s conduct would have any impact on the elections.
“The part of his base that is jacked up to go out and vote will do that,” Steele said. “The question is where do other Republicans go, where do independent voters go, where do center-right Democrats go?
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