The day before Virginia’s gubernatorial election, Donald Trump lashed out at then-candidate Ralph Northam (D) as being “weak” on veterans – despite the fact that Northam, unlike Trump, actually is a veteran, serving honorably in the Army for eight years.
So why is it, exactly, Trump pursued this line of attack? Probably because he thought it sounded good. There are a lot of veterans in the commonwealth, so Trump likely made the attack, without concern for whether it made sense or not, in the hopes that it’d encourage veterans to vote Republican.
I thought of this yesterday watching the president go after Doug Jones’ (D) Senate candidacy in Alabama.
“I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat – Jones. I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime…. I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that’s going to be bad on crime.”
Asked soon after if he intends to campaign in support of Roy Moore, the president added, “I’ll be letting you know next week, but I can tell you, you don’t need somebody who’s soft on crime, like Jones.”
Let’s pause for a moment to take stock. Doug Jones is a former federal prosecutor – a role in which he went after criminals. He’s perhaps best known for convicting a pair of KKK members responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, which left four children dead.
Roy Moore, who’s been accused of sexual assault, is an alleged child molester. Up until two weeks ago, he was best known for having been removed from the bench – twice – for ignoring federal court rulings he disagreed with.
In Trump’s mind, one of these two men are “soft on crime” – and it’s not the one common sense is pointing at.
So why did the president choose this particular line of attack against the Alabama Democrat? It probably has something to do with the cynical way in which Trump looks at politics: crime is bad, voters are worried about crime, so tell people that the prosecutor who looked up criminals is “soft on crime.” It doesn’t matter if this doesn’t make sense; it only matters if people can be made to believe it.
There are some credible lines of criticism that may be effective in going after Doug Jones. Trump appears to have settled on the dumbest.