Yesterday, Donald Trump responded to the mass shooting in Orlando in indefensible ways. This morning, as Politico reported, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee actually managed to make matters slightly worse.
“He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other,” Trump said of Obama on “Fox & Friends,” speaking on the phone. “And either one is unacceptable.” […]And Trump again implied that the president was not a trustworthy leader when it comes to fighting terrorism. “We’re led by a man who is a very – look, we’re led by a man that either is, is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said. “And the something else in mind, you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot – they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable.”
There isn’t much in the way of ambiguity here. As Politico’s Blake Hounshell summarized, “This morning, Trump implied President Obama is a terrorist sympathizer.” Politico’s Jake Sherman added, “The Republican Party’s nominee for president seems to be saying its possible the POTUS is in cahoots with terrorists.”
Update: On NBC’s “Today,” Trump added, ”Well there are a lot of people that think maybe [the president] doesn’t want to get it.”
Obviously, crackpot rhetoric from a presidential candidate the day after the worst mass shooting in American history is indefensible, but I’m curious: what do Trump’s Republican supporters and enablers think about this?
What do you think, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? Do you believe Trump is right and there may be “something going on” with President Obama and secret terrorist sympathies? Or do GOP leaders consider this the latest in a series of insane conspiracy theories?
These need not be seen as rhetorical questions. When a candidate for national office effectively secures his or her party’s presidential nomination, he or she becomes a de facto spokesperson for that party. When Donald Trump suggests to a national television audience that the war-time president – the one who ordered the strikes that killed Osama bin Laden and the head of the Taliban, among many others – may be allied with terrorists, is this the Republican Party line in 2016?
It’s not unreasonable to think the public deserves an answer.