Not to dwell on the unpleasant, but this has been a truly wretched week for U.S. politics, courtesy of the Donald Trump campaign. Things move quickly in primary season, and yesterday’s outrage is often bumped out of the news by today’s fresh horror. So here’s a quick rundown of some of the lowlights.
On Sunday, the Republican frontrunner sat down with CBS News host John Dickerson and argued, at length, that the United States should be torturing people more frequently and that the laws should be “increased” (whatever that means) to allow for an expanded menu of torture techniques to use against the ISIS terror organization. Dickerson, apparently appalled, replied:
DICKERSON: Isn't that what separates us from the savages?
TRUMP: No, I don't think so, we have to beat the savages.
DICKERSON: And therefore throw all the rules out.
TRUMP: We have to beat the savages.
DICKERSON: By being savages.
TRUMP: No, well -- Look, you have to play the game the way they're playing the game.
Also over the weekend, Trump began urging supporters attending his rallies to swear to vote for him in upcoming primaries by raising their right hands toward him and reciting an oath. The practice generated images that many people found reminiscent of the Nazi salute.
Even after Jewish groups and others complained that Trump rallies were beginning to look disturbingly like fascist gatherings, Trump persisted with his demand that his fans raise their right hands as they pledge support.
On Tuesday night, after earning big wins in the primaries of Michigan and Mississippi, Trump held a press conference in Miami. Afterward, Michelle Fields, a reporter with the Breitbart organization, approached Trump in an effort to ask a question. A man, later identified by an eye witness as Trump campaign corrector Corey Lewandowski, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back, hard enough to leave bruises and to cause Fields to lose her balance.
The Trump campaign immediately denied that any such thing had happened. Trump himself said it was made up, and Lewandowski used Twitter to attack Fields as “attention-seeking” and “delusional.” By Friday, video evidence from C-Span cameras would emerge that appeared to show Lewandowski reaching toward Fields just before the incident occurred.
Then on Thursday, disturbing footage from a Trump rally the night before emerged showing a Trump supporter blindsiding an African-American protester with an elbow to the face. The attacker, 78-year-old John McGraw later told Inside Edition, “Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him we might have to kill him.”
By Friday, when Trump held another rally, this time in St. Louis, social media was instantly awash in videos of Trump supporters screaming racial epithets at African-American protestors. Not long after the rally started, another black man, bleeding from the face, was dragged from inside the hall where Trump was holding forth.
And to think, only a week ago, everybody was shocked by candidates making penis jokes.