Trump’s Strategy: Just Kidding

When Donald Trump's incendiary pronouncements spark a firestorm of criticism, it takes him a day or two to comprehend what he's done and quickly blames everyone else for misinterpreting his often violent rhetoric.  His defense:  Just kidding.

His latest lie was insane accusations that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are "the founders" of ISIS.  One reason he gave was Obama's order to withdraw US troops from Iraq, something that Trump – who claimed to know more about ISIS than the generals —  himself strongly advocated and supported.

I guess that's one more thing, like the Iraq war, when he was for it before he was against it. 

After not even his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, would support Trump's latest stupid outburst, the GOP standard bearer blamed it all on CNN.  The Twit Tweeted:

"Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) 'the founder' of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?"

That's a favorite defense of the man Nobel Laureate Economist Paul Krugman called "an ignorant, wildly dishonest, erratic, immature, bullying egomaniac."  If anything goes wrong, he's quick to blame it on his favorite enemy, the media.  Even when they accurately play back his own words and gestures, he unabashedly denies ever having said it.

One of many recent examples is telling the mother of  crying baby to get out of the hall. He said he was "only kidding" when he said he liked babies.

When he called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails and publish them, he shrugged off charges that he was inviting a hostile foreign government to intervene in the American election by insisting he was only being "sarcastic."

When Trump made snide comments about Megan Kelly's menstrual period, he says he was just kidding.

When he said the way to keep President Hillary Clinton from appointing "anti-gun" justices was for "Second Amendment people" to find a way to stop her, many considered that a veiled call for assassination.  In the face of public outrage and a visit by the Secret Service, which takes such threats seriously, Trump said he was merely urging followers to vote, but the reference he made was after Clinton became president and began making appointments ("If Hillary Clinton is elected…").  Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), a leading Trump enabler, to his eternal shame, shrugged it off as a "joke gone bad."

Calls for violence, especially against protesters at his rallies, have been a staple of Trump's campaign appearances.  Of course, he denies it, but who are you going to believe, Trump or your lying eyes?

Is he just kidding or saying the first things that come into his mind without considering their meaning or consequences because he knows it will incite his angry followers?

When he ran for president, he was just kidding too, I guess.  The trouble with that is that the joke is on the American people, because when it's over and he loses, as appears increasingly likely, he will leave behind a debris field littered by hate and fear that will take years to repair while he goes off on what he said will be a "long vacation."  

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.