Trump Gives Establishment a Sword

His call to ban Muslims from entering U.S. allows opponents to paint nationalists as racists

With his call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, Donald Trump has finally gone too far and given his opponents the ammunition they need to harm him and, more importantly, discredit the cause of nationalism.

Trump’s statement provides the GOP Establishment, Democrats, and even overseas critics an opening to attack all American nationalists as racist, undermining legitimate calls to limit immigration, bar refugees who can’t be vetted, and take other steps to protect the country.

This was a mistake by Trump, and he will have to act quickly before he is defined as “the guy who just hates Muslims.” The Establishment never wants to admit that nationalism can be legitimate, and they will seize on these comments to claim that Trump and his voters are motivated by racism.

Trump was doing well in the primaries because he was being tough on issues like immigration and trade, issues related to U.S. sovereignty and the preservation of our culture, where others in the GOP are weak. Now he’s putting all that in jeopardy.

It’s even a mistake for Trump to try to be tougher than the rest of the GOP when it comes to ISIS, because it feeds into the Establishment’s wish for an all-out war in the Middle East. Now, in trying to sound tough, Trump has taken a big step toward sounding purely anti-Muslim. Trump has also opened the door for Establishment types from all over the world, like David Cameron, to attack him.

Below, the first part of Trump’s appearance Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Note at the end host Joe Scarborough cuts him off and goes to a commercial. Trump stayed with it and returned after the break.

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All of this detracts from Trump’s basic message, and gives the Establishment a way to avoid discussing any of the issues his supporters care about.

Think about it. Under Trump’s proposal, a terrorist could get into the United States by falsely claiming to be a Christian, while a Muslim who lost both legs helping us in Iraq would be prevented from visiting the American soldiers he fought with. Trump can’t defend an outcome like that.

The Establishment and others are gleefully pouncing.

“Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious,” said Jeb Bush.

“This is reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive. @realDonaldTrump, you don’t get it. This makes us less safe,” tweeted Hillary Clinton.

Ted Cruz was more nuanced in his response, indicating disagreement with Trump without being overtly critical. It may put him in a position to pick up support that falls away from Trump.

“Well, that is not my policy,” Cruz said. “I’ve introduced legislation in the Senate that would put in place a three-year moratorium on refugees coming from countries where ISIS or al-Qaida control a substantial amount of territory. And the reason is that’s where the threat is coming from.”

A Trump reeled his comment back just a bit on “Morning Joe,” saying the ban would last only until U.S. officials could “figure out what’s going on.” But he declined to say how long that might be.

But Trump wasn’t backing down, and doing so is hardly his style. Instead, he repeatedly compared his actions to those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who limited the rights of Japanese, Italians, and Germans in America during World War II.

“What I’m doing is no different than FDR,” Trump said on ABC. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse … and he’s one of the most highly respected presidents — they name highways after him!”

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