Off-Topic: Not Funny Anymore (and never was, really)

As a progressive Democrat, I was thrilled when I heard Donald Trump was entering the Presidential race as a Republican, for obvious reasons.

I've been as guilty as anyone of treating Donald Trump like an entertainer, a joke.

For months, I've described Trump as being "Zaphod Beeblebrox with a mean streak". More recently I revised this to "Part Zaphod Beeblebrox, part Andrew Dice Clay".

The truth is, though, he wasn't being funny when he allegedly sexually assaulted his then-wife Ivana (even if she's since "recanted" her deposition testimony) many years ago.

He wasn't being funny when he went full racist birther on President Obama in 2012.

He wasn't being funny when he called Mexican immigrants "rapists" earlier this year.

He wasn't being funny when he called women "fat pigs" or "animals" or told them they'd look good "on their knees" during a (TV show) job interview.

And yes, there've been a dozen other "lines" which he's crossed which supposedly would take him down, all of which only served--with the media playing along--to pump his support up even higher: Badmouthing a U.S. POW for getting captured; talking about Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle; etc...

He should've been stopped then. He has to be stopped now.

This latest incident, during a campaign rally in New Hampshire, in which he calmly replied that he'd be willing to "look into" the possibility of "getting rid" of Muslims in America, threw a chill up my spine.

Many people (myself included) suspect that Trump's xenophobia is just part of his schtick, that he doesn't personally give a shit one way or the other about immigrants, Mexican or otherwise. I don't imagine he personally has any particular problem with Muslims either. Quite frankly, I don't think he has the mental capacity to come up with any coherent philosophy about either immigration or religion whatsoever.

But that's what makes him even more dangerous. I'm not worried about Donald Trump personally deporting or killing anyone. It's his rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, idiotic base of supporters who are so disturbing (and disturbed)...and saying stuff like this will get someone killed sooner or later. Already, at least one homeless man has been beaten up by two Trump supporters specifically because, in their own words, "Donald Trump was right" about immigrants.

I've even heard serious Republicans openly speculate that Trump is a secret Democratic plant who's deliberately trying to kill the Republican Party's chances in 2016. Who the hell knows; anything is possible at this point.

But I no longer care whether it's all an act or not. I don't care whether he's doing this on a lark, as a con, to generate publicity or as a game. This has gone too far.

I've made one more revision to my description of him. He was always part Zaphod Beeblebrox and Andrew Dice Clay. Now he's added a third persona, which scares the hell out of me. And yes, I know I'm going Godwin here.

UPDATE: Stuart Levine suggests that Benito Mussolini is a better stand-in for Trump's "third persona", and perhaps he is. Certainly that would be less cliché than using Hitler, of course.

UPDATE x2: Tim F. over at Balloon Juice makes a similar point to mine:

Donald Trump may not be crazy per se but he long ago disappeared too far up his own ass to second-guess anything that the dumb little voice in his head wants him to say. That rotten little eight year old, the one dad tried and failed to straighten out with military school, is easily the guy’s major vulnerability. When he gets caught up in the moment, with no one around to correct him but the cameras, Trump will nod along with any damn thing a supporter says. And that was a masterful work of leading a guy down an increasingly problematic garden path. Uh huh, camps…uh huh, sharia, birtherism…yeah, final solution…wait*. It makes me wonder where our front pagers were last night.

...(*) Does Trump really think rounding up American muslims is a good idea? Probably not. I think he’s just reliving his days on the WWE stage where he’d say any damn thing to get a stadium full of people to shout louder. 

UPDATE x3: Several people I normally respect (Jonathan Chait, Dave Weigel) have tried to parse the wording of both the question and Trump's response to say that they were both talking about "getting rid of" the (phantom) "growing training camps" where the "Muslims" "want to kill us", as opposed to all Muslims in general.

This is bullshit, and here's why, as I put it in a series of Twitter responses moments ago (strung together for clarity):

As I noted: It may be true that the questioner was specifically referring to "training camps" in the precise "when can we get rid of them" sentence. HOWEVER, he ALSO prefaced his question with "Muslims are a problem in this country", which Trump replied "RIGHT". The word parsing is irrelevant here.

Both men agreed that "Muslims" (in general) are "a problem in this country", period. It's tortured parsing logic to try separating that from "When can we get rid of them". The man CLEARLY wants to "get rid of" the "Muslim problem" referred to seconds earlier.

Trump agreed that "Muslims are a problem in this country".  He further agreed that he'll be "looking at a lot of different things" in response. I don't think Trump personally gives a shit about Muslims (or Mexicans)…but that's irrelevant. He agreed with the jackass about both parts of his "question". Neither one stated flat-out "We need to deport or murder all Muslims", but both came pretty damned close to doing so.

Here's a less incendiary example. Let's say that Tim Cook stated that Apple would "launch" a new iPhone "this fall", and they end up making it available at 11:59pm on September 20th, with 1 unit available at 1 Apple Store. Cook could TECHNICALLY say "See? We "made it available" "this fall," but most people would rightly roll their eyes and call bullshit. On the other hand, that's a delay of a consumer products by a few weeks/months. This is inflammatory, racist rhetoric, which has already led directly to at least 1 man being beaten up & WILL lead to someone getting killed.

The point is that Trump is either OK with this or is recklessly irresponsible.

Whether he "technically" meant the "training camps" or the whole population becomes irrelevant to the xenophobes who hate Muslims in the first place.

I think Weigel & Chait are just looking at it from a strict linguistic POV, but that's still besides the point. There are times when it's OK to word your response "inartfully" etc, and there's times when it isn't. This was a dangerous, loaded question, and Trump ABSOLUTELY should have shut this jackass down immediately.