Donald Trump has one stalwart group behind him, and only one it appears: the N.R.A. leadership. Everyone else has jumped ship or retreated to the anonymity of Twitter.
Out of fairness, let me say something positive about Trump and the N.R.A. leadership: they deserve each other. And in that same spirit of fairness, let me remind you that said leadership, unlike many reasonable gun owners, comprises a group of ordinary people who want every felon and misfit in the United States to have access to all available weapons so that other ordinary people can be killed in greater numbers in a shorter period of time. I think that’s pretty fair.
So when Donald Trump winked at the possibility that some patriotic gun owner might choose to assassinate Hillary Clinton should she win the presidency, we were more startled than we should have been: it was Trump being an idiot and simply promoting the N.R.A. brand.
But Thomas L. Friedman had an essay in the Times recently you might want to read, one that centers on a twenty-year-old event: the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Friedman reminds us that Rabin—a fairly progressive leader—was brutally demonized by right-wingers as a threat to Israel. Nobody told anyone to assassinate him, but there is footage of Benjamin Netanyahu (for one) addressing a screaming and rabid mob which kept chanting that Rabin was a traitor—and of course we all know what we do with traitors. After Rabin’s murder, Netanyahu disavowed involvement.
Disavow—that’s a Trump word.
In light of that event—and just on the basis of everyday sanity—Trump’s call for violence has an ominous and frightening ring to it. The sane Republicans who lack the guts to divorce themselves from Trump’s contemptible rhetoric insist that he is merely electioneering—that his words have been misinterpreted. But the gun-brandishing open-carry types tend to take his words as gospel. And the N.R.A. is, again, not jumping ship.
But really, there is no misinterpretation. Trump has openly threatened a candidate for president, then ramped it up further by claiming that she and the current president have spawned ISIS. No sensible individual from either party would attach any significance to such asinine accusations, but countering such stupidity is like playing a game of basketball against a yapping dog: he’ll never score a basket, but you get so tired of chasing him around the court that after a while it just seems too much of a bother.
But we can’t give Trump the ball or the court, not even for a little while: better to keep chasing him around until November when we can finally get the muzzle on him and install him in a pleasant kennel.
And the N.R.A. leadership can guard him. They’ve got the guns.