We’re optimists about American democracy in the long run, but nowadays the long run looks longer all the time. The bonfire of inanities in the last two days between Donald Trump and Democrats over who’s the bigger racist, or real anti-Semite, or greater disgrace to the nation is a new low even by recent standards.
Mr. Trump started the bonfire, as he so often does, with a Sunday Twitter barrage telling “‘progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” who are critical of the U.S. to “go back” to the countries from whence they came. He seemed to be targeting the four hard-left members of Congress, all minority women, who’ve been brawling with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the direction of the Democratic Party.
Conservative journalist Brit Hume offered a succinct summary in calling Mr. Trump’s comments “nativist, xenophobic, counterfactual and politically stupid.” Three of the four women were born in the U.S., and “go back” is a taunt immigrants have heard in America for more than two centuries. It was used against Catholics, against the Irish, Germans and Italians, against Chinese and Japanese, and in our day most often against Mexican-Americans. A President of the United States shouldn’t sink to such a crude nativist trope, but then we repeat ourselves.
As for politically stupid, Mr. Trump rescued Democrats from an intra-party feud that had been escalating for days. A smart opponent would have kept quiet and let it continue. But Mr. Trump intruded into the spotlight and let Democrats unite in denouncing him.