The deniability really isn’t all that plausible

Aaron Blake on Trump’s semi-veiled threats:

Trump’s public comments are often more strategic than his critics give him credit for. He will routinely suggest something without technically saying, “This is what I want.” And he will generally lather himself in plausible deniability. “It would be very bad” and “I hope they stay that way” allow him to say he doesn’t actually want this thing he’s hinting at to happen.

Not really. It’s so obvious that he’s lying that it’s probably worse for him to say it than not to say it. Nobody is dumb enough to think he means it when he says “I hope they stay that way.” He means it only in the sense that he hopes the threats will be sufficient.

But it’s clear from these comments, and the repetition of this formula, that he’s suggesting his supporters from the military, law enforcement and even bikers could be tempted to rise up if things don’t go Trump’s way. He’s at the very least toying with the idea that things could become violent.

In other words he’s threatening us with violence. Can we please not talk about it as if it were maybe slightly alarming but still normal? Even if he’s not likely to go through with it, even if he can’t go through with it however much he wants to, it’s still not normal. It’s not normal and it’s not ok. The fact that he muses aloud about the police and the military and biker gangs going to war against all of us who want him gone is not normal. Beware of what we get used to.

[E]ven if a coup seems patently ridiculous, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be unrest, and it doesn’t mean that Trump isn’t proactively wielding that possibility for leverage against his opponents. Hinting that efforts to remove him from office — either via the 2020 election or impeachment — could be met with this kind of violence serves notice to his foes that they better play nice . . . and maybe investigators should back off.

The idea that anything like the scenes Trump is describing would ever happen is difficult to believe. But that’s not really the point. Musing about this kind of thing is a great way to plant a seed in certain people’s minds, and the fact that Trump keeps fertilizing that seed shouldn’t escape notice.

The fact that the president likes the idea of soldiers and bikers rioting against the populace is a grotesque horror.

5 Responses to “The deniability really isn’t all that plausible”