The Overreaction to Trump’s ‘Treasonous’ Remarks is What He Continues To Count On From His Critics
We’ve seen this before. President Donald Trump says something controversial, his critics both in D.C. and in the media cry foul, his supporters either remain wholly indifferent or side with him, and this repeats, over and over and over again.
This time, the controversy surrounds remarks he made during a campaign-like speech in Cincinnati, OH on Monday, where he mostly touted his economic policies and the recently-passed GOP tax bill. But he also took a moment to blast Democrats for, let’s just say, their lack of enthusiasm during his State of the Union address, especially during parts that boasted job growth and higher wages for Americans.
“They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said ‘treasonous,'” Trump said while pointing to the crowd. “I mean, yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not. I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much. But you look at that and it’s really very, very sad.”
Trump often jokes in these types of speeches, but invoking “treason” the way he did was in poor taste. And while criticizing Democrats for their partisan misery during his State of the Union address is fair game, considering the majority of people approved of his address — his remarks calling Democrats “un-American” were incredibly inappropriate, and he shouldn’t have said them.
Unfortunately, Trump’s opponents can’t settle for fair criticism. They have to go above and beyond with emotion and theatrics. Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) blasted the president on the Senate floor. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) invoked “North Korean Television” when criticizing Trump. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) derided him for avoiding military service, tweeting that she would never “clap when he demands I clap.” April Ryan had a heated exchange with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about what he said.
Accusing someone of “treason” is beginning to devolve into the political version of calling someone “racist.” It has been so overused in the current polarizing climate to the point that its significance has been diminished. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said that the release of the Nunes memo would be “tantamount to treasonous.” Steve Bannon called Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer during the 2016 election “treasonous.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that the Mueller probe was investigating “potential treason,” something he was forced to walk back. Roger Stone once called for Bernie Sanders to be “shot for treason.” During the election, a CNN commentator called Trump’s tongue-and-cheek plea for Russia to find Hillary Clinton‘s missing emails “almost treasonous.” Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade once said it was “almost treason” for President Obama to be so focused on climate change. Bill Maher and Michael Moore accused Republicans of “treason” for their obstruction during the Obama presidency. And the T-word is used constantly on Morning Joe.
A bit overused, right?
Going back to what Trump said, his critics are right when they say his words matter. And because of that, he was deservingly slammed for his “both sides” remarks after Charlottesville and more recently for his “sh*thole” comment about Haiti and African nations. However, Trump’s critics pull out their pitchforks and torches for virtually everything he says, does, and tweets. They have yet to learn to choose their battles wisely. His opponents made everything a battle in 2016 and that ultimately boosted his candidacy through to the election. Such over-the-top disdain for Trump is part of what motivated his supporters on Election Day. And Trump himself knows this, which is exactly why he continues to do it – whether it’s for calling NFL players “sons of b*tches” for not standing during the National Anthem to attacking “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warren.
Look, President Trump is bombastic and impulsive and often acts childish and immature, as we’ve seen since he was a billionaire TV star. It has become clear that you can take Trump out of the reality show, but you can’t take the reality show out of Trump. With that in mind, his political adversaries and media critics do themselves a disservice when they constantly overreact to his latest remarks. If they’re able to curb their appetite, perhaps then they can stop needlessly handing Trump these victories.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.