This Is Where We Are

[Content Note: Racism; birtherism; Islamophobia.]

Last night, at a rally in New Hampshire, an audience member said that President Obama is a Muslim, and Republican candidate Donald Trump did not even bother to correct him:
The exchange came during a post-debate rally in Rochester, N.H., during which Trump asked the audience for questions rather than giving a speech. To kick things off, Trump pointed at a man in the audience: "Okay, this man. I like this guy."

"We have a problem in this country, it's called Muslims," the man said. "We know our current president is one. You know, he's not even an American. Birth certificate, man."

"Right," Trump said, then adding with a shake of his head: "We need this question? This first question."
Obviously Trump wasn't happy with the question, but he didn't condemn it, either. Because his entire campaign is rooted in xenophobia, and to directly challenge it would be to undermine the very reason his supporters like him.

This incident is reminiscent of one on the 2008 campaign trail, in which one of then-GOP nominee John McCain's supporters made the same accusation against the President—except McCain responded in a very different way:

A white man, holding the mic at a townhall event: —and, uh, frankly, we're scared. Um, we're scared of an Obama presidency.

Edit. McCain, holding the mic: First of all, I want to be president of the United States, and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be. But I have to tell you, I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States. [outraged noises from audience] Now, I—I just—I just—now look, I— If I didn't think I would be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn't be running, okay? [cheers and applause] And that's the point. That's the point. Um.

Edit. A white woman, holding the mic: I gotta ask you a question. I do not, uh, believe in—I can't trust Obama. [McCain nods] I—I have read about him, and he's not—he's not—he's a, um, he's an Arab. He is not— [McCain shakes his head] No? [McCain reaches for the mic and takes it away]

McCain: No. No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a—he's a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you.
Now, obviously McCain's response is still garbage, because "Arab" and "decent family man and citizen" are not mutually exclusive categories. But at least he didn't let that shit slide without any pushback at all.

And we're talking about a man who engaged in a campaign absolutely filled with racist dogwhistles against the President. Which exposes McCain's rank hypocrisy. But when faced with a supporter explicitly saying what he'd been dogwhistling, he denounced it.

Trump can't even be bothered to do that.

When John fucking McCain is the standard-bearer for decency, and your party's front runner can't even live up to the rock bottom expectations established by McNasty, you have derailed.

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