Dean Obeidallah: Trump, as media manipulator, draws outrage, buzz over Muslim remarks
Who's scarier? His followers, Obeidallah says
He says polls show Trump supporters are far to right of the GOP and offer dark view of America
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show,” a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Donald Trump, as we all know, is a master media manipulator. He knows how to get headlines better than any modern-day presidential candidate. (Or for that matter better than almost anyone not named Kardashian.)
The latest? He called Monday for all Muslims to be blocked from entering the United States. (How will Trump determine if a person is a Muslim? Will he make everyone trying to get into the United States eat a bacon cheeseburger?)
Some have speculated that Trump’s extreme rhetoric during this campaign may just be simply to get headlines. That may or may not be true. But I’ll tell you one group that doesn’t care either way. This group clings ferociously to Trump’s most extreme positions, and its member are far to the right of the rest of the Republican Party. The group: Trump’s supporters and they are scarier than he is.
One recent clue? After Trump’s speech Monday night detailing his plan for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” his supporters gave him a standing ovation. Trump’s GOP rivals have publicly criticized the proposal, by contrast. Even Dick Cheney, yes Cheney, said the proposal “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
But there’s so much more. A recent poll found that three quarters of Trump’s supporters are in favor of deporting all of the 11 million-plus undocumented immigrants and banning any Syrian refugees from seeking shelter in America. In contrast, Marco Rubio only has 5% and Jeb Bush 6% of those far-right voters.
And a recent Iowa poll found that 73% of Trump supporters in that state favor his idea to create a “deportation force” and deport all undocumented immigrants in our country. In comparison, only 40% of Republicans supporting any of the other GOP presidential candidates agree.
Trump also polls well among people who are apprehensive about Muslims. Republican voters who believe that Muslims support ISIS are 35% more likely to support Trump than those Republicans who think “very few” Muslims support that the terrorist group, a survey found. Worse, Republicans who think Muslims in general (which would include American Muslims) are “an immediate threat to the United States” support the Donald by more than 30 percentage points.
Speaking of Muslims, while 43% of Republicans in a September poll believe Obama is a Muslim, that number goes up to 54% among Trump supporters.
OK, I’m pretty sure you get it: Trump’s supporters are really right wing, even when compared with other Republicans. In fact, a poll released this week finds that 68% of Trump supporters would vote for him if he leaves the GOP and runs as an independent candidate.
But what’s more alarming is some of the hateful rhetoric I have witnessed firsthand by some Trump supporters on Twitter. It’s been a parade of hateful comments about Latinos, Muslims and Black Lives Matter. Trump has even received the support of white supremacists for his endorsement of President Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” plan to deport undocumented immigrants in the ‘50s.
Trump has become one-stop shopping for the far-right. He may lose this election, but he has shown the country something important about itself: that the greatest threat to America, as we know it, may not be foreign threats but un-American ideologies right here at home.