Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Donald Trump, Pocahontas and Liz
Leave it to Donald to drag Pocahontas into the mix by making fun of Liz Warren's presumed Native American heritage. Everything is fair game in Donald's world, it doesn't matter that he has ticked off more Republicans with his ethnic slurs, notably Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who is a member of the Chickasaw Tribe. Rep. Cole felt that this slur should have never entered the conversation, referring to the current twitter war between Don and Liz.
To be fair, Elizabeth Warren hasan't exactly distinguished herself either, goading Trump with all the pot shots she has taken recently. I'm not quite sure what Liz's game plan is here, other than to act as Hillary's surrogate. She has made some pretty crude remarks herself. The problem is that when you play these games with Donald, you usually end up losing. Just ask Marco Rubio who was forced to take back all his hand jokes.
Trump's latest twitter attacks stem from Liz claiming she was part Cherokee, based on family lore. Her family originally hailed from Oklahoma, where there are a large number of Cherokees, along with Chickasaws and other tribes, were marched there in the 19th century leaving behind a "Trail of Tears." There was no way to confirm this link, so Scott Brown had a field day with these claims during their bitter Senate election fight in Massachusetts. Brown has since sworn his allegiance to Trump.
Pocahontas herself was a member of a Virginia tidewater tribe led by the famous paramount chief Powhatan, about 200 years before the Trail of Tears. He was the one who allowed the English to set up a colony at Jamestown and ultimately lost his daughter and most of his tribe as a result. She bears little relation to Liz's family tree. However, being the most recognizable Indian in American history, she is the one most often evoked, as in Neil Young's song.
Donald says he didn't mean any disrespect to native Americans, he was just teasing Liz. Even his "ferocious foe" Lindsey Graham thought it was pretty funny, saying if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Liz's response was to "delete your account," picking up on a retort Hillary had made earlier to Trump after calling her "Crooked Hillary." It just shows how juvenile this campaign has become when presidential candidates and their surrogates are resorting to teenage slang on the Internet. As John Oliver points out, this only brings the game to Trump's court, where he is the undisputed master of tweets.
All this name calling has everyone scratching their heads. No sooner does Trump try to make himself look presidential by reading a prepared speech, apparently edited by his daughter Ivanka, than he reverts right back to his old self. This led Mitt Romney to convene a special session at his Park City Utah home to decide how to respond to Trump. He had gathered Meg Whitman, Paul Singer and other GOP mega-donors, and invited young Republican Senators as well, notably Paul Ryan and Ben Sasse, to discuss a post-convention strategy I assume.
As expected, Mitt was bombarded with angry tweets from Team Trump when he emerged from his cozy retreat to speak with Wolf Blitzer, calling Trump's language "trickle-down racism." The problem is that this racism is already in the fabric of his supporters. Trump is just confirming it with his vitriolic attacks on opponents, whether real or imagined.
The Pocahontas tweets are just another distraction from what is a serious riff in the Republican Party. Meg Whitman, founder of eBay and current CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is actually considering supporting Hillary. This would be a big blow for Republicans and for Donald, who doesn't appear to have the assets to cover a national campaign. Mark Cuban suggested that Trump had to liquidate assets to come up with money during the primaries, and that he is currently far behind Hillary when it comes to financial resources to carry him through to the general election. But, Donald doesn't want anyone to know that so he takes out his frustration on Liz.
The convention couldn't come soon enough as far as Republicans are concerned. They would like to get Trump on track, representing their party, not playing these puerile games. It has cost them dearly in the past few weeks. However, Trump isn't going to change his stripes, and who is going to support him in a national campaign? The Koch brothers have also ruled out Trump.
This leaves notoriously cheap conservative benefactors like Carl Icahn, who spent less than $100,000 in the 2008 campaign. Since Donald has already tapped him as his presumptive Sec. of Treasury, maybe Carl would be willing to ante up more this time around. However, that $150 million super-PAC he promised last year never materialized, and it would take approximately 6 times that amount to cover a national presidential election.
Of course, Donald can try to drag Hillary into a five-month twitter war, as he did his past GOP opponents. That's cheap and certain to get news coverage. However, it is doubtful the Hillary campaign will go down this road. Meanwhile, Liz is egging Donald on, making it even more uncomfortable for traditional Republicans to support him. You might call this one, Pocahontas' revenge.