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What the Devil won't tell you

McSally uses PC dodge in failing to swat Trump

For a woman who prides herself on candor, she sounds like a politician

I would say U.S. Rep. Martha McSally picked a bad day to announce her bid for the U.S. Senate, but one day is as good as another with President Donald Trump's mouth and Twitter feed set on stun.

What constitutes a bad day is also in the eye of the beholder. To a sane person, it would appear that having to answer questions about Trump's latest mental vomit would be a bad thing. On the other hand, if McSally's goal is to schmooze Trump and curry favor with the racist elements of the GOP, then she picked a great day to prove her loyalty.

Besides, it's not like Trump is going to start behaving like he's old enough to buy beer. Buy beer? … apologies to teenagers. It's not like Trump is going to start behaving like he's old enough to wear his big-boy pants.

One day before McSally's announcement, Trump declared annoyance that the U.S. accepts too many immigrants from “shithole countries” and not enough from Norway (oh good Lord, is this really happening?). He all but guaranteed McSally would have to clean up after him in Arizona.

When asked about his racist comments – and I'm not going to pussyfoot around this, they were racist –  McSally equivocated like a typical politician making a BS excuse.

"I speak a little salty behind closed doors," was the best she could do. No, Congresswoman, the word “shithole” wasn't the business end of Trump's statement. He said Africans are worse than Europeans. That's racism no matter how you parse it. It's got nothing to do with a “merit-based” immigration system because it predicates worthiness on cultural and racial heritage. “Blacks are bad,” is not an economic argument and Trump's statement can only be taken to mean none of us are better than our nation of origin and that some countries (that just happen to be white) are preferable to others.

Prior to her announcement rally, McSally released a campaign video that included Trump calling her “the real deal” and “tough” and vows “like our president, I'm tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses. I'm a fighter pilot and I talk like one.”

Really? So, congresswoman, you are fed up with hyper-sensitivity that silences criticism of certain groups when what's needed is the toughness to call a spade a spade? Coulda fucking fooled me.

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The very reason McSally isn't calling out Trump's racism is because she's afraid the GOP base will take that as an accusation that they are racist for supporting him. That would hurt their feelings. They'd be offended, so she pulls her punches, because they require tolerance and sensitivity.

Someone get the woman some green tea and a pair of Birkenstocks. Buy her a subscription to The Young Turks and COEXIST mudflaps for her truck. She's all but culturally appropriating the American left that she says is aggravating problems today.

McSally can't promise she's tough enough to tell it like it is when she makes excuses for Trump and coddles his base, hoping to soothe their feelings, rather than call them to account. That's either PC, BS or both.

Just a few days ago, TucsonSentinel.com posted my column imploring McSally to take down former Maricopa County sheriff and wannabe despot Joe Arpaio. She's gonna have to figure out a better way than this if she doesn't want to strangle her brand in its cradle.

PC bad (except when it involves the right)

Am I the only one who finds it odd the American right demands we use the catchphrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and revels in calling moderates “cucks,” liberals “libtards,” illegal immigrants “rapists,” Muslims “terrorists” and treat Black Lives Matter as “racist,” while also getting personally indignant that anyone would call them “racist” themselves. They treat “the other” as mortal enemies and only ask of them that conservatives be treated fairly and with loving kindness. To do otherwise, well, that's just not civil.

Conservative leaders embolden the base's sense of entitlement by failing to draw any red lines, anywhere around the most base urges of the wing nuts or the president they choose to coddle. All their behavior is OK because they think it feels right.

So what are we talking about when we deride “political correctness”?

Using "PC" as a baseball bat to silence conservative speech or off-color jokes by calling them “fascism” or “racism” runs contrary to the glorious muddiness of a heterogenous democracy.

However, is the right asking for the unfettered ability to drop the N-bomb to prove their patriotic mettle? Are they demanding the right to trash constitutional protections in a show of righteous resolve? Are all the civilizing and democratizing forces patriots claim to love about white society just illegitimate restraints on morality? 

This isn't about Trump's use of a bush-league scatological term in the Oval Office. (Not to disparage Triple-A ball; "I have a friend" who played in the minors.) All presidents swear. Most adults do, bigly. It's about the fucking meaning of his words.

Those who confuse the president's vile bile with being tough are missing the point. Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole. Oh, I'm sorry; I'm a print journalist. Sometimes we use salty language. Yes, I'm calling the president a Triple-A asshole but I guess that just means I have the strength and will to offend the thin-skinned.

Sorry if it's not PC.

No cure for 'Orange Fever'

Then again, it doesn't really take courage to kick a commander-in-chief with a 35 percent job approval or a congresswoman in a tough spot. The more she throws in with Trump, the harder it's going to be to throw him off when he becomes a millstone come the fall.

I don't believe Trump's comments reflect McSally's beliefs.

McSally said in a 2015 Elle Magazine interview that Republicans can take a legit issue and make it seem racist to an extent that frustrated her. So is she willing to stand and die on her principles or someone else's?

Her two opponents already have taken vows of eternal allegiance to the president. Arpaio's obeisance is obvious after Trump pardoned him after the sheriff was convicted of violating a federal court order. Former state lawmaker Kelli Ward planned on challenging on U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake as not being Trumpy enough. Also, "conservative" groups like Freedom Works and Club for Growth have derided McSally as too liberal. So this is an opportunity to blend in with the field and stand with Trump.

She'll have plenty of opportunity.

He's going to say something in two weeks that makes us temporarily forget his condemnation of “shithole” people with “shithole” heritages and she's going to be asked about that, too — and again, she'll have to demonstrate sensitivity toward GOP primary voters.

Trump's constant play toward his crowd's emotional core is only driving up the passions on the left who have shown in Alabama and Virginia that they are ready to show up in record numbers. The general-election electorate looks like it will be one of the most liberal in memory and voters will be looking to vanquish any reflection of Trump.

I warned McSally that Trump was going to be her problem, and her choosing this year to run in a high-profile Republican primary will make it just that much worse. The party has come down with a case of “Orange Fever,” which shrinks the spine in all Trumpian matters and compels obedience to his every venal urge.

Historically, voters want to use the mid-terms as an opportunity to check the president. The more McSally pounds it into voters heads that she won't, the deeper that information will lodge. The more she runs toward Trump, the more she'll have to run away from voters turned off by Trump — and that could be a majority of the electorate in Arizona. Liberals are already lining up at their polling places (not really but you get the point).

I'm also not entirely sure where the upside strategy is here. Arpaio and Ward have the sycophant vote locked up. That may be 60 percent of the GOP primary electorate. If there were just one candidate aligned with the president, then clinging to Trump would make sense. I have to think the other 40 percent of the GOP would be fine with McSally taking the "I'll-agree-when-he's-right-and-disagree-when-he's-wrong" approach. 

McSally could elevate Trump above the contempt from the likes of me simply by normalizing him. No need to venerate him.

Winging a prayer

Trump isn't going to help Republicans tell a story of fruitful success because voters didn't elect a businessman to the White House. They elected a gland. Glands receive stimulae and automatically secrete. Trump seems to have no control over his reactions and will respond to whatever Fox News blather stimulates him at any given moment. He prefers aggrievement, aggrandizement and antagonism. The economy is boring.

The campaign won't be about the economy or tax cuts because Trump needs a scandal each week to feel relevant, or at least noticed.

That leaves Republicans like McSally tasked with running toward the president and away from him at the same time. Ask how Democrats did it in 2010 and 2014. They did it about as well as Republicans in 2006. Their answer is simple. They lost.

She's stuck praying Arizona votes “R” out of habit and that the D's blow it and both are absolutely possible.

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In 2022 or 2024, Trump wouldn't be a problem. He may not be a problem in 2020 if the party finds a cure for spinelessness. McSally could run as McSally, as salty as she wants to be and voters would welcome her cocky candor. She'd cruise to victory. Trump is making it necessary for her to shapeshift her persona around his cult of personality.

That's not strength. She's just another politician trying to make a "correct" calculation.

McSally and Republicans today should shut up about how they're rough and tumble enough to speak truth to power if they aren't willing to start in their own back yard.

Blake Morlock is a journalist who spent 17 years covering government in Arizona and also worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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1 comment on this story

1
145 comments
Jan 14, 2018, 8:00 pm
-0 +1

She pretends to be a S*** Hot fighter pilot.
But she’s not. She’s a Chicken S***.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

McSally speaking at her campaign kickoff, Friday in Tucson.

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