Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday blamed Donald Trump for turning “the most important election in a generation into a circus, a complete fiasco” and said increasingly intense political disputes threatened American democracy.-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as related in a March 13, 2016, story by Kevin Robillard of Politico.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Florida Republican bemoaned Trump’s rhetoric but also insisted that both the left and the right were to blame for scenes of chaos and violence at Trump’s rallies, saying the “gates of civility have been blown apart.”
“This country deserves better, and people have to wake up here,” he said. “At some point, this is really going to do damage to America.”
Rubio also said he believed increasing polarization threatens to ruin American political discourse.
“If we reach a point in this country where we can’t have a debate about politics without it getting to levels of violence or anger, where people think just because you’re angry you can say and do almost anything you want, we’re going to lose our republic,” he said. “We’re going to have a big problem. Those images from Chicago the other night, it looks like something out of the Third World.”
Rubio also worried a Trump event could turn deadly.
"I'm very concerned," he said when asked by host Jake Tapper. "We don't know what's going to happen next here. I know that we have reached the point now where people in American politics have decided that if they don't agree with you, that they can get angry at you, that you're a bad and evil person."
Comment: Rubio is calling for a higher standard of debate.
Speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Austin, Texas, on Friday evening, President Barack Obama lit into Donald Trump, by turns mocking him for "selling steaks" and ripping his rhetoric— while urging the GOP to take responsibility for creating him.-- President Barack Obama, as related in a March 11, 2016, story by the staff at Politico.
"We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network," Obama said in a clear reference to Trump's Tuesday-night press conference, where he wheeled out products like Trump Steaks and Trump Water to prove his business bona fides.
Then the president launched into a lengthy series of taunts of his own, blistering the Republican establishment for being "shocked that somebody is fanning anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-Muslim sentiment."
"How can you be shocked?" he asked. "This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya. Who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot. Wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment."
"What is happening in this primary is just a distillation of what’s been happening inside their party for more than a decade," Obama said, accusing Republicans of denying "evidence of science" and viewing Democrats as "destroying the country, or treasonous."
"That’s what they’ve been saying," he went on. "So they can’t be surprised when somebody suddenly looks and says, you know what, I can do that even better. I can make stuff up better than that. I can be more outrageous than that. I can insult people even better than that. I can be even more uncivil."
Even when Obama allowed that "there are thoughtful conservatives, good people in the Republican Party," he quickly offered up some more red meat to the crowd: "Some of them have been writing that, well, the reason our party is going crazy is because of Obama, which is a pretty novel idea. The notion is, Obama drove us crazy."
"Now, the truth is, what they really mean is their reaction to me was crazy and now it has gotten out of hand," he said, challenging Republicans alarmed by Trump's ascent to look inward. "Because my question to the folks who are suddenly so spun up is, where have you been the past five, six, seven years?"
Comment: This is the "only my opponent" caricature. While Obama is correct to point out that Republicans have resorted to (and failed to stand against) name-calling, the same is true of Obama and Democrats (for instance, Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa's remarks about the Tea Party).
"They sow discord. The Democrat Party, liberalism, sows chaos. They thrive on it. They need chaos. They need people angry. That's why every day there's always a "crisis" of something going on, because what they do doesn't work. This is why they never campaign on what they really want to do. Everybody knows that what they really want to do won't work and doesn't work. So they lie."-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 10, 2016.
Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Democrats.
QUESTIONER [unidentified]: And an endorsement, sir?-- President Barack Obama, March 10, 2016, during a press conference, referring to the Democratic Party presidential contest.
OBAMA: I think that the Democratic voters are doing just fine working this out. I think it’s useful that we’ve had a vigorous debate among two good people who care deeply about our country and who have fought hard on behalf of working people in this country for a long time. I think it’s been a good conversation. And my most important role will be to make sure that after primaries is done I’m bringing everybody together so that we focus on winning the general election.
Comment: Obama avoids answering the question about who he would endorse, which is fine in principle, but he doesn't provide a good reason for why he won't endorse a candidate. He seems to evade the issue by saying that it's "up to the voters".
QUESTIONER [unidentified]: Some of your critics have pointed to the incredibly polarized political climate under your administration as contributing to the rise of someone as provocative as Donald Trump. Do you feel responsibility for that, or even some of the protectionist rhetoric from some Democratic candidates? Do you have a timeline for when you might make a presidential endorsement? And to follow on my colleague’s question here, do you feel political heat is constraining your pool of viable Supreme Court nominees? Thank you.-- President Barack Obama, March 10, 2016, during a press conference, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
OBAMA: It’s a three-fer. I think it’s important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it’s important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices. … With respect to your first question, I’ve actually heard this argument a number of times. I have been blamed by Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they’re selecting for their party is novel. Look, I’ve said -- I said it at the State of the Union that one of my regrets is the degree to which polarization and the nasty tone of our politics has accelerated rather than waned over the course of the last seven and a half years. And I do all kinds of soul-searching in terms of are there things I can do better to make sure that we’re unifying the country. But I also have to say, Margaret, that, objectively, it’s fair to say that the Republican political elites and many of the information outlets -- social media, news outlets, talk radio, television stations -- have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal; that maximalist, absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous; that there is a “them” out there and an “us,” and “them” are the folks who are causing whatever problems you’re experiencing. And the tone of that politics -- which I certainly have not contributed to -- I don’t think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example. I don’t remember saying, hey, why don’t you ask me about that. Or why don’t you question whether I’m American, or whether I’m loyal, or whether I have America’s best interests at heart -- those aren’t things that were prompted by any actions of mine. … And what’s interesting -- I’ll just say one last thing about this -- there are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, who are troubled by the direction of their party. I think it is very important for them to reflect on what it is about the politics they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire, and to do some introspection.
Comment: First, this is the "only my opponent" caricature. Obama has routinely resorted to derisive name-calling against his opponents. In particular, he has often questioned the patriotism of Republicans, accusing them of putting party ahead of country. Second, this is "unify the country" rhetoric.
While Republican presidential candidates were debating each other on Thursday night on CNN, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was blasting her GOP colleagues in the Senate as "extremists" over on MSNBC.-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as related in a March 10, 2016, story from Politico by Eliza Collins.
“So, look, what's the problem with the two guys they've got at the top right now with Donald Trump and with Ted Cruz? These are both people who basically deny the legitimacy of their opponents. They go on the attack. They demean millions of Americans,” Warren told MSNNC's Rachel Maddow. “That's what identifies them as extremists and why Republicans -- man, Republicans in the Senate are breaking apart over this.”
But Warren said the election wasn’t the only reason the Republican Party was extreme; she said the GOP had moved sharply right since Obama's election.
“They have given in to their extremists. In fact, they have nursed their extremists along, so that there have been fights and delays over, what, over the basic things that happen in government,” she said. “All I can say is that's what constituted extremism in the United States Senate. That's what has nursed what's going on now in the presidential primaries.”
"But I do know this: They are paying the price for their own extremism. It has now taken them by the throat. And so, when they stand up in the Senate and say, 'Oh, my gosh, what's going to happen to us? We now may have a presidential nominee who is so extreme that he will pull us over the edge electorally and cause us a disaster in November.' The answer is: Guys, this is what you did to yourselves. If you really want to stop it, stop it right now. Stand up and do your job."
Comment: This is "extremism" rhetoric.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” lasted all of two questions — neither of which were answered during a less-than-four-minute segment before he was booted off the show.-- Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), as related in a March 10, 2016, story by Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico.
Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski spent nearly as much time talking about the governor — with Brzezinski blasting him over his refusal to answer questions during the interview and questioning whether he should be leading a state — after his segment than they spent talking to him during it.
At the outset of the interview, Scott declined to endorse a Republican presidential candidate.
“Why wouldn’t you endorse the sitting senator from the state of Florida? That seems like a pretty easy endorsement, to me,” Scarborough asked. “I’m confused.”
“Marco’s done a very good job,” Scott said. “We got elected together back in 2010. He’s done a very good job as our senator. Donald Trump is a friend. I’ve met Ted Cruz. I know John Kasich.”
Scott insisted he will stay out and trust the voters, so Scarborough pivoted to Trump’s recent statement that Islam hates America. “Do you think Muslims in the state of Florida hate America?” he asked.
“Well, as you know, in Florida we’re the best melting pot in the world. We love everybody coming to our state,” Scott said, before turning to his opposition to accepting Syrian refugees who aren’t fully vetted.
“That could be a reasonable policy position if you want to debate that, and we can debate that issue. I’m just asking, generally, do you think that Muslims hate Americans, that Islam hates America as Donald Trump said last night,” Scarborough pressed.
“I can tell you what’s going on in Florida,” Scott began, before Scarborough interrupted and asked again for him to answer the question.
“Do you personally think that Islam is a religion that hates America?” Scarborough asked.
Scott’s response was that Florida has a lot of Muslims and Latin Americans who all get along. “We’re a great melting point. That’s what I can tell you about our state,” Scott said. “Donald Trump, he can talk about the things he wants to talk about. Marco Rubio can, Ted Cruz, John Kasich...”
Co-host Mika Brzezinski wasn’t satisfied. “That’s not answering any questions. Rick, Rick, Rick, Rick, Rick, Rick, I know you and Joe are friends and this is kind of awkward, but can you answer the question or should we scoot?” she asked.
Comment: Scott refuses to endorse a candidate, but without giving much of a reason apart from "trusting the voters", which is the "not my decision" evasion. He also avoids answering the question regarding Islam.
"I say let's come together folks. We're going to win. I say let's come together. Carl, the answer is not 100 percent but largely I would say yes. Some people you are just not going to get along with. It's okay. But largely I would like to do that and believe it or not, I am a unifier. I unify. You look at all of the things I built all over the world. I'm a unifier. I get along with people. I have great relations. I even start getting along with you, right? Campaign Carl. But, no, I get along with people. And I really say this, Carl, I think it's time to unify."-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, March 8, 2016, responding to a question by Carl Cameron of FOX News' Campaign.
Comment: This is "unify" rhetoric.
The GOP said Tammy Duckworth doesn’t ‘stand up’ for vets. The problem? She lost her legs — in Iraq.-- Headline from a March 8, 2016, story by Else Viebeck of The Washington Post, referring to comments made about Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both legs while serving in the U.S. Army.
Comment: "Standing up" is an ambiguous term: it can mean literally getting up on your feet; or, metaphorically, it can mean advocating a cause. Obviously, the Republican Party was using metaphorical language when they said Duckworth was not "standing up". This would be akin to saying, of a blind person, that "they don't see what's wrong with their position". The choice of words may be unfortunate, but need not be intentionally derisive.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto compared the language of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to that of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in an interview published Monday, and said it has hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.-- Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, March 7, 2016, as told by an Associated Press story.
Asked about Trump, Pena Nieto complained to the Excelsior newspaper about "these strident expressions that seek to propose very simple solutions" and said that sort of language has led to "very fateful scenes in the history of humanity."
"That's the way Mussolini arrived and the way Hitler arrived," Pena Nieto said.
Comment: This is "comparing" rhetoric.
For decades, key Republican strategists have used a dog-whistle to play on racial fears. It should come as no surprise that someone like Mr Trump would one day swap it for a megaphone.-- Pundit Edward Luce, March 6, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: This is "code words" rhetoric.