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Conservatives who reluctantly support President Trump often try to pretend the daily outrage didn't happen, but yesterday's "go back" tweets were like his "both sides" comment on Charlottesville — a transgression that won't instantly fade, and can't be laughed off.
The bottom line: Trump is all-in on us-versus-them politics and does not care if he occasionally crosses the line into racism. Trump allies expect this to get worse, not better.
What happened: Trump attacked four young, female House Democrats of color who are U.S. citizens, three of whom were born in the U.S. — "a racist trope ... factually inaccurate," as the N.Y. Times put it.
- "Republicans with a conscience are cringing," a Trump ally said. "He believes the more he puts 'The Squad' front and center, the better his re-election chances get."
- A former White House official tried to explain Trump for a couple of texts and then just said: "It's insane."
- One influential Democrat told me Trump had achieved a tactical win — stoking both his own base and Dems' internal tensions: "His view is that he simply cannot go too far. The line doesn’t exist. ... I'm very worried."
As Peter Baker writes on the cover of today's N.Y. Times:
"His attack on the Democratic congresswomen came on the same day his administration was threatening mass roundups of immigrants living in the country illegally. And it came just days after he hosted some of the most incendiary right-wing voices on the internet at the White House and vowed to find another way to count citizens separately from noncitizens despite a Supreme Court ruling that blocked him from adding a question to the once-a-decade census."
Between the lines: With Republican officials staying silent yesterday, the Trump ally told me, "If anything, history has said that this stuff does go away and that it’s not worth the potentially catastrophic political cost of weighing in against him (as a Republican)."
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