Donald Trump and the KKK and Ronald Reagan and Pandering

On Sunday a lot went down with Donald Trump, from endorsements to (more) white supremacy talk, from Mussolini to Marco roasting. Of all the many things there are to say in reaction, much of which has already been said here at RedState and better than I could, the one thing that bears further examining is the KKK question.


Jake Tapper asked Donald several times if he would denounce the KKK and David Duke and say that he doesn’t want their support. Each time, Trump refused to answer. For a lot of people (self included), the first reaction to this was “of COURSE he won’t denounce them. He loves those guys.”

But for others, even among those who not support Trump’s candidacy, the phrase “gotcha question” came up a lot, and the specter of being asked to jump through hoops by the liberal media was raised.

It is true, the media will ask Trump this but will never ask this kind of question of Hillary Clinton. However, whether willingly or not, the media did in fact cover a great deal of what came out of Rev. Wright’s church during the 2008 campaign, and eventually then-Senator Obama was forced to address it. Trump should likewise have to address his huge, active, and very public white supremacist following, and that’s a fact.

But was the denounce question fair? Or is this just setting the stage for them to do the same to Cruz or Rubio?

Well first of all, given the premise that everyone on the right generally seems to accept, which is that the media will do this to Republicans forever and no matter what, then them doing it to Trump has no bearing on whether they’ll do it to Cruz or Rubio, since the claim is they do it to all Republicans no matter what. But secondly, and more importantly, just because it is “unfair” doesn’t mean there isn’t a right answer. And a right way to answer.


At least, that is, for someone who is not actively courting the KKK vote. IJReview posted on it on Sunday night. The perfect answer. From an unsurprising source.

But compare his reaction today to what Ronald Reagan said when the KKK endorsed him in 1984:

”Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse.

”The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.”

Now that is a stellar answer. It reflects his values without giving the media the power. Read it again if you’re about to angrily reply about “playing the left’s game.” He didn’t play their game, he took the power away from it. That’s how you deal with the media. Like a boss. And while I suppose you could ungenerously read both men as pandering, ask yourself who they are pandering to, and which group you’d prefer your President to seek favor with.

Tapper’s question could have been answered that way, but course that just isn’t the Trump way. The Trump way is to be easily offended like a social justice college kid, to take to Twitter to whine about it like a teenager who just got dumped, and to wait for his supremely loyal racist and white supremacist army on Twitter to harass whomever he’s angry at until they shut up. Reagan was a statesman. Trump is not.


All of which doesn’t even address the fact that Trump actively courts this demographic. He signals them with his retweets. He sends them little messages in his speeches. They know he is on their side, and vice versa. Eventually, he specifically “disavowed” Duke’s endorsement again, as he casually did last week at a presser. But under the light of Tapper’s interview, when more than a toss-away line was required, when he was asked to well and truly denounce the large number of white power Nazis supporting him, he refused. Three times.

So look, yes the media is unfair. (Although with Trump, they’re not THAT unfair.) However, you have a choice in how you respond. Don’t be like Trump and whine about it. When they try to handle you, handle them right back. It’s going to happen again and to politicians that you like. When it does, don’t be like Trump. Be like Reagan.

In fact, apply that last to everything. Every. Thing.


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