One of the things that has grated many about the way Trump has handled his campaign thus far is not that he has attacked his fellow Republicans, but that way he has attacked them – resorting often to biting personal insults and the talking points of the left. There’s definitely room for vigorous debate about policies and personalities without treating fellow Republicans as enemies rather than rivals.
For instance, there’s room to disagree vigorously with almost everything Jeb Bush does without adopting the talking points of Michael Moore about 9/11 and George W. Bush’s responsibility for the attacks.
There’s room to criticize [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]’s involvement with the Gang of 8 or his voting record in the Senate without calling him a “clown.”
There’s certainly a lot to criticize about [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]’s policy and his campaign strategy without launching an unprovoked attack about the way he looks.
And so on and so on.
The good news is that, now that he is feeling more comfortable as the GOP frontrunner, he seems to have learned that not every political opponent has to be treated like a personal enemy and that sometimes, it’s okay to extend goodwill and good faith to your political opponents, because at the end of the day we are all ultimately on the same team.
Of course, for Trump to realize the value of this tactic, he would have to perceive that he really was on the same team as a given political opponent, and I guess in the interest of fairness, Trump really does not perceive that he is on the same team as Bush, Carson, Fiorina, Paul, Rubio, et al – and maybe his supporters don’t, either.
But Trump has finally found a politician who’s apparently on his team to enough of an extent that he’s willing to extend a hand of goodwill as the press circles and attacks that politician. That politician, of course, is Hillary Clinton:
Trump on the Benghazi hearing: “It was very partisan — it looked quite partisan.”
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 25, 2015
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Trump has never during the course of this campaign showed this much willingness to defend anyone on the Republican side from attacks that were generated by either the press or other Republicans. Instead, he gleefully parroted those attacks, or even expanded on them.
You might excuse his unwillingness to show even basic decency to his primary opponents as part of a winner-take-all mentality that is just part of Trump’s unique personality, and to the fact that he has no real loyalty to or use for the party after this campaign is over. Maybe his supporters feel the same, and that’s fine.
But what’s the excuse for soft-pedaling on Hillary Clinton, who he must know he’s likely to face in the general, if he wins the primary (which he appears very confident that he will do)? There is none, unless he really doesn’t care if he beats Hillary, as long as he beats the other Republicans in the field.