Last week, alleged Russian mob fixer and aging Trump consigliere, Paul Manafort, assured GOP leaders that Trump’s on-the-trail persona was simply a way of appealing to the rubes, the chuckleheads in fly-over country, the white nationalists and embittered losers. The real Donald Trump, Manafort assured everyone, was fully capable of acting like a non-deranged adult who was not raised by gerbils.
And he was right. On Friday, Donald Trump gave a speech in Delaware and he was the epitome of presidential. He was so presidential he could have passed for Joe Biden:
The Republican front-runner also said he once called a credit-card call center, suspecting the employees were working from India.
“I said to the person, ‘Where are you from?’ I wasn’t really checking on my card. I was actually finding out if this was true. So I called up under the guise I’m checking on my card, said, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘We are from India.’ ‘Oh, great. That’s wonderful. Thank you very much,'” Trump said, speaking briefly in a foreign-sounding accent before gesturing like he was hanging up a phone.
Let’s face it. Donald Trump doesn’t have an easy relationship with English, himself. To make fun of someone who speaks at least two languages fluently and whose accent is no worse than the one that Trump is pretty cheap. That said, I think nothing screams presidential more than a candidate imitating a foreign accent.
The underlying sentiment, though, is why Donald Trump should not be allowed near the White House. The fact that a call center is in India should not be a cause for concern. Free markets should allow the flow of goods and services across international boundaries. The fact that we have developed strong economic ties with India is a good indicator that we will have strong political ties with them also. (I’ve dealt with Indian call centers for credit cards, for assistance on Microsoft products, and for technical assistance on specialty computer programs and don’t have an issue with the service I’ve received.) Trump is spouting protectionist nonsense that he doesn’t believe himself in order to attract voters who do believe protectionism is all they need to make their lives wonderful. That’s fine. That’s how he rolls. But the imitation of the accent points to a darker side of the Donald Trump campaign: his active pandering to racists and bigots of all stripes. There was no reason to do the accent to make the point. It was necessary to mimic an Indian accent to dogwhistle the racist fringe fluffing him.