During an Oval Office meeting between the president and senators from both sides of the aisle last week, Donald Trump was asked about allowing immigrants from Haiti and several African nations to enter the U.S. As you now know, President Trump was said to have responded in a poor but unsurprising way: “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?”
As expected, the media had a field day. The quote prompted most left-leaning news outlets to not only use the word “s***hole” many times but also to use this to try and prove that Trump is racist.
This was an unrecorded, closed-door meeting, so there are some who deny, some who confirm and some who claim not to have heard.
Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said President Trump “… said these hateful things, and he said them repeatedly,” and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, reportedly confronted the president during the meeting about his comments.
But Republican Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton issued a joint statement claiming they didn’t hear the president make these comments. And finally, President Trump denied using the language but said through Twitter that he used “tough language.”
Among the people at the meeting who say they don’t recall what Trump said is Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Last Tuesday, Nielsen reaffirmed this while testifying under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After her denial, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, who obviously wants to make a 2020 bid for president, tore into her. Booker said Nielsen’s “silence and amnesia is complicity” and claimed that when Durbin called him after the meeting and told him what the president said, he cried “tears of rage.”
Booker’s “tears of rage” comment reminds me of a story about a presidential candidate who was accused of crying and whose candidacy suffered because of it.
Edmund Muskie, a senator of Maine and President Carter’s secretary of state, was a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the presidential election of 1972.
After Muskie beat George McGovern in the New Hampshire primary, his wife was attacked by the press. He then defended his wife and looked as though he was crying. He made the statement on a snowy day, and the snow melting on his face looked like tears. The press reported that he broke down and cried, essentially ending his candidacy.
This is not to say that crying isn’t sometimes OK. There are situations in life in which crying is appropriate. But there used to be a time when crying and getting emotional over trivial, inappropriate or political matters was a sign of weakness.
In today’s political climate of serial outrage, Booker is labeled as a hero for showing his “soft side” and praised for his façade of outrage that, at the end of his charade before the committee, left no chance for Nielsen to respond.
Booker’s bad acting would have been criticized much more harshly and surely been accused of “mansplaining” if he were a Republican shouting at Hillary Clinton.
Booker is a serial fabulist whose tears and anger don’t sell. Whether Nielsen heard the comments or not, it does not excuse Booker from his obviously pre-planned and one-sided attack used only to boost his presidential odds.
Reagan Meredith is a sophomore political science major from Monroe, Louisiana.