If you want to go after President Trump for calling certain nations “s***holes” during a closed door meeting, well, take a number.
Washington these past few days has taken on the form of a kind of media-run deli counter, where politicians rip one of those paper strips from the dispenser and wait their turn to express their (totally unmanufactured) shock at Trump for saying that some failed or failing states were ordure-burrows.
One of those lined up, to nobody’s surprise, was South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. In addition to being a frequent critic of the president, Graham is such a RINO that in some countries he’s hunted by poachers for the alleged medicinal qualities of his horn.
While the mainstream media played plenty of attention to Graham’s remarks condemning the president — the senior senator from South Carolina issued a statement saying that he “said my piece directly to (Trump)” — they paid significantly less attention to remarks Graham made five years ago where he pretty much said the exact same thing, only worse.
First, Graham’s statement, which is a media-pleaser for the ages.
“Yesterday Senator Durbin and I met with President Trump at the White House to discuss our bipartisan proposal on border security and immigration,” the statement read, according to CNBC. “Following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday. The President and all those attending the meeting know what I said and how I feel. I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.
“The American ideal is embraced by people all over the globe. It was best said a long time ago, E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One. Diversity has always been our strength, not our weakness. In reforming immigration we cannot lose these American Ideals.”
The statement goes on to provide plenty of “I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion blah blah blah bipartisan solutions to immigration blah blah blah did I mention the word bipartisan enough?”-style meaninglessness.
To save you the reading, nothing in the statement addressed whether El Salvador and Haiti (the two countries mentioned by Trump when he dropped the s-hole bomb) were stable, well-run countries with no risk of importing criminal activity to our country — something which, Trump’s expletive aside, was rather the issue.
Most mainstream outlets left it at that. Some, like Breitbart, dug a little deeper and found that Graham actually said something entirely similar — and possibly more offensive to liberals — during a Senate panel on immigration in 2013.
“The people coming across the southern border live in hellholes,” Graham said. “They don’t like that. They want to come here. Our problem is we can’t have everybody in the world who lives in a hellhole come to America
“There are 11 million people coming through the southern border ‘cause they come from countries where they can’t find work, and life is miserable,” he continued.
“So it seems to me that if you can control who gets a job you’ve gone a long way in controlling illegal immigration. Because as long as the jobs are available in America you can’t build a fence high enough to stop people.”
Check it out here:
Now, there are two reasons why this speech didn’t get attention back in 2013: either 1) “hell” is a lot more acceptable than “s***” and the news media is really disappointed that Trump used the s-bomb or 2) it didn’t fit a narrative that Graham is some kind of loose-cannon racist who believes America is the only decent country on earth and hates anyone with the slightest tinge of melanin in their skin tone. (The narrative the mainstream media peddles about Trump today.)
Considering that the media are having a field day using “poop’s” more vulgar linguistic brother, I don’t think the prize is behind door one. Instead, the reason this is getting so much play is that some people really want America to think President Trump is the only person ever to refer to Haiti, El Salvador and a bunch of other unidentified African nations as “s***holes.”
While the word is crude and reductive, let’s not pretend that there’s not a kernel of truth in the underlying fact that these are not countries to which you would be booking a vacation. A succession of incompetent and/or ruthless leaders like the Duvaliers and Jean-Bertrand Aristide, combined with several natural disasters, have turned Haiti into a crime-ridden mess bordering on a failed state. El Salvador, meanwhile, is teeming with members of the MS-13 gang and has the highest murder rate of any country not at war.
If anything, the Mexican “hellhole” Graham talked about in 2013 was a veritable utopia when compared to the two countries we know the president was talking about. Yet, in the five or so intervening years, I’ve heard roughly zero about how Graham is a racist or “white nationalist.”
Let’s be clear: Trump’s “s***hole” remark was not a proud or productive moment in either this presidency or the immigration debate. It was vulgar and stupid. It invited yet more drama upon 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. at a time when it was least needed.
However, to cover the remark 24/7 and pretend it’s definitive evidence the president holds the outlook of a Kleagle when it comes to race and ethnicity is little more than arrant demagogy or ratings-bait. It’s also blatant hypocrisy — especially when you consider that one of the men giving the president his “piece” over the remark said something even worse just five years ago, and all without any apparent consequence.
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