After Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced her presidential bid on Saturday, the president went after her on Twitter, writing, “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”
Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
Of course, most of the reaction to Trump’s tweet was centered around his callous and purposeful use of “TRAIL,” a reference to the genocidal forced relocations of Native Americans in the 19th Century referred to as Trail of Tears. So, when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked the congresswoman about Trump’s tweet, she ignored his question and went about blasting Warren, calling her a “laughingstock.”
.@jaketapper: “What about the language the President uses and the joking references to genocide against Native Americans?”@RepLizCheney: "Elizabeth Warren has made herself a laughingstock.” https://t.co/hgwicQep8h #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/NJKfAhePMm
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 10, 2019
Ignoring or excusing any and all things racist that Trump utters is par for the course for most Republicans — politicians and commentators alike. Even someone like Cheney, whom Tapper points out, has a large number of Native Americans in her state, can’t bring herself to be critical of him. A perfect example of this is Fox News conservative commentator Brit Hume’s tweet, excusing the President of the United States by brushing this off as mere ignorance, as if that is a rational or even believable excuse for a man who hung a portrait of President Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. Jackson, as any 8th grader knows, is the president responsible for the Trail of Tears.
Yes, because Trump is noted for his knowledge of 19th century American history vis a vis the native population. Jeez. https://t.co/WYmvB1jg1O
— Brit Hume (@brithume) February 10, 2019
Trump’s most recent tweet and his constant use of Pocahontas, a racist slur he uses when referring to Warren is not an accident. It’s a tactic he learned from the infamous attorney Roy Cohn, to never retreat even when wrong, and not to worry about being honest when hitting back. Sometimes Trump used this strategy to go after someone personally, like he did when using juvenile nicknames like “Low Energy Jeb” for Jeb Bush, “Lyin’ Ted” for Ted Cruz, or “Little Marco Rubio.” He went so far as to make fun of Ted Cruz’s wife’s looks and during the general election he tried to paint his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a criminal by constantly referring to her as “Crooked Hillary.”
When Trump zeros in on who he thinks is his most potent rival, he goes into full attack mode, no matter how low. Trump’s success using this tactic in the 2016 primaries likely reinforced his reliance on it. And it’s clear he is doubling down in time for 2020.