How Can We Expect Donald Trump to Know Every Nationally-Known Racist Group?

(Originally posted on Medium)

Gosh, but it’s really hard being a candidate for President. The constant travel, the mediocre snacks at rallies, having to touch people’s germ-infested hands. Not to mention having to make flash decisions — come on, that’s not supposed to happen until they’re actually in the Oval Office! You guys are supposed to decide that first, get it?

That’s why I viewed Donald Trump’s February 28 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper with such profound sympathy for the beleaguered and down-trodden. By that I mean Donald Trump, of course.
Asked if he’d broadly distance himself from Duke and white supremacists, Trump demurred, saying he knew nothing about their support for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.  
“I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about,” Trump said. “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”  
Tapper responded: “OK. I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but — ” 
And Trump said: “Honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I’ve ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.” 
Trump’s reaction to Tapper’s blatant “gotcha” question is understandable. You can see his internal struggle on the lines of his face. It was unfair of Tapper to ask about an organization Trump doesn’t know anything about. We have to give the man time to research! How can we demand he have an immediate reaction to the Ku Klux Klan without knowing who they are first? What does Trump look like, a history book? Listen, buster, Trump writes books! He doesn’t read them!

When you’re a politician, you always have special interests groups trying to horde your attention. It’s a non-stop barrage. There’s the National Association of Realtors. There’s the American Medical Association. There’s the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association. There’s the Racist White Supremacy Scumbags Who Should Be Immediately Marginalized From American Culture. Goodness, how can one keep all these groups straight? That’s why Donald Trump hired assistants. Step it up, Busey!

How’s Trump supposed to instantly recall who the Ku Klux Klan are in the middle of an arduous line of questioning from CNN? Look at their name: “Ku Klux Klan.” It sounds like a breakfast cereal that doesn’t know what to call itself. It’s as if Tapper asked him about “Kix Trix Cheerios.” Of course Trump would have to pause and think about that — does he want Americans to think he’s disavowed the most important meal of the day?

Trump is a busy man. He can’t be expected to know the pros and cons of every single hate group that’s been in the forefront of the American white supremacy movement for over 150 years. This shows his willingness to withhold judgment until he’s found out all the facts. Maybe they dress in white sheets and hoods because they can’t afford corduroy. Maybe they burn crosses on lawns because Christmas trees don’t allow them to fully express themselves. Maybe they hate other races and creeds because they’re having a really bad day, probably a Monday. Mondays, am I right??

So let’s forgive Donald Trump for his legendary restraint and resistance to brashness. He’s a man who needs the most up-to-date intelligence he can gather, and if he needs to call “time out” to catch up on the relative merits and benefits of the Ku Klux Klan, we conscientious voters have to give him all the room and time he needs. If we call upon him to answer a drive-by question about a group without a well-known name, or an easily-remembered acronym, then the electorate only has our own impatience to blame. Sad!

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