Is Donald Trump a racist? Some would argue his recent behavior proves it – or does it?
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Elaine Chao, who served as Transportation Secretary in the Trump administration (and who happens to be married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), has asked media outlets weeks back not to repeat a “racist” comment that former President Donald Trump made about her.
“I think it is very helpful if the media does not repeat that racist tweet,” Chao told CNN.
“If it were the n-word, or any other word, the media would not repeat it. But the media continuously repeats his racist taunt. And so, he’s trying to get a rise out of us. He says all sorts of outrageous things, and I don’t make a point of answering any one of them.”
Chao and Donald Trump
The incident in question is a post-Trump made on Truth Social in which he referred to Chao as Mitch McConnell’s “China-loving wife, Coco Chow.”
Trump continued, saying that Democrats “must have something really big on Mitch McConnell” for him to support the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.
“It is also a massive giveaway & capitulation to CHINA,” Trump posted, “making [Chao] so happy!”
Trump also called Chao “crazy” and claimed she had enriched her family by working in the federal government.
Referring to McConnell, Trump posted, “this is such an affront to honor and to leadership. He should spend more time (and money!) helping [Republicans] get elected, and less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!”
Trump’s rant continued, and continued, before concluding with the suggestion that McConnell “has a DEATH WISH” and “must immediately see help and advise from his China loving wife.”
Right, so not an especially elegant or dignified outburst from Trump.
Chao, who has taken the high road in response to Trump’s racist outburst, was born in Taiwan and moved to the US in her childhood.
Chao has worked for multiple Republican presidents, including, of course, Donald Trump.
Actually, Chao served in Trump’s cabinet for very nearly Trump’s entire term; Chao resigned a few days after the January 6th riots, a few days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Chao’s husband, Mitch McConnell, worked closely with Trump throughout his administration.
McConnell voted to acquit Trump in both of his impeachment trials.
Responding to Trump
Some observers, like Inae Oh at Mother Jones for example, have suggested that the media has gotten too accustomed to Trump’s racist behavior; that his violations of civility barely trigger a response anymore; that the media needs to refocus and hold Trump to account for his racism, because Trump’s rhetoric inflames anti-Asian sentiments nation-wide.
Chao was referring specifically to the incident at hand, but she may be on to something in a more general sense.
I’ve written before here in 19FortyFive suggesting that the media may want to consider moving on from their Trump obsession.
The thing is Trump will remain relevant as long as the media decides Trump is relevant.
The difference between Trump and the racist uncle at Thanksgiving dinner is that when Trump says something stupid or racist, or insensitive, CNN, USA Today, Mother Jones, and the New York Times amplify the story. Trump will never just be that racist uncle spouting off at Thanksgiving; Trump has 80 something million Twitter followers.
But Trump could be that washed up political hack with outdated views – just as soon as the media lets him.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.