Well, consider this episode from President Bill Clinton’s first term. Sen. Jesse Helms, the ultraconservative and Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was asked about whether President Clinton should visit the troops at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Helms responded the President shouldn’t come down to his state because the military hated him because he had avoided service in Vietnam, supported gays in the military and reduced spending. The senator told a radio station
, “Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.”
The remark provoked a response from the President, an inquiry from the Secret Service and front-page coverage in all of America’s newspapers. Most significantly, it prompted a climbdown from Helms, who said, “I made a mistake last evening which I shall not repeat.” (It also made for an excellent episode in one of the early seasons of West Win
Fast forward to 2019 and now we have President Trump telling Breitbart News
, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump — I have tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it would be very, very bad.” Twenty-five years after the Helms incident, though, there certainly won’t be an apology from Trump for threatening violence against his political opponents, there won’t be an investigation and I bet we don’t find it on the front page of any newspaper.
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