A Stunning Contrast

Obama v. Trump in handling protesters at rallies (and a helping of untruth from Trump).

trump-rallyThe topic of this post is, in some ways, small but I also think it is profound.  It is about protesters at political rallies (a common enough occurrence in our politics) and how two different politicians dealt with them.  It is also about basic truth.

To wax a little idealistic for a moment, it is important to underscore that the relatively commonality of peaceful protest at political events is a testament to democracy and a constitutional order that allows for freedom of assembly and free expression.  And while protests can be disruptive, they ought need to be understood in the context of basic political freedom.

This leads me to the following video of Hillary Clinton campaign event at which President Obama was speaking.  At this event an older gentleman dressed in a military uniform displayed a Trump/Pence sign and began shouting to the crowd/to Obama (it is unclear to me what he was saying):

The President handled the situation quite well, in my opinion.  In watching the video I was struck by a) the fact that he tried to reign in the crowd, rather than inciting them, and b) he used the situation to extol basic democratic values and human decency.

Of course, in watching this video, I could not help but think of the numerous videos of Trump actually egging on his audiences in their negative reactions to protesters.  A stark contrast, to say the least.

Obama:  ”First of all—hold up—we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military and we gotta respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we gotta respect our elders, and fourth of all, don’t boo. Vote.”

Contrast this with Trump in similar situations:

  • “Oh, I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks,” (source).
  • “I’d like to punch him in the face” (source)
  • “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Just knock the hell- ” Trump said, before offering to pay to defend them in the court system…I will pay any legal fees. I promise, I promise.” (source)

Not only is there a remarkable contrast between the way Obama handled a protester and the way Trump has repeatedly addressed the issue, the events with Obama gave Trump an excellent opportunity to blatantly lie (from the Business Insider:  Donald Trump gave a startlingly different account of how Obama handled a protester in North Carolina):

“He was talking to the protester, screaming at him, really screaming at him. By the way, if I spoke the way Obama spoke to that protester, they would say, ‘He became unhinged!’ … And he spent so much time screaming at this protester and frankly, it was a disgrace.”

If one did not watch the video Obama, go give it a look and then re-read Trump’s words. This is simply a straight-up example of a blatant lie.  This isn’t spin or an alternative interpretation.  It is just a direct example of untruth.

So, any supporters of Trump out there note the contrast in how to handle protesters and note how your candidate is simply lying.  It is truly stunning (or should be).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    Anyone who supports Donald Trump really has no right to criticize Hillary Clinton’s relationship with veracity…Trump lies as easily as most people breathe…

  2. michael reynolds says:

    We are going to miss this Obama guy.

  3. dxq says:

    there’s an old saying about if you’re black, you have to be twice as good to get as far.

  4. Paul Hooson says:

    President Obama is such a gentleman and brought wisdom and dignity to our presidency.

  5. Kari Q says:

    One of the things that saddens me is that those on the right simply fail to see how remarkable Obama is as an individual. I get that they don’t like his policies, but he is, personally, an impressive man.

  6. dxq says:

    He’s won the Olympics of putting up with relentless ignorant bullshit with a smile on your face.

    (So has she.)

  7. al-Ameda says:

    To wax a little idealistic for a moment, it is important to underscore that the relatively commonality of peaceful protest at political events is a testament to democracy and a constitutional order that allows for freedom of assembly and free expression. And while protests can be disruptive, they ought need to be understood in the context of basic political freedom.

    I will miss Obama the president and Obama the man. Your example showed us, reminded us, of just how effortlessly he did the right thing. Honestly, he’s showed us this side, the enduring decency, the entire time he’s been in office.

  8. Mu says:

    @michael reynolds: It’s a bit like Jets fans missing Mark Sanchez. There were the butt fumbles, but also the last playoff runs.

  9. Jen says:

    Trump has confirmed that he has not one shred of humanity or human decency repeatedly. This lie is astonishing in its boldness and the fact that the truth is readily available. He and his supporters live in an alternate reality.

    I will truly miss the Obamas. The whole family is a class act.

  10. Mikey says:

    @Jen:

    This lie is astonishing in its boldness and the fact that the truth is readily available.

    Nearly all of his lies are that way. His adherents don’t care. They literally believe Clinton is the liar and Trump the honest one.

    It’s one of the most powerful delusions I’ve ever witnessed.

  11. Franklin says:

    I was a little disappointed in the crowd for not listening to Obama’s suggestions to quiet down earlier. But from the video, I can’t tell if the guy was continuing to yell or what.

  12. @Mikey:

    Nearly all of his lies are that way. His adherents don’t care. They literally believe Clinton is the liar and Trump the honest one.

    It’s one of the most powerful delusions I’ve ever witnessed.

    I can’t disagree. It is both amazing and highly disheartening.

    @Franklin:

    I was a little disappointed in the crowd for not listening to Obama’s suggestions to quiet down earlier

    I think it is an illustration of how crowds can get carried away and how the person at the microphone can make a huge difference, It is easier to rile the crowd than to calm it.

  13. Pch101 says:

    Much of the Republican base is comprised of a**holes. They’re nasty and infantile reactionaries with anger management issues, so it should be no surprise that they’re inclined to support a nasty and infantile reactionary with anger management issues.

    This is more cultural than it is political. There is a segment of the population that wants to be this way. They exist in every culture, always have and always will.

    Go back to a different place or time, and your Trump enthusiasts would have been partying it down at the Saturday night lynching or joining the SA in order to break heads. Ironically, the only thing that separates the worst of them from the ISIS rank-and-file is that they aren’t Muslim.

  14. CrustyDem says:

    @Franklin:

    Having been to see Obama talk at a rally recently, I can tell that when the audience makes noise, it is impossible to hear him. When you can hear the crowd, they can’t hear him.. They only quiet down because of his hand motions…

  15. Nikki says:

    A commenter on another site said the Obamas were the Camelot we all believed the Kennedys to be.

    This is absolute truth.

  16. wr says:

    Meanwhile, after a protestor at a Trump rally was mistakenly (or falsely) accused of having a gun and the SS hurried Trump off stage, Trump is now claiming that a paid employee of the Clinton campaign tried to assassinate him. And Trump Jr is tweeting that Hillary ran away from a rain storm while Dad bravely withstood a hail of bullets.

    These people are scum.

  17. PJ says:

    @Mikey:

    Nearly all of his lies are that way. His adherents don’t care. They literally believe Clinton is the liar and Trump the honest one.

    It’s one of the most powerful delusions I’ve ever witnessed.

    A Republican with a “Republicans against Trump” sign is a “Democrat” assassination attempt.

    Edit: Probably should have read all the comments before posting mine. Especially the comment by wr just above it…

  18. cjdavis says:

    The crowds that Trump and Obama draw show the exact same tendencies. The incident yesterday where the SS rushed Trump off the stage started when a protester held up a sign:

    The man, identified as Austyn Crites, reportedly held up a sign during the rally that said “Republicans Against Trump.”
    “All of a sudden, because they couldn’t grab the sign, or whatever happened, bam, I get tackled by all these people who were just, like, kicking me and grabbing me in the crotch and just, just beating the crap out of me,” Crites told KTNV, CNN reported.

    “And somebody yells something about a gun, and so that’s when things really got out of hand.”

    A Secret Service spokesman said someone yelled “gun” during the rally, but no weapon was found.

    I’ve read elsewhere in a further description he gave that before SWAT grabbed him people were also choking him and he used wrestling moves from highschool to be able to keep breathing. Somebody yelling “gun” probably saved him from serious injury.

    Contrast this with what happened in the video of Obama. If you watch people around the protestor, a man to his left starts approaching him, and another guy waves him off.

  19. cjdavis says:

    @PJ: Sigh. In my case I read them all, but didn’t refresh the page before posting.

    Here’s more info on the protestor.

    And a funny thing I remembered after posting: the picture of me was taken at an absolutely enourmous Obama rally a couple of days before the 2008 election. In the uncropped version Obama is delivering his speech at the podium about 15 feet away behind me.

  20. SC_Birdflyte says:

    He didn’t get the sobriquet “No-Drama Obama” for no reason.