Today in Absurd Rationalizations

Blood poisoning edition.

Via Politico: Maybe he was talking about fentanyl? Some in GOP defend Trump’s ‘poisoning the blood’ comments.

I get it, sometimes a politician needs to take a clearly problematic story and spin it to their preferred narrative. But, then again, sometimes, a choice is being made that underscores the character of the politician.

Amid the ongoing fallout from former President Donald Trump’s comments about immigrants — which have drawn comparisons to Adolf Hitler — some Republicans have leapt to his defense in recent days with an alternate theory: Maybe he was actually talking about the fentanyl crisis. 

While some members of his party have balked at or outrightly condemned the remarks , others have come to Trump’s aid.


Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) similarly tried to tie Trump’s comments to the crisis that left more than 105,000 Americans dead last year.

“First of all, he didn’t say immigrants were poisoning the blood of this country. He said illegal immigrants were poisoning the blood of this country, which is objectively and obviously true to anybody who looks at the statistics about fentanyl overdoses,” Vance said, according to The Hill .

The adage, “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt” comes to mind.

More examples at the link.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, 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


  1. Kathy says:

    We need some photon torpedoes to close the rift that allows Bizarro World to leak into ours.

  2. Paine says:

    This is why I could never be a Republican politician. I would simply be unwilling to go out and say the kind of stupid things I would need to say to be a team player.

  3. Tony W says:

    And the trend continues where the media and pundits try to explain what a 78-year-old man meant when he babbled out his word salad.

    Give the guy credit for being a grown man, capable of communicating what he means if he wants to. He said what he said. Hamberder. Nambia. The marching Nazis are “Fine People”. “Mexico will pay for the wall” Covefe. “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

  4. Slugger says:
  5. CSK says:

    I’m not taking credit for special prescience, but back when Vance was just the author of a bestselling memoir, and all the pundits were cooing about what an astonishing talent he was, I was saying to myself, “There’s something seriously off about this guy.”

    As it’s now eminently clear to everyone, I was right.

  6. Grumpy realist says:

    Vance comes off as an insincere weasel who will find excuses for Trump up and into Trump building concentration camps, all the while piously intoning how ethical and “Christian” he is. No wonder Rod Dreher loves him so much.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Grumpy realist: Your offhand mention of Dreher made me wonder if he’s finally gone completely bonkers yet. I googled him and this showed up as an article summary for a post he made today on his substack:

    I screamed silently, scalding tears rushing out of the corners of my eyes. Then, suddenly, I became aware of a presence in the bedroom, hovering over the bed. It instantly sobered and quieted me. I had my eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling dimly illuminated by the security lights outside the

    Completely out of context since the piece is paywalled, but… tentatively, yes to “bonkers”?

  8. Bill Jempty says:


    We need some photon torpedoes to close the rift that allows Bizarro World to leak into ours.

    Not the deflector shield?

  9. Jen says:

    @CSK: I read that book, and there were some things in it that really struck me as very strange–so much so that I had flashes of James Frey’s book that had huge bits that proved to have been fictionalized.

    JD Vance had drug addiction in his family, and for that I am sorry. But he’s an ass.

  10. Kathy says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    As I recall, the defector shield energy trick caused the rift to grow larger in the past.

  11. CSK says:


    I think he’s much worse than an ass. An ass can be relatively harmless. Vance is, among other things, duplicitous. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if large parts of his memoir were fiction.

  12. Erik says:

    @CSK: super snarky, decidedly progressive viewpoint, and deserving of the “E” designation for language, but this podcast digs into the background of Vance’s story and book. You might find it interesting

  13. gVOR10 says:

    @Slugger: Seconding other commenters on Vance, Scioto County isn’t his people, whatever he says to the contrary. He was born and raised in Middletown, suburban Cincinnati. It’s close to Appalachia, geographically and culturally, but it isn’t Appalachia.

  14. CSK says:


    Thanks very much.

  15. DK says:

    @Tony W:

    And the trend continues where the media and pundits try to explain what a 78-year-old man meant when he babbled out his word salad.

    “He tells it like it is!!”

    Until he’s echoing Hitler, trashing fallen US soldiers, praising Putin’s imperialistic warmongering, threatening to lock up political opponents, retweeting White Power videos, or making gross comments about wanting to bang his own daughter. Then it’s all a big ‘figuratively not literally’ misunderstanding.

  16. CSK says:


    A sample of dialogue between me and a Trump-fancier:

    Me: Trump described U.S. soldiers who died in action as losers and suckers.
    Trump-fancier: Who said he did?
    Me: General John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff.
    Trump-fancier: Kelly’s just jealous.

  17. Jay L. Gischer says:

    @CSK: That reminds me a lot of when we figured out that smoking cigarettes was bad for you.

    I saw so much of “the surgeon general doesn’t know what he’s talking about” at the time. You could find people who said, “smoking is good for you! There’s this guy who smoked two packs a day and lived to be 90!”

    Humans. Whaddayagonnado?

    However, the fact that Vance feels the need to reinterpret Trump does say something. And I’m seeing hints that most Americans now think that what happened on Jan 6 was wrong and anti-American. They may really, really try to change the subject, and engage in whataboutism. But that’s the tell. They don’t want to defend that ground.

    All of which is to say we need to keep focused on that. The “poisoning the blood” thing apparently plays well with Iowa Republicans. Maybe not so much elsewhere, though.

  18. CSK says:

    @Jay L. Gischer:

    Well, Iowa is 87.93% non-Hispanic white, so…

  19. Kurtz says:

    Whether it’s JD Vance or Dem Senators such as Mark Warner or Bob Casey talking about border security, whatever they have in mind is unlikely to work.

    Militarization to control supply fails. Period. If there is demand for a product, it will get supplied. Make it illegal? Harsher punishments? Invade Mexico? Price goes up; incentives to suppliers enhanced. Demand stays up, because . . . drugs are drugs and humans are humans.

    If these people were serious about reducing use of Fentanyl or any other drug of abuse, they would be focusing on policies that reduce demand. But that would require substantial changes to the economic system and expansion of healthcare access.

    But that won’t happen. It’s too much work–the difficult kind. There are a variety of powerful interests with large stakes in the current system. Police at every rank, attorneys, private prisons, public prisons, politicians, et al.

    There is another problem specific to the border.

    Prosecutors and defense lawyers say Haley’s story is typical; the vast majority of illicit fentanyl — close to 90% — is seized at official border crossings. Immigration authorities say nearly all of that is smuggled by people who are legally authorized to cross the border, and more than half by U.S. citizens like Haley. Virtually none is seized from migrants seeking asylum.

    As scary as drug dependence can be, the most damaging addiction is the one elected officials can never admit–their reflections in the mirror and the sound of their own voices.

    I’m so sick of the loudest politicians strutting like peacocks instead of doing anything worthwhile.