For the first time in a while, the outrage of the week does not belong to President Trump. Instead, it goes to Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), the brother of Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro. The congressman on Monday posted on Twitter the names and employers of people from his district who have contributed the maximum to Trump’s reelection campaign. This could only serve to intimidate and harass those people, and to encourage others to do so.
And as chairman of his brother’s campaign for the presidential nomination, Castro appears to have been caught up in the furor of Democrat candidates attempting to link Trump to the unspeakable violence unleashed by the deranged shooter, who, according to police, specifically targeted Hispanic people in El Paso on Aug. 3 in a massacre that claimed 22 lives. Defending himself on Tuesday, Castro cited the manifesto that authorities suspect the shooter posted online shortly before the attack, noting that it rails against “invaders,” and likened the killer’s language to the president’s. That’s a fair observation.
But even if Castro believes that his animus toward Trump is somehow justified, he has in effect “doxxed” his constituents — spilling detailed information online to make life as uncomfortable as possible for targeted individuals — as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) pointed out on Wednesday.
Yes, political contributions are publicly disclosed through Federal Election Commission filings. But for a member of Congress to call out contributors to a candidate he opposes in such a fashion is out of bounds. As a spokesman for the Trump campaign said of Castro, “At worst, he’s encouraging violence.”
Castro should apologize, delete his tweet and pray that no one he targeted is killed. It’s an incredible act of arrogant disregard for the safety of others. The very idea that an elected representative would turn on his constituents and potentially put them in harm’s way when they didn’t do anything wrong is beyond the pale. He disapproves of their politics, so he apparently thinks they should be menaced. That’s a dangerous place to go, especially in a state that has so recently been rocked by terrorism.
In the aftermath of the weekend shootings in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed, the worst of America’s political leadership has been on display. There apparently aren’t any adults in the room, or if there are, maybe the media just isn’t covering them.
Trump must do better. There’s no question that he has contributed to the poisonous atmosphere in America. The fact that liberals have encouraged violence against him — the incidents include comedian Kathy Griffin holding up his mock severed head and the singer Madonna saying she dreams of “blowing up the White House” — doesn’t excuse his own behavior.
Up until his trips to Dayton and El Paso on Wednesday, Trump was mostly on script, echoing his televised address Monday, in which he said, “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”
In Dayton, Trump met with victims in the local hospital without reporters, as such a somber occasion requires. But en route to El Paso, Trump fell off the wagon and diminished the occasion by tweeting that Joe Biden, in a speech in Iowa criticizing him, was “Sooo boring,” and Trump social media director Dan Scavino Jr. said the president was greeted in Dayton “like a Rock Star.” Meanwhile, Trump criticized Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) for “mischaracterizing what happened in the hospital,” proving how quickly a good start can be undermined by ill-advised tweets. At this point, it’s not surprising but still demoralizing that the president can’t get through such a day with a normal display of dignity.
Democrats also need to take a breath. This isn’t the time for posturing, and they should not let their hatred of Trump inject more vitriol into the political atmosphere.
When appearing at a vigil for the Dayton victims Sunday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was shouted down by demands that he “do something.” Protesters in Dayton on Wednesday repeated that demand to the president. Republicans should take the “do something” chant to heart. The anger there is understandable, as is the call to action in the wake of these most recent mass shootings. But “doxxing,” or otherwise lambasting on Twitter, those with whom you disagree is not tantamount to doing something. We all need something bigger, and more adult.