At a recent campaign rally that had the feel of other rallies popular in the middle of the last century, Donald Trump’s supporters shamelessly chanted “send her back” in reference to congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Did the president condemn the behaviour of his supporters? Far from it, instead he chose to take a 13-second pause from speaking that allowed the chanting to continue unchecked.
Although he did nothing at the time to stop the chants, Trump later claimed he “was not happy with it” and “felt a little bit badly about it”. Only a little bit, mind. By the end of the same week he praised his base as a group of “incredible patriots”.
Vice president Mike Pence has now had his say and it’s hardly unequivocal. Speaking on CBS News and asked for his take, Pence offered the following:
The president was very clear that he wasn’t happy about it, and that if it happened again, he might ― he might ― he’d make an effort to speak out about it.
Pence also commented:
I think that millions of Americans share the president’s frustration about sitting members of Congress engaging in that kind of reckless rhetoric, whether it be anti-Semitic rhetoric, whether it be referring to border patrol agents as running concentration camps, and the president thought it was important to stand up to them, and I’m glad he did it.
The internet was, understandably, unimpressed.