White House senior adviser Stephen Miller added to his list of TV interviews turned confrontational in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked the far-right immigration hawk about Trump’s post-hoc attempt to distance himself from the Ilhan Omar–targeting “Send her back” chant that he helped stoke at a North Carolina rally last week. Miller dodged questions on Trump’s record on race — his comments after Charlottesville, his campaign announcement speech, the Muslim ban — and claimed that Trump wanted to advance a “colorblind society.” Wallace wasn’t convinced.
Wallace also played a reel of some of Trump’s more barbed attacks on the American project — some co-written by Miller himself — and asked how they might differ from the critiques from the four congresswomen of color Trump told to “go back” last weekend.
Another widely shared clip from the interview pinpoints one of the most telling details from the last week of debate over lawmakers’ hesitancy to call the president’s tweets racist. Wallace says: “I completely — nobody has any problem with what the president’s policies have been, it’s when he goes into stoking racial fears” that Republicans begin to object. It’s an assessment fairly similar to that of vice-chair of the House Republican conference Mark Walker, who discussed Trump’s rhetoric with his veep: “We talked about [the chant], and [Pence] — we — felt like this is going to be part of our discussion to make sure we are not defined by that,” Walker said on Thursday. “We want our policies, from the House all the way up to the administration, to define us.” As New York’s Zak Cheney-Rice writes, language like this “explodes the notion that meaningful daylight exists between Trump and the Republican Establishment.”
Whatever discomfort GOP officials have with the president’s behavior is cosmetic. They object to the crudeness of the vessel. But its substance aligns firmly with their views. Some, like Walker, believe their shared policy vision so laudable as to be worth advertising and celebrating. The Trump presidency is not a new low. It is where the Republican Party — and America — has been headed for decades.