The speaker said he wasn’t being literal — but later suggest he might have been, at least in part. And this is part of a pattern for Trump
If there was ever a tweet tailor-made for promotion by President Trump, it might be this one: A video by an account called “Cowboys for Trump” in which the speaker begins by saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” The speaker quickly qualifies that he’s not speaking literally.
At precisely midnight, the president felt this was the kind of message that people needed to see. “Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!” he said in a retweet.
What lay ahead was entirely predictable. People are rightly pointing out that a president just promoted the idea of dead Democrats. Trump will have the kind of plausible deniability he craves — the guy even said he wasn’t being literal! — and the world will keep turning.
But the speaker has also made clear he wasn’t being entirely figurative. And Trump’s history with this kind of thing makes clear he knows exactly what he’s injecting into the national dialogue.
The video is actually more than a week old, having caused a stir back then. The speaker, an Otero County, N.M., commissioner named Couy Griffin, has already been disavowed by the New Mexico Republican Party, even if he was just speaking figuratively.
“The Republican Party of New Mexico wants to state for the record that any statements, whether in jest or serious about harming another individual are just plain wrong,” the party said in a tweet on May 20. The Young Republicans of New Mexico have also called for him to apologize.
Griffin initially declined to back down and claimed persecution, though he eventually said he “could’ve chosen a different verbiage, you know. I guess I need to be more careful when I choose the words that I speak.”
But his other comments indicated he’s not entirely discounting the idea of violence or dead Democrats.