WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday Republican frontrunner Donald Trump should fold up his tent and go home, calling the New York real estate mogul a "carnival barker" with "fake hair."
In remarks that were pointedly personal and prepared in advance, Earnest said Trump had crossed a line by suggesting a "total shutdown" of all Muslim immigration until congressional leaders are able to figure out who is coming into the country.
In that respect, Trump's proposal is virtually identical to a step taken by Democrat President Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-80. Carter banned all Iranians from entering the country, both as a means of protecting the United States from further harm and as a punishment to Iran.
"The Secretary of Treasury [State] and the Attorney General will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly," Carter said in 1980.
Now, however, Earnest said the same proposal from Trump is out of bounds.
"The Trump campaign – for months now – has had a 'dustbin of history-like' quality to it, from the vacuous sloganeering to the outright lies to even the fake hair, the whole carnival barker routine," Earnest said, reading from the script. He added that all Republican candidates should distance themselves from Trump's comments and repudiate his candidacy.
The fact that Earnest was reading prepared remarks suggests their approval at the highest levels of the administration. Earnest said Republicans stand little chance of being elected if they all latch on to Trump.
"Right now the current trajectory is not very good. Earlier this year, House Republicans elected to their leadership somebody who bragged to a reporter that he's David Duke [a former Ku Klux Klan member turned politician] without the baggage. Earlier this month, we saw that the executive director of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee was advising candidates about how they could ride the Trump wave. And just today – today – the newly-elected Speaker of the House said he would vote for Donald Trump for president if he's the party's nominee," Earnest said.
He also claimed Trump's commentary on Muslims "disqualifies him from being president," and any Republican candidate who cannot admit that "has no business serving as president either."
Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton also lit into Trump and the Republican field in a lengthy post on her campaign website. She said the Republican field has failed to distance itself from Trump, whose comments are a win for jihadists.
"This kind of rhetoric sets us back in the fight against radical jihadists—a fight we absolutely have to win, against a brutal, nihilistic enemy who twists Islam to justify mass murder. These jihadists cannot be contained; they have to be defeated. And the vast majority of Muslims here and abroad are on our side in this fight," Clinton said.
What Clinton did not say is that the downward spiral of civil war and the rise of the Islamic State began under her tenure as Secretary of State, largely as the result of the "Arab Spring" supported by the Obama administration as a pro-democracy movement. The movement, in fact, turned out to be a pro-Islamist movement, which military analysts say created the opening for ISIS.