Haney-Lopez may not have written that headline, but I must begin by saying that the word "garner" is perfectly silly. It may be hard for some people to believe, but "get" is a legitimate word and not merely slang. So get smart! (You don't garner smart.) I believe that Jeb Bush might have won the GOP nomination if it were not for his strange need to say "garner" for "get."
See? I'm for clear speech. And the topic under discussion in Haney-Lopez's article is unclear speech — words that racists hear as meaning what cannot be said outright but that can be explained away as not racist at all. Haney-Lopez wrote a book called "Dog Whistle Politics" and thinks Trump's rhetoric is different from the "coded" racism we've seen from other politicians.
The nuanced language of dog whistling traditionally sought to hide the underlying racial manipulation from two audiences: potential critics of such an appeal, including political opponents as well as the media; and the target voters themselves...
Trump seemingly couldn’t care less whether his critics perceive and decry his racial fearmongering.Seemingly. We don't know how much, if at all, Trump cares. I appreciate Haney Lopez's professorial precision about what we know and don't know. The old "couldn’t care less" formulation asks us to imagine the least possible caring, in other words, zero care. I'd assume Trump cares at least a little — an apt occasion for the questionable "could care less" — but that he cares more about some other things. Or as we say using The Word of the Week, "sacrifice": Trump sacrifices his interest in protecting himself from being accused of racism in order to serve the higher goal of... of what?!
The 2 answers I can extract from Haney Lopez's column are: 1. To provoke the media into giving him free coverage, and 2. There are a lot of racist voters out there to stimulate.
What I want to say is that Trump doesn't completely sacrifice his interest in being seen as a nonracist. He's just setting the balance in a different place. At one extreme, you have people so afraid of saying something that could be interpreted as racist that they won't speak publicly at all. Among candidates, who must speak, many lean heavily in favor of platitudes of inclusion and steer clear of anything that could be portrayed as racist. Others go ahead with issues — like voter fraud or dependence on welfare — that will set off the racism detectors of people like Haney-Lopez. It's hard for people like Haney-Lopez to believe a candidate would go any further than that, but Trump has, and strong, outraged cries of racism have not turned him back. He just adds his condemnation of "political correctness," takes the hits, and runs with it, to the great puzzlement of onlookers.
It's like the movie monster who can't be stopped by bullets. What are you going to do now?