As you have surely seen by now, Donald Trump tweeted a photo of himself enjoying a taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo – with the message “I love Hispanics!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016
This seems stupid – and in many ways, it is. But given the bizarre reality we now inhabit, I think it may have also been a smart campaign tactic.
Trump has a problem: He ran a primary campaign built around appealing to white racial grievance, and this has caused him to alienate a variety of racial and ethnic groups with his statements and policy positions. The concern that Trump is too racist to be president didn’t bother most Republican primary voters, but it will hurt him in the general election.
He can’t unsay things – like that Mexico is sending us “rapists.” But he can do his best to turn his racism problem into a big joke.
Trump’s taco tweet is comical. It is so cartoonish in its insensitivity and pandering that it reads like a joke. Usually, “comical” is not the look a presidential candidate wants to go for, but it’s better than “offensive.”
If Trump can get some voters to laugh off his race and ethnicity problems – and perhaps to think of them in a category with the outrage over “disrespectful” inauthentic sushi at Oberlin, as another example of the little problems that some people get too worked up about these days – then that will help him get away with the more pernicious manifestations of his racial and ethnic outlook.