When Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, appeared on Rachel Maddow, everyone expected a total intellectual beatdown. No one was disappointed.
Maddow began asking questions about actual policies, especially policies around immigration that reflect Trump’s recent statements about “extreme vetting” while referring to policies used during the McCarthy era as precedent.
‘There is a cold war precedent for ideological vetting of immigrants … but it didn’t pass constitutional muster. And we’ve never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster. So what he’s asking for is a new extreme vetting system which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional, and we abandoned it half a century ago for a reason.’
Conway sat in awkward silence, smiled, and let Maddow continue to dig before finally responding:
‘Well, it sounds like you disagree with the policy, which is fine…’
Maddow insisted that the point was that the acts Trump was calling for are unconstitutional. They cannot happen.
‘Well, that’s my point, too. People can look at this and say, “That’s ridiculous. That’s unconstitutional. You can’t have that.” Or they can say, “That may work, and I want to hear more about it.” But either way, I feel confident that our campaign is one of the major two now, Rachel, that actually respects the voters and what they tell pollsters they want.’
The point is that it is ridiculous, and it won’t work. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act was ruled unconstitutional in 1971. The act “focused upon denying immigrants who were unlawful, immoral, diseased in any way, politically radical etc.” including the exclusion of anyone suspected of being LGBTQ. The exact policy Trump is invoking would defy constitutional law if it were enacted.
But Conway kept spinning. She turned the conversation into one about the negatives of the Affordable Care Act and how odd she found Hillary Clinton’s plan to give a speech denouncing Trump instead of talking about healthcare and uninsured Americans, of which there are currently 16.4 million fewer because of the ACA.
Perhaps her best line, however, was this:
‘I would rather lose a campaign about style, you know, or about who said what today about whom, than lose it on substance.’
Despite clearly having it explained to her by Rachel Maddow that the substance of the Trump campaign, the actual policies he’s supporting, are why he’s losing, Conway still thinks this is about Trump’s “style.”