Elaine Chao, who led the federal Department of Transportation in the Trump administration, has released a public statement criticizing former President Trump in response to his incessantly racist comments about her.
Trump has used a derogatory, inaccurate version of her name and repeatedly sought to associate Chao to China, to the ridiculous point he suggested there might be some connection between the former Cabinet official and the usage of a location in D.C.’s Chinatown for at least temporarily storing documents associated with Biden’s vice presidency. “When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name,” Chao said. “Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation. He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans.”
Chao is the wife of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, and she also served in the presidential administration of George W. Bush. A spokesperson for Trump tried to credit the former president’s criticism of Chao to simply legitimate concern about her ties to China, which is just an utterly unserious argument. He’s not posting reasoned discussions of foreign financial ties. He is using the exact kind of derisive language that many would no doubt connect to instances of physical violence experienced by Asian Americans, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Trump also tried — in another instance where he was relying on racism — to associate with the group. (The “China virus,” he insisted on calling it, as though he thought of himself as some wordsmith. He also called it “Kung-flu.”)
Trump has also derided people with Asian family ties in other contexts, even using antagonism of Asian communities against people who aren’t Asian, like Virginia GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin, whose name Trump claimed on his personal account on his knock-off social media site Truth Social “sounds Chinese.” (He isn’t.) Among the troubling elements to this story is that Republicans are largely sticking by Trump, yet again. “I hope no one is racist,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said last year when asked about some of Trump’s comments. “I hope no one says anything that’s inappropriate.” What a staggeringly weak statement.
Trump has also persistently belittled McConnell, which in actuality seems more connected to the longtime Senator’s disinterest in feverish loyalty than his real-world voting record. The former president has repeatedly turned against institutional interests of the GOP, supporting primary challengers to incumbents and the like, even as the party faces high-profile contests in general elections.