How do you save face when America’s most prominent racist fires you from his campaign for doing something racist? The answer is simple: endorse the racist’s less-racist opponent, and claim you’re doing it because the racist is too racist for you.
Such was the situation faced by Sam Nunberg, a Donald Trump aide who was fired from the candidate’s campaign last year over a Facebook post that referred to Al Sharpton’s daughter as “N—-!” and others calling Barack Obama a Kenyan Muslim and “Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser.” (Nunberg said at the time that he was “shocked” and did not remember writing the posts.)
Now, according to an item in this morning’s Politico Playbook, Nunberg is endorsing Ted Cruz. He told Mike Allen that he was concerned about Trump’s lack of national security bona fides, but said that the last straw was the candidate’s “KKK Tapper interview,” in which he failed to immediately disavow the support of former the Klan leader David Duke. Coming from Nunberg, a close associate of fellow racist and ex-Trump staffer Roger Stone, that’s pretty rich.
Of course, it’s not strictly true to say that Nunberg was fired from Trump’s camp for being racist—the candidate himself is plenty racist, after all. Nunberg was fired for expressing his racism in direct terms, not using vague signifiers to give it a patina of plausible deniability, as is the traditional GOP way. And while Trump is pretty good at this dog-whistling, Ted Cruz is even better. You don’t see nearly as many commentators calling Cruz out for racism, despite his proposition that we surveil and patrol law-abiding American Muslim neighborhoods, for instance.
If Nunberg is looking to rehab his image and bring it back toward the mainstream, team Ted Cruz is the perfect fit. No need to get rid of the racism, even—just, you know, tone it down a bit.