Appearing on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night after President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress, new Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez mocked the speech, terming it a façade for the views of White House Advisor Steve Bannon.
As DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison stood by his side grinning, Perez offered a lengthy answer to Maddow's question: “Did you hear anything tonight that materially changes your view of him or what the Democratic Party should be doing in response to him?”
This was Steve Bannon on steroids with a smile. It started out with alternative facts, “I inherited a mess from Barack Obama.” No, Obama inherited the Great Recession. You go from there to taking credit for things you had nothing to do with; “All these new companies are adding jobs.” Well, folks, since January 20, the Washington Wizards have one of the best records in the NBA, including they beat the Golden State Warriors tonight; it must have been Trump.
Then you move from there to a little immigrant baiting; you know, that immigrant baiting, that’s like the salt and pepper on the table of the Trump Administration. And then you close it up with a bunch of promises that you’ll never keep. Frankly, some of the promises I’m glad they can’t keep, because the Affordable Care is a life-saver; it’s not a job killer. But this notion that “I’m gonna help people’s economic situation improve,” well, two hours into this Administration he made it harder for first-time home-buyers to buy a home. Two days later he set in motion a process to make it harder for people to save for retirement. And then, you know, we have a rule to help people who work overtime get that overtime pay that they so deserve and he’s trying to roll that back. So the empty promises, this was Steve Bannon on steroids with a smile or two.
Perez did not cite exactly what positions Bannon espouses that Trump promulgated; he was content to limn Bannon as the bogeyman responsible for any action Trump takes. Trump never said he inherited a mess from Obama in the speech; that quote was from over a week ago.
Immigrant baiting? Here’s what Trump stated:
At the same time, my administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed, but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders.
Promises Trump can’t keep? Perez did not specify which promises.
It is worth noting that Perez has some interesting problems with free speech. When he was Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division in 2012, he was asked by Trent Franks (R-AZ), a member of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution: “Will you tell us here today that this Administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?”
Perez refused to answer - four times. There was a good reason for that; prior to that, at George Washington University, there was a meeting between DOJ officials, including Perez, and Islamist advocates against free speech. The Islamists lobbied for a legal declaration that criticism of Islam in the United States should be considered racial discrimination.
Perez and the DOJ officials remained silent, eschewing an opportunity to stand up for free speech.
"This was Steve Bannon on steroids with a smile."
Video of Perez, Ellison and Maddow below. Relevant exchange starts at 0:37: