You Wouldn’t Even Be Yourself If You Weren’t Telling a Lie

What Steve M said:

Many Democrats who want to win back the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are focused on whether the party should nominate a moderate, a male, a white person. They’re concerned with rebuking Ilhan Omar and shushing Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez.

Maybe they should try pointing out — to the white heartlanders who tell pollsters they “somewhat support” Trump rather than “strongly support him,” or the ones who warily voted for him in 2016 and are now on the fence — that Trump is not doing what they were rooting for him to do if elected. He’s breaking promise after promise. We keep saying that Trump is a larger-than-life grotesque monster. Maybe we should be saying he’s simply a lousy president.

Our portrayal of Trump as an outsize villain elevates him. Saying he just plain sucks at his job would bring him down to size.

One of the more interesting parts of this interview with Pete Buttigieg is the discussion of how to run against Trump. Buttigieg’s recommendation is that the less attention that is paid to Trump, the better – point out his lies and move on to a positive agenda: “I think the more attention we pay to him in any form the more he just kind of absorbs it and grows.”

Steve M’s observation is, I think, consistent with Buttigieg’s advice. When you attack Trump for all his personal failings, you’re open to a pro-wrestling style shit talk session, something that Trump is good at (and the media eats up). When you simply point out that he’s a bad President, that almost nothing he promised happened, and that he’s been an asslicking toady and mark for some of our biggest enemies, you’re on ground where Trump is less comfortable, and you’re giving soft Trump supporters a real reason to vote against him.






123 replies
  1. 1
    Skepticat says:

    D’accord

  2. 2
    SFAW says:

    “He’s giving benefits to brown and black people, instead of taking them away, as he said he would! NOW will you vote for someone else?”

    Or did you think persons who voted for him REALLY just wanted him to shake up the status quo?

    ETA: Yeah, I know that’s not what you meant, but chasing the mythical “reasonable Shitgibbon supporter” (i.e., those who still support him), is kind of pointless.

  3. 3
    Kraux Pas says:

    Wait, declaring an infrastructure week didn’t accomplish anything?

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    Buttigieg is genuinely interesting, and the Democratic Party should listen to him, if only because he has some actual, different ideas about how we approach the public.

    Try. Something. Else. Pass the baton, already. I’m old and conventional and even I’m fucking sick to death of how we do things.

  5. 5
    waratah says:

    They need to be prepared for Trump to be on Twitter all day long and the news media repeating all day long with him.

  6. 6
    Rick says:

    I’m in Wisconsin, they haven’t a chance of re-electing that moron.

  7. 7
    Kay says:

    I always felt the “incompetent” charge stuck to Bush and hurt him much worse than anything else. The Bush people knew it too- there was nothing they fought against more than being portrayed or perceived as incompetent. I think it went to how they thought of themselves. You could think they were warmongers and they’d wear that proudly, but point out that they couldn’t get bottled water to Biloxi after Katrina and they’d pitch a fit.

    It makes some sense. If your world view is grounded in “government is a business” then “competent” is really all you have.

  8. 8
    rp says:

    I think you can do both. The best argument against him IMO is that he’s a fraud and a conman, and that covers the personal and political. He’s a crook who isn’t a real businessman and dealmaker, but he’s also a conman when it comes to his admin. b/c he lied to his voters about what he’d do.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    This doesn’t happen much so I must say it loudly…

    I COULDN’T AGREE MORE WITH YOU, MM.

    Although he is an oversized moral monster, he also, and more importantly to people on the fence, is a really shitty president. The only thing he’s given these people is the racism and misogyny and that is certainly enough for a small percentage of his voters. Is that really what makes most of these people happy, though? More than decent wages, clean air and water, a good educational system, opportunity for themselves and their kids, affordable healthcare or a decent retirement?

  10. 10
    MattF says:

    I agree. Trump is all bullshit, bluster, bullying, and being an asshole. And also, growing senile. I think his unhinged tirade at CPAC should be the source of a dozen ads.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    He’s a phucking crook, grifting at every point. Putting our national security at risk by allowing his daughter and son-in-law to HAVE ACCESS TO THE MOST CLASSIFIED OF DOCUMENTS.

    Along with the SEVERAL DOZEN PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T GET A SECURITY CLEARANCE THROUGH THE PROCEDURE THAT EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT HAS USED.

  12. 12
    randy khan says:

    It is difficult to pick which of his unredeeming qualities merits the most attention, but as the tax law aftermath shows, he probably really can be hurt by the simple facts showing he hasn’t done what he said he’d do.

    In that regard, the new trade deficit number is really bad for him – two years into his term and the problem is much worse, not better. It’s the kind of thing that matters to some of his voters, and even if it only keeps them home, well, that’s good for us, too.

  13. 13
    Just Chuck says:

    Point out the fact that there were three government shutdowns when his party controlled both houses of Congress.

  14. 14
    James E Powell says:

    Our portrayal of Trump as an outsize villain elevates him. Saying he just plain sucks at his job would bring him down to size.

    The problem with pointing out that he sucks at his job is that in his supporters eyes, he is doing a great job. The forced birth brigade picked up two supreme court seats. The rich got their tax cuts. Ripping brown families apart and putting their children in cages is exactly the kind of thing that his supporters love. They judge Trump’s success by the liberal outrage level. By that metric, he is their favorite president of all time.

    And it’s not that we portray Trump as a villain, he is a villain. He and his hirelings do evil things. But I do agree that the Democratic campaign should be less about him and more about the Democrats’ vision and messages. Everybody that will vote against Trump is already against Trump. We need a campaign that will promote votes for the Democrats across the board.

  15. 15
    beth says:

    @MattF: Yes, I think I would just do an ad with him blustering out some bullshit followed by video of a dog tilting its head in befuddlement. You’d get every dog owner to vote against him.

  16. 16
    Betty Cracker says:

    I agree with what Buttigieg says about reframing the debate. It’s not about chasing “reasonable” Trump voters or buying into the absurd elevation of the “heartland” as “real America.”

    Mayor Pete pointed out that 90s-era Democrats accepted Republican framing on a lot of issues. I think that’s true. Maybe “third way” was a necessity back then. I don’t happen to think so, but it’s pointless to argue about it now. What matters is how we move forward.

    Trump’s base is never going to abandon him because he serves up racism, misogyny and xenophobia in the unrefined form that those voters prefer, so fuck them — they’re a lost cause. But there are reachable people who didn’t vote or who zigzag between the parties because they buy into the “both sides” lie that the media will never stop telling. I think those are the folks Mayor Pete is talking about.

  17. 17
    dr. bloor says:

    This is where the #FakeNews gambit pays off for the Right. We live in a post-factual society now, and pointing out the obvious is simply processed in the same way as the administration’s lies about Trump’s effectiveness.

  18. 18
    Immanentize says:

    @randy khan:

    the new trade deficit number is really bad for him

    Yes. He fails on his own metric.

  19. 19
    eric says:

    @Immanentize: if i understand correctly, he only has a centimetric.

  20. 20
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Kathleen Edwards! (I almost never get these, even when it’s some hyper-famous song with a lyric taken out of context. Hence the ! )

  21. 21
    Amir Khalid says:

    @eric:
    I wouldn’t give Trump credit for even as much as a millimetric.

  22. 22
    kindness says:

    Imho I think we can do both point out that Trump sucks as a President and that he is a horrible, horrible man. But I’m just a liberal.

  23. 23
    Nicole says:

    I’m so, so tired of “how do the Democrats attract more white male voters?” You know how? By being more racist and misogynistic. That’s how. Don’t want to? Then stop trying to attract them. Don’t make being white and male a requirement of the Democratic candidate. White men aren’t going to vote for the Democrat anyway. Stop letting the racists and misogynists set the terms.

    I’m quite awhile behind everyone else, but I finally caught Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette special on Netflix and the thing that really stuck with me was her bit on how she’s seen just how much white men hate being called “white men.” Because, for the first time, they’re being labelled. As she quipped, they wrote the rules for the game; they didn’t actually expect to ever have to play it. Great special; totally pushed the boundaries of what standup does.

  24. 24
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I think they should hit trump more on bread and butter issues.
    1) trump said he was gonna raise taxes on his rich friends, but on the night after the election, he didn’t go to a union hall on Staten Island, he didn’t go to a diner on Long Island, he went to the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan and told everybody there he was gonna cut their taxes, and he did it.
    2 )He promised “something terrific” on health care, we’re gonna take care of everybody, and for a lot less money, it’ll be easy, believe me.
    edited

  25. 25
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Just keep repeating “he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing and he doesn’t even care enough to learn.”

  26. 26

    @Betty Cracker: Exactly. Who started this myth, that the Mid West is the heartland? One could make a better argument for the original 13 being the heartland.
    Outside the United States the biggest American exports and cultural influences come from the coasts not the flat Midwestern landscapes.

  27. 27
    rikyrah says:

    Many Democrats who want to win back the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are focused on whether the party should nominate a moderate, a male, a white person.

    I think this is a bullshyt premise from the get go.

    I will point out, once again, that the number of voters DENIED THE FRANCHISE in these states, BECAUSE OF VOTER SUPPRESSION, was 2 -3 times the margin of Dolt45’s ‘ victory’ in these states.

    THESE ARE OUR VOTERS.

    IF, we get the means to GET OUR VOTERS TO BE ABLE TO VOTE…
    Then, we don’t have to give two shyts about Dolt45 voters.

  28. 28

    Did you see the report about how the CBP has a file of immigration activists, reporters and lawyers about who to harass at the ports of entry.

  29. 29
    [Individual 1] mistermix says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yep! An underappreciated classic, IMO.

  30. 30
    Motivated Seller says:

    “a pro-wrestling style shit talk session” is exactly what the Media eats up. And it more than explains why we have a conman in the oval office.

    Pete Buttigieg also does a great job talking about electoral reform, which would also go far in preventing another Trump.

  31. 31

    Oh and he is a big villain where immigration is concerned. Ask the dead children in immigration detention.

  32. 32
    Gex says:

    @Nicole: This. They complained as loud as any of us when the ACA repeal votes were being discussed. They watched Carrier and auto plants shut down. They watched their business harmed by immigration policy. They’ve watched them harmed by tariffs. A majority of them believe Trump broke the law before becoming president and after. Still they are the only demo that majority approves of Trump.

  33. 33

    @Amir Khalid: You are generous. Not even one Angstrom or even a pico meter.

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    @Nicole:

    White men aren’t going to vote for the Democrat anyway. Stop letting the racists and misogynists set the terms.

    CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    FROM THE Morning Thread:

    Obvious takeaway here is white men, gah, quit having horrible politics

    But maybe the more important takeaway is he’s down to 55% white men. He got 63% of white men in 2016. I doubt he’s the nominee, but if so, he’d need to do _better_ w white men than he did in 2016, not worse https://t.co/OKUXydrCFn

    — Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) March 5, 2019

    After all that he’s done, he STILL has the support of 55% of White Men.
    Uh huh
    Uh huh

  36. 36

    @Nicole: White and man was the default, now its no longer the case and they are one of the many “interest groups” the epithet white male pundits reserve for all other demographics. That makes them go vote for T in some cases, even though its like cutting your nose to spite your face.

  37. 37
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    oh god, I turn on NPR and Corey Booker is talking about feeling their pain and finding common ground with white farmers in the Heartland and how he reached out to conservatives in Newark– sometimes I think he was made in a lab by Ron Fournier, Howard Schultz and that goony TeeVee preacher Obama had pray at his inauguration

  38. 38
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Requiring all candidates for president to have passed a Top Secret background check would have turned up enough problems to prevent this. Indeed, that requirement alone may have kept T from running.

  39. 39

    I think it is the black working class we need to be concerned with in the north Midwest, not the white. The Democrats made a pile of mistakes there, and we have paid for them.

    https://adviceunasked.blogspot.com/2018/11/2016-black-working-class-vote.html

  40. 40
    Amir Khalid says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    I don’t think the “heartland” thing in this context is about being America’s cultural/historical centre. It’s more about who the stereotypical salt of the earth, most-American person is: white, Midwestern, professedly Christian, culturally and politically conservative, untouched by the multifarious diversity of the populous coastal cities. I think there may have been a desire, conscious or not, to exclude this diversity, to elevate that ilk of Americans above others.

  41. 41

    @Kay:

    I always felt the “incompetent” charge stuck to Bush and hurt him much worse than anything else.

    I would hope the “criminal” charge would hurt Trump as well as the incompetent part. That said, I think there should be a division of labor. The best people to focus on Trump’s incompetence and criminality are the Democrats in Congress, whose job it is to hold the administration to task. A whole bunch of big investigations should be enough to keep all that stuff in the news while letting the presidential candidate focus on their agenda.

  42. 42
    Honus says:

    @Rick: that’s what I think about Wisconsin and Michigan too. He barely won those states with a depressed democratic turnout and he hasn’t done anything to increase his support there. With an energized electorate he’ll get beaten handily.

    People think Virginia is a swing state but after voting for the republican in every election since 1964 it has gone handily democratic in the last three elections, twice for a black man with an Arabic bane and last time for a woman. A Republican hasn’t won a statewide election in almost ten years. And except for the boonies, everybody is majorly pissed off at the neo-confederate Nazis that have invaded and caused banes like Charlottesville to become national epithets. The congressional delegations swung last fall and the general assembly is about to, blackface notwithstanding. If Wisconsin and Michigan are at all similar trump will get crushed.

  43. 43
    Betty Cracker says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Saw that. They can’t track the children and adults they took into custody, but they sure can use a spreadsheet to keep tabs on perceived enemies!

  44. 44
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Nicole:

    Agreed. It’s time for them to pull their own heads out of their own asses. Dems don’t need to give them crystal belt buckles.

  45. 45
    Raven Onthill says:

    The Booker thing popped up after I made my last post. Oh, no, Democrats, no. That was the mistake the Democrats last election and here it is again. The black working class might be turned out, but the racists in the white working class will not be moved.

  46. 46

    @Amir Khalid: I know that. But I would like to know the origin story of that myth.

  47. 47
    bemused says:

    @rikyrah:

    I have on my bookshelf, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Woman From 1960 to the Present” by Gail Collins which came out in 2009. So much did change for women but we’ve got a long way to go. I’d be happy to see 55% white men without a clue go down to 27% but I won’t live that long.

  48. 48
    DropDminus says:

    As a western Pennsylvanian, I think attacking his competence and his failure to follow through on his promises is a great angle of attack on Trump here. Not because it’s going to persuade these people in the dead mill towns to vote for a democrat. They won’t. What it will do is convince a great number of them to go back to apathy and non participation. That’s what we need in PA. Keep growing the young and diverse base with an influx from suburban women and discourage the ignorant from participating by pointing out continually that their “hero” lied to them and used them for his own benefit. It affirms all of their preconceived biases about politics and almost certainly makes them less likely to vote.

  49. 49
    cokane says:

    I’m not sure why “moderate, male, and white” make a lot of sense given who’s running so far or likely to. Harris and Booker are both relatively moderate, contrasted against Warren, Sanders or Brown if he runs.

    I also just don’t think it’s going to be possible to ignore the awful parts of Trump’s personality in a campaign. The media are going to report on every controversial statement or past behavior they can dig up, and viewers are going to chow down on that shit just like they did last time. I think all that stuff will have a different effect though with President Trump as opposed to candidate Trump. The Trump shtick wears thin on a lot of people. This will be crystal clear by the end of 2020.

  50. 50
    Marcopolo says:

    @Kay: I like what I’ve heard from him enough to throw him a campaign donation. While I doubt he makes it to the nomination, I definitely want to see him in the stage for the first debate or two: remember candidates will need 1% in the polls or 65K donors across 20 states to qualify.

  51. 51
    glory b says:

    @Nicole: Thank You!!

    Y’know what? I’m sick of hearing our folks interviewed and hearing them always say, “But our ideas are so popular! Sooo many people polled agree that (fill in the blank)!”

    Yep, they like our ideas, they don’t like US! Gee, I wonder what’s so different about us that would cause them to vote for the other side??

    And stop saying that they are voting against their interests. They’re not, they are voting for interests they don’t want to admit they have.

    Your repub relatives are lovely people to you. But Trump has stripped the party down to its base level. If they are still with the party, it’s because they believe in it.

  52. 52
    Nicole says:

    White men didn’t “go vote for Trump,” because they’re being turned into the same kind of demographic group they’ve divided everyone else into; they voted for the Republican because that’s what they do in every single election. I think the last time a Democrat won a majority of the white vote was… maybe Clinton in 1996, and that barely. Before that, it was Johnson, in ’64. (it’s very hard to find stats on how white men voted in elections more than a few back because they haven’t been considered their own group until recently). But, I feel very confident saying white men don’t vote Democratic.

    Democrats (some of them, anyway #notallDemocrats, heh) seem to have learned the wrong lesson from 2016. The fact is, HRC won the popular vote by 3 million votes and it was due to a combination of weird (and, in my opinion, tinkered illegally with) factors that screwed her out of the EC win. She actually gained white women votes (not enough, but more white women voted for her than for Obama, and she took a majority of college-educated white women). And she’s been vilified by the white male media for 30 years and she STILL won the popular vote.

    The lesson the Democrats SHOULD have learned from 2016 is that the Democratic Party does not need the white male vote to win. DON’T NEED IT. Focus on ballot access, focus on making it easier for eligible voters to vote, and they can tell the “economically anxious” to take their tiki torches and go home. Run on policies that are good for all Americans, run on more people voting, run on Democratic positions. The party platform is good. Better than good.

    Democrats don’t need the white male vote to win.

  53. 53
    glory b says:

    @DropDminus: As a fellow Western Pennsylvanian ( working today in Beaver County), I agree.

    These people stayed in the depths of apathy, not noticing (or caring about) their own racism and misogyny, until Trump roused them up enough to get out and vote.

    If he goes away, maybe they will too.

  54. 54
    cokane says:

    @Nicole: Clinton may have won more whites than Dole, but no way he won a majority in a year with Perot at over 8%

  55. 55
    Betty Cracker says:

    @DropDminus:

    What it will do is convince a great number of them to go back to apathy and non participation… That’s what we need in PA. Keep growing the young and diverse base with an influx from suburban women and discourage the ignorant from participating by pointing out continually that their “hero” lied to them and used them for his own benefit. It affirms all of their preconceived biases about politics and almost certainly makes them less likely to vote.

    I agree with this. As I’ve mentioned before, that’s my strategy with my Trumpster relatives — pointing out that they’ve been suckered.

  56. 56
    Kay says:

    @cokane:

    Pete Buttigieg: [00:51:41] But that’s actually not what we need to be doing because the moment you’re you’re playing that game you’re playing his game. And it all it creates this framework where it’s almost as if he’s the one we’re trying to impress and we need to get out of that. We need to get back into a world and another one of the reasons why I talk so much about what the world will be like in 2054 because he said himself of like when for example his tax policy, the bills on that come due – He literally said I won’t be here. And we need to prepare people for a world where this president in this presidency has come and gone but also be responsive for the problems in our economy and the problems in our democracy that made this presidency possible because I’m starting to think if it wasn’t him it would be somebody else. This is a symptom of much deeper problem. And I know he cheated, the popular vote, whatever – but somebody like this does not get anywhere close to the highest office in the land unless there are profound issues in our democracy and in our economy. We’ve got to be responsive to those and talk about them in a long term picture where frankly people like him are going to get left behind and the sooner we’re talking about that world and the less we’re talking about him the better off we’re going to be.

    I would just point out that we tried “making it about Trump” in 2016 and it failed. I also think there’s absolute truth to the idea that you DO NOT voluntarily accept someone else’s terms for the debate, and Democrats do that constantly.

    One of the things I think the Left has contributed has been putting some things out there- Green New Deal, Medicare for All, that are wholly separate from Trump. Trump has nothing to say about these things, other than parroting Fox News “socialism”. It’s not his playing field. Republicans are completely irrelevant to any discussion of US health care now- they simply aren’t in it anymore. We could do that with more issues.

    I don’t want to be on defense all the time. It’s dispiriting and exhausting. I want to move forward, without them. They’ll follow oe they won’t but we have to GO.

  57. 57
    hilts says:

    I agree 100% with Steve M and Pete Buttigieg on the strategy for running against Trump.

    Meanwhile in other news, FUCK Joe Biden:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden is in the final stages of preparing for a 2020 presidential campaign that is expected to launch next month, according to multiple people familiar with his planning.

    h/t https://www.cbsnews.com/news/joe-biden-2020-former-vice-president-in-the-final-stages-of-preparing-bid-for-president

  58. 58
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @glory b: in one of the recent Cletus safaris (I think I stole that from Pierce) one of the trump voters was a middle-aged nurse who had never voted before, but trump was gonna kick all ‘those people’ off welfare (always pains me when I see a member of a profession I respect spewing that kind of shit). It’s something that comes up again and again in those stories, a lot of them had never voted before trump tickled their racist cockles.

  59. 59
    rikyrah says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    oh god, I turn on NPR and Corey Booker is talking about feeling their pain and finding common ground with white farmers in the Heartland and how he reached out to conservatives in Newark– sometimes I think he was made in a lab by Ron Fournier, Howard Schultz and that goony TeeVee preacher Obama had pray at his inauguration

    Lips pursed so hard.

  60. 60
    cmorenc says:

    Um…didn’t john kerrey go with the strategy of minimal response to the monstrously dishonest swift boat attacks in order to supposedly deny them enough oxygen to gain any traction – and focus on voters real needs? How did that work out for him ? Did that tack deflate the impact of the swift boaters on the campaign?

  61. 61
    Brachiator says:

    When you simply point out that he’s a bad President, that almost nothing he promised happened, and that he’s been an asslicking toady and mark for some of our biggest enemies, you’re on ground where Trump is less comfortable, and you’re giving soft Trump supporters a real reason to vote against him.

    Weird when common sense has to be spelled out in detail.

    @rp:

    I think you can do both. The best argument against him IMO is that he’s a fraud and a conman, and that covers the personal and political. He’s a crook who isn’t a real businessman and dealmaker, but he’s also a conman when it comes to his admin. b/c he lied to his voters about what he’d do.

    Here’s the thing. Until they lose all their money, many people will vigorously defend a con artist. This is one of the deft parts of the con, to get the sucker to willingly come to your defense. Trump is immune from a lot of conventional criticism. His base does not see the con and think that they are getting what they want from Trump.

    But Trump and the GOP are vulnerable. Go to a state where the GOP has shafted teachers and you have a play. Go to a state where Trump’s tariffs failed, and you have a play.

  62. 62
    Marcopolo says:

    @Gex: This reminds me of the thing in the most recent Q poll that bugged me the most. Something like 65% of respondents said they thought Trump had committed crimes prior to becoming Prez, but that figure dropped to something like 45% when asked if they thought he’d done something illegal as president. REALLY! Why the hell would anyone think he changed a behavior pattern he’s followed his entire life (and to decent success) just because he was elected. Have these people not noticed that becoming Prez hasn’t led to any other “elevated” behavior on his part?

  63. 63
    Kay says:

    Too, Democrats had a lot of success in the midterms NOT focusing on Trump, so we have actually tried this with some success. The media accusation was we were “running against Trump” but you-all saw those campaigns. They weren’t about Trump. If there was any central theme it was “health care”. The governor of Michigan ran on “fix the damn roads” :)

    He TRIED to make it about him with the caravan stunt but Democrats stayed disciplined.

  64. 64
    cokane says:

    @Kay: I mean, it’s just wishful thinking. Any campaign against a sitting president, who can make himself the top news story on almost any day, is going to focus on him. This is how it was in 2012 and 2004. Sure, of course the Democrats needs to be pitching some kind of goodies to people and we already see that happening. But the idea that the campaign can somehow ignore Trump, when he already sucked up so much free media as a candidate while NOT being president, it’s spitting into the fucking wind.

    It’s better to be well prepared and have a strategy for a campaign that, yes, is going to basically be a referendum on Trump.

  65. 65
    Amir Khalid says:

    @schrodingers_cat:
    Well, who had something to gain by creating and sustaining the myth? I don’t think there was any conscious push towards it, rather that a consensus grew around a set of beliefs that appealed to the prejudices and interests of people in the elite.

  66. 66
    Plato says:

    @hilts:

    Rule of winning in politics. Know your enemy first. Biden is not one, regardless of his ‘guffaws’ or whatever.

  67. 67
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Kay: The governor of Michigan ran on “fix the damn roads” :)

    I remember a local Atlanta columnist— I don’t remember who so he may have been a wing nut or somebody who posted stuff like Larry King’s observations– said that Jon Ossoff would’ve won if he had talked less about trump and more about traffic gridlock in and around Atlanta

  68. 68
    rikyrah says:

    @hilts:

    Meanwhile in other news, FUCK Joe Biden:

    His time was 2016. His time has passed.

  69. 69
    NY Robbin says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    That and ten years of tax returns. That would take care of two “problems.”

  70. 70
    PJ says:

    @schrodingers_cat: There is a strong argument that blues, jazz, and rock and roll, some of America’s biggest cultural exports, were formed predominantly in the middle of the country, specifically, in the Mississippi watershed area – New Orleans, Mississippi, Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago. If you extend “Mid-West” to include Appalachia, you also get the roots of country music. So, yes, some big cultural exports came from the Mid-West.

  71. 71
    Aleta says:

    —Maybe they should try pointing out — to the white heartlanders who tell pollsters they “somewhat support” Trump rather than “strongly support him,” or the ones who warily voted for him in 2016 and are now on the fence — that Trump is not doing what they were rooting for him to do if elected. —

    Maybe we should point out the section of his base that most supported him during the primaries and kept saying “but the stock market” for two years. He did what they wanted.

  72. 72
    Aleta says:

    @PJ: Davenport Iowa, and probably other small river towns where musicians met.

  73. 73
    Ellen R says:

    Why no coverage of the amazing increase in the price of gas? It’s up at least 20% since January and heading back to $3/gal. How can we get the media to return to obsessing about that? Good press for whoever is NOT president.

  74. 74
    cokane says:

    @Aleta: yep, this is the other problem with the strategy of “Trump hasn’t done shit as president”. It’s going to be hard to fight the bullshit counterattack, especially if the economy stays decent come election day. Taxes were cut and most people aren’t savvy enough to know if they got a cut or not — so many will assume that they did. That’s not even a knock, between withholdings, refunds, not to mention looking up old returns and old withholdings, if you’re on a payroll like most taxpayers, it takes some dedicated research to know if you got a benefit.

    And on the economy, if the superficial numbers like unemployment and GDP are good, people will credit that to Trump. If the stock index listings are hitting new highs, people will think the economy is just dandy. And all of that is probable. So, trying to push all-in on this “Trump is a lousy prez”, I think it’s an incredibly risky play.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    @cokane:

    The mayor is saying something different. He’s saying that’s a tactic – short term- and that’s Donald Trump’s chosen arena- tactics. That’s where Trump wants you to be- in that 30 second Twitter space, the small, shallow space. He wants us to think longer term, partly because he thinks the conservative Reagan era is over (I agree) and he sees an opening to dominate for a good long time :)

    Trump doesn’t think like this. Trump believes he “destroyed” Elizabeth Warren’s ideas by calling her names. That’s how short term he is. He’s a small shallow person who reacts. The response to that shouldn’t be to react BACK. That’s his arena. That’s the ONLY way he can win. We’re not limited to that.

  76. 76
    Aleta says:

    @cokane: Wealthy people on the east and west coast somehow get a pass whenever we focus on T supporters.

  77. 77
    Kay says:

    @hilts:

    I’m not a fan of Biden but I’m not mad at him for running. There’s still a lane that exists in the Democratic Party where he fits. I don’t want to destroy them. I hope they aren’t a majority and they don’t win, but if he’s their guy they can have a candidate.

  78. 78
    Nicole says:

    @cokane:

    Clinton may have won more whites than Dole, but no way he won a majority in a year with Perot at over 8%

    You’re correct; I went back to try to remember why 1996 stuck in my head and it was the last time the Democrats got a larger share of white WOMEN than the Republican (48 to 43). So my point about the Democratic party really not needing the white male vote is actually reinforced- the Dems haven’t had it in the past 50 years, so what makes them thing they’ll magically be able to lure the “economically anxious” now?

  79. 79
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @glory b:

    Your repub relatives are lovely people to you. But Trump has stripped the party down to its base level. If they are still with the party, it’s because they believe in it.

    Yea, no. My family isn’t lovely. I cut bait with those racist fucks in 2007. Yes, they believe it. They’re goners.

    The reason T support is growing higher in the R party is that the party is losing members who have seen enough. I take it as a positive sign.

  80. 80
    Barbara says:

    @rikyrah:

    His time was 2016. His time has passed.

    Yep. Agree completely. Also, he is so backward looking in his need to pretend that there are bipartisan bonds and solutions that I am just over him.

    As to the original post, I think there is a middle ground. I don’t think you can just ignore Trump, but I think you need to cultivate the “back of the hand” riposte. E.g., if he calls hypothetical nominee Warren “Pocahontas” you don’t start talking about his racism or his hatred for native Americans or POC — you say, “there he goes, trying to distract you from the fact that he’s the president who made you pay more in taxes and has the biggest trade deficit in the history of trade deficits.” Or the president who gave himself and other billionaires hundreds of millions in tax breaks while you still can’t afford college for your kids. Every insult should be turned into an opportunity to highlight his failure. He wants you to call him a racist. He’s proud of it and he is more than willing to fight on that ground.

  81. 81
    The Moar You Know says:

    So far the only Dem candidate that has any appeal to me whatsoever is, surprisingly, Buttigieg. Hope he can hang in there.

    I would like to bid a fond farewell to this site, been here since 2005, but I had an exchange with a front-pager yesterday that frankly freaked me out more than a little and I won’t be back. Nor will I be in touch. And there’s no way to contact me, nobody has my real contact info, which is how I like it.

    Stay strong, jackals.

  82. 82
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Kay: I’ll be mad if he turns trolly if he doesn’t get the nomination, and between his emotional investment in running (as it appears to me) as some kind of tribute to his dead son and his sarcastic, dismissive (bordering on contemptuous) reaction to the Upton thing (which I agree was not a huge deal), and rumors that he resents Obama for staying neutral, I really worry about him turning bitter.

  83. 83
    Aleta says:

    @Amir Khalid: I always assumed it came from the ‘breadbasket’ ‘feeding the world’ slogans from the 40s, 50s, 60s.

  84. 84
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Kay: You don’t think Hickenlooper has already occupied the “militant moderate” lane? I was surprised at how much Hick raised out of the chute.

  85. 85
    hilts says:

    @Plato:
    @ kay

    I didn’t say Biden was the enemy but his handling of the Clarence Thomas hearings alone should be enough to disqualify him from the presidency.

    He’s an embarrassment who never knows when to shut the Hell up.

    His previous presidential campaigns were disasters and his 2020 campaign will end in failure like the others. He’ll simply suck up lots of oxygen from other candidates just to satisfy his massive ego and he’s too damn old for the job. I have no more patience for Biden’s selfishness. He needs to go away and enjoy his retirement.

  86. 86
    raven says:

    @PJ: Baloney. “Do you know what it means, to miss New Orleans. . .”

  87. 87
    Kay says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Oh, he’s a wild card all right. His stream of consciousness…talking has always made me nervous :)
    This may be just me, too, but his behavior towards women at campaign events isn’t going to fly anymore. Too touchy.

    I read (or heard- I don’t remember which) that Obama talks to Buttigieg. Not just him- Obama talks to the Democratic candidates which doesn’t surprise me- I think Obama loves politics- but I thought it was a little unusual he was talking to the Mayor of South Bend on the regular :)

    He’s smart, Mayor Pete. They should be talking to him.

  88. 88

    I recall an early 2017 article arguing this that noted this was how Italians finally got Berlusconi out of power. It was convincing.

  89. 89
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @The Moar You Know: No, dude! This place has changed so much. I admit I have thought of it, too. Happier trails to you.

  90. 90
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Kay: Having lunch with some relatives last week, including my trump-voting uncle and praying politics don’t come up, my cousin starts talking about how impressive Buttigieg was on the O’Bros’ podcast, and how she hopes he runs. T-V uncle says, he’s too young, he needs to run for Senate or governor first. I couldn’t believe my 85 YO TV uncle even knew who he was, much less seemed to have a mostly favorable opinion of.

    Anecdotes are data.

  91. 91
    Kay says:

    @hilts:

    He’ll simply suck up lots of oxygen from other candidates

    That could work to our advantage. I read a funny tweet where the person wrote that Clinton shouldn’t answer when they ask if she’s running because that keeps them all on the “we hate Hillary Clinton” beat and we can just run around them.
    LITERALLY a lightening rod. The house doesn’t burn down.

  92. 92
    TomatoQueen says:

    @The Moar You Know: Sorry to see you go.

  93. 93
    Kay says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    One of my brother in laws is a rich Republican and my youngest sat next to him last week at a family event at a restaurant. I eavesdrop constantly- it’s a wonder I ever have my own conversations as much as I’m straining to hear others- and this pair-up promised to be amusing because my youngest is a newly minted Lefty with a shaky grasp of the ideology. I heard my son say “so you’re really more of a libertarian?” and I was chucking, because they fucking LOVE that. “Well, yes, I like to think of myself as libertarian- how perceptive of you to see that!”

    Every rich Republican I have ever met fancies themselves a “libertarian”. Uncle John was pleased with the young, long haired Leftist :)

  94. 94
    cokane says:

    @Nicole: The argument among strategists hasn’t been that you capture over 50% of the white male vote or even the white vote. It’s that you marginally shave off one or two percentage points. I really wish people would stop talking about “Trump voters” as some unified block. Obviously there’s the Republican partisans and the people infatuated with his celebrity who won’t move. But >60 million people cast votes for Trump. Some of them are gettable, it’s a huge and diverse country. I know it might be weird and unconscionable for some people on here, but the fact is, the overwhelming majority of the voting public doesn’t follow politics or the news as much as people who read blogs like this. There’s no reason to doubt that some 1 or 2 % of that 2016 vote is gettable, and that’s more enough to make the thing a lock for a Democrat.

    And it’s not a strategy without precedent. We have several elections since LBJ where white support has fluctuated.

  95. 95
    Kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I’m sorry you’re leaving. You’re always welcome, when you want come back.

  96. 96
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Our portrayal of Trump as an outsize villain elevates him. Saying he just plain sucks at his job would bring him down to size.

    That, and the Dems standing by their platform instead of apologizing for it. AOC and Omar are tokens that things will change under the Dems.

  97. 97
    tobie says:

    I like a lot of the things that the Democratic candidates propose but I’m not thrilled with any one. Part of this is exhaustion. Years of outrage at Republican venality, years of resistance to doing what should be non-controversial things like fixing the holes in the ACA, ensuring schools are properly funded, or making a commitment to high speed rail. Add to that the outrage that since 2016 we now have a loud contingent on twitter that will shout down anyone they disagree with as a neoliberal shill, a corporatist and a member of the establishment and you can understand why some folks feel exhausted and want a return to normalcy and a steady hand at the helm. Give me a hopeful candidate who is calm but committed and I’ll be overjoyed.

  98. 98
    glory b says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: “Cletus safaris,” I’m stealing that from you.

  99. 99

    @The Moar You Know: oh no! If you change your mind, you know where to find us.

  100. 100

    @cokane:
    I agree that the campaign is going to be largely a referendum on Trump, but that still doesn’t mean we should accept his framing of things. The best way to win that referendum is to make the campaign about issues that Trump should have been addressing but hasn’t been or has failed at doing. His character can be an issue, but it should take a back seat to his performance in office.

  101. 101
    MCA1 says:

    @kindness: Agreed. The best result would be to have someone who can credibly tie the two things together and make a convincing case that he’s a horrible president because of his corruption and immorality and basic degeneracy.

    That said, I think a Dem candidate would be alright if they generally left the character exposing and credibility crushing to the House at this point, and instead focused on presenting themselves as knowledgeable and full of integrity and offering a brighter future. Nadler and Schiff are pretty busy destroying Dotard and the illusion that he’s anything other than an incompetent sociopath right now, and Ted Lieu and whoever else can capably man the twitter insult helm. The angry elements on our side are gonna vote for the D candidate in the general regardless – they don’t need to passionately reflect our anger, as long as they acknowledge it and acknowledge that things are not normal right now and we need a return to normalcy. I wouldn’t mind at all if the next president just sort of waltzed into the White House unblemished, like Elizabeth I letting her superior army overwhelm an enemy and then riding in after the battle’s over.

    Incidentally, I think pointing out the actual failures of his maladministration is the better way to handle mano a mano interactions with Drumpf during the campaign, too. You don’t win by getting in the stew with him and confronting him directly about the scandals and corruption. Let the rest of the party do that. You ask him about his promise to lower the trade deficit and then note that it just hit an all time high, and then you ask him about the national debt growth, and then you ask him about why he thinks a tax bill that raised the effective tax rate on professionals in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh by 10% is such a great thing. Let him pen himself into a corner by talking about actual policy and ideas, where he’ll do a grand job of making an ass out of himself and showing everyone how ignorant and incompetent he is. This is how Nancy treats him. Make him converse on big boy matters and look the fool, and then when he’s out of the room you mock him.

  102. 102
    tobie says:

    @Roger Moore: I don’t think the campaigns are the only drivers of the narrative. 2016 was also about a lot more than Trump but that’s what both the print media and the cable networks turned it into because it got them readership/viewership. Media strategy will be everything in 2020.

  103. 103
    Amir Khalid says:

    @PJ:
    But blues, jazz, and rock were all seen in their early days as non-elite, non-mainstream, even as degenerate culture.

  104. 104
    JustRuss says:

    @PJ:

    …blues, jazz, and rock and roll, some of America’s biggest cultural exports, were formed predominantly in the middle of the country,

    Well sure, but when people talk about “real Muricans from the heartland”, they’re not referring to African Americans, who created those musical genres. I’ll give you country music, but as a cultural export it’s pretty anemic.

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: It was Thomas Jefferson’s bullshit idolization of a mythic nation of yeoman farmers. There is a reason that some people favored Hamilton long before the play was staged.

  106. 106
    MattF says:

    May as well note here that Jen Rubin agrees Trump is a loser.

  107. 107
    Immanentize says:

    So, S. Brown is NOT running for President. Kay will be pleased.

  108. 108
    MCA1 says:

    @PJ: Good points. America’s contributions to the world of music genres were, prior to hip hop, entirely spawned in the middle of the country. Our only unique cuisine (not individual foods, but cuisine) is from New Orleans, unless we want to count Alice Waters and Thomas Keller, et al as a cuisine.

    I’d also note that the two authors arguably most important in creating distinctly American styles and genres of written work, Twain and Faulkner, were also out of the middle of the country. Before them, especially before Twain, everyone was basically an English author located in the U.S. (possible exceptions for Poe and Melville, I guess). Hemingway was also a Midwesterner. Our most revolutionary poet was out of St. Louis. Add in Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Bellow, Sinclair Lewis, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams. etc., and arguably a disproportionate number of our “greatest” novelists and playwrights known beyond our shores are not from the coasts.

    It’s also worth noting that, while the Midwest probably has had less of a role in recent generations in inventions gifted to the rest of the world, the “cultural exports” from the coasts are very heavily dominated by just two cities. Portland and Miami and San Diego and Philly are interesting and all, but to the extent the impression of “American culture” in Dusseldorf or Tokyo is driven by exports from our coasts, they’re almost exclusively from New York and L.A.

  109. 109

    @The Moar You Know: I know that we have exchanged fighting words at times but I hope you don’t go. But I get where you are coming from. I have almost left more than once.

  110. 110
    Marcopolo says:

    @The Moar You Know: Also sorry to hear this. I’ve been here since Cole’s epiphany about the Republican party so around 15 years. Most of that time has been pretty mundane. I can only vaguely remember one or two heated back and forths with anyone. I’ve occasionally taken breaks from BJ. And I can go days without commenting. But it is the overall BJ community that keeps me here. If you change your mind, you’ll always be welcome back in my book.

  111. 111
    a thousand flouncing lurkers (was fidelio) says:

    @schrodingers_cat: No. I’m not surprised, but I knew it was an awful agency, operating on vile instructions.

  112. 112
    a thousand flouncing lurkers (was fidelio) says:

    @schrodingers_cat: It is as old as the United States. Literally.

  113. 113
    dogwood says:

    @hilts:
    Biden isn’t going to suck all the oxygen out of the room. The press will spend their time on Warren and Harris. Essentially giving them the Hillary treatment. Bernie will get good coverage again because the press loves his willingness to go after the Democratic Party. Eventualy all the attention will be on AOC and whoever she endorses. When you have candidates and surrogates who attract a cult-like following, the nomination process gets very ugly. Biden won’t be a part of all that. He’ll be in and out without doing one lick of damage to the party.

  114. 114
    Nicole says:

    @cokane: The Democrats will get more, and have to give up less, by focusing on voting rights and ballot access. I don’t think the white male vote should be a concern of theirs, even trying for just 1-2% of it. I’m saying the strategists are wrong about there being a large enough number of Trump voters who can be persuaded to vote Democrat if the Democrats will just play to what they think those white male voters want. It’s too much work for not enough reward.

    The Democrats don’t need the white male vote to win. They need less barring of access for all voters from the polls.

  115. 115
    Brachiator says:

    @Nicole:

    The Democrats don’t need the white male vote to win.

    I don’t think the math supports this assertion.

  116. 116

    @tobie:

    I don’t think the campaigns are the only drivers of the narrative. 2016 was also about a lot more than Trump but that’s what both the print media and the cable networks turned it into because it got them readership/viewership.

    Sure, but we don’t have acquiesce to the media’s framing of things. We need to push on what we think the issues should be to try to drag the media along.

    Along the same line, I think it’s important for the Democrats to try to distract Trump and side track him into talking about the issues they want him to talk about. He can use Twitter very effectively to push the issues he cares about, but he can also get caught up in rants about whatever is the latest thing to get him wound up. If the Democrats can wind him up over their issues, they can get him to rant about them and steer the discussion the way they want it to swing. This also takes advantage of a key thing: his enemies outnumber him. There’s only one Trump and nobody else on the Republican side the media cares about even 1% as much, but there are a bunch of Democrats- Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, Waters, AOC, etc.- who can get him wound up. If they cooperate by bringing up issues that are bound to get his attention, I think they can keep him distracted a lot more than he was in 2016.

  117. 117
    cokane says:

    @Nicole: Again, this is wishful thinking. So long as Republicans control enough of the governments in these states to at least block reform, whatever suppression there was in 2016 should be expected to continue apace. This is a great multi-decade strategy. This is a terrible 2020 strategy. Overturning voting hurdles doesn’t just happen by fiat. It requires controlling statehouses and governor’s mansions. And in the states where it’s currently an issue, Democrats don’t have that edge. Wishful thinking isn’t strategy.

  118. 118
    cokane says:

    Hell, to add further, even if Democrats had a state where they flipped the legislatures and governorship, you still have to draft and pass the legislation, which takes time, and then these reforms are never implemented immediately, because that’d be a counter-productive disaster. So even in a best-case scenario, you’d likely be looking at state governments reforming their election laws right now to be enacted for the next (2022) election.

  119. 119
    Haroldo says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    You know how to get back, if you want to. Tho’ I primarily lurk, I’ve taken a hiatus from this place more than once.

    Safe travels.

  120. 120
    rikyrah says:

    @Barbara:

    Yep. Agree completely. Also, he is so backward looking in his need to pretend that there are bipartisan bonds and solutions that I am just over him.

    Like he hasn’t been living the past 2 years, let alone the previous 8 before that.

    We’re DONE with trying to find middle ground.

    There.is.no.middle.ground.

    with these demons.

  121. 121
    rikyrah says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Hope you don’t stay away permanently.

    Hope you find another blog home if you do, because you are interesting with thoughtful comments.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Chris Johnson says:

    @The Moar You Know: Later, Moar. I’m not sure quite what happened there, but hey, this place has long had weird undercurrents. Comes of being a somewhat-right-wing blog that flipped over to becoming Democrat and somewhat left-wing. I think Balloon Juice is of interest to many people: it certainly is to me, whether I post or not. It’s a window into a number of interesting things, and reading the balloon tea leaves (can you imagine how vile that tea would be?) is forever interesting.

    See ya if I see ya, from a fellow more than decade old poster.

Comments are closed.