The Case for Not Normalizing Trump


One understandable and widespread reaction to the recent election of a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue has been a vow not to “normalize” Trump. I share that impulse and even created a “Not Normal” tag here at the blog to catalog the mounting horrors. But what if a focus on Trump’s unfitness for office plays into his (teeny, tiny) hands?

Matt Yglesias makes that case at Vox, and he goes beyond the now-familiar argument that focusing on things like Trump’s Twitter antics pulls media attention off issues such as the Trump U fraud payout, influence peddling, Wall Street grifter cabinet picks, etc.

Yglesias discusses how politicians in other countries have faced down and defeated authoritarian clowns, noting that they do so on policy rather than character issues since the latter can have the opposite of the intended effect. Here’s an excerpt that cites the work of Luigi Zingales, who chronicled the rise and fall of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, a man who shares many traits with Trump:

“How, then, did Berlusconi get elected and reelected? He created an unlikely coalition between the business elite, which supports him for fear of the alternative, and the poor, who identify with him because he appeals to their aspirations. In a country where corruption and lack of meritocracy has all but killed the hope of intra-generational mobility, citizens chose to escape from reality and find consolation in dreams. Berlusconi adeptly fosters the illusion that he can turn everyone else into billionaires. His political career is something like Trump’s Apprentice program, only on a national scale.”

In a post-election op-ed, Zingales revisited these themes and observed that the two politicians who beat Berlusconi in elections — former Prime Minister Romano Prodi and current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi — had two important things in common: “Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character. In different ways, both of them are seen as outsiders, not as members of what in Italy is defined as the political caste.”

Yglesias also notes the uneasy truce Trump has struck with the Republican establishment, which is wholly dependent on the shit-gibbon’s willingness to support the GOP’s broadly unpopular agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, dismantling Medicare, overturning Roe v. Wade, etc. He rightly notes that the precarious nature of this alliance presents an opportunity, arguing that Democrats in Congress should stick a crowbar in any cracks they find and exert all possible force to break it.

It’s a fairly convincing case for how Democratic politicians should oppose Trump and present themselves and their agenda as alternatives. But, as many of you have noted in various ways in comments here, the nonstop shit-show that will be the Trump administration is going to require fortitude, focus and the ability to multitask on many fronts from Trump’s opponents, politicians and peanut gallery alike.

I don’t ever want the idea that an unhinged clown like Trump will soon be in charge of an army of flying death-robots to seem normal. The prospect of Trump’s vile spawn leveraging our highest political office for their personal gain should continue to strike us as outrageous for the next three years, eleven months, three weeks and three days.

Can’t we walk and chew gum here, opposing Trump on policy grounds and pointing out that, yeah, we’ve never had such an unqualified, venal, corrupt pig in the White House before? Yes we can.

PS: Breaking news: Pelosi beats back challenge, retaining leadership over the House Dems. Good. We’ll need her experience and vision to successfully oppose the Pig Party.

[Photo via HuffPo]

Nuremberg on the Ohio


Trumpolini will begin his victory tour of the swing states this week, starting in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday. This isn’t a normal thing; presidents-elect are usually too busy preparing to take on leadership of one of the largest organizations in the world to bother with staging mass circle-jerks with supporters.

But perhaps the Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer Tour presents an opportunity to show that we’re not all Good Germans. I’m not in Ohio, but if I were, I’d be combing through social media right now to find and/or start discussions about staging demonstrations to counter the fascist-scented adulation event.

And when the shit-gibbon takes his Hair Furor act to Florida, I will be there — regardless of where it is in the state. For the moment, we’re still living in a country where the president understands and respects the First Amendment.

Why bother? Well, Trump is a narcissist who thrives on adulation. But his ego is brittle enough that he is driven to tell embarrassing lies about facts that contradict his self-image, such as his massive popular vote loss and the spontaneous demonstrations that broke out nationwide when he won the Electoral College. It gets under his skin.

Trump’s takeaway from the RNC was that he is “very well-liked.” Well, he’s not; Trump will in fact be inaugurated as the most unpopular president-elect in the history of polling, who lost the popular vote by the widest margin ever. He should be reminded frequently that we don’t all love him, via news reports of peaceful demonstrations, if necessary. No honeymoon for you, you nasty old goat.

I’m sure opinions vary around here on the utility of protests. I think they have their place, and coming out in force to express opposition to a tin-horn fascist wannabe who’s trying to stage a self-love fest on my turf sounds like a good idea to me. What say you?

PS: Opposing Manhattan Mussolini and shoring up democratic institutions will require the ability to multitask. You can call your senators while you’re waiting for the demonstration to start.

Late Night Open Thread: One Could Almost Feel Sorry for Romney

… Except, y’know, the silly bastid is willfully submitting himself to this shiteshow. Per AP:

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition effort, teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow” as he exited Trump Tower Monday night.

Pence is said to be among those backing Romney for State. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.

Other top Trump allies, notably campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign to warn the president-elect that nominating Romney would be seen as a betrayal by his supporters. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking to either force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence…

Trump was also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Homeland Security secretary, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for State and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as the mayor’s public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause…

Yeah, among the many things I hold against Trump is that he’s made Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney look like the good, sane alternative for a powerful political office. Mitt’s certainly touched some nerves among the Trump Crime Cartel, though…

I kinda like Josh Barro’s theory…

Remember the calculus for the C-listers who signed up with Trump early.

They debased themselves by signing up with a candidate who was widely considered ridiculous and unacceptable by Republican insiders. In exchange, they would line up — in the unlikely event Trump won — for administration jobs for which they would otherwise be considered laughably unsuitable.

This calculus seems to have worked out for Michael Flynn and perhaps Ben Carson. But a Romney appointment would be a severe threat to the dynamic the Trump sycophants depend on.

If a consummate party establishmentarian who did not support Trump — indeed, one who said Trump was “playing the American public for suckers” — can be forgiven and given a top job, what role would be left for Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee?…

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She Seems Nice

Let’s make this Trump voter internet famous:

This nation has a serious mental health crisis. I guarantee this woman drives an SUV without using turn signals.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Cold Comforts


(Sylvia/Nicole Hollander via

At last, a little uplift for the Balloon Juice commentariat! (And, yes, this front-pager, who just turned 61.)

Speaking of long-range tactics, I think Dana Houle has a good point here:

Jared Kushner is a NYC businessman, heir to a convicted felon real estate developer. Reince Priebus is a leading product of the GOP political machine. Steve Bannon is a sociopath who sees the neo-Nazi, white-supremacist “alt right” as a tool for random social destruction, which he finds entertaining / useful for his private goals. (Bannon is acting as the third corner of the traditional GOP Golden Triangle, Business/Bureaucracy/’Church’, which is its own kind of weird American success story.) The three of them have converged, temporarily, to push an aging “celebrity” to the top of the American political pyramid. Their common interests started diverging immediately after Clinton’s concession speech… and the cracks are widening by the day.

Our strategy, as Democrats and citizens, must include encouraging the dissension between ‘good for the Trump/Kushner business conglomerate’‘Good for the GOP party’‘Good for the dank lulz’. Yes, it would be nice if the pivot weren’t Donald Smallgloves Trump, but then again, he’s not going to make life easier for the triumvirate, either.

Apart from soldiering on, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

Here’s Your President-Elect, Trumpkins

A small, delusional narcissist who can’t focus on the fact that he won the big prize but has to quibble over the implicit slights in his historic popular vote loss:


Never mind that alleging massive voter fraud hardly serves his cause — people are saying he was beaten by a girl! Outrage!

This is your president-elect, Trumpkins. You were taken in by a not-too-bright conman. That makes you an especially idiotic mark.

Had you only squandered your life sayings on a hard-sell shakedown disguised as a real estate course, it wouldn’t be any of my business, except perhaps as a concerned citizen who wants to shut down similar scams.

But with your vote, you made me and mine collateral damage to the con you signed up for, and second-class citizens into the bargain.

Wanted to “send a message,” did you? Well, message received, motherfucker: You don’t give a shit about this country that you’ve entrusted to a lunatic. Never dare to question my patriotism again.

So, he’s all yours, Trumpkins. Defend his petty vendettas at the cost of your soul. Or sack up and join the resistance.

College Football Open Thread


It’s Rivalry Week (say that out loud three times), so some interesting games are on tap today. The ones I’ll be watching with the most interest — in chronological order and ascending importance (to me) — will be Ohio State and Michigan, Alabama and Auburn, and, of course, Florida vs. Florida State (Go Gators!). But there are many other consequential matchups today. Which teams are you pulling for, if any?

Got into a somewhat slurry bar argument with a Trumpkin last night. It all started when hubby decided he didn’t want Thanksgiving leftovers, so we went to the local Greek restaurant/lounge to have a cocktail and order a pizza to take home. Turns out many people in town had the same pizza idea, so it took much longer than expected.

While we waited at the bar, my husband and the guy seated next to him struck up a conversation. I was only half paying attention. But then the man said something about the economy getting better since there will be a businessman in the White House, causing me to aspirate bourbon while laughing bitterly.

The man inquired if I were unhappy with the outcome of the election. I answered in the affirmative. It escalated from there and got mildly snarly. To be honest, I don’t think either of us acquitted ourselves particularly well, though I was correct on the merits.

Anyway, poor, long-suffering hubby. On the bright side, I am a pretty good cook, and today I’m making my famous shrimp etouffee, so he’s got that going for him. Open thread!