Well I know I had it coming

There’s a great Vox interview with Norman Ornstein about the Trumpocalypse:

But if you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

I doubt though that Republicans will pay much of a price for this, at least in the short term. Yes, Trump will probably lose and Democrats will do better in the House and Senate than they otherwise would have. But they’ll find a way to obstruct most of what Hillary wants to do, and they’ll probably do okay in the 2018 midterms by attacking Hillary the same way they’ve attacked Obama.

It’s likely that the Republican strategy is suicide long-term. If I were a conservative, I’d be pretty fucking scared by the fact that, not only do young people vote overwhelming Democratic in general elections, they also just voted overwhelmingly for a Democratic socialist in the primary.

But that’s probably not Mitch McConnell’s or Paul Ryan’s or Reince Preibus’ problem. They’ll be gone out of the water by the time it boils.



He’s a bandit and a heartbreaker

It’s still hard for me to believe that #NeverTrump wasn’t able to make a dent in the Donald by hammering away at Trump University and Trump’s misogyny.

This ad about Trump University was pretty good:

As was this ad about Trump’s misogyny:

The media will try to recast Trump as a serious reformicon maverick between now and November. And we’ll certainly get a lot of this:

[T]he Clinton campaign and its surrogates will bring up Trump University and Trump’s bankruptcies and Trump’s mob ties and history of racial discrimination — but these stories will reported with the asterisk “On the other hand, the Clinton Foundation blah blah blah blah blah,” or “In the 1990s, Mrs. Clinton’s cattle-future trading was investigated….” Both Sides Do It, so the press will feel the need to yoke every Trump scandal to a Clinton scandal. This tendency is likely to be extended even to such matters as Trump’s racism: Yes, Trump calls Mexicans “rapists” and wants to ban Muslims, but Hillary Clinton said “off the reservation” that one time.

But I think that the reaction to the Trump University scam and “she’s a dog” etc. is visceral in a way that Both Sides Do It can never be. I think the only question is how voters react to MenaGate, TravelGate, MonicaGate, BenghaziGate, and so on. My guess is that most of it is too complicated for non-wingers to understand. I wonder if we’ll see some longer documentaries about the murder of Vince Foster on our teevee screens this fall.



Five years going by

There aren’t many people who foresaw the Trumpocalypse, but here’s Steve M. from April 2011:

But can’t you see him magisterially propelling himself into an Iowa state fair, or down a main street in small-town New Hampshire, in a motorcade of Escalades? And are we really sure that couldn’t work — winning the nomination, by being the macher, the mack, the big pimp?

[….]

The folks who moan that we’re on “the road to serfdom” — don’t they really want to be the serfs of rich guys like Trump?

I just don’t know. I’ve always heard that campaigning in the early states was an exercise in humility — the pigshit on your Gucci loafers at the Iowa state fair and all that. But is it different now on the right? Does the base want to prostrate itself before a plutocrat overlord, and not hold him to the same standards as mere mortals?



Before they blow up the world

When I say that professional centrists frighten me much more than wingers, I am being completely serious. Let’s look at this passage by Jim VandeHei that Anne Laurie highlighted this morning:

Exploit the fear factor. The candidate should be from the military or immediately announce someone with modern-warfare expertise or experience as running mate. People are scared. Terrorism is today’s World War and Americans want a theory for dealing with it. President Obama has established an intriguing precedent of using drone technology and intelligence to assassinate terrorists before they strike. A third-party candidate could build on death-by-drones by outlining the type of modern weapons, troops and war powers needed to keep America safe. And make plain when he or she will use said power. Do it with very muscular language—there is no market for nuance in the terror debate…

And let’s remember this David Broder classic:

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

Say what you want about the tenets of wingnuts, at least they don’t suggest starting wars for purely political reasons. It’s one thing to be an honest, earnest bedwetter who thinks we need to bomb the world to be safe, it’s quite another to suggest that presidents, or mythical third-party unicorns, start exploiting fear and killing people for purely political reasons.



Open Thread: Paul Ryan Is Not Running for President… Just Yet

The Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver is not going away. Jim Newell, at Slate — “Paul Ryan Still Refuses to Be President. But Who’s Asking?”

… Though the industry of pundit lapdogs who fawn over Ryan as the sexiest thing in right-of-center wonkery since the Laffer curve will buy his noble self-effacement about how it would simply be improper to accept the job without having run, there’s certainly another factor that suggests he really means it: Unlike the speaker’s election, he believes he would lose the presidential election.

It is very difficult for members of Ryan’s fan club to understand that outside of elite Republican donor circles, the pages of Beltway publications, and the green rooms of Sunday morning chat shows, Ryan is not that popular of a politician. Before Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Ryan—as the author of budgets that slashed entitlements and discretionary spending programs—was the poster boy for Democratic opposition to the obstructionist right. This was just a few years ago…

Ryan is no more popular with Democrats now, of course, but he’s also not as popular with the Republican base now that he’s a member of the supposedly do-nothing, amnesty-loving congressional leadership. Those brewing negative feelings among the base would almost certainly explode if Ryan, having competed in no primaries, were to swoop in at the convention and “steal” the nomination from either Trump or Cruz. Ryan may not be the epitome of serious policy thinking that his elite adorers imagine him to be—he’s basically the personification of elite Republican donors’ interests—but he does have a considerably sounder political mind than they do, and that’s why he wants nothing to do with this hot mess.

Jon Chait, in NYMag, on “Paul Ryan’s Magical-Realism Campaign”:

Paul Ryan’s shadow campaign for the presidency is well under way, and the visible portion peeking above the surface — message videos and gravitas-conferring overseas trips — conceals a larger whisper campaign submerged beneath the surface. If Donald Trump fails to win a majority of pledged delegates on the first ballot, and if Ted Cruz fails to organize a majority on a subsequent ballot, a disorderly and panicked party would almost automatically turn to its recognized leader as the candidate. Alternatively, should either Trump or Cruz win the nomination, Republicans running down-ballot will need a less toxic brand. In which case, Ryan will assume his role as de facto party leader, supplying a friendlier-sounding message for Republicans in blue and purple states…

Chait points at the NYTimes‘ centrist mooning over Ryan’s “Mirage Candidacy”

… Mr. Ryan is creating a personality and policy alternative to run alongside the presidential effort — one that provides a foundation to rebuild if Republicans splinter and lose in the fall. “He is running a parallel policy campaign,” said Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina.

He is shaping an agenda that he plans to roll out right before the convention, a supplement of sorts to the official party platform. He gives regular speeches on politics and policy — particularly on poverty and economic issues — then backs them up in the news media.
Read more



Today’s Smart Read…

…comes from Thomas Edsall at The New York Times

He answers his question “Why Trump Now?” by looking at the material reasons for working-class white disaffection, not just with the post-civil-rights Democratic Party, but with the cabal to whom that group turned in increasing numbers from 1968 forward.  He writes:

The share of the gross national product going to labor as opposed to the share going to capital fell from 68.8 percent in 1970 to 60.7 percent by 2013, according to Loukas Karabarbounis, an economics professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Even more devastating, the number of manufacturing jobs dropped by 36 percent, from 19.3 million in 1979 to 12.3 million in 2015, while the population increased by 43 percent, from 225 million to 321 million.

The postwar boom, when measured by the purchasing power of the average paycheck, continued into the early 1970s and then abruptly stopped (see the accompanying chart).

In other words, the economic basis for voter anger has been building over forty years. Starting in 2000, two related developments added to worsening conditions for the middle and working classes…

Distribution_of_Loaves_to_the_Poor_David_Vinckbooms

Read the whole thing.

If you’re too busy the TL:DR of those two developments are the interrelated facts that from the year 2ooo, upward mobility reversed itself, with more people falling into the middle class and poverty and fewer making it up the ladder — and the impact of China and its increasing integration into a world-wide free-trade regimen.  Edsall’s reporting on the China development — with its accompanying misreading by free-trade elites — is particularly sharp.

Add to that, as Edsall does, the TARP bailout after the elite-engineered collapse of 2007-8 and the Citizens United decision and you have specific and plausible reasons for Republican working class voters (and everyone else, of course) to see their chosen political leaders as shills and swindlers:

By opening the door to the creation of SuperPACs and giving Wall Street and other major financial sectors new ways to buy political outcomes, the courts gave the impression, to say the least, that they favored establishment interests over those of the less well off.

Edsall’s conclusion?

The tragedy of the 2016 campaign is that Trump has mobilized a constituency with legitimate grievances on a fool’s errand.

The crux for this year is exactly that:  Lots of Americans have been screwed — systematically, with comprehensive effect — for decades.  The material losses they – we — have suffered are real.  The responses Trump offers, such as they are, may be hopelessly at odds with any actual redress of those wrongs.  But any campaign (are you listening, Hillary?) that ignores the fact that two generations of Americans now have seen the basic expectations of life reversed is going to have hard time winning, just by pointing out that Trump’s bloviating won’t help either.

Image: David Vinckbooms, Distribution of Loaves to the Poor, first half of the 17th century.



Dreams and schemes and circus crowds

I believe that establishment media is opposing Trump (and fluffing Rubio) because a Trump nomination will make it harder for them to just say both sides do it about everything. They couldn’t give less of a fuck about racism or trade wars or mass deportations, but they do care about their own jobs, and if you’ve been repeating both sides do it for 30 years, it’s hard to know what you’ll do when one nominee is as overtly clownish as Trump. I don’t think they can get away with saying “sure Trump talks about killing and suing journalists, but someone on Daily Kos said Bob Woodward was senile, so both sides do it”.

What will they do? I know Peak Wingnut was a lie but….

Update. I think this is the answer: