GOP Wants More Obstructionism
by Deacon Blues
There’s a remarkable piece in Politico this morning, reporting that Republicans who are grudgingly supporting Hillary at this point out of disgust for Donald Trump, be they national security conservatives or Capitol Hill GOP members of Congress and staffers, are already signaling they will immediately begin opposing Clinton once she takes office. Flatly, the piece indicates that these reluctant Republican supporters will fight Hillary on any agenda items or appointments that are too progressive and not centrist enough for their taste, and they are already planning to go after Democratic senators and House members up for reelection in 2018 who cast problematic votes on Hillary’s agenda or appointments during the initial two-year period.
There are several takeaways from this boldness. First, it is incredibly stupid for the GOP to begin saying stuff like this, even though it’s clear this is aimed at giving cover to the Republican Party for abandoning Trump with a promise that they’ll get tough with Hillary once Trump is out of the way. At least Mitch McConnell and the House GOP leadership did their obstructionist planning on the very night of Obama’s inauguration in 2009 in relative secrecy until a journalist exposed it several years later. In this case, these morons are signaling to Hillary now what she already knows about them, which inexplicably escaped the naïve Obama until six years into his administration: Most Republicans are not interested in anything except your destruction, and any talk about “working together” is DOA with them. The big difference between Obama and Hillary is that she already knows what to expect from the GOP from her first day in office, and has the DNA to make their lives miserable behind the scenes while holding out hope publicly that both parties can work together.
Having said that, it’s helpful the GOP has clumsily admitted up front what they’ll be doing right after the election. Hillary can now develop her agenda and priorities accordingly, but such a strategy needs to acknowledge and counter what the GOP is planning to do to vulnerable 2018 Democratic incumbents. Unlike Obama, who didn’t use his political capital on a large stimulus bill or financial reform in the immediate aftermath of the crash, and instead made Democratic House members and senators walk the plank for the 2010 midterms by pushing through Obamacare, Hillary can learn from this and tailor her first two-year agenda around priorities with large political support in purple districts and states, and perhaps even in red states, and make it difficult for GOP incumbents to oppose those initiatives.
But she can go a step further. She can shine a bright light now on these revelations and start openly calling out the GOP for planning more obstructionism after the election, as if millions of disaffected voters don't count. She can also make the case that such overt intention to obstruct makes the case all the stronger to elect a Democratic Senate and House.
Hillary Crosses 50%
I participated in this poll, as the pollster reached me on Tuesday night. The questioning took about ten minutes, and included at least half-dozen questions specifically targeting Clinton and her negatives, questions that were not asked about Trump. And yet the poll reveals a 10-point lead for Clinton, even after the leading questions.
I’ve said this before, and I will say this again: put a fork in him; he’s done.
Clinton 45%, Trump 33%
by Deacon Blues
I fully understand why Donald Trump has to go “all in” on making the Clinton Foundation a major campaign issue against Hillary, even if the record shows little if any “pay-to-play” outcomes. When you are now down 12 points in a national poll of likely voters, stuck at 33%, and now losing by a bigger margin this month after the latest email news from the FBI, then all you have is whatever fever swamp conspiracy stuff Steve Bannon and Judicial Watch feed you. Good luck with that Donald, and by the way, where the hell are your tax returns?
Same Old Donald
by Deacon Blues
For all of you who thought Kellyanne Conway would soften Donald Trump's rough edges to allow women voters to give him a second look, we give you the new and improved Trump from just this morning.
Yeah, great job Kellyanne.
Donald Trump: Flip-Flopper
Let’s stipulate at the outset that Kellyanne Conway’s job as Trump’s new campaign manager is to be a better and more artful liar than Donald Trump. When your claim to fame is getting women to support boorish male GOP clients like Todd Akin, Newt Gingrich, and Ted Cruz, one could say you are vastly overrated, if not flawed yourself. Yet the mainstream media can be counted on to give Conway and her ridiculous utterances a free pass simply because she is bashing Hillary.
That being said, it’s hard to walk back Trump's call to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants, as she tried to do this morning on the Sunday news shows. According to Conway now, Trump simply wants to “enforce the law”, which is a long way from what he's said for months, and is a long way from what new campaign CEO Steve Bannon has been demanding on Breitbart.com for years.
Adding insult to injury, the new and improved Trump now says he wants the GOP to be the party of Lincoln once again and be a home for African American voters. This is the same Trump who just last week openly asked his white supporters in Pennsylvania to travel into urban areas of the state to monitor and potentially impede the voting rights of African Americans.
Conway’s public persona since taking over is to turn every question about Trump into an attack on Clinton’s character. This is no surprise. But for Team Clinton, their response should be just as clear. The media campaign for the next 30 days should be to take every statement by Trump and Conway and contrast it with Trump’s actual behavior and the beliefs of Bannon himself. The TV spots write themselves: Trump’s appearance last night asking for African American support should be contrasted with his statements last week asking for whites to travel into urban areas to harass black voters to keep the election from being “stolen”, with the ending question being “Which Donald Trump is the real Donald Trump?” Similar appeals from Conway should be contrasted with Bannon’s well-documented history and online statements of bigotry and harassment, with the same ending question for the audience.
And to cap it off, Conway’s new walk-backs on immigration should be contrasted with Trump’s own statements, again with the ending question of “which Trump do you believe?” This approach will raise questions, even among small portions of his base, about his trustworthiness and his credibility, and can serve as an effective counterpunch to the high-risk strategy Conway has put in place to make Trump someone he isn’t.
One of the major risks in remaking someone into someone they are not is exposing yourself to charges of flip-flopping. In a campaign where Trump and his (newest) team have made the whole election about Hillary's trustworthiness, it seems only fair that Hillary nails Trump to the wall these next 30 days as a flip-flopper who himself cannot be trusted.
Here Comes Willie Horton 2.0
by Deacon Blues
In the last several days, Trump has brought aboard Roger Ailes as an unacknowledged senior advisor, and just this morning he’s also shaken up his senior campaign team to enable the continuation of a combative approach rather than an integrated approach with the national party. Therefore, no one should be surprised that Trump went into a largely-white, remote suburb of Milwaukee last night to give a “law and order” speech blaming Hillary Clinton for cops killing African Americans.
Get used to it. Given who he’s brought in to run his campaign now, it’s all about to get even worse and more divisive than it’s been already. It is now quite predictable that the Trump campaign will keep the focus on stoking the white base in a race-baiting effort, with Ailes launching a likely “Willie Horton 2.0” media campaign as early as this weekend, and Steve Bannon launching open warfare on the media.
The Republican National Committee should be petrified at these recent developments, because it signals that Trump has no intention of broadening his appeal to help the party and its down-ballot candidates. But Team Clinton should plan and counter-message for an onslaught of negative race-based media from Ailes and Trump from this point on. In just the last two weeks, Trump has blamed Hillary for creating ISIS and now for Black America being mad at cops.
Who knows what Trump and Ailes will blame Clinton for next week?
I would advise Clinton to pre-empt the negative messaging, by making fun of these efforts. She could start by saying “Last week, I was responsible for ISIS. This week, I’m responsible for racial inequality and the problems between Black America and law enforcement. Next week, I’ll be responsible for slavery and global warming, and the week after that, I'll be responsible for 9/11 and Trump’s casino bankruptcies. By the way Donald, where are your tax returns?”
Update, Wednesday afternoon: Even the Wall Street Journal editorial page thinks Trump's move will make things worse.
Apparently "Extreme Vetting" Doesn't Apply to Trump Himself
by Deacon Blues
I am not as dismissive as other are about Trump’s anti-terrorism messaging and proposals yesterday. He clearly is playing directly to fear, so there shouldn’t be any surprise at the tone and rhetoric he employed. Nor is it stupid to frame the challenge in terms of the Cold War because Americans in fear can more easily grasp something they know and have experienced than something illusory that requires nuance and under-the-radar diligence and ongoing covert action. Plus, Hillary’s “let’s work together” rhetoric doesn’t translate as well on national security issues as it does on economic issues, so every time she avoids sounding like Margaret Thatcher on national security, she hands another day to Trump.
Trump clearly and smartly moved away from his “Ban the Muslims” barking with his call for “extreme vetting”, although his call for ideological screening is by his own admission “extreme”.
But I can’t take his proposals seriously when he himself clearly doesn’t do “extreme vetting” when it comes to his campaign manager or his surrogates. How much extreme vetting did he do before selecting a campaign manager with ties to Vladimir Putin? How much extreme vetting did Trump do to align himself with race-baiting surrogates, or surrogates so batsh*t crazy that they can so easily trash the memory of nearly 3,000 dead Americans by ignoring that they died at all? How much extreme vetting did Trump do before picking a serial sexual predator to be his debate advisor?
Clearly, for Trump, "extreme vetting" applies to brown people but not to his friends.
Reaching Beyond the Stereotypes
by Deacon Blues
If you are going to read anything over the weekend, read this piece in Friday’s Washington Post, which reported on a new study done by Gallup on the real support behind Donald Trump.
Economic distress and anxiety across working-class white America have become a widely discussed explanation for the success of Donald Trump. It seems to make sense. Trump's most fervent supporters tend to be white men without college degrees. This same group has suffered economically in our increasingly globalized world, as machines have replaced workers in factories and labor has shifted overseas. Trump has promised to curtail trade and other perceived threats to American workers, including immigrants.
Yet a major new analysis from Gallup, based on 87,000 interviews the polling company conducted over the past year, suggests this narrative is not complete. While there does seem to be a relationship between economic anxiety and Trump's appeal, the straightforward connection that many observers have assumed does not appear in the data.
According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.
Yet while Trump's supporters might be comparatively well off themselves, they come from places where their neighbors endure other forms of hardship. In their communities, white residents are dying younger, and it is harder for young people who grow up poor to get ahead.
So what are the major takeaways from this vast research?Continue reading "Reaching Beyond the Stereotypes"
This Isn't Reality TV
by Deacon Blues
Trump’s supporters repeatedly say they like him because he tells people exactly what he thinks, and because he isn’t a politician trying to pander for votes. In the next breath, those same supporters will say they hate Hillary because she is untrustworthy.
After admitting yesterday to Hugh Hewitt that he says provocative things just to get attention, and after tripling-down on his outright lie that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton founded the Islamic State, today Trump said he was simply using "sarcasm".
And Hillary is the one who is untrustworthy?
How exactly do Trump supporters cheer a candidate who knowingly misleads them? Does the GOP base hate this country, brown people, and Hillary Clinton so much that they would actually put a mentally unfit person into the presidency?
How does a national political party continue to support someone at the top of their ticket who thinks running for president is a new reality TV show?
And how do our allies and enemies read a potential commander in chief so willing to lie publicly just to get attention for himself?
He's Not Worthy
by Deacon Blues
"He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely."
--More Trump ass-hattery, today, on CNBC
Whether it’s the overt threat of post-election violence with his “Second Amendment” quip, or his newest, elementary-school taunt that Obama and Clinton founded ISIS themselves, I’ve decided that Donald Trump’s daily juvenile utterances aren’t worth my time or attention. This sophomoric buffoon, by his own admission, feels that because his shtick so far has worked with his low-IQ base, he doesn’t need to do anything differently. And since he sees no need to reach beyond his base in the general election, we can rest assured that Trump will deliver weeks and weeks of stupidity between now and November.
Which makes my experience yesterday all the more deflating. I was privy to an exclusive briefing on the 2016 race by a nationally-known political handicapper, one who has his name in his “political report”. This expert spent about 30 minutes giving our group an insider’s briefing on the race, wherein we were told that despite Hillary’s current lead in the national polls, we should expect the race to tighten, even into a tie towards Election Day, because this election is so different and the two presidential nominees are so unpopular. We were also told that the Democrats had no chance to take back the House, and at best would only pull into a 50-50 time in the Senate. Alas, this is what passes for expert political analysis today.
This “analysis” such as it were, is total crap for several reasons. First, all of the recent national polls show that the race has already settled into hardened camps, where polls consistently show that the number of remaining undecided voters is already down to between 3-8 points depending on the poll. Second, these same polls show that even though both candidates are very unpopular, only one candidate is also viewed as extremely unqualified for the job. So for this race to narrow to an even split sometime before Election Day, with so few undecided voters remaining, large blocks of Hillary voters would have to switch their support to Trump and suddenly find him qualified to be commander in chief. And I seriously doubt African Americans and Latino voters will be doing so.
Given Trump’s admission that he doesn’t plan to change what he’s doing, and given that many Hillary supporters have already made up their minds to support her despite her negatives, how likely is it that this race would narrow to an even split in the coming weeks?
Exactly; it’s not likely at all.
Update: Oh, the irony of Trump accusing Hillary of creating ISIS:
One person who did focus on the threat of Islamic terrorism in Iraq after a U.S. troop withdrawal was Hillary Clinton, whom Trump has also described in recent days as a “founder” of ISIL.
As a candidate for president in 2008, Clinton cautioned about leaving the country too quickly. In a March 2008 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton warned that “we cannot allow Iraq to become a breeding ground and safe haven for terrorists,” adding that her withdrawal plan “will not mean retreating from fighting terrorism in Iraq.”
“That’s why I will order small, elite strike forces to engage in targeted operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Clinton added.
U.S. officials say Clinton repeated those concerns during meetings of Obama’s national security team, siding with military officials who wanted to preserve a residual troop force in Iraq beyond 2011, even if it numbered only in the few thousands. Clinton’s viewpoint was overruled by the White House.
But the facts don't matter to Trump.
Trump Economic Plan: Repeal Seat Belts and Air Bags?
by Deacon Blues
The best part about the rollout of Donald Trump’s economic plan yesterday was the total destruction of any further narrative that Trump is fighting for the working people of this country. There was nothing in his proposals, whether they be the estate tax repeal, the top individual rate reduction/pass-through bait-and-switch, the corporate tax reduction, or even the child care proposal that actually helps the working or middle class in this country. Damn near everything Trump proposed yesterday came from the same supply-side gospel of special interest and failure we’ve seen from the GOP since the days of Reagan. And even the conservatives thought Trump hurt himself yesterday.
And his trade proposals would never be enacted without a trade war, and that’s assuming his new corporate overlords would allow him to do any of those things once he gets in office.
But the one item that might be the most fun to exploit was his call to reduce regulations in the auto industry in an effort to increase jobs. Citing the work of a Koch Brothers-funded “institute” housed at the discredited George Mason University, Trump wants to roll back auto regulations because they allegedly are job killers. The only regulations Trump and Koch could be targeting are those tied to auto safety and emissions. So is Trump really calling for the repeal of seat belt, airbag, and clean air regulations? The reporters following the campaign need to pin him and his Koch-owned running mate Mike Pence down on this.
Update: Another day, another set of bad polls for Trump. This time, a Monmouth University poll of likely voters had Trump down by 13 points nationally. And the latest NBC News weekly tracking poll of registered voters has him down by ten also.
Adding to this, polling analyst Stuart Rothenberg today wrote Trump's obituary in the Washington Post:
Three months from now, with the 2016 presidential election in the rearview mirror, we will look back and agree that the presidential election was over on Aug. 9th.
Of course, it is politically incorrect to say that the die is cast.
Journalistic neutrality allegedly forces us to say that the race isn’t over until November, and most media organizations prefer to hype the presidential contest to generate viewers and readers rather than explain why a photo finish is unlikely.
But a dispassionate examination of the data, combined with a coldblooded look at the candidates, the campaigns and presidential elections, produces only one possible conclusion: Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump in November, and the margin isn’t likely to be as close as Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.
We've said around these parts similar things: the media only wants a horse race to cover, and has a vested interest in avoiding the truth about this campaign. So expect to read more and more about Trump as a still-credible candidate running against a corrupt and fatally-flawed Hillary, who is one step away from indictment or selling the country to terrorists. That's their narrative, and they'll be sticking with it.
Trump's Juvenile Behavior Continues
The latest evidence that Team Clinton has successfully planted the issue of competence into the minds of the electorate when considering Trump as a commander in chief came in today’s ABC News/Washington Post poll of more than 800 registered voters. Clinton has an eight-point lead over Trump in this poll, which has a smaller sample size and larger MOE than others at this time. However, this poll shows that Clinton, despite her trustworthiness issues, has an insurmountable advantage against Trump when it comes to the electorate’s view of who can actually do the job.
As a result, senior Republicans voiced their concerns this morning over Trump’s ability to carry their states in a general election. So what is Trump’s antidote to these concerns and weaknesses? He ditches two days of somewhat moderate messaging and reverts back to schoolyard attacks against Hillary and her supporters, and tried to call into question Hillary’s mental health, even in the face of polling evidence that indicates he can’t win that argument. So it appears that Team Trump, which is a team of one, has decided the only way to win is to continue tearing down Hillary with juvenile behavior. We’ll see how that works.
Regarding this poll, it should be noted that in the 2012 presidential election, Nate Silver of the then-NYT “FiveThirtyEight” blog noted that the ABC News/Washington Post poll had a middle-of-the-pack reliability record and a documented GOP bias. So this 8-point lead could even be larger than the poll shows