This was posted on Facebook three weeks ago. I don't know any of the details, I'm afraid. But I like this new Obama, who doesn't seem as desperate for Republicans to like him. Maybe he's finally given up on that?
Thanks, Jim, for the link!
Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals.
The media have been acting as if the Trump debacle were the biggest political story to come down the pike in some time. But the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless.
It is a story you didn’t read, hear or see in the mainstream media, only in lefty journals like The Nation and Rolling Stone, on websites like People for the American Way, and in columns like Paul Krugman’s. And it wasn’t exactly because the MSM in its myopia missed the story. It was because they chose not to tell it – to pretend it wasn’t happening. They are still pretending.
It is hardly a surprise that the GOP establishment and their enablers in the media are acting as if Trump, the Republican frontrunner, is a break from the party’s supposedly genteel past. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, who was “shocked, shocked,” to find gambling in Rick’s establishment, the GOP solons profess to be “shocked, shocked” by Trump’s demagogic racism and nativism. Their protestations remind me of an old gambit of comedian Milton Berle. When the audience was applauding him, he would shush them demonstratively with one hand while encouraging them gently with the other. ...
I don’t think the media would deny their indifference. They would say they don’t take sides. They’re neutral. They just report. Partisanship is for Fox News and MSNBC.
Of course, this is utter nonsense. Accurate reporting means taking sides when one side is spouting falsehoods. I am still waiting for the media to correct the GOP pronouncements that Obamacare has cost us jobs and sent health care costs skyrocketing – both of which are screamingly false. I am not holding my breath.
But even if it were true that the media are not referees, not taking sides against extremism is just another way of taking sides by legitimizing extremism and making it the new normal, which it now is – so long, apparently, as you don’t shout it. In any case, objectivity is a rationalization. We know the media are afraid of a right-wing backlash. We know that they protect themselves by insisting that our two major parties are equidistant from the political center – more nonsense. And we know that every story is framed by its political consequences, not its human ones. We see that every day. ...
Something happened in American politics over the last 25 or 30 years to release our demons and remove our shame. The media didn’t want to look. Now Trump has come along to reap what the conservatives had sown, and stir up those demons, and the media are suddenly in high dudgeon. Where were they when America needed them?
The key to understanding the Trump phenomenon - his ability to do all these things and pay no price - is that it has very little to do with Trump and almost everything to do with the portion of the electorate he is currently operating. The current Republican party is built in large part on roughly 25% to 30% of the voting electorate which is radicalized and revanchist - a topic I discussed here. We can think about the the nature of Trump's appeal in three basic ways.
First is simple political substance. TPM Readers are entirely familiar with that the fact that a large segment of the American right is animated by a belief that 'their' world, their America is being taken away from them - this includes everything from declining white racial dominance, having to choose whether you want to hear the phone tree message in English or Spanish, changing cultural mores. The whole package. This is the essence of Trump's campaign - beating back the external threat - the harsh anti-immigrant policies, Muslim bans, flirting with white supremacists, etc. This is the most visible and literal part of Trump's appeal.
Second is the appeal to power and force. Trump is the master of GOP 'dominance politics', the intrinsic appeal of power and the ability to dominate others. All of this has an intrinsic appeal to America's authoritarian right, especially in a climate of perceived threat, which has been growing over the last two decades - something political scientists are now catching on to. We might think of this as the embodiment and acting out of the policy drives noted above. The phenomenon of the imperiled, resentment right is something you're well familiar with if you're a close observer of American politics, certainly if you're a regular reader of TPM. ...
The third factor is I think the least obvious but for these purposes the most important. On the radicalized, revanchist right, provocation and transgression of norms isn't simply indulged. It functions as a positive good. It is a feature, not a bug, to use the tech phrase. What the mainstream electorate might view as an 'outrage' is actually signal of the willingness to tear down a corrupt order that is unwilling (Democrats and elites) or unable (RINOs, mainstream GOP) to turn back the tide of threat. So whether or not you think it's a good idea to kill terrorists families, saying you will is a signal that you won't accept limits. How can Trump break all the rules and pay no price? What's his magic? Changing your positions, obviously lying, taunting enemies - none of these hurt Trump because his core supporters are not seeing them through the same prism you likely are. They're not signs of deception, bad character or untrustworthiness. They all signal a refusal to accept the norms of the threatening order and thus a willingness to overturn it.
To put this more simply, you're being too literal. While the Trump movement is heavily tinged by racial backlash, it's not like all Trump backers would embrace outright white nationalists. But that's not the point. Provocation is a feature, not a bug. But this isn't how the great majority of the American public approaches the world or our national politics. Indeed, the divide is what's tearing the GOP in half at the moment. Because it's a very big chunk of the Republican party. To put this concretely, most Democrats will never support Trump for simple policy reasons, even if there are segments of the Democratic coalition that might. But what we are talking about here is a distinction between policy and political mentality, specifically a view of politics based on resentment and desire for revenge. And that operates with a large minority but not close to a majority of the electorate.
If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession. A few examples. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.
His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.
But you say, wait, wait, wait, isn’t he a huge business success? Doesn’t he know what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t and no he doesn’t.
Look, his bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who work for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Mortgage. A business genius he is not. ...
Now let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.
And then what he said about on “60 Minutes”. Did you hear this? It was about Syria and ISIS, and it has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the entire campaign season. Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants.
Now, think about that. Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over an entire country? This recklessness is recklessness in the extreme. Now, Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.
Now, I’m far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.
Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, at the same time he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.
There is a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War. While at the same time, John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.
Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark. He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it.
He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. ...
Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. You know, we have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He’s the only person in the entire country to whom we have added an article before his name, and it was not because he had attributes we admired. ...
Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.
Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.
His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.
Romney won't ever be able to walk that back. Yes, people dismiss a lot of campaign bluster as 'Well, things get said in the heat of a campaign. blah blah blah.' But you don't ever come back from the kind of things Romney said about Trump today.
It was while Trump was reminding everyone that Romney went out of his way to ask for his endorsement four years ago that Trump did what Trump does best, delivering the type of line that’s tailor-made for Twitter and our outrage age. “I could have said, ‘Mitt drop to your knees,’ ” the former reality TV star said to cheers.
Now, it’s impossible to say for certain that the Donald was making a crass blow-job joke—and that’s the point. Like his “wherever” comment about Megyn Kelly last August, or his “schlonged” remark about Hillary Clinton back in December, Trump’s “drop to your knees” wording lends itself easily to a salacious reading while still offering Trump the chance to deny it was his intent.
You may have noticed that during the debate audience members in the line of sight behind the moderators were giving thumbs ups, making faces or just aping for the cameras like you'd expect to see as a football game or a wrestling match. We've never seen anything like that. The pro-wrestling mania of the Trump rallies is seeping into debates, like a virus spreading through a host body. And I tend to doubt that those people were all Trump supporters. It doesn't matter. Creeping Trumpism is taking over his opponents from within.
The upshot of the last forty eight hours is that the GOP actually seems to be groping its way toward a strategy of doing anything possible to prevent Trump from getting to the convention with 50+% of the delegates. Just what that gets them isn't clear and I don't think they have any idea. They are on the one hand saying he could destroy the party and grievously damage America while still saying they'll probably support him if he's the nominee. (Note that Romney nowhere ruled out eventually supporting Trump.) Still that seems to be the emerging plan. You'll note that Romney wasn't asking anyone to drop out. Quite the contrary. He wants everyone to stay in and use strategic voting to keep Trump from amassing more than half the delegates. With that strategy this debate made perfect sense, a brutal war of attrition meant to grind down an opponent who cannot actually be beaten.
Right now it's Trump vs the stakeholders of the institutional GOP, represented by Rubio, Cruz and Romney in the wings, like two vast armies wheeling around for a decisive combat over a small town or village. Trump's army is clearly stronger, but not unbeatable. Whatever happens, there's no way the village doesn't get brutalized and probably destroyed in the process.
It's a build up of what we might call 'hate debt' and 'nonsense debt' that has been growing up for years.
This crystallized for me after the last GOP debate when Trump told Chris Cuomo in a post-debate interview that the IRS might be coming after him because he's a "strong Christian." Set aside for the moment how this unchurched libertine was able to rebrand himself as a "strong Christian." What about the preposterous claim that he is being persecuted by the IRS because he is a devout member of the country's dominant religion? Republicans simply aren't in any position to criticize this ludicrous claim because they have spent years telling their voters that this sort of thing happens all the time - to Christians, conservatives, everyone the liberals at the IRS hate. And this, of course, is just one example of hate and nonsense debt coming due. Shift gears now and they're "RINOs."
Take Trump's plan to deport 11 million people living in the US illegally or build the planned Trump Taj MaWall. As John Kasich has futilely tried to explain in debate after debate, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, this is simply never going to happen. Such an effort would be more on the order of a post-War World II population transfer than anything remotely like a conventional immigration enforcement action, costing probably hundreds of billions of dollars and perhaps even constituting something approaching a war crime. As for the Wall, of course, in the real world net immigration across the US-Mexico border has actually gone into reverse in recent years. More are leaving than coming. But in the Republican/Fox news world, hordes of feral Mexicans are still streaming across the Southern border - them and a layering of ISIS death squads who fly from Ankara to Belize and then walk to the Arizona border.
But this is just the hate and nonsense debt coming due from 2013. You can either let the status quo go on or you can devise a way to regularize at least the majority of people who are here illegally. There's no other option. Unless you just want to say 'No Amnesty' and pretend the problem will go away with 'self-deportation' or some other such nonsense. And that of course is precisely what Republican congressional leaders did. All Trump did was say openly, clearly, more coherently what Republicans were already saying themselves, while also saying out of the sides of their mouths that somehow they'd get to the mass deportation later.
The truth is virtually Trump's entire campaign is built on stuff just like this, whether it's about mass deportation, race, the persecution of Christians, Obamacare, the coming debt crisis and a million other things. At the last debate, Trump got pressed on his completely ludicrous tax cut plan. He eventually said growth (which if you calculate it would need to be something like 20% annual growth on average) would take care of the huge budget shortfall it created. But Republicans can't really dispute this point since all of Republican campaign economics is based on precisely the same argument. What about Obamacare? Can Marco "Establishment" Rubio really get traction attacking Trump for having no specific plan to replace Obamacare when Republicans have spent the last five years repeatedly voting to repeal Obamacare without ever specifying a plan to replace it with? On each of these fronts, the slow accumulation of nonsense and paranoia - 'debt' to use our metaphor - built into a massive trap door under the notional GOP leadership with a lever that a canny huckster like Trump could come in and pull pretty much whenever. This is the downside of building party identity around a package of calculated nonsense and comically unrealizable goals.