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“Trump’s Emotionally Manipulative Secret”: How Donald Trump Tapped Into America’s Daddy Complex

Donald Trump likes to talk about himself in the third-person. “Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump,” the mogul boasted when he announced his candidacy for president back in June. I’ve noticed that I also talk in the third person — when I’m speaking to my toddler.

This is Trump’s emotionally manipulative secret.

I suspect he knows that parents instinctively talk to their young kids this way to comfort and reassure them. We moms and dads may not promise to make America great again, but we’ll happily tell a child what they want to hear: “Mommy will fly to the moon with you later, darling.”

By imitating this speech style, Trump plays to the idea that America wants a father figure in the White House. We want one person who can sit in the Oval Office and single-handedly solve all our nation’s problems while we play in the yard. Trump promises to be that president — America’s ultimate dad.

It’s not just his use of the third person either. His blanket pledge to fix stuff — from crumbling bridges and airports to immigration — while not bothering to trouble us with grownup details, like policy or budget, is oddly comforting to a huge number of people. Of course, Trump’s content-free pronouncements — and the fact that so many people seem impressed by them — make a significant number of us roll our eyes like angsty teenagers. But, alas, this isn’t putting much of a smudge on his luster.

So, what other trumped up paternal promises has Big Daddy made?

How is he going to handle all those dangerous Mexicans — aka monsters under the bed — who he claims keep flooding over our border? That’s easy: Dad’ll get his tools and build a big wall. The fact that the real Donald Trump is almost certainly incapable of mending so much as a blocked sink is, sadly, irrelevant. Kids worship their father regardless of his skill set.

And what about those bullies over at ISIS? “I would knock the hell out of them… and I’d take the oil for our country,” he told the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. This is an ultimate Dad move. That playground bully is bothering you? Daddy is going to punch him in the face and give you his lunch money.

Meanwhile, the mogul’s disingenuous pledge to increase taxation for the rich is reminiscent of the type of never-kept promise a frustrated parent tells a difficult child: “Daddy will get you a new toy at the weekend. Now eat your broccoli.” And just so we know that he’s genuine, Trump’s also promised to raise his own taxes: “Look, daddy’s eating his broccoli too!”

And, like the majority of hard-line Republicans, Trump has written off global warming as a “total hoax.” I have no way of knowing whether he actually believes this, but it certainly seems like something a parent would spout to reassure a petrified kid that they’re not, in fact, doomed. “Don’t worry, kiddo: Lots of people never die.”

With his pater patter, Trump has enough of us captivated to pose a real threat to the other Republican candidates — and maybe even the Mother of All Democrats, Hillary Clinton.

So here’s some parting advice for the left’s frontrunner: Start talking in the third person


By: Ruth Margolis, The Week, September 4, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Has Dr. Ben Finally Stepped In It?”: “We Don’t Need A Department Of Veterans Affairs”

In my TPMCafe column on Ben Carson earlier this week, I noted that he had been pretty vague on a lot of issues even as he had wrapped his extremist philosophy in dog whistles. That’s quite the successful formula, for a while at least, for a stealth wingnut with a powerful biography and a charming manner.

Could be, though, he’s just stepped in a great big cow patty, per Military Times‘ Leo Shane III:

Presidential hopeful Ben Carson’s comments suggesting the Veterans Affairs Department should be eliminated drew quick condemnation from multiple veterans groups, who called the idea short-sighted and ill-informed.

On a national radio show Thursday, Carson said that the country need to re-examine how it cares for veterans but also how to cut back on government bureaucracy.

“There is a lot of stuff we’re doing that doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “We don’t need a Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Affairs should be folded in under the Department of Defense.”

Carson said he wants to provide all veterans with health savings accounts to pay for private-sector medical care and reserve defense-run veterans clinics for highly specialized care, like traumatic brain injury treatment and limb replacements.

Ah, yes, the HSA pet rock. But it’s not a welcome idea to the quite conservative VFW:

“To suggest that disabled veterans could be sent out into the economy with a health savings account card overlooks the fact that civilian health care has waiting lists of their own … and presupposes that civilian doctors have the same skill sets as VA doctors, who see veterans of every age and malady every day,” VFW National Commander John Biedrzyck said in a statement.

“(VA) provides an irreplaceable service to the nation’s wounded, ill and injured veterans, and my organization will not let any candidate for any office suggest anything otherwise.”

Them’s fighting words, and other vet groups seem even less pleased:

In a lengthy online essay, Paralyzed Veterans of America Deputy Executive Director Sherman Gillums Jr. called the plan “a misguided notion born from ignorance of what each department does.”

“Those who insist ‘we don’t need a Department of Veterans Affairs’ are likely people who in fact do not need VA care because of good health or cannot access VA care due to ineligibility, as is the case with Dr. Carson,” he wrote.

“However, frustration in reaction to problems in VA combined with ignorance about what VA does and how it works are not the ingredients for a recipe of success where fixing the department is concerned.”

And here’s the thing: this involves the one issue area where Carson can’t say he’s still playing catch-up because he’s been off saving lives for decades. As a physician, health care policy is the one thing he definitely will be expected to “get.”

Politics aside, abolishing the VA health system to shunt veterans (or at least those not picked up by the DoD, which could create another whole set of problems) into the private system is pretty close to the opposite of what we should be doing. As WaMo’s own Phil Longman explained back in 2007, we ought to be making the rest of the health care system more like the VA. No, it’s not perfect; the eligibility system has problems, as well all know; but the actual care it provides at a limited cost remains the best available in the country. And Ben Carson ought to realize that.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 4, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Increasingly Obvious That Scott Walker Sucks”: When You’re As Bad At Campaigns As Scott Walker, You Should Just Give Up

Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is only a little over 50 days old, and it’s increasingly obvious that Scott Walker sucks. Not for his record or what he believes, although both of those are – to borrow a phrase from William Safire – extremely sucky. But Scott Walker is not good at this campaign thing.

A good campaign introduces a candidate and his best ideas to sympathetic and like-minded voters through a combination of events, press coverage and paid outreach, allowing him or her to attract campaign donations and new supporters alike. A bad campaign forces a candidate to get on the phone to reassure his existing donors that he exists and is going to abandon the “sinking into obscurity” tactic that hadn’t been working. A truly terrible campaign is at hand when the most widely-reported news story is the candidate’s old claim that his bald spot totally isn’t genetic but comes from banging his head against the underside of a cabinet.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way: one of Walker’s selling points was winning three elections in five years (the first one, the recall, then the reelection). In theory, Walker should have been the most experienced, most natural and most effortless Republican candidate. Jeb Bush hasn’t run this decade; Ted Cruz only ran once; Chris Christie is dogged by corruption allegations; Rick Perry has the mental aptitude of two dogs in an overcoat; and Rand Paul was gifted his father’s movement and all his out-of-state donors but none of his charisma at talking about basing an international currency on stuff you dig out of the ground.

Walker should have been able to campaign circles around everyone else in the race. Instead, he’s getting his rear end handed to him by a meringue-haired hotelier and a political neophyte surgeon who speaks with the dizzy wonderment of someone trying to describe their dream from last night while taking mushrooms for the first time.

Donald Trump’s existence in the race actually seems to be goading Walker into looking worse, when you’d think that The Donald’s hogging all the attention might have helped Walker avoid embarrassing revelations. After all, Walker’s political record basically involves refusing to tell anyone what his plans are and then doing something politically craven: he first campaigned on fixing Wisconsin’s budget, then once elected decided that it was public-sector unions’ fault and used a short-term crisis as an excuse to gut them; he evaded discussion about potential anti-union “right-to-work” legislation by calling it a distraction, then signed a right-to-work bill; he ducked questions about legislating more abortion restrictions, then signed a 20-week abortion ban.

And that doesn’t even get into the hail of convictions and indictments in his administration and the campaign finance investigation that suddenly stopped thanks to Wisconsin Supreme Court justices who received donations from many of the same groups being investigated. Walker was always going to have trouble with the scrutiny of a national campaign, outside those justices’ reach and outside the demographics of an overwhelmingly white state whose racial divisions he heightened with the help of a sycophantic right-wing media.

Instead, Walker seems to have felt that any gap in his coverage should have an unforced error hurled through it. He’s blamed cop-shootings (which are down since the Bush Administration) on President Obama and declared himself the candidate who can heal racial divides by getting black people to forgive, instead of protest, racists and racist violence. Instead of just mouthing the Republican repeal-and-replace Obamacare mantra, he came up with an actual replacement plan for the other candidates to criticize – a medley of conservative ideas so old they’ve got whiskers – while his competitors simply promise to deregulate the sucker and tell poor people they can pay for healthcare with trickling-down Ayn Rand fun-bucks. Walker even unsuccessfully tried his hand at xenophobic Trumpism, calling out Barack Obama for meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping – the same Chinese president that Walker himself flew to China to meet.

And, most incredibly, last weekend Walker started talking about the need to secure the border with Canada: not only securing it, but building a wall, never mind the fact that the border is 3,500 miles longer than the US-Mexico border and goes through four of the Great Lakes. When you start speculating about a US-Canada wall, maybe you should be doing literally anything else; this gig is probably just not for you when your most recent big idea is seeing what happens when you confront a wholly unnecessary problem with a solution that’s completely insane.

Still, Walker soldiers on, trying to get political mileage out of being a Harley Davidson owner, a problematic and confused form of symbolism at best. It’s not like you have to do or be anyone to buy a Harley – they sell bikes on the basis of currency, not biker credibility. Harley Davidson is, however, a union company that has benefited from millions in state subsidies and government assistance during the 2007-8 financial crisis – not quite the right fit for an anti-union, anti-government assistance poster boy.

Walker, touring New Hampshire on said Harley, seems to love any photo op when he’s in his leather jacket, though it does nothing to obscure the fact that he looks like he wakes up every morning and frowns at 30 identical chambray button-downs before picking one to tuck into one of 30 identical flat-front chinos. Scott Walker looks like every dad who is trying too hard to look cool during his Saturday afternoon trip to Home Depot to buy an Allen wrench because he lost the one that came with his wife’s Ikea Hemnes dressing table.

But trying and failing to look hardcore is sort of a thing with Walker. On the debate stage near a one-man burn unit like Donald Trump, Walker did everything short of vanish into the background. At CPAC, he burnished his credibility as someone who can stop Isis by saying, “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world. But he didn’t take on 100,000 protesters. During the protests, he slunk to and from the Wisconsin state capitol via underground tunnels and his legislature hasrepeatedly revised rules to restrict capitol protests. He even lied about having his car threatened.

On Tuesday, a benighted Walker told CNBC that he doesn’t think he’s a career politician: “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years,” he said. Walker, who is 47, first ran for office at age 22, and finally did so successfully at age 25. That was 22 years ago. When you have negligible work experience outside your current field, which you’ve been in for nearly half your time on this earth, sorry, it’s your career. It’s like someone who just drank a case of 3.2% beer claiming he’s sober because he didn’t touch any hard liquor. Sure, pal, take the keys and fire up the road beast and try to peel out of here.

The longer a presidential campaign goes on, the more fundamental truths you inevitably encounter, usually things the candidates and their handlers labor tirelessly to obscure. But sometimes the revelations come fast, and when they do, they are usually particularly unkind.

Scott Walker should’ve been the Republicans’ – or at least the Koch Brothers’ – Dark Money Knight, riding manfully to Washington on his union-busting, climate-change-denying Harley, driving the real career politicians from the city like Sobieski lifting the siege of Vienna. Instead, he’s looking more like a man destined to return to Madison with a wad of Delta Sky Miles to haunt the capitol tunnels, a wraith occasionally seizing hapless passersby at underground crossroads and demanding they tell him if they’ve seen Ronald Reagan, what causes male-pattern baldness and how big Canada is.


By: Jeb Lund, The Guardian, September 3, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Counterrevolutionary Supreme Court Litmus Test In The Making”: Prospective Justices Must Have Willingness To Ignore Both Other Branches Of Government

I really do appreciate the efforts of Constitutional Conservative legal beagles Randy Barnett of Georgetown and Josh Blackman of South Texas College of Law in laying out in some detail–and not in a legal journal but in the Weekly Standard–rules for examining future Republican Supreme Court appointments. It’s not just a litmus test in the making–which presidential candidates in both parties typically say they do not want to administer–but a rationale for a litmus test. And their piece has the advantage of being very clear on the key points.

To Barnett and Blackman, who first discuss the notorious history of Republican SCOTUS appointments they view as betrayals, the big thing is that prospective Justices have a clearly documented willingness to ignore both other branches of government–the principle behind the receding Republican doctrine of “judicial restraint”–and stare decisis–the principle against overturning well-settled Court precedent–in pursuit of the “original” meaning of the Constitution. That means treating SCOTUS as an all-powerful institution communing with eighteenth century Founders–or worse yet, Con Con mythologies about those Founders–and empowered to kill many decades of decisions by all three branches of government, precedent and democracy be damned. No wonder they talk repeatedly about needing Justices–and presidents–with courage! And the dividing line between good and bad “conservative” Justices could not be made much clearer: Alito goooood! Roberts baaaaaad! Barnett and Blackman even suggest their rules should be made clear to and then demanded by presidential primary voters!

If that actually starts happening, it will be as or even more important to watch as any other discussions of any other issues. As Brian Beutler recently noted in an important piece at TNR, Barnett and Blackman are among other things leading advocates for a return to the Lochner era of jurisprudence, whereby most regulations of private economic activity by the executive or legislative branches would be declared unconstitutional as an abridgement of “natural law” concepts in the original Constitution and an exotic understanding of the due process clauses in the 5th and 14th amendments. These are dangerous people to let anywhere near a Supreme Court nomination. But they and many others like them, who now play a dominant role in the very powerful conservative legal fraternity the Federalist Society, are likely to be right there with their litmus test in hand.

Anyone who thinks it doesn’t matter who wins the 2016 presidential election because the two parties are both loaded with corporate stooges needs to pay attention to this issue. Barnett and Blackman are very clearly pointing the way to abolition of the entire New Deal/Great Society legacy via rulings by judges serving lifetime terms. If that doesn’t matter to you, I’m not sure what does.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 4, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, U. S. Constitution, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why The RNC’s Loyalty Pledge Was A Huge Mistake”: Whether Priebus Knows It Or Not, He’s Been Played, And It’s Going To Hurt

Another day brings another poll with Donald Trump in the lead. According to a new Monmouth University poll of Republicans nationwide released Thursday, the real estate mogul leads the pack with 30 percent of the vote. His next closest competitor, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, takes 18 percent. By contrast, the most mainstream and viable candidates—Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Govs. Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Chris Christie—take 8 percent, 5 percent, 3 percent, 2 percent, and 2 percent respectively, for a combined total of 20 percent support among the five of them.

In other words, the age of Trump is here, it shows no sign of retreat, and Republican leaders are nervous. If Trump becomes the nominee—still unlikely, for the same reasons it’s difficult for Sen. Bernie Sanders to pull a win in the Democratic primary—he’d be an easy target for Democrats, who could blast him for everything from inexperience and temperament, to his nativist rhetoric and unsubtle racism. But a Trump nomination is so unlikely that it’s not the actual nightmare for the Republican Party. The nightmare is a third-party run, where Trump gets himself on the ballot in all 50 states, and siphons white voters from a GOP that needs white turnout to win national elections.

That nightmare is why, on Wednesday, the Republican National Committee privately circulated a “loyalty pledge” to the party’s presidential candidates. “I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” reads the pledge. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.” The obvious hope was that Trump would agree, rule out an independent run, and let Republican leaders breathe easy (or at least, more easily).

On Thursday, Trump obliged. He signed the pledge and held a press conference, where he made a verbal commitment to the Republican Party. “I see no circumstances under which I’d tear up that pledge,” he said, adding later that he’s been “treated well” by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and the RNC. He’ll commit to conservative principles, and if he loses, he loses.

On the surface, this is an important victory for Republican leaders. But look carefully, and it’s somewhere between a disaster and a catastrophe. Trump hasn’t just bound himself to the RNC, the RNC has bound itself to Trump and put pressure on other candidates to do the same. Let’s say Rubio wins the primary and becomes the Republican nominee. Thanks to the pledge, he’s linked to Trump, and Democrats can run wild with guilt-by-association. By the end of the campaign, Trump might be the face of the Rubio campaign, as much as the Florida senator himself.

That’s the disaster. The catastrophe is that there’s nothing to hold Trump to the pledge. As soon as it becomes inconvenient, he can break it. And because he’s untethered from the institutions of the Republican Party, Trump has nothing to lose from breaking the pledge. Indeed, anything he gains from signing—the imprimatur of the GOP and commitments from other candidates—is almost irrelevant to his appeal as the “outsider” who understands the world of the “insiders.” The only thing that ties Trump to his word, on this score, is the promise of official “respect.” For a man of Trump’s ego, that’s weak binding.

Consider Ross Perot, whose 1992 run was a challenge to George H.W. Bush, although it didn’t cost him the election. Initially, Perot denied a plan to run. But, on a February episode of Larry King Live, he hedged his refusal. “If voters in all 50 states put me on the ballot—not 48 or 49 states, but all 50—I will agree to run,” he said. Voters came out, and he ran. But by the summer, his campaign was pockmarked by controversy and on the decline. Appearing with Larry King again, he announced his political departure. “I have not gone away,” Perot told King. “But I have concluded that I should not be the candidate.” This lasted for a few short months, at which point, Perot jumped into the race for good. “The volunteers in all 50 states have asked me to run as a candidate for President of the United States,” Perot said in an October speech. “Jim Stockdale, our vice-presidential candidate, and I are honored to accept their request.”

No, Perot didn’t sign a pledge or run in either primary. But that doesn’t make him a different case; the point is that Perot made a promise, and broke it. And why wouldn’t he? He had nothing to lose. On the same score, it’s not hard to imagine a world where Trump loses the primary, but “the voters” still want him to run. What stops Trump from citing imagined “disrespect” and starting a third-party campaign? Nothing. The Republican Party can’t stop him, and it can’t sanction him. The party thinks it has power over him, but it doesn’t.

If anything, the loyalty pledge enhances his platform. He can run his campaign—touting Social Security and condemning illegal immigration—and when he loses the nomination, he’ll have the audience and support he needs to make an independent run. Whether Priebus knows it or not, he’s been played, and it’s going to hurt.


By: Jamelle Bouie, Slate, September 3, 2015

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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