mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Is Trump The New Boss Tweed?”: Tweed’s Downfall Demonstrates Just How Fragile Trump’s Popularity May Be

George Wallace. Henry Ford. Hitler.

No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. These are just a few of the historical figures to whom critics are comparing Donald Trump.

Of course, finding an exact precedent for Trump is a futile exercise. History is not a cycle that repeats itself over and over, but rather a never-ending continuum filled with intersecting layers. Think of it as less of a carousel, and more of a roller coaster that keeps adding new twists and turns, much to the discomfort of its nauseated passengers.

Still, historical comparisons are useful in examining how elements of the Trump phenomenon work. One of the most puzzling questions about Trump has been his knack for political mobilization. How has a widely panned candidate managed to gain such a substantial following? The answer lies in the strategy of another polarizing leader: William “Boss” Tweed.

Both men built a fervent political base out of a single demographic to which they did not belong. By focusing on the special interests of that neglected group, Tweed and Trump found success in a political climate that otherwise would’ve labeled them as crooks and liars.

Tweed’s Tammany Hall machine relied on securing the votes of recent immigrants, particularly the Irish. In an environment plagued by poverty and nativism, Tweed smelled opportunity. He and his colleagues created an early welfare system that supplied the immigrants with food, jobs, and housing in exchange for political support. Historian Kenneth D. Ackerman writes that Tammany Hall provided “state money for schools and hospitals, lumps of coal at Christmas, and city patronage jobs to put bread on family dinner tables.” Though the self-serving motives behind Tweed’s generosity were clear, New York’s poor continued to back him based on the simple fact that he made their lives better when other politicians just didn’t seem to care.

Tweed and his cronies used their growing power as an opportunity to embezzle thousands of dollars from public projects, most infamously through a phony renovation to the City Court House. Nevertheless, Tweed never viewed his theft as an immoral act. It was business, and he was good at it. Towards the end of his life, Tweed explained, “The fact is New York politics were always dishonest, long before my time. There never was a time you couldn’t buy the Board of Aldermen […] A politician coming forward takes things as they are.”

Sound familiar? Trump has similarly used bankruptcy laws and eminent domain — meant for “public use” — to his advantage.

Trump’s outspoken beliefs and motivations have already earned him the spite of many fellow billionaires, but he doesn’t seem to care. Instead, he has established his base among the less-educated, blue-collar voters across the country.

With promises to secure jobs at home and kick ISIS’s ass abroad, Trump has amassed a committed base of support. Based on a New York Times analysis, Trump support correlates strongly with white people who ethnically identify as “American,” those without high school degrees, and those who live in mobile homes.

Many of Trump’s supporters look to him as a paternal figure capable of redirecting America’s wealth back to its forgotten citizens. Paul Weber, an attendee of a Trump rally in Iowa, complained that recent immigrants are “getting pregnant and coming here and having babies,” allowing them to “get everything and the people that were born here can’t get everything.” Many also chalk up Trump’s personal success, multiple declarations of bankruptcy notwithstanding, as a sign that he would have better control over economic fluctuations. “I like him because he’s a businessman,” explained Trump enthusiast Linda Wilkerson. She added, “We’re in terrible financial debt. I hope he can bail us out.”

So, what can we expect from Trump based on Tweed’s trajectory? For one thing, Tweed’s subsequent downfall demonstrates just how fragile Trump’s popularity may be. He too is dependent on single group’s allegiance, and any hit to his tough-guy reputation could prove fatal. It’s just like that old saying about putting all your eggs—or Trump steaks—in one basket.

But where will this decisive blow come from? Trump’s media presence, currently one of his greatest assets, could become his undoing.

Like Trump, Tweed had a less than amicable relationship with the mainstream media. Perhaps in another world, the two men would meet in a penthouse to sip some vintage brut and scowl at caricatures of bloated bellies and bad comb overs.

Tweed was a favorite target of cartoonist Thomas Nast, nowadays most famous for his design of the modern Santa Claus. Nast portrayed Tweed as a sleazy criminal who stole funds from public projects while wearing a diamond on his shirt and a money sack over his head. The efforts of Nast and other journalists eventually exposed Tweed’s fraudulence and damaged his popularity among immigrants. He died penniless and imprisoned in 1878.

So far, Trump has dodged every media attack, somehow turning each gaffe and insult into a display of American authority. However, Trump will not be as invulnerable should he ever have the responsibility to govern. He has little to lose as an outsider candidate, but any corruption in office would reveal him as the hypocrite he is.

 

By: Dan Fitzpatrick, The National Memo, March 17, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Governing, William "Boss" Tweed | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“At The River’s Edge”: There Aren’t Enough White Voters For GOP Win

With every cycle, American politics is covered more like sports.

There are channels and programs that have elevated once obscure insider moments like the NFL combine or the living rooms of the Iowa caucus into national obsessions. Everyone is an expert because every one watches the game played on television. Everyone blogs, everyone calls into Mad Dog or Rush, everyone knows everything. No one knows anything.

But everyone is an expert. Information is consumed to confirm rather than inform opinions and in the Internet’s endless feedback loop of misinformation, every hunch quickly escalates into an opinion hardened into a truth. If only Seattle had run against New England, they would have won the Super Bowl. And in politics, for many Republicans the most unassailable truth is that winning the presidency is easy if only… and here everyone finishes the sentence with their pet theory of electoral politics.

That there is so much conviction that it might be easy for Republicans to win a national election is an odd one given history. Over the last six presidential elections, Democrats have won 16 states every time for a total of 242 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win. In those same six elections, Republican presidential candidates carried 13 states for 103 electoral votes. Here’s another way to look at it: The last time a Republican presidential candidate won with enough votes to be declared the winner on Election Night was 1988.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 56 percent of white voters and won a landslide victory of 44 states. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 59 percent of whites and lost with 24 states. But it’s a frequent talking point that white voter enthusiasm was higher for Reagan and turnout down for Romney. Not so. In 1980, 59 percent of whites voted and in 2012, 64 percent of whites voted.

But still the myth survives that there are these masses of untapped white voters just waiting for the right candidate. Call it the Lost Tribes of the Amazon theory: If only you paddle far enough up the river and bang the drum loud enough, these previously hidden voters will gather to the river’s edge. The simple truth is that there simply aren’t enough white voters in the America of 2016 to win a national election without also getting a substantial share of the non-white vote. Romney won 17 percent of the non-white vote. Depending on white voter turnout, a Republican needs between 25 percent and 35 percent of the non-white vote to win. RealClearPolitics has a handy tool so you can play with the percentages.

The Trump campaign talks about being able to reach out to Hispanics and African Americans but it’s not an overstatement to say he would be the most unpopular candidate with either group to ever lead a national ticket. Only 12 percent of Hispanics have a favorable view of Trump with 77 percent unfavorable. Even among Hispanic Republicans, he has a 60 percent unfavorable ranking. Among African Americans, 86 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump.

To have even a chance at winning a national election, a nominee must get 90-plus percent of their own party. But one out of every three Republicans view Trump unfavorably.

A function of a contested primary? Not really. Hillary Clinton has an 83 percent favorability with Democrats in the middle of her very hot battle with Bernie Sanders.

One of Hillary Clinton’s greatest weaknesses is her perceived lack of honesty and trust. Only 37 percent of Americans believe she is honest and trustworthy. That could be a devastating opportunity for an opponent to exploit. But only 27 percent of the public believes Donald Trump is honest.

We can go on. But of course none of this will dissuade the Trump believers who will point to his dismantling of the Republican field as proof that he is a new force in politics and to use that popular phrase I loathe, “There are no rules.” It’s a legitimate point and one impossible to argue as there is no alternative universe in which there was an alternative election in which the Republican candidates ran better campaigns against Trump.

It’s true that voter registration and turnout is up in the Republican primaries and I don’t see any reason not to credit Trump with those increases. We’ve seen this before with little impact on the general election but more voters and more voter enthusiasm are positive.

Trump has accumulated about half of the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination and there are credible scenarios where he does not become the nominee. (That’s another piece.) In my view, Donald Trump, if he does claim the party’s mantle, would be a historically weak and vulnerable nominee.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Even if John Kasich or Ted Cruz, the remaining two candidates, were to emerge, the advantage is still very much with the Democrats. And until the party grows its appeal with non-white voters, it’s going to take an inside straight to win the White House.

 

By: Stuart Stevens, The Daily Beast, March 16, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP, White Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Choosing Their Poison”: Anti-Trump Republicans Now Only Have 3 Options: Terrible, Miserable, And Awful

With his near-sweep of Tuesday’s primaries, Donald Trump is now in firm command of the Republican race for president, and although it’s still possible for Ted Cruz to overtake him, it’s looking increasingly likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. Which leaves most Americans (and most of the world) in a state of abject horror, and presents Republican politicians, strategists, and party activists with a dilemma: What do they do?

The time for figuring out how Trump can be stopped from taking over the party is nearly gone. There are essentially three paths left open, none of which are appetizing. The question is merely which brand of poison the party wants to swallow. But each has its pluses and minuses, so let’s investigate:

1. Rally behind Trump. This is the path of least resistance, and it may be the least bad of the options. Yes, many Republicans have said they’d never support him, or at least condemned him in strong terms; they’ll now be confronted with their hypocrisy. But as I’ve argued repeatedly, Trump is going to become a different candidate once the general election comes. Perhaps in the process of appealing to a broader electorate, he’ll also become less bombastic and more serious, and it won’t seem so awful to stand by his side.

And from an ideological standpoint, there’s a powerful logic to it. If you’re a conservative, even if you think Trump would be a terrible president and an inconsistent ally (almost certainly true on both counts), he’d at least do what you want some of the time, which is better than what you’d get with Hillary Clinton as president.

The trouble is that while Trump has the support of a plurality of Republicans, that isn’t anywhere near a majority of the electorate as a whole. So Republicans may decide that it’s better to do their part and try to convince the public that a Trump presidency really would be great. If they succeed, at least they’d get to fill the executive branch with Republicans.

2. Try to take the nomination from Trump at the convention. Trump may get to the necessary 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination outright, but at the moment it’s anything but a sure thing. If he doesn’t, it would bring Republicans to a contested convention, which is likely to be a nightmare no matter what the final result. If it comes to that, the anti-Trump forces will try to find a leader to unite behind, but it won’t be easy. If it’s Ted Cruz or John Kasich, it would be hard to take the nomination from Trump on the grounds that he didn’t win a majority of the delegates, then give it to someone who won even fewer. But giving it to someone who didn’t run at all could be even worse.

Just imagine how Trump’s supporters will react if the very establishment they’ve rebelled against snatches the nomination from their champion and gives it to some low-energy weakling. All their rage and frustration would come pouring out, perhaps literally on the heads of their tormentors. Trump has already said “I think you’d have riots” if such a thing occurred, and you can bet he’d be encouraging them.

And keep in mind that conservative talk radio hosts will spend the months between now and then getting their audiences riled up about what a despicable crime it would be to take the nomination away from Trump and hand it to some establishment stooge (they’re already getting started). So Trump’s supporters would be ready for a fight as soon as they got to Cleveland.

The whole chaotic mess would be broadcast live on TV, making the party look even less responsible and sane than it does now. Then even if the establishment prevailed, chances are strong that many of Trump’s supporters would simply stay home on Election Day out of frustration, increasing the chances that Hillary Clinton gets elected.

3. Mount a third-party bid. This is the most outlandish of the possibilities, yet some people are actively exploring it. There’s a meeting of prominent conservative activists happening Thursday to discuss whether and how to go about it, and some donors have already hired consultants to assemble a roadmap to a third-party campaign. The biggest practical problem is getting on the ballot in all 50 states, which requires lots of signatures before deadlines that are coming up soon. But more important from Republicans’ standpoint is that such an effort is almost guaranteed to fail.

If you had a conservative third-party candidate, he or she would face Trump, taking some portion of Republican voters, and (probably) Hillary Clinton, holding nearly all Democratic voters. A unified Democratic Party facing a Republican Party split in two means the Democrat would win.

Now it may be that some Republicans are so worried about what a Trump presidency would do to the GOP over the long term that they see Hillary Clinton in the White House as a preferable outcome. But I’m guessing there aren’t too many of them. Which is why the first option — swallow your pride, hold your nose, and get behind Trump — is the one most Republicans are probably going to take.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, March 17, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl”: An Unhappy Century For White Men, And It’s About To Get Worse

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure?

“God,” they pray, “pick another name.”

On Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton did what even Hillary Clinton thought she wouldn’t do: She swept the primaries. Missouri (barely), Illinois, North Carolina, Florida — she won them and my home state of Ohio, which is in the Eastern time zone, people. Boy am I tired of (SET ITAL) that (END ITAL) question.

Clinton strolled her conquering self across the stage in Florida as results poured in, and she delivered a victory speech while some of the white guys in TV-land offered their critiques via Twitter.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “Smile. You just had a big night.”

Because nothing says “commander in chief” like a girlish grin for the camera.

Fox News’ Brit Hume: “Hillary having a big night in the primaries. So she’s shouting angrily in her victory speech. Supporters loving it. What’s she mad at?”

Well, golly. Let’s take a look at what she was saying.

This, for example:

“Our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it; engage our allies, not alienate them; defeat our adversaries, not embolden them. When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong; it makes him wrong.”

Banning Muslims? Torture? Rounding up immigrants? Where are the punch lines, Madam Secretary? If you can’t find a joke in this material, how will you ever make us laugh about the Islamic State group?

Or this:

“Our campaign is for the steelworker I met in Ohio on Sunday night,” Clinton continued, “who’s laid off but hoping to get back to work. It’s for the mother I met in Miami whose five children haven’t seen their father since he was deported. She dreams of a day when deportations end and families are reunited on a path to citizenship in America. And it is for the mothers I stood with in Chicago yesterday, who have lost children to gun violence.”

Not one smile during that whole paragraph.

See what he means?

Fox News’ Howard Kurtz tweeted: “Hillary shouting her speech. She has the floor; a more conversational tone might be better for connecting with folks at home.”

Uh-oh.

Kurtz’s follow-up tweet: “Getting attacked for saying Hillary shouted. Was not saying she was shrill. I’ve just heard her deliver more effective speeches.”

This reminded me of another primary night — the one two weeks ago, when MSNBC cut away from Clinton’s live victory speech so that three guys could talk about how she needs to speak more softly.

At a rally.

Okey-dokey then.

Politics is still a home away from home for women, apparently. Takes me back to a moment a couple of years ago when a Republican U.S. senator, who clearly had no idea that I was married to one of his Democratic colleagues, asked me what I do with my days.

“I write for a living,” I told him.

“Good for you,” he said, swinging his fist across his chest. The smile on his face made me think he’d misunderstood me to say that I had just learned how to make my own aprons.

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

“Where will it all end?” they wonder.

At the White House, I’d guess.

I’m smiling as I say that. Does that help?

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, March 17, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Media, White Men | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Aiding The Rise Of Donald Trump”: Rubio Is Gone, But The Damage He Caused Remains

Tuesday night Donald Trump’s main ally in the Republican primary campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio, finally called it quits. He was praised by many Republican pundits, as he typically is, for some of the aspirational language he used in his non-victory speech, though most of those pundits shied away from a fair assessment of Rubio’s behavior during this presidential campaign season.

Here is such an assessment: Rubio ran on a promise of being the candidate of the future with a bold, optimistic platform, but he never delivered on that promise. In the process, he did perhaps irreparable harm to his party and to the country.

First, he ended the campaign season with a platform that can only be characterized as far-right. Sure, Rubio started his campaign with a number of extreme views – for example, he wanted the state to force rape victims to give birth to the child of their rapists and incest victims to give birth to the child of their fathers, while plotting to forcefully disband hundreds of thousands of same-sex marriages.

But it was only a year ago that the senator proposed a tax plan, with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, that would raise taxes on millions of people in the middle class. By now, his proclaimed tax reform preference involves raising the debt-to-GDP ratio to 150 percent, while lowering Warren Buffett’s tax rate to zero. And that’s not all: He has also gone from supporting amnesty to wanting to deport children who have spent practically their entire life in the U.S., as well as supporting the deportation of the parents of U.S. citizens. In addition, he has proposed closing down not just mosques but also cafes and the like where Muslims may gather.

Now, some of Rubio’s supporters will claim that he does not actually believe in those things and he was just trying to out-Trump Trump, but by endorsing them he made them more respectable.

Second, he has done more than perhaps anyone but Trump to coarsen public debate. It was Rubio, after all, who introduced – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – discussions of penis size to the presidential race.

Third, he has done more than perhaps even Jeb Bush and his donors to help Trump win the Republican nomination in simple delegate terms.

Instead of dropping out after losing in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada (where he used to live!), Rubio set a target of losing the first 25 or so states. He roughly succeeded in losing those states, but in the process he helped Trump amass a significant delegate lead over his most serious opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz. He did this not only by winning delegates himself here and there, but perhaps most harmfully in states like Idaho and Texas by denying Cruz outright majorities that would have made those states winner-take-all. In those two states alone, Trump added 120 delegates to his lead. It is extremely likely that without Rubio, Cruz would have been the Republican front-runner going into this week, thereby fundamentally transforming the dynamics of the race.

Perhaps the senator will yet redeem himself. His almost-tearful press conference this weekend indicated that he might try – but for now, the damage he has done is tremendous.

 

By: Stan Veuger, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, March 16, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: