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“Floating Around The Political Ether”: Has Trump Reached The Self-Sabotage Stage?

In my lifetime, and I’m assuming in the life of the United States of America, there has never been a major-party candidate other than Donald Trump who anyone would think to ask if they’d actually serve as president if elected as president. But that’s what New York Times reporters asked Trump during a recent interview with him in his New York office. His answer wasn’t what you’d expect.

Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

“I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

And he definitely left more than a spoken impression.

But the only person who could truly put any doubts to rest seemed instead to relish the idea of keeping everyone guessing, concluding the recent conversation with a you’re-on-to-something grin and handshake across his cluttered desk.

“We’ll do plenty of stories,” Mr. Trump promised enigmatically. “O.K.?”

Now, maybe he’s just messing with people’s minds, but it hardly helps him to leave the impression that he considers this just a game and that he won’t serve as president even if elected. It’s actually a kind of dangerous impression to leave at a time when he has not yet actually been confirmed as the nominee of the party.

I think this show was a lot more fun for Trump when he was leading in the polls and he wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s fate. Maybe, consciously or unconsciously, he actually wants to have the nomination wrested away from him in Cleveland. That’ll make him much more of a martyr than a loser, or at least he might feel that he can spin it that way.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 7, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Nominee, Republican National Convention | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Will Trump Go Away If He Loses?”: You Cannot Keep The Baby Without The Bathwater

A very interesting argument has broken out over an unusual political question: If Donald Trump loses in November, can he be pushed aside while Republicans find ways to appeal to his core supporters?

Party gadfly David Frum seems to assume Trump will go away quietly:

[O]nce safely excluded from the presidency, Donald Trump will no longer matter. His voters, however, will. There is no conservative future without them.

Frum, to his credit, was warning Republicans for years that the GOP’s indifference to the actual views of its actual voters on the economy and immigration would eventually become a critical problem. He was right. So he has some credibility in seeking to craft a policy agenda and message that scratches the itch Trump scratched with so much excessive force.

But that doesn’t mean Trump won’t have anything to say about it.

Jeet Heer isn’t a Republican but makes a good point in responding to Frum that you cannot keep the baby without the bathwater when it comes to Trump’s fans:

[W]ill Trump really cease to matter in November? After all, no human being loves the spotlight more, and he’s chased after media attention since he was a young man. Being the nominee of a major party is a dream job for him, because it means people will hang on his every word. Even if he loses badly in November, Trump will likely cling to his status as the strangest “party elder” ever—and convert it into new, attention-grabbing and lucrative projects.

Fortunately for Republicans, the old tradition of referring to the immediate past presidential nominee as the “titular head” of the party has fallen into disuse. But presidential nominees rarely just go away. Perhaps the most self-atomizing recent major-party nominee was Democrat Michael Dukakis. But his demise after 1988 was not strictly attributable to his loss of what most Democrats considered a winnable general-election race against George H.W. Bush; his last two years as governor of Massachusetts also made a terrible mockery of his claims of an economic and fiscal “miracle.” And, besides, nobody thought of Dukakis as ideologically distinctive or as leading any sort of political “movement.”

The bottom line is that the same media tactics that improbably made Trump a viable presidential candidate in the first place will help him stay relevant even after a general-election loss, unless (a) it is of catastrophic dimensions and (b) cannot be blamed on tepid party Establishment support for the nominee.

If Trump loses so badly that he does indeed become irrelevant, then people like Frum will have another problem: competing with those who want to dismiss the whole Trump phenomenon as a freak event with no real implications for the Republican future. And yes, such people will be thick on the ground, attributing the loss to Trump’s abandonment of strict conservative orthodoxy on the very issues Frum thinks were responsible for the GOP alienation of its white working-class base from the get-go. There will be show trials and witch hunts aimed not just at Donald Trump and his most conspicuous supporters and enablers, but also at people like Frum — and more broadly, the Reformicon tribe of which he is often regarded as a key member — who think Trump was revealing important shortcomings of the orthodoxy many others will be trying to restore.

So, ironically, and even tragically, #NeverTrumper David Frum may discover that Trump will not only still be around, but could wind up on his side of the intra-party barricades.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 6, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If You Have To Ask…”: Trump’s Baffled; ‘Why Am I Not Doing Better In The Polls?’

Last weekend, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and expressed nothing but confidence about the state of the race. Chuck Todd noted recent polling showing Hillary Clinton leading and asked Manafort whether he’d concede that his candidate was trailing. “No,” he replied, adding, “[W]e’re confident that we are not behind the Clinton campaign.”

Obviously, the polling evidence is readily accessible, but more to the point, Manafort doesn’t appear to have convinced his boss. Politico had this report yesterday on Trump’s appearance on Mike Gallagher’s conservative talk-radio show.

“Well, you know, I really feel it, Mike. I go to Ohio, we were there two days ago, and Pennsylvania and near Pittsburgh and we – I was in West Virginia, the crowds are massive. And you know, I walked out of one, and I said, ‘I don’t see how I’m not leading,’” Trump said, invoking the size of his crowds.

“We have thousands of people standing outside trying to get in, and they’re great people and they have such spirit for the country and love for the country, and I’m saying, you know, ‘Why am I not doing better in the polls?’”

First, the fact that Trump is even asking the question is notable, given the campaign’s pretense that Trump is doing just fine in the polls. “I don’t see how I’m not leading” is the sort of thing a candidate says when he knows that he’s … not leading.

Second, and more important, is the fact that the first-time candidate doesn’t seem to understand the difference between having fans show up at public events and actually winning at the national and statewide level. Bernie Sanders also saw “massive” crowds, and as impressive as that was, the senator still came up short in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Every major presidential candidate can draw an audience. That doesn’t mean he or she is going to win.

That said, these comments from Trump aren’t just amateurish, they also shed light on why he assumes the polls are wrong. In the Republican’s mind, if the surveys were correct, he wouldn’t have thousands of people showing up to cheer him. That doesn’t actually make any sense, but from his perspective, it’s easier to believe “crowds = victory” than to accept polls showing him trailing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, Junly 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort, Presidential Polls | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Carnage Will Continue…For Now”: This Is One Of Those Moments When It Is Tempting To Get Cynical

Sen. Chris Murphy’s filibuster was successful in pressuring Republicans to hold votes last night on whether or not to require background checks on all gun purchases and add terrorist suspects to the list of people who are barred from buying guns. But those measures failed to get the 60 votes in the Senate that are needed to pass.

In order to limit the damage voting against those common sense reforms will do in the upcoming election, Republicans offered their own versions of the bills to muddy the waters. In the end, the Senate voted on 4 amendments.

The Senate voted 47 to 53 to reject a measure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to let the attorney general deny firearms and explosives to any suspected terrorists. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota was the sole Democrat to vote against the measure, while Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Kirk of Illinois, both of whom face tough re-election contests, voted for it.

The Senate also rejected a Republican alternative from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), that would allow authorities to delay a gun sale to a terrorism suspect for three days or longer if a judge ruled during that time that there is probable cause to deny the firearm outright. The vote was 53 to 47, falling short of the 60 votes needed.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, backed the measure. But three Republicans – Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Kirk and Susan Collins of Maine voted against Cornyn’s amendment…

The Senate also rejected, on a 44 to 56 vote, a measure from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would expand background checks for anyone trying to purchase a firearm, including at a gun show or online…

Both Manchin and Toomey refused to back Murphy’s more expansive measure. Democratic Sens. Heitkamp and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – who is also running the Senate Democrats’ campaign operation this year – also voted against Murphy’s proposal…

Most Republicans backed an alternative from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that would only increase funding for the government to run background checks without expanding them. It failed on a 53 to 47 vote, falling short of the 60 votes needed…

Republican Sens. Kirk and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) voted against the proposal; Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) voted for it.

Republicans offered an unworkable alternative to banning terrorist suspects from buying guns (Cornyn’s bill):

Democrats countered that the time limitations in Cornyn’s alternative would make it functionally impossible to actually prevent suspicious individuals from purchasing firearms.

They also voted for a measure that would increase funding to do background checks, but didn’t close the loophole of being able to purchase them without one at places like gun shows (Grassley’s bill). So even if the Republicans’ alternatives had passed – they would have accomplished nothing.

Meanwhile, they were able to keep the Democrats from passing their bills with assists from a few Democrats, including Senators Heitkamp, Manchin and Tester.

To put this is some perspective, yesterday CNN released a new poll showing that 92% of Americans favor a background check for any gun purchase and 85% support preventing people who are on the U.S. government’s Terrorist Watchlist or no-fly list from owning guns. A majority (54%) also support a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons as well as the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition clips.

To be honest, what the Democrats offered yesterday in the Senate was pretty weak tea when it comes to gun safety measures. But they did so knowing that they had the overwhelming support of the American people. And still…Republicans obstructed.

This is one of those moments when it is tempting to get cynical. I suspect that is precisely what Republicans and the NRA are hoping for. When people give up – they score a permanent win. But this is when I remind myself of the years it took for women to get the right to vote and for the Civil Rights Movement to end Jim Crow. We have two choices at a moment like this: give up and allow the carnage to continue, or remain committed to the struggle and keep fighting.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Background Checks, Chris Murphy, Gun Control, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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