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“The Problem With Donald Trump’s Fact-Free ‘Instincts'”: Lack Of Basic Understanding Of Government And Public Policy

Donald Trump has a handful of core issues that help define his political identity. Indeed, one need not be a political news junkie to be able to rattle off the list: the New York Republican wants to “make America great again” by banning foreign Muslims from entering the country and addressing immigration by building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

It was literally in his surreal campaign kick-off speech that Trump made international headlines by declaring, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

For anti-immigration voters, Trump quickly became the presidential candidate they’ve been waiting for. But what does the presumptive Republican nominee actually know about his signature issue? Joshua Green has a fascinating new piece in Bloomberg Politics, which is largely about Trump undoing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ years of work, but the article included one anecdote in particular that amazed me.

He explained the genesis of his heterodox views. “I’m not sure I got there through deep analysis,” he said. “My views are what everybody else’s views are. When I give speeches, sometimes I’ll sign autographs and I’ll get to talk to people and learn a lot about the party.” […]

I asked, given how immigration drove his initial surge of popularity, whether he, like [Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions], had considered the RNC’s call for immigration reform to be a kick in the teeth. To my surprise, he candidly admitted that he hadn’t known about it or even followed the issue until recently. “When I made my [announcement] speech at Trump Tower, the June 16 speech,” he said, “I didn’t know about the Gang of Eight…. I just knew instinctively that our borders are a mess.”

For quite a while, it’s obviously been a problem that Donald Trump lacks a basic understanding of government and public policy. But anecdotes like these are a reminder about an alarming, related detail: he’s not particularly interested in current events, either.

I’m not even sure he’s clear on the meaning of “instinctively.”

The political fight surrounding the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill was a politically dominant issue for months, and given Trump’s apparent interest in immigrants and the Mexican border, one might assume he followed the debate closely. Except, he didn’t. As recently as a year ago, he launched a presidential campaign predicated in part on his immigration views, which consisted of a few offensive soundbites.

After all, he doesn’t arrive at his conclusions “through deep analysis.”

Instead, Trump says he understood U.S. border policy “instinctively.” That doesn’t make any sense. If he had literally no substantive understanding of developments at the border, it’s impossible to rely on instincts to understand the value of current border policy.

Let me put this another way. If I pitch Rachel Maddow on a story for the show, she can instinctively tell whether or not it’s a good idea because she has expertise in this area. If I were to ask her the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, she couldn’t offer an instinctive answer because she has a limited background in birds and physics.

If I were to ask Donald Trump about the value of a high-rise in Midtown Manhattan, he could probably give me a decent instinctive answer. If I were to ask him to reflect on U.S. border security, he can’t – because, according the man himself, he has no idea what he’s talking about.

When Trump refers to his “instincts,” he seems to mean guesses that result from superficial news consumption. For a guy having an argument in a bar, that’s fine. For someone seeking the nation’s highest office, it’s cause for alarm.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 27, 2016

May 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Governing, Immigration Reform, Public Policy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Poetic Justice, A Big Beautiful Wall”: Will Latinos Wall Off Trump From The White House?

How’s this for poetic justice? Donald Trump’s favorite scapegoats could end up having the satisfaction of blocking him from the White House.

Latino voters have the potential to form a “big, beautiful wall” between Trump and his goal. If Trump gets the Republican nomination and Hispanics are provoked into voting in numbers that more nearly approach their percentage of the population — and if, as polls suggest, they vote overwhelmingly against Trump — it is hard to see how the bombastic billionaire could win.

Such an outcome would serve Trump right. Unfortunately for the GOP, it would also threaten to make Latinos a reliable and perhaps monolithic voting bloc for the Democratic Party, just as African Americans have been since the 1960s. If this were to happen, simple arithmetic would make it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the White House.

In 2012, Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote; his policy of “self-deportation” for undocumented immigrants is believed to have contributed to this poor showing. After Romney’s defeat, a GOP postmortem called on the party to regain its footing with the nation’s largest minority group. “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” the report said.

This never happened. A group of senators who became known as the Gang of Eight, including Marco Rubio, managed to win passage of a reform bill, but House Republicans refused even to consider the legislation. It seemed the immigration issue would once again be a liability for the GOP in the presidential contest.

Then along came Trump, who opened his campaign by charging that immigrants coming from Mexico were criminals and rapists — and promising to build a wall along the border to keep them out. As for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here, Trump’s solution is not self-deportation but rather forced deportation: He pledges to round them all up and send them home.

Trump may be all over the map on a host of issues, but xenophobic opposition to Latino immigration has been his North Star. He invites supporters to see their nation under siege from Latinos who allegedly take away jobs, commit crimes and alter traditional American culture. Last year, he criticized campaign rival Jeb Bush — whose wife is from Mexico — for speaking Spanish at a rally. “He should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” Trump said.

Trump’s chauvinism has been winning approval among the mostly white, working-class voters who form the core of his support. But there are signs that he may also be animating Latinos — to come out and vote against him.

A poll last month by The Post and Univision showed that just 16 percent of Latino voters had a favorable view of Trump, as opposed to 80 percent who view him unfavorably. The remaining GOP candidates — Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich — all do considerably better. But no Republican does nearly as well as Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both of whom are seen favorably by healthy majorities.

In a hypothetical matchup, according to the poll, Clinton would beat Trump among Latino voters by 73 percent to 16 percent. Assuming those who had no opinion went equally for the two candidates, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote would approach 80 percent. Swing states with large Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado would effectively be off the table for the GOP.

Moreover, the sheer number of Latino voters will almost surely increase across the nation. According to the Pew Research Center, the 23.3 million Hispanics who were eligible to vote in 2012 will have grown to 27.3 million by Election Day, mostly from young citizens who turn 18. The specter of a Trump presidency is giving urgency to widespread voter-registration drives.

Trump’s claim that he “won” among Hispanic voters in Nevada is based on entrance polling at the party caucuses, but the sample was so small as to be virtually meaningless. More pertinent is that more than twice as many Hispanics participated in the Democratic caucuses as in the Republican ones.

Assuming Trump wins the nomination, where does this leave him? If Latinos come out to vote against him in greater-than-usual numbers, he would have to win what looks like an impossibly high percentage of the white vote to be competitive. Even if the Latino vote just grows proportionally with population, he would have a hard time winning states that GOP presidential candidates can’t afford to lose.

He may wish he could say “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 7, 2016

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hispanics, Latinos | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Can’t Do The Rubio Thing Anymore”: More Bad News For Marco Rubio: He Just Lost The Support Of Fox News

In his role as the donor class’s darling, Marco Rubio has enjoyed support from the Republicans’ media arm, Fox News. Throughout the primary, Fox provided Rubio with friendly interviews and key bookings, including the first prime-time response to Barack Obama’s Oval Office address on ISIS. Many of the network’s top pundits, including Stephen Hayes and Charles Krauthammer, have been enthusiastic boosters. Bill Sammon, Fox’s Washington managing editor, is the father of Rubio’s communications director, Brooke Sammon.

But this alliance now seems to be over. According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. “We’re finished with Rubio,” Ailes recently told a Fox host. “We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore.”

Ailes was already concerned about Rubio’s lackluster performance in GOP primaries and caucuses, winning only one contest among the 15 that have been held. But the more proximate cause for the flip was an embarrassing New York Times article revealing that Rubio and Ailes had a secret dinner meeting in 2013 during which the Florida senator successfully lobbied the Fox News chief to throw his support behind the “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration-reform bill. “Roger hates seeing his name in print,” a longtime Ailes associate told me. “He was appalled the dinner was reported,” the source said.

Already, there are on-air signs that Fox’s attitude toward Rubio has cooled. This morning, anchor Martha MacCallum grilled Rubio about his poor Super Tuesday performance. “Is that a viable excuse at this point?” she asked, when he tried spinning his second-place finish in Virginia.

Fox’s corporate support of Rubio has also been a growing source of tension with the network’s more conservative talent. Sean Hannity was furious that the Times article reported how he went along with Rubio’s immigration proposal. During an interview with Trump on Monday, Hannity barely defended Fox while Trump trashed Rubio backers like Hayes. “He shouldn’t be on the air,” Trump said. The best Hannity could muster was to change the subject. “Have you ever watched MSNBC?” he said. “They suck.”

Ailes is now back to searching for a candidate the channel can rally behind. “He’s thinking, What do we do about the whole damn thing?” one of the news executive’s friends said.

Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti did not return a call for comment.

 

By: Gabriel Sherman, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 2, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Fox News, GOP Campaign Donors, Marco Rubio, Roger Ailes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Latino Voters Not Loving Cruz, Rubio”: These Two Have Taken To Casting Other Latino Immigrants As The Outsiders

It’s striking that in a presidential season with two viable Latino contenders, discussion of Hispanic voters has been negligible.

This will change as the primaries move to states with larger Latino populations, Nevada being first up. In those states, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will come under questioning for ethnic loyalty.

This scrutiny will do them no favors. While some may imagine that Cruz or Rubio would get a boost in the general election from being the first Hispanic presidential nominee, either one would only help to hand the White House to the Democrats. The reason is simple: They continue to spurn other Hispanics.

Here we have two children of immigrants trying to get elected by demonizing immigrants. Indeed, Rubio and Cruz embody a reality that they and their party deny: Latinos become Americanized very quickly.

Both men are very close to their immigrant roots, one generation away. Yet both men are highly assimilated. Rubio’s love of rap music and respect for Pitbull, N.W.A., Tupac and Nicki Minaj, is often cited. Cruz, raised in Texas and the son of an evangelical preacher, has a penchant for Western attire and after 9/11 switched his preference from classic rock to country music.

This is not exceptional for Latino families, whether they are legally in the United States or not. Assimilation happens; it’s an unstoppable force of our society.

Neither man speaks with an accent; only Rubio is bilingual. Latino immigrant families shift from Spanish, becoming monolingual in English by the third generation. They follow the same pattern, the same fluid rate of language acquisition, as previous immigrant groups, be they European or Asian. In fact, some studies suggest that language shifts are now occurring faster for Latinos, due to technology.

But to appeal to a GOP base that is positioned as anti-immigrant, these two have taken to casting other Latino immigrants as the outsiders, as resistant to becoming Americanized, as unworthy of opportunities to right their immigration status, whether that be by legislation or executive order.

On the campaign trail this year, only one message is permissible to Republican candidates: Latinos are to be feared and deported. Build the wall! Secure the borders! End birthright citizenship!

Never mind that migration from Mexico has dramatically slowed and that illegal migration peaked nearly a decade ago.

Some ascribe Rubio’s and Cruz’ lack of sympathy to being of Cuban descent. Cubans enjoy a huge advantage over other immigrants. If they can reach U.S. soil, they have an easy path to permanent legal status within a year. It’s a leftover policy from the Cold War, when many were fleeing the persecution of communist repression, although that wasn’t the case with either of the senators’ families.

Increasingly, that connection to yesteryear is fraying. Cuban-Americans are moving away from their once steadfast ties to the GOP.

Interestingly, Rubio probably got a taste of the non-Cuban immigrant experiences. He spent a portion of his teen-age years in Las Vegas, where his father found work as a bartender. The young Rubio was often assumed to be Mexican-American and counted many Mexican-American schoolmates as his closest friends. It’s reasonable to assume that he knew kids who had parents or other family members who were in this country without legal status.

Perhaps that experience is what led Rubio to join the Gang of Eight, a group of senators who authored the last sane proposal for immigration reform, in 2013.

Now he tries to scrub that fact from his record.

A record 27.3 million Latinos will be eligible to vote this election cycle. Nearly half, 44 percent, will be millennials, according to Pew Research Center. Data crunchers believe that the eventual winner of the 2016 presidential election will need to draw at least 40 percent of Hispanic votes.

Immigration obviously isn’t the only issue of interest to Latinos; it isn’t even the most important. Jobs, the economy, education rank very high too.

However, it is a kind of gut-level test about attitudes. Rubio, especially, with his shifting to attract right-wing votes, has jilted Latino voters who would like to like him.

Given their current posturing on immigration, neither Rubio nor Cruz has a chance.

The backlash is coming. A group of high-profile Latino celebrities, including Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera, George Lopez and Zoe Saldana, organized to call on the GOP presidential candidates to end their anti-immigrant fear-mongering.

Guitarist Carlos Santana, in a statement, underlined the plea this way: “It’s never too late to graduate from the university of fear!” Sadly, it may be if you are seeking the Republican nomination.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, February 12, 2016

February 14, 2016 Posted by | Immigrants, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Proved Spectacularly Wrong”: The GOP’s ‘2012 Autopsy Report’ Is Now Officially Dead and Buried

It’s hard to think of an official political-party document more thoroughly repudiated by its intended audience than the March 2013 “Growth & Opportunity Project” of the Republican National Committee, better known as the “2012 autopsy report.” Yes, there were a host of recommendations for avoiding Mitt Romney’s fate included in the report, some that have been taken to heart involving campaign infrastructure and communications. But at the time it was abundantly clear the leadership of the GOP wanted to shake its activists and elected officials and get it through their thick skulls that remaining a party of white identity politics was a death trap given prevailing demographic trends.

And the single policy recommendation made in the whole report was underlined with bright flashing pointers:

We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.

A couple of months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported the so-called “Gang of Eight” reform bill, with Senator Marco Rubio way out in front on it. And in June 2013, the full Senate passed the bill, a high-water mark for immigration reform that seems astounding today.

This additional language from the report is also worth remembering given the mood among Republicans less than three years later:

If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.

That sentence was a specific repudiation of Mitt Romney’s position on immigration. At present it seems a relatively moderate option for a party whose presidential field is presently led by two advocates of forced deportation, being chased by, among others, a repentant Marco Rubio, who admits now he grievously misjudged public opinion in favoring a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

So it’s appropriate that the “autopsy report” itself be formally buried, and National Review‘s Jim Geraghty does the honors, arguing that it “proved spectacularly wrong in predicting what the political environment would look like at the end of President Obama’s second term.”

The Republican base may or may not be on board with the idea of deporting every last illegal immigrant, but there exists a broad consensus that we must make our southern border as impenetrable as possible and that illegal immigrants should face significant consequences for breaking the law. While there are very few who think legal immigration should cease entirely, 67 percent of Republicans (and 49 percent of all Americans) think legal immigration should be reduced from current levels.

Geraghty goes on to speculate that had House Republicans taken the advice of the “autopsy report” and sent something like the Gang of Eight bill to Obama for his signature, the anti-Establishment rebellion we are witnessing in the GOP ranks this year might have arrived in the 2014 down-ballot primaries:

Instead of seeing historic wins in 2014, the party probably would have ripped itself apart, as immigration restrictionists mounted furious primary challenges to the Republicans who had defied their wishes.

I don’t know about that; a lot of other winds were blowing in the GOP’s direction in 2014, including now-habitual pro-Republican midterm turnout patterns and the near-universal incidence of White House losses, often enormous, in second-term midterms. It’s also entirely possible, given the 2014 Republican Establishment strategy of defeating tea-party insurgents by surrendering to them on policy, that had immigration reform passed, its very enablers would have quickly condemned their own work and escaped the consequences, just as Rubio is trying to do now.

But if the GOP again loses in 2016, it’s a good bet that party poo-bahs will not be so fast to condemn excessive conservatism or insufficient tolerance as the problem. Republicans just don’t want to hear that.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | GOP Autopsy Report, House Republicans, Immigration Reform, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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