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“Politically Inconvenient Truths”: Gingrich Shows How Far He’ll Go To Be Vice President

One month ago today, Newt Gingrich was asked to comment on Donald Trump’s racist remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the former House Speaker was surprisingly candid. “This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” Gingrich said, adding that the presidential hopeful’s comments were “inexcusable.”

A few days later, however, the Georgia Republican remembered that he might be a top contender to become Trump’s running mate – which led Gingrich to walk back everything he’d just said. The former Speaker told CNN that Trump is “learning very, very fast” and taking the necessary steps “to win the presidency.”

What about Trump’s “inexcusable” mistake? “Any effort to take one or two phrases out of the 90-minute dialogue and say, ‘Gee, Gingrich was anti-Trump,’ is just nonsense,” he said.

Late last week, as Politico noted, we saw a related shift.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, under consideration as Donald Trump’s running mate, is dropping his decades-long support of free trade deals and picking up Trump’s strongly protectionist position.

“I basically agree with Trump’s speech on trade,” Gingrich said in an email to POLITICO on Friday.

Gingrich wasn’t just a passive proponent of modern trade agreements; he championed many of the trade deals Trump is now running against. Trump, for example, has repeatedly condemned NAFTA, which Gingrich not only voted, he also literally stood alongside then-President Bill Clinton when it was signed into law.

 Slate’s Josh Voorhees added that Gingrich continued to voice support for trade agreements after he was driven from Congress, including having been “a vocal cheerleader of permanent trade relations with China.”

That is, until Gingrich decided he had a shot at the VP slot, at which point he discovered he “basically agrees” with the presidential candidate he’s eager to impress.

So, here’s my question: if the vice presidential nomination goes to someone else, will Gingrich go back to his previous beliefs or stick with these politically convenient new ones?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 5, 2016

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Vice-President Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Will Trump Last The Election?”: Republicans Are On The Verge Of Nominating A Psychological Cripple

An ordinary sociopath would have known to pretend shock and sorrow after the terrible mass murders in Orlando. Shielded from ordinary human interaction by his arrogance and wealth, however, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump had no clue how to act. So he sent out an instinctive, self-serving reaction on Twitter:

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Meghan McCain, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s daughter, reacted incredulously: You’re congratulating yourself because 50 people are dead this morning in a horrific tragedy?”

Even more pointed was GOP consultant and TV talking-head Ana Navarro: “Translating Trump: ‘20 people [sic] are dead. 42 people are injured. But of course, 1st, it’s all about Me. Me. Me.’ Ugh.”

Both women spoke for millions. Is there no tragedy so grave, no sorrow so profound, that it can penetrate the hardened carapace of Donald Trump’s ego?

Clearly not. Unless polls showing a steep drop in Trump’s chances to win the presidency are all wrong, many Americans are just now awakening to that reality. Unless they find some way to save themselves, Republicans are on the verge of nominating a psychological cripple: an ego-driven, self-obsessed narcissist preoccupied with fantasies of power, and incapable of empathy.

Too harsh? Overnight, Trump doubled-down. In an interview on Fox News, he allowed as how President Obama had not only failed to prevent ISIS-inspired homophobe Omar Mateen from massacring fifty innocent souls in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, but that he’s probably a traitor.

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it,” he said. “People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on… [Obama] doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable.”

In his withering fashion, the president dismissed Trump’s “yapping” while pronouncing the supposedly forbidden words “radical Islamists.”

“It’s a political talking point,” he said. “It’s not a strategy…”Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around.’ Not once.”

Obama’s mockery makes Trump crazy precisely because it diminishes his shaky self-esteem. People who are genuinely self-confident don’t feel the need for constant boasting. The clinical term for what ails the candidate is “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Improperly—shrinks aren’t supposed to diagnose public figures they haven’t met—but no doubt accurately, a growing number of clinicians have used the phrase to explain Trump’s disturbing personality traits.

“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” psychologist George Simon, who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, told Vanity Fair.

“He’s like a dream come true.”

And that was back last fall during GOP debates, when Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Megyn Kelly were Trump’s targets of choice. Having bluffed and bulldozed his way into the Republican nomination, the candidate now finds himself in a new world where different rules apply. He appears incapable of adjusting.

“Success emboldens malignant narcissists to become even more grandiose, reckless and aggressive,” writes psychologist John D. Gartner. “Sure enough, after winning the nomination, there has been no ‘pivot’ towards more reasonable behavior and ideas, just the opposite. He has become more shrill, combative and openly racist.”

Trump’s unprovoked attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity appear to have repulsed even voters resentful of liberal cant about racism, but who do think of themselves as fair. In consequence, fully 56 percent in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll had a “strongly unfavorable” view of Trump—the kind of judgement that may be irreversible.

Josh Marshall sums things up from a political perspective: “Almost every day since he clinched the nomination almost six weeks ago has been a surreal tour through Trump’s damaged psyche – the insecurities, silly feuds, the mix of self-serving lies and attacks on people he’s supposed to be courting…The daily particulars are so mesmerizing that you have to step back to see that Trump isn’t even running a campaign.”

So now we learn that the Trump campaign is flat broke. How can that be? This is a guy claims who he’s worth $10 billion and who was supposed to be self-financing his campaign. Except now he’s not.

Ten billion is 10,000 million. If Trump were anywhere near that rich, the $42 million in Hillary Clinton’s campaign coffers would be chump change.

Can he sustain this act until November? Can Trump’s fragile psyche risk losing to a girl?

I’m starting to have my doubts.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Narcissitic Personality Disorder, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Asking Trump To Repent”: Rove Horrified Trump Might Not Wage Ad War

There are obviously a lot of Republicans who are publicly and privately upset with how Donald Trump is handling the transition from primary to general-election candidate. Most of them are unhappy with his aggressive support for religious and ethnic profiling and his modeling of prejudice in the Gonzalo Curiel incident.

Leave it to Karl Rove to get mad at Trump for how he’s running his campaign, not what he’s saying.

Specifically, Rove is furious that Trump has disrespected the importance of paid media in presidential campaigns. As someone who has devoted his career to raising and spending megabucks for mostly negative political ads from the day he left the White House, Rove probably regarded Trump’s contempt for this part of politics as blasphemy. So, the Boy Genius repaired to the L’Osservatore Romano of the devotees of the green god of political money, The Wall Street Journal, asking Trump to repent.

Mr. Trump believes that fundraising and TV advertising are overrated. “I just don’t think I need nearly as much money as other people,” he told Bloomberg. “I get so many invitations to be on television.” But consider a hypothetical: Say Hillary Clinton runs a week of TV spots in Tampa/St. Petersburg, a key media market in Florida, and Mr. Trump counters by appearing on cable shows.

Counting only adults, 314,000 viewers might see a Clinton ad during “60 Minutes” on Sunday, according to Nielsen data. Nearly 190,000 would see one during “Dancing With the Stars” on Monday; 248,000 during “NCIS” on Tuesday; and 120,000 during “Hawaii Five-0” on Friday.

Mr. Trump’s appearances on Fox News would reach only a fraction of those numbers: 82,000 adults for a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” and 61,000 for one on “The Kelly File.” An appearance on CNN’s best-viewed evening program would reach 33,000.

So the moral is clear: Raise the money, run the ads, amen.

But Rove has more heresy to root out. He’s also upset that Trump is offloading the “ground game” to the RNC. Team Clinton, he warns, is prepared to outgun anything the national party can do unless the nominee raises some serious jack to help pay to keep up with the donkeys.

And so:

Mr. Trump’s decisions — to forgo ads, abandon his self-funding pledge and accept a big financial deficit, and turn the ground game over to the RNC — are unprecedented challenges to conventional wisdom. In 21 weeks, we will know if they were smart bets.

It should be noted that Trump’s belief that paid media and money generally are overrated in presidential (as opposed to down-ballot) general elections (as opposed to primaries) is shared by many political scientists, thanks to the massive earned media presidential candidates receive. Because nobody’s ever been better at the earned media game than Trump, it’s hardly surprising he figures that might be his best asset.

But if he’s right, there’s not much of a role in national politics for people like Karl Rove, is there? And that would be blasphemy for sure.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 17, 2016

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Campaign Advertising, Donald Trump, Karl Rove | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“All Hell Would Break Loose”: The GOP Still Has One Last Option For Dumping Donald Trump As Its Nominee

After several weeks of sunny weather for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign this spring, marked by the rapid surrender of his intra-party opponents and strong general-election poll numbers against Hillary Clinton, Republicans are again in semi-panic over his behavior. The backlash to Trump’s racially tinged comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and the putative nominee’s apparent inability to back away from them, has the senior leaders of the party unable to defend him. South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, quite recently the quintessential Trump disparager who was reconciling himself to the mogul’s candidacy, is now sounding a new alarm and urging fellow Republicans to withdraw their endorsements: “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” he told the Times. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.” Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell has offered the candidate a terse directive: “Get on message.”

So is there actually some mechanism whereby Republicans could dump Trump if the panic spreads or the “putative nominee” freaks out and starts blaming his troubles on a conspiracy between ISIS and the Cisco Kid?

Well, yes, there is a nuclear option — but it still has to be considered very unlikely. Approximately one-third of the delegations to the Republican National Convention will be bound to primary or caucus winners by state election laws. For the rest of them, however, the “binding” is by national party rules, and ultimately the rules of every Republican convention are made and can be unmade by the convention itself. So, in theory, convention delegates could vote to unbind themselves (or at least those not bound by state election laws) before the first presidential ballot and throw the nomination open again. If you recall that a significant number of “Trump delegates” are not personally loyal to the wiggy dude to begin with, you could see how a revolt could gain traction under very precise — and unlikely — circumstances.

There are two internal GOP conditions that would need to be present before the nuclear option could ever come into play. The first would be a widespread abandonment of Trump by the very party opinion-leaders who have been climbing aboard his bandwagon in the last few weeks — a mass exodus on the “off-ramp” Graham is talking about. The second and more important development would be a radical change in the rank-and-file sentiment — which was strongly evident long before Trump appeared to have nailed down the nomination — opposing any kind of “coup” against the primary results.

Regardless of what Lindsey Graham and other fair-weather friends of Donald Trump think, neither of these things is going to happen unless there is first a sudden, sickening downward lurch in Trump’s general-election poll numbers. I doubt anything other than 20 points or so — and with it a renewed fear of a down-ballot disaster for the GOP — would get the dump-Trump bandwagon rolling. At that point, all hell could break loose, and Cleveland could be wild and crazy fun after all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 7, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“It’s Best Not To Rule Anything Out”: Clinton’s Warning About Trump And Women Proves Prescient

One of key controversies dogging Donald Trump right now has to do with his overt racism towards U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom the Republican candidate says cannot be an impartial jurist because of his ethnicity. Over the weekend, Trump added he might have a problem with Muslim judges, too.

When CBS’s John Dickerson asked, “Isn’t there sort of a tradition, though, in America that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from?” Trump replied, “I’m not talking about tradition, I’m talking about common sense, OK?”

On the show last night, Hillary Clinton told Rachel, “I imagine he’ll move on to women judges because he’s been insulting women so regularly.”

Clinton was speaking hypothetically, but as it turns out, right around the time the Democratic candidate made the observation, Trump’s spokesperson told a national television audience that it might also be acceptable to accuse a woman on the bench of bias on the basis of her gender. The Huffington Post reported last night:

“Well, it would depend on her past and decisions she made as a judge,” Trump’s national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said.

Noting that Trump’s sister is also a federal judge, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Pierson if it would be “awful” to accuse her of bias “in regard to some case because she’s a woman.”

But Pierson would not rule it out, adding that “there is no question that there are activist judges in this country.”

Remember, Senate Republicans think so highly of the Trump campaign that they’re leaving a Supreme Court vacancy in place, in the hopes that he’ll be elected president and pick a justice he approves of.

As for Clinton, let’s circle back to the quote from last night’s show again: “I imagine he’ll move on to women judges because he’s been insulting women so regularly, or maybe a judge with a disability, or perhaps one who was a former POW, or African American. This is dangerous nonsense that undermines the rule of law, that makes him appear to be someone who has no respect for fellow Americans, and I think it is yet more evidence why this man is dangerous and divisive, and disqualified from being president.”

To be sure, neither Trump nor his team have gone after judges with disabilities, judges who are veterans, or judges who are African American, but there’s quite a bit of time remaining in the election cycle, so it’s best not to rule anything out.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 8, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Judiciary, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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