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“Trump Holds An Unflattering Mirror To GOP, Fox News”: The Important Message Is That Trump Dominated Fox News

The GOP debate he wasn’t attending hadn’t yet begun, but Donald Trump, safely tucked into the plush leather seats of his 757, declared himself the winner.

He was right.

Political commentators would spend the next several hours parsing his feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly. They would rehash the more genteel tone of the GOP debate that went on without Trump and try to determine if he offended Iowa voters by not appearing at the debate in Des Moines, attending his own event a few miles down the road instead.

They were missing the point. The tiff had little to do with Trump fearing Kelly’s stern and persistent questions as one of the debate moderators. It had to do with Fox News boss Roger Ailes’ role as GOP kingmaker.

If you are going to run against the Republican establishment, that means running against Fox News. Trump knew it; Ailes knew it (which is why premier Fox talent scurried to placate Trump); and now everybody knows it.

Ailes built his network empire by defining it against the so-called mainstream media. At the same time, he was building it as a sort of “oppo” research and broadcast arm of the Republican Party, a talent incubator for conservative media stars and a source of comfy sinecures for past and aspiring Republican candidates. Whatever part of the Republican Party Fox News doesn’t own, it keeps in line with its ideological beat cops.

Fox News has been a great brand, but now Trump has decided he has to rough it up to build his own brand as a candidate. So far, it’s working.

Trump reiterated in interviews before the debate that he had to stand up to Fox News. This isn’t just the narcissistic bluster we’ve come to expect from Trump. It’s true. Forget about his counter-event and whether it succeeded or disappointed on its merits. The important message is that Trump dominated Fox News — and that is unprecedented.

The squabble with Fox News illustrates how Trump has become such an appealing candidate. It’s a peek into the brain under the pompadour.

A lot of what he does is shtick, as you might expect from someone with a background in pro wrestling and reality TV. Consider the interview he gave on his plane with CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar before taking the stage at his veterans event

“I was insulted by Fox,” he said, following a well-honed script. Of voters, he added: “I think they are going to say he’s the one person who stands up for himself. And we need that.”

Claim that you are being mistreated and disrespected by the political establishment — a victim, if you will. It takes a lot of chutzpah to do that when you’re Donald Trump. But that has been the script at Fox News since forever, and now Trump is making it his own.

Another Fox News trope that Trump has turned against the network is its grievance over political correctness. While for years the network (and conservatives generally) have prissily wailed against this form of supposed oppression, Trump has run his mouth and Twitter account, violating decorum and decency with reckless and unapologetic abandon. When he did so against Kelly, Fox News was put in the uncomfortable position of having to acknowledge that such standards should exist.

Fox News — and the Republican Party it has remade — likes to bully. Its audience likes to see it bully. Now comes the spectacle of Fox News and the Republicans being bullied, outright dominated by a free-lancer nobody took seriously. Democrats and Republicans alike may despise Trump, but he understands all too well the populist strategy that lifted Fox News and the Republican Party to commanding heights in American politics.

How do you take down this verbose bully? If you’re the Republicans, you probably can’t. The other GOP candidates can’t beat him at his own game. He’s too good and they’re so lame. The verbal ribs that the other candidates lobbed at Trump in his absence at the debate came off flat. Spontaneity and authenticity are not their forte. Political life has stilted them.

Trump is a different story. What you see is what you get, and it’s very entertaining.

Republicans can’t attack his simplistic prescriptions for foreign policy and the economy. (2,000-mile border wall? Deporting millions? Good luck with that.) Facts do not matter to the Republican base — and haven’t for some time. So appealing to reality is futile.

Substance is not what is drawing people to Trump. It’s the allure of strength, the thrill of watching somebody assert his will against the weak.

In the upside-down world that has become the 2016 race, it’s the leading Republican candidate that is showing us what a corrupt and sick institution his party has become.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, February 1, 2016

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Fox News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What’s Worse Than Sex With Pigs?”: Donald Trump Has Gone Beyond Any Conceivable Limits

Write it off as “performance art” if you wish, but in many decades of watching politics I’ve certainly never heard anything quite like Donald Trump’s attacks on Ben Carson yesterday in a CNN interview and an Iowa appearance. AP’s Jill Colvin has the basics:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, brushing aside any recent claims of civility, has equated Ben Carson’s childhood “pathological temper” to the illness of a child molester, questioned his religious awakening and berated voters who support him.

“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” declared Trump during a rally at Iowa Central Community College. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” For more than an hour and a half Thursday night, the billionaire real estate mogul harshly criticized not only Carson, but many of his other competitors in the race for the GOP presidential nomination….

Trump previewed his attack line in an interview with CNN Thursday in which the businessman pointed to Carson’s own descriptions of his “pathological temper” as a young man.

“That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that,” Trump said. “That’s like, you know, I could say, they say you don’t cure — as an example, child molester. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure the child molester.” Trump also said that “pathological is a very serious disease.”

In his book “Gifted Hands,” Carson described the uncontrollable anger he felt at times while growing up in inner-city Detroit. He wrote that on one occasion he nearly punched his mother and on another he attempted to stab a friend with a knife.

Trump went on to conduct a pantomine of the knife-stabbing incident to show the unlikelihood of ‘Carson’s account, but let’s don’t let him distract us from the unbelievable audacity of comparing a fellow presidential candidate with a child molester.

Most of you have probably heard the ancient and probably apocryphal story of Lyndon Johnson instructing his campaign manager during an early congressional race to spread a rumor that his opponent, a farmer, was in the habit of enjoying carnal relations with his barnyard sows. “Hell, Lyndon,” the campaign manager replied. “You can’t call him a pig-f*****!” Nobody’s going to believe that.” “Yeah,” LBJ supposedly replied. “But I want to hear the SOB deny it.”

Trump’s slur could be worse than that, especially given the crucial distinction that it wasn’t conveyed in a whispering campaign but right out there in public by the candidate himself.

Has Trump finally gone too far? That’s hard to say; if so, the “child molester” line could benefit Carson not only by stimulating sympathy for him but also distracting attention from another emerging story about Carson’s longtime close friendship and business partnership with a dude who pled guilty to felony charges of health insurance fraud.

Regular readers know I have no use for Ben Carson, and I’ve certainly accused him of saying and apparently believing crazy things. But this is beyond any conceivable limits.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 13, 2015

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Child Molestation, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , | Leave a comment

“I Can’t Believe I’m Losing To This Guy”: Trump Asks, ‘How Stupid Are The People Of Iowa?’

There are arguably four top Republican candidates who are in serious contention for their party’s presidential nomination: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. The tensions between them are rising, but the criticisms are increasingly limited to parallel tracks.

Yesterday, for example, half of the quartet – the two who’ve actually been in politics for years – went after each other over immigration. There’s little to suggest Cruz and Rubio are interested in targeting Trump and Carson; they’re too busy focusing on one another.

At the same time, it seems the Amateur Duo aren’t focusing on Cruz and Rubio, so much as they care about each other. Note this report from NBC News’ First Read:

It’s easy to have become a little numb to Donald Trump’s theatrics on the trail over the last five months, but his performance last night in Iowa shook them right back into perspective. NBC’s Katy Tur reports that, during a 96-minute speech, Trump compared Ben Carson’s self-described “pathological temper” to a “disease” like child molestation (“If you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, a child molester, there’s no cure for that – there’s only one cure and we don’t want to talk about that cure, that’s the ultimate cure, no there’s two, there’s death and the other thing.”)

Personal attacks are one thing; baselessly comparing an opponent (who is almost universally popular with your own base!) to a child molester is jaw-dropping.

Your mileage may vary, but for me, Trump’s comments about Carson’s mental health weren’t even the most striking part of the New Yorker’s 96-minute tirade. At the same Iowa appearance, he claimed to know more about ISIS “than the generals do”; he vowed to “bomb the s—” out of Middle Eastern oil fields; and at one point, he even acted out a scene in which Carson claims to have tried to stab someone as a teenager.

“If I did the stuff he said he did, I wouldn’t be here right now. It would have been over. It would have been over. It would have been totally over,” Trump said of Carson. “And that’s who’s in second place. And I don’t get it.”

Referring to Carson’s more incredible claims, Trump added, “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

I wasn’t in the room and I didn’t see the full event, but the Washington Post reported, “At first, the audience was quick to laugh at Trump’s sharp insults…. But as the speech dragged on, the applause came less often and grew softer. As Trump attacked Carson using deeply personal language, the audience grew quiet, a few shaking their heads. A man sitting in the back of the auditorium loudly gasped.”

I’ve lost count of how many times in recent months I’ve seen pieces insisting that Trump has finally “gone too far,” so I’d caution against overreacting to this harangue in Iowa last night.

That said, it’s likely Trump’s lengthy rant was born of frustration – he thought he was winning in Iowa, until he saw polls showing Carson surging in the state. Trump, who’s never run for public office before, wants to reclaim his advantage, and evidently believes this is the way to do it.

I’m reminded of the “Saturday Night Live” bit in 1988 when an actor portraying George H.W. Bush delivered a rambling, incoherent answer, prompting Jon Lovitz, portraying Michael Dukakis, to say, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”

It’s hard not to think Trump is having the same reaction to Carson’s top-tier standing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 13, 2015

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Iowa | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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