mykeystrokes.com

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

“A ‘Base’ Election?”: The Trump Campaign Seems To Be Forgetting That Its Real Audience Isn’t In Quicken Arena

Thursday night’s official Republican National Convention theme is “Make America One Again.” After the first three nights, displaying Donald Trump’s campaign as a force for unity anywhere — even just in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena — will take some doing.

On Wednesday night, Team Trump deliberately provoked what can only be described as a lose-lose confrontation with Ted Cruz that created a nasty and divisive scene overshadowing the maiden speech of the vice-presidential nominee. With each such decision, you get the impression the people in charge of this convention have forgotten that the real “arena” is the general election, and that their real audience is an electorate far beyond this bowl seething with unaccountably angry delegates.

Otherwise it’s hard to credit the constant, interminable, over-the-top feeding of red meat to the crowd, beginning with Willie Robertson’s first-night taunting of people who are not “real Americans.” It may be understandable that speakers are tempted to interact with the people on the floor howling for Hillary Clinton’s incarceration, but the job of convention managers is to remind them that these people are TV props — ignore them and remember the whole world’s watching!

It’s almost as though the Trump people are treating the convention as the culmination of the mogul’s campaign: an opportunity to glory in their extremely unlikely conquest of one of America’s two major parties, to gloat over the shattered Establishment that’s being forced to accept them, and to shake their fists at the unbelievers who still mock their orange-tinted champion. That there is still a difficult election ahead and that this convention is a priceless earned-media opportunity to reach out beyond their own ranks seems to be lost on this wild show’s organizers and participants.

Perhaps they have oversubscribed to the idea that this is a “base” election with virtually no swing voters that will be decided strictly on the basis of who can get supporters so whipped up into a hate-frenzy that they vote at unprecedented levels. Or maybe they decided in advance that conventions don’t really matter as anything other than a reward to core supporters who are cavorting over the supine bodies of their class and ideological enemies in the GOP.

In any event, Donald Trump has set quite the challenge for himself in making unity, of all things, his announced theme for the climactic convention address, the one thing that could make people forget the atavistic images from the first three nights. As I noted in an earlier column, Paul Manafort says the tycoon is modeling his speech on Richard Nixon’s reasonably successful (if retroactively ludicrous) 1968 acceptance speech effort to pose as a moderate third-way alternative to the raging forces of left and right. In this case it would be like George Wallace seizing the podium at that 1968 convention and denouncing the furies he had himself conjured up.

Short of self-criticism, which does not seem to be in his repertoire, Donald Trump is going to have a hard time projecting himself as a unifying figure. But to have any chance of success, he needs to begin by reminding himself that it just doesn’t matter whether the delegates physically before him in the arena go away slightly disappointed that he passed up an opportunity to reflect their excited rage.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP Base, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Licking The Bully’s Boots”: Why Would Anyone Want To Be Trump’s VP?

Let’s be honest – Donald Trump is definitely not a team player. A cursory look at his business, entertainment and political careers tells us that, other than family, his litigious bullying means that he usually goes it alone. That’s why we’ve seen so much upheaval among his campaign staff. He tends to be drawn to the most unsavory of characters (Roy Cohn and Paul Manafort) as mentors/partners. But mostly he likes people he can bully. That’s what Mark Bowden reports from the time he spent with Trump back in 1996.

Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression…

It was hard to watch the way he treated those around him, issuing peremptory orders—“Polish this, Tony. Today.” He met with the lady who selected his drapery for the Florida estate—“The best! The best! She’s a genius!”—who had selected a sampling of fabrics for him to choose from, all different shades of gold. He left the choice to her, saying only, “I want it really rich. Rich, rich, elegant, incredible.” Then, “Don’t disappoint me.”…

What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favor. The trip from “genius” to “idiot” was a flash. The former pilots who flew his plane were geniuses, until they made one too many bumpy landings and became “fucking idiots.” The gold carpeting selected in his absence for the locker rooms in the spa at Mar-a-Lago? “What kind of fucking idiot . . . ?”

We’ve seen the same kind of thing in how he has treated Republicans who have been willing to lick the bully’s boots.

As others have noted, Trump really isn’t that interested in winning the support of fellow politicians. He is a bully, and what he craves is their submission. Once Chris Christie endorsed him, Trump took visible joy in treating the New Jersey governor as a personal lackey, publicly poking fun at his weight and even telling him that he could no longer eat Oreos.

The dilemma is that no matter what you do, Trump’s goal is to make you lose. If you cross him – as Republican Susana Martinez did – you get clobbered. And if you submit, you get clobbered. That’s because, in Donald Trump’s mind, he always has to be the winner and he has no respect for losers.

So now we’re at the point in the 2016 presidential race when all eyes turn to who Trump will pick for the ultimate team-player spot – vice president. Yesterday Sen. Bob Corker wisely withdrew from this contest and it looks as if Sen. Joni Ernst has as well.

What I find interesting is that two of the guys who still seem to be in the running know a thing or two about being a bully themselves – Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie. I’m sure they are both smart enough to know what it means to play on “Team Trump.” So why are they so gung- ho to do so?

First of all, I suspect that they both think that they are smarter bullies and can out-Trump him. That’s what narcissists usually assume. But I also suspect that they have calculated that if Trump actually makes it to the White House, he won’t last long. Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell have already suggested that there are “Constitutional remedies” if he were to veer off course. In other words, he would be impeached and his vice president would be the man left standing. Neither Gingrich or Christie want to be Trump’s lapdog permanently. They want to be president and see Donald Trump as a way to get there.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 7, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, Donald Trump, GOP Vice President Candidate, Newt Gingrich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“President In Name Only”: There Are Presidential Duties Trump ‘Doesn’t Want To Do’

Paul Manafort, a controversial Republican lobbyist, joined Donald Trump’s team in late March, and at least initially, his task was to help oversee delegate recruiting. It wasn’t long, however, before Manafort worked his way up to effectively running the entire operation: less than two months after joining the campaign, he’s now Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist.

Yesterday, Manafort sat down with the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman for a fairly long interview, and while the two covered quite a bit of ground, there was one exchange in particular that stood out for me.

The vice presidential pick will also be part of the process of proving he’s ready for the White House, Manafort said.

“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

This is no small acknowledgement. For months, it’s been clear that Trump has no meaningful understanding of public policy or even how government works at a basic level. By any fair measure, his ignorance and incompetence about affairs of state is unlike anything Americans have ever seen in a major-party presidential candidate. The question has long been when we can expect Trump to get up to speed.

And the answer is, he has no intention of doing any such thing. Day-to-governing and overseeing the executive branch apparently represent “the part of the job he doesn’t want to do.”

President Trump, in other words, would prefer to be more of a big-picture kind of guy who isn’t overly concerned about details and roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work.

As for who, exactly, might be the best person to “do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do,” Manafort added that there’s a “long list” filled with contenders who have “major problems.”

We should not, however, expect to see diversity on the Republican ticket. Choosing a woman or a member of a minority group to run as vice president, Manafort said, “would be viewed as pandering, I think.”

As for what else we learned from the interview:

* Manafort thinks Trump will be elected president easily. “This is not a hard race,” he said.

* The campaign chairman believes Trump may “moderate” his proposed Muslim ban a little.

* We shouldn’t expect to ever see Trump’s tax returns.

* Manafort believes Trump won’t budge on building a border wall: “He is going to build a wall. That is a core thing with him.”

As for the GOP candidate’s ability to demonstrate his preparedness for the Oval Office, Manafort added, “Does he know enough? Yes, because he knows he has more to learn.”

I’m honestly not sure what that means – it sounds like he’s saying Trump knows enough because he knows he doesn’t know enough – but in Trump Land, making sense is generally an annoyance that’s better left to others.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 26, 2016

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Executive Branch, Governing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Is Empowering Extremists In Congress”: His Campaign Will Do Damage Even If He Loses In A Landslide

Every once in a while, I have to remind folks of some basic facts about Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. This is one of those times.

In 1986 (otherwise known as the year of Iran-Contra), President Ronald Reagan nominated Beauregard the Third to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. During the Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination, it became clear that Sessions suffered from a common conservative fear: namely, mouth-rape.

Like so many of his Republican brethren, Sessions was terrified of having things “rammed down his throat” by the NAACP, ACLU, or some “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” guy who might decide to attack his home with a small arsenal.

When it became clear that Jefferson Beauregard the Third was not only named for the president of the Confederacy and one its more effective generals, but actually held the same beliefs in common with those two gentlemen, the Judiciary Committee declined to send his nomination to the floor. Alabama Senator Howell Heflin decided that Sessions was simply too racist to serve on the bench in Alabama, and so Reagan had to go back to the drawing board.

Of course, Sessions got his revenge by getting elected to the same Senate that had rejected him as a judge and then winning an appointment to the same Judiciary Committee that had declined to send his nomination to the floor. Keeping Alabama racism at bay is like trying to drown a cork, and Sessions soon defined himself as one of the most extreme and intemperate opponents of Latino immigration in this country’s power structure. He was also the first U.S. Senator to endorse Donald Trump, and that’s now paying dividends.

In the Senate, Jeff Sessions (R-AL) may not have been a backbencher, but his extreme positions on immigration relegated him to the fringe of his party during the 2013 immigration debate when many Republicans came out publicly in support of giving immigrants a chance to stay in the U.S. legally if not a path to citizenship. After the Republican National Committee’s autopsy report outlined the need to make inroads with Hispanic voters, Sessions’ positions were seen as a relic of the past. Now, he is smack dab in the middle of the Trump campaign…

…”He’s right now the congressional guy most connected to the campaign so right now if there is any question about anything we want to raise with the campaign, he’d probably be the guy you’d want to go through,” says Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of the GOP leadership team.

Something similar has happened over on the House side, where Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania and Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee have seen their profile and influence rise substantially as a result of their early endorsements of Trump.

Barletta rose to prominence as the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he enacted a series of local ordinances that were so anti-immigrant that they were ultimately ruled unconstitutional. His reward was a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Party of Lincoln.

Scott DesJarlais was recently dubbed “America’s worst congressman” by the National Review, and for once the Review had a good point.

In 2014, [DesJarlais] won his primary election by 38 votes after reports surfaced that DesJarlais, a doctor, “had sexual relationships with two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative.” It was reported that in one instance the anti-abortion advocate had encouraged one of the women he’d had a brief affair with to have an abortion.

I know that winning by 38 votes is not a lot, but is there anything a Republican can do besides agree to pay our bills on time that will get them beaten in a primary?

In any case, DesJarlais is no longer the House Republicans’ biggest embarrassment:

As establishment Republicans in Washington come around to a bombastic Trump, DesJarlais has emerged as a liaison between skeptics, the media and the Trump campaign, massaging fears that Trump is a loose cannon with promises that Trump is more reserved and thoughtful behind the scenes.

DesJarlais says he helped organize a meeting between the Freedom Caucus board and Trump’s campaign operative Paul Manafort last week. And before Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan last month, DesJarlais was one of a handful of members who sat down with the speaker and encouraged Ryan to unite behind the nominee.

As for Barletta, Talking Points Memo reports that he “now spends more time in the middle of the action and has sent his policy ideas over to Trump on immigration.”

If history is our guide, those ideas on immigration policy are probably unconstitutional.

So, we begin to see something take form, which is how the rise of Trump will change the Republican Party by empowering some of its worst people.

In this way, Trump’s campaign will do damage to our country even if he loses in a landslide.

And that’s not even considering what it will do to your neighbors who find ways to excuse Trump’s moral lapses and hate-baiting, thereby losing a tight grip on their moral compasses.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 25, 2016

May 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Inside Donald Trump’s Secret Policy Shop”: Yet Another Reinvention To Transform From Entertainer To Candidate

In the fall of 2015, Donald Trump had an early attempt at reinvention, releasing a series of tax and veterans administration proposals with the intention of adding some policy substance to the businessman’s rhetoric.

It was one of Trump’s first attempts to transition from entertainer to candidate—a common narrative that has failed to last more than a day or two. In fact, there have been so many reinventions—on so many topics—that it’s hard to know what version of Trump we’re on.

But he has established a pattern: as much as he derides the Washington establishment, if he sees that a reinvention is needed, he’ll find an insider to help him do it. This was the case with the recent hires of longtime D.C. lobbyist Paul Manafort and former Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley.

The veterans and tax plan were no different.

Initially, it was a mystery who wrote the plans that Trump had put out—the only hint was an $82,000 charge for in policy consulting work listed in Trump’s campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission under the name ‘JBC Research, LLC,’—payments which started in the fall and ended in December 2015.

The author, it turns out, is one of the best-known policy and opposition researchers in D.C.

The company has not been associated with any other federal campaigns, and there is nothing specific about it online. The only indication of who JBC Research might be affiliated with was the address listed on the Trump campaign’s filing: the eighth floor of a building just south of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

If you go to the front desk and asks for JBC Research, you’ll be directed to the offices for Delve, a recently-formed opposition research firm founded by GOP operative Jeff Berkowitz, a veteran of the Republican National Committee, the State Department and the George W. Bush White House—not exactly the first person you’d expect to be involved in the Trump campaign.

Berkowitz, according to his LinkedIn page, specializes in “competitive intelligence and opposition research for companies, campaigns and causes.” He worked on a presidential campaign for Rudy Giuliani, who is supporting Trump. He is a longtime activist for conservative and Republican causes stretching back to the 1990s.

But nowhere online or in his LinkedIn page is ‘JBC Research’ listed.

JBC Research is an entity separate from Delve that focuses only on policy work, Berkowitz told The Daily Beast, and JBC Research did not do any opposition research for the Trump campaign.

“Last summer, a mutual associate familiar with our policy analysis capabilities asked us to assist in developing policy papers connecting the campaign’s vision with tried and true conservative policy proposals on tax reform, economic growth, and support for our veterans,” Berkowitz said. “We’re happy to have assisted in developing these specific proposals, as we have done for any number of center-right campaigns and clients.”

Their work for the Trump campaign finished in October, with payments through December 2015—and no further work was done or requested, Berkowitz said.

This week Trump is trying yet another reinvention, with a series of speeches intended to demonstrate his intellectual fitness for office, starting with a foreign policy talk Wednesday. That’s an attempt to reboot after he announced a roster of foreign policy advisers in March who were mostly unknown in national security circles—including one who listed the questionable credential of participating in a model United National conference on his LinkedIn page.

Odds are that he’ll have paid for, and will do his best Wednesday to sound like, the Beltway experts he so often likes to bash—at least when he’s not paying to tap their ideas.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: