“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
It’s something I always figured would happen, and now it has. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is now public enemy #2 to the conservative media, after the president. The Justice Department’s initial decision to remove mentions of ISIS or the Islamic State from the transcript of conversations between Orlando massacre shooter Omar Mateen and the police not only showcase Lynch’s supposed incompetence, but also her inability to recognize what they see as America’s gravest threat: “radical Islam.” And the recent release of the full unredacted transcript has done little to dampen their ire.
Breitbart, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Fox News, and more have become apoplectic with indignation. “The Orlando attack confirms Donald Trump’s analysis of the threat,” wrote Joel B. Pollack of Breitbart.
Lynch’s press conference in Orlando only increased their fury after she encouraged love in the face of hate and said that she did not know the present whereabouts of Mateen’s wife.
Sure, we’re all entitled to complain about how the transcript was released and the whereabouts of Mateen’s wife. Who can argue against it being better for the investigation if the shooter’s wife’s location is known and she has been questioned by authorities? Personally, I’m not too bothered by how the transcript was released, but I also don’t think “radical Islam” is our gravest domestic threat. Yet dismissing the importance of compassion, unity and love in the face of terror and hate is not only bizarre and dehumanizing, but perpetuates a divisive us vs. them narrative.
It is clear that they dislike her because she’s an Obama appointee—her arduous confirmation process is proof enough—but also, her fairness toward other groups signals an end to the predominantly pro-white male favoritism they have grown accustomed to. As a black woman, her experiences, perspectives, priorities and struggles will naturally clash with theirs. The increasingly polarized and radicalized conservative base also means that reason and compromise will be shunned, demonization will be encouraged, and that Lynch would inevitably climb up their hit list.
Lynch’s nomination was delayed for over 160 days. That is longer than the nomination process of the previous seven AGs combined. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has well-known racial issues of his own, led the charge against Lynch’s confirmation based on her support for Obama’s immigration executive actions. Senator Ted Cruz also vociferously disapproved of her confirmation. And many other Republicans wanted her to distance herself from outgoing AG Eric Holder before approving her.
Holder had a tumultuous relationship with Republican legislators to say the least, including being held in contempt in 2012 by the GOP-led House in relation their “Fast and Furious” investigation. Holder too found it inconceivable how long Lynch’s nomination was being delayed, especially since this meant that he had to stay in the job until she was approved.
The absurdity of her delay was so stark that Democratic Senator Dick Durbin compared it to Jim Crow Segregation by saying that Lynch was being asked to “sit in the back of the bus.” Republican Senator John McCain responded to Durbin by saying that it was beneath the decorum of the United States Senate to “suggest that racist tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch’s confirmation vote.”
Yet despite McCain’s ire, there’s a long history of racist tactics being used to prevent African American participation and advancement. And when you factor in nearly eight years of unprecedented Republican obstruction toward America’s first black president, combined with the opposition his two black AGs have faced from the GOP, these race-based accusations become even less outrageous.
Accusing the GOP of outright racism, especially since Donald Trump is their presumptive presidential nominee, and given the party’s opposition to virtually every civil-rights position that African Americans care about, is hardly an outrageous claim. But is it productive? Sure, some members may harbor racist or bigoted sensibilities, but does assigning a group an inflammatory label provide clarity in a complex situation? Does this label enable progress through compromise, or does it perpetuate an unhealthy polarization of our society?
Throughout Lynch’s tenure she’s applied an unbiased application of the law and a willingness to prosecute white-collar criminals and defend civil liberties and civil rights. These positions bizarrely appear antithetical to modern-day GOP ideology.
Few would have imagined the amount of corruption rife within FIFA, the world soccer body, until the Justice Department got involved. Following the terrorist attack by Dylann Roof at Emanuel AMC Church, Lynch announced that Roof would be charged with a hate crime after it was confirmed that white supremacist beliefs were the motivation for the attack.
She’s also launched a historic investigation into the Chicago Police department following the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. Hers and the Obama Administration’s stance in favor of allowing transgender people the right to use the restroom of the gender they identify with also continues her application of the law that prioritizes equality regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
The investigation into the Orlando shooting also follows this pattern since it demonstrates an unwillingness to demonize, demean, or unjustly label a person or a community until the facts are evident and the investigation has concluded.
The GOP’s dislike of Lynch, Obama, and Holder may be motivated by race, but it may also be far more complex than that. Yet there is very little doubt about how dangerous their myopic us vs. them mentality that encourages rushing to judgment and demonizing “them” has become. They’ve encouraged a prejudicial environment within a society where guns are readily available, and have a presumptive presidential nominee who has campaigned on stoking these societal divisions. This sounds like a dangerous radicalization that has nothing to do with Islam.
By: Barrett Holmes Pitner, The Daly Beast, June 27, 2016
“Dump Trump!”: Trump Winning Could Do More To Destroy The Republican Party Than A Messy Convention Fight In Cleveland
Have you noticed Donald Trump isn’t bragging about his poll numbers anymore?
With Trump down 12 points to Hillary Clinton in the latest Bloomberg poll, all of the clever-dick theories about the strength and momentum of the Trump campaign are disintegrating one after the other. There is no evidence that Trump is changing the configuration of the electoral map. There is no evidence that he is bringing in a huge new bloc of previously disaffected voters — instead it’s just the opposite. The theory that a terrorist attack would help Trump? Refuted when his polls continued to tank after the most deadly mass shooting in American history. Even the core “Trump voters,” non-college-educated white men, are turning on him. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 53 percent of them rated Trump unfavorably. Trump has to do light years better than Mitt Romney among this group to win. He’s failing, and he’s failing faster than any major party nominee in modern history.
The Republican Party should seek to deny him their nomination in Cleveland. Even if it means a messy convention fight in prime time. Even if it hobbles the nominee that eventually replaces Trump.
Their nominee is already hobbled, because he is Trump. Since Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination, it turns out that it was not just a few right-leaning ideologues and scribblers who think Donald Trump is unfit to be president. A significant portion of the GOP’s traditional coalition simply will not let Trump represent them. Many elected Republican officials think Donald Trump cannot be trusted with the awesome powers of the presidency. Trump’s disloyalty to Republican orthodoxy and the cartoonishly aggressive style that made him electrifying to his core group of primary supporters turn out to be enormous general election liabilities.
Some Republicans are quietly hoping Trump loses in November, and loses badly enough that the party can just move on afterward. But there’s a problem with this line of thinking. Trump has shown himself willing and able to inflict more damage on the party even after securing its nomination. He still refuses to bury the hatchet with Paul Ryan and other leaders. He will drag other Republicans to defeat with him, and he will wreck the party’s image for years to come.
Besides, there is still a minor risk that some other exogenous event makes Hillary Clinton unelectable. Say a terrorist attack happens featuring weapons from former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s unsecured stash. Or Clinton has a debilitating but not fatal stroke weeks before election day and simply disappears from the campaign trail. If his past is a preview of his presidency, Trump winning could do more to destroy the Republican Party than a messy convention fight in Cleveland.
Stopping Trump before the convention may not just be the civic-minded thing to do, it may be in the best interests of the Republican Party long term. If Clinton’s campaign somehow fails, Trump’s failures as president will still belong to the GOP.
Of course, a convention coup is likely to fail. Republicans have been notoriously slow-footed and uncoordinated in responding to Trump. And there are two major obstacles to its success. The first is the moral obligation that convention delegates feel to vote for the winner of their state or district. Trump may have only won a plurality of primary voters, but even if the Rules Committee unbinds the delegates, many will still feel morally obligated to vote for him on the first ballot. If that’s the case, Trump will be close enough to prevailing that the effort to deny him may stall out immediately.
The second obstacle is more familiar. His name is Ted Cruz. The Texas senator will come in with the biggest anti-Trump weapons, the loyalty of delegates who are pledged to him and the many party activists who admire him even if they are bound to Donald Trump. Cruz would be essential to organizing any coup at the convention. And as the next leading vote-getter, he would have demands — possibly including the nomination itself. While Cruz may be more electable than Donald Trump, it is by a margin so slim that the risks of a convention coup and riot in Cleveland may not seem worth trying. Many elected Republicans and big GOP donors view Cruz as treacherous and repellent. They won’t give his candidacy much more support than Trump’s.
Republicans will have to regroup as a party after 2016 anyway. The Trump challenge showed the deficiencies of Republican orthodoxy, and those must be addressed. But in the meantime, the best thing that the party can do is send Trump back to what he does best, welching on his creditors and selling over-priced garbage with his name on it.
By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, June 16, 2016
“Lazy And Ineffectual, But He Wants Her Endorsement”: Trump Decides He Likes New Mexico’s Governor After All
During the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump was so unimpressed with Ted Cruz, he gave the senator a nickname: Lyin’ Ted. Yesterday, however, Trump held a rally in California where he announced a change of heart.
“Ted Cruz is no longer a liar,” Trump declared. “We don’t see ‘Lyin’ Ted’ anymore. We love Ted, we love him.”
The Texas senator evidently isn’t the only beneficiary of Trump’s magnanimity. The Republican presidential hopeful is apparently mending fences with Karl Rove – who called Trump “a complete idiot” in the recent past – and the Sante Fe New Mexican published a report overnight that suggests Trump is even ready to cozy up to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).
In a stunning reversal of rhetoric and tone, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday said he respects New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and wants her endorsement. Trump’s comments in a phone interview with The New Mexican came just days after he castigated Martinez in front of 8,000 people in Albuquerque, saying her job performance was so poor that he might have to run for governor of New Mexico.
Trump’s criticisms of Martinez turned to praise Thursday, signs of their months long war thawing to a détente.
“I’d like to have it,” Trump said in a phone interview when asked if he wanted Martinez’s support. “I respect her. I have always liked her.”
Well, “always” appears to be an overstatement. It was literally last week when Trump appeared in New Mexico and told a local audience that Martinez, the nation’s first and only Latina governor, was lazy and ineffectual.
“We have got to get your governor to get going,” he said. “She’s got to do a better job, okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job…. She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on, let’s go, governor.”
Three days ago, Trump was asked about why he targeted Martinez. Apparently referring to the governor’s stated reluctance to appear with him publicly, Trump told reporters, “She was not nice. And I was fine – just a little bit of a jab. But she wasn’t nice, and you think I’m going to change? I’m not changing, including with her.”
That was Tuesday. Yesterday, however, Trump called the governor’s home-town newspaper, said he is changing his attitude towards Martinez, and he’d like her endorsement.
At a certain point, shouldn’t Trump’s erratic temperament warrant some scrutiny?
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 2, 2016
“If Democracy Goes Too Far”: ‘The Bullet Box’ Is An Option If The Ballot Box Fails, Says Gun-Rights Advocate
All Second Amendment enthusiasts are not the same. There are those who strongly believe in the right to bear arms for purposes of self-protection against criminals and for hunting and other sports usages. And then there are those who believe the ultimate purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep revolutionary violence on the table as a fallback plan if in their view “essential rights” are threatened, including gun rights themselves.
You can pretty clearly put many members of the Gun Owners of America, a group that considers the NRA a bunch of accomodationist squishes, in the latter category. The group’s longtime executive director, Larry Pratt, made that clear on his own radio show this week:
[T]he courts do not have the last word on what the Constitution is. They decide particular cases, they don’t make law. Their decisions, unlike the Roe v. Wade usurpation, don’t extend to the whole of society, they’re not supposed to. And we may have to reassert that proper constitutional balance, and it may not be pretty. So, I’d much rather have an election where we solve this matter at the ballot box than have to resort to the bullet box.
While Pratt’s term “bullet box” is attracting attention, this is a very old sentiment not just among gun enthusiasts but in broad swaths of movement conservatism. Recent proclamations in favor of the right to overthrow the government as essential to the maintenance of constitutional order have come from 2016 presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. But perhaps the clearest statement was made in 2012 by now-senator Joni Ernst, one of the GOP’s rising stars:
“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Ernst, of course, like other Second Amendment ultras, is implicitly arrogating to herself the right to decide when godless socialist tyranny — you know, things like Obamacare or environmental regulations or court-imposed reproductive rights — has gone so far that it’s time to bring out the shooting irons and start executing one’s enemies. But you have to wonder how people like Ernst and Cruz and Huckabee and Pratt would react if such rhetoric was coming from the political left — say, a black nationalist group. The right-to-revolution thinking really does boil down to Mao’s famous edict that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
For the present, it’s enough for Pratt to remind the rest of us that his tolerance for democracy and judicial supremacy has its limits, and if pushed too far, the “bullet box” is ever-ready.
By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 1, 2016