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“The Great Humbug Of Donald Trump”: Instead Of Substance, We Will Get More Circus Coverage Leading The News

Thanks to the world-class narcissist now driving the Republican clown car, it ought to be clear to Americans just how badly the donor class has lost control of the presidential primaries, which they once had rigged to dictate who we could vote for.

Millions of Americans seem not to grasp that Donald Trump’s campaign is a mirage, an inchoate blending of the political/showbiz film satires Wag the Dog and Simone, thrown together with all the integrity of P.T. Barnum’s notorious FeeJee Mermaid.

On Wednesday, one of the dimmer figures in the presidential race threw a spotlight on what we should all be seeing clearly: Trump threatens the continued existence of the Republican Party.

That’s because Donald Trump’s campaign is built on hate mongering and discord, while a growing body of surveys, polls, focus groups, and an analysis of demographic trends shows that Americans are embracing the progressive ideals in our Constitution. Whether it’s marriage equality or a path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally, the tide of history is against not only Trump, but the 15 other Republican candidates who all broadly side with him — just in more subtle language.

And I’m not the one saying that the Republican Party may soon go the way of the Whigs (last seen in 1854).

No, that insight comes from former Texas governor Rick Perry, who’s currently taking a back seat in the clown car.

Fortunately for the donor class, most political reporters only heard Perry say “Trumpism” is a “cancer on conservatism.”

That line alone just doesn’t capture his overall point. Neither did most of the coverage of the rigorously written, nuanced speech that Perry read.

Trump, Perry said, is selling “a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition” unless Trumpism is “clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded.”

Perry also made note of Trump’s rare appearances in church, an apparent effort to undercut conservative Christian support. After all, when it comes to religion, The Donald is a devotee of Mammon, but he’s angling for support from primary voters who think GOP stands for God’s Own Party.

The new reality that political reporters obscured is this:

We once had a primary system that required candidates to genuflect before the oligarchs. But now one low-level oligarch is thumbing his nose at the rest of them — and under this new system, the much richer oligarchs, from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch brothers, are as helpless to shape the direction of events as — well, as the mass of voters who don’t have billions to donate.

The Republican nightmare is that Trump doesn’t need donors to stay in the race. The power of all that Koch and Adelson money is discounted, the way Trump sometimes pays creditors just pennies on the dollar.

And so while candidates who never had a chance anyway – Carson, Huckabee, Jindal, Pataki, and Perry among them – will be forced to withdraw for lack of donations, Trump can party on. And Trump told “Morning Joe” Scarborough Friday that if he is denied the nomination, he might run as an independent — unless the Republican establishment starts treating him respectfully.

Political reporters are missing the big story because they get rewarded for covering the horse race, not the issues; for going with the herd, not standing apart. Step apart from the herd and you’ll get picked off, perhaps by an editor or anchor taking a shot at you from the home office, perhaps by the hyenas on the campaign staff.

Telling the news the candidate’s handlers want told, regurgitating manufactured controversies, and highlighting gaffes – those are the stories that make the careers of campaign reporters.

And, besides, it’s easier to focus on who is ahead in the polls than it is to actually learn important policy matters — such as how raising the minimum wage affects job creation, how tax cuts affect various income classes, or the significance of the words “corruption of blood” in the Constitution.

Instead of substance, we will get more circus coverage leading the news. Bowing to that reality, here are two things we know for sure about Trump’s fortune. And it should get some media attention because Trump wants us to judge him by the contents of his wallet, so:

  • Trump is worth at least $1 billion, but no verifiable evidence exists to support his exclamations that his net worth is more than $10 billion.
  • Trump reported that his production company took in just $4 million over the last 18 months for Apprentice and other Trump television properties, far below the $65 million annual fee he put out in 2011, a number so absurdly unrealistic that his broadcaster, NBC, derided it as “grossly inaccurate.”

Other news we still have yet to see make the major news reports: Donald’s long, unsavory connections to businesses run by organized crime and the lawsuits by minority workers at multiple Trump companies complaining about harassment.

But the lack of that coverage is no more surprising than Barnum’s avoiding hard questions about his fake mermaid.

 

By: David Cay Johnston, The National Memo, July 24, 2015

August 2, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Media | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“A Regrettable Ignorance”: Don’t Know Much About History, Rick Perry Edition

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), still an unannounced presidential candidate, campaigned in New Hampshire last week and told a group of voters that he and Abraham Lincoln share an ideological bond.

“Lincoln read the Constitution, and he also read the Bill of Rights, and he got down to the Tenth Amendment, and he liked it,” Perry boasted. “That Tenth Amendment that talks about these states, these laboratories of democracy…. The Tenth Amendment that the federal government is limited, its powers are limited by the Constitution.”

It’s easy to understand how the Texan might be confused. Lincoln and Perry share a party label, so the former governor apparently assumes they share a political outlook, too. And given that Lincoln was arguably the nation’s greatest president, it stands to reason that the Texas Republican, like most candidates, would want to associate himself with the Lincoln legacy.

The problem, however, is that Perry has no idea what he’s talking about. Josh Zeitz, who taught American history and politics at Cambridge and Princeton, explained the other day that the former Texas governor “got Lincoln backwards” and Perry’s entire argument “betrays a regrettable ignorance of Lincoln’s political outlook.”

Before he reluctantly became a Republican, Abraham Lincoln was a lifelong Whig – a party founded in opposition to Andrew Jackson and in support of a strong and active central state…. A passionate supporter of Henry Clay’s “American System,” Lincoln believed that states should ultimately be subordinate to a strong federal government, and that Washington had a big role to play in matters as far and wide as internal improvements, currency, banking and taxation. […]

As president, Lincoln vastly expanded the federal government’s role…. Maybe Rick Perry spent too much time reading from those widely disputed history and government standards that the Texas Board of Education, in its infinite wisdom, foisted on textbook publishers. Whatever the cause, he’s confusing Abraham Lincoln – erstwhile Whig and promoter of a strong central government – for a strict Tenth Amendment devotee. That, he certainly was not.

As Jon Chait reminded me, Perry has also flirted openly with the idea of state secession, which probably wouldn’t have impressed the president who won the Civil War.

In 2009, the then-governor was so eager to show his contempt for President Obama that Perry denounced the United States government as “oppressive,” arguing that it was “time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas.” Soon after, he said he doesn’t want to “dissolve” the union of the United States, “But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

Around the same time, Perry said of Texas, “[W]hen we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”

I won’t pretend to be a Lincoln scholar, but I’m comfortable describing the iconic American president as someone who wasn’t comfortable with the idea of state secession.

All of this must be terribly inconvenient for Republicans. Lincoln believed in a strong federal government, a progressive income tax, and considerable infrastructure investments, making him sound an awful lot like a Democrat by 21st-century standards. Indeed, some conservatives who’ve read up on Lincoln see him as something of an enemy – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) co-wrote a book with a neo-Confederate who boasted that he raises “a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth’s birthday.”

Perry may want to take Lincoln back as some kind of conservative hero, but he’ll have to ignore literally every historical detail to make the case to unsuspecting voters.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 17, 2015

February 19, 2015 Posted by | Abraham Lincoln, Republicans, Rick Perry | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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