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“Duck And Cover”: To GOP Swiftboaters, “Democratic Socialism” Is A Politically Correct Term For ‘Handouts’ In The ‘Hood’

Do the folks who are concerned that Bernie Sanders would be swiftboated in a general election have a point?

Just as it is an article of faith among Sanders supporters that Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton is a “corporatist” who will stab progressives in the front if she becomes the 45th president, so too is it received wisdom among Clinton supporters that Sanders would be snapped in half by right-wing media/political operatives if he pulls off a political miracle and upsets Clinton for the Democratic nomination; the usual argument is that right-wing media/political operatives would exploit Sanders’s self-classification as a “democratic socialist” to run roughshod over him on November 8.

Yes, it’s true that right-wing media/political operatives labeled Obama a socialist in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, and the attack failed. However, it’s also true that Obama never labeled himself a socialist, democratic or otherwise.

Would Sanders really be a sitting duck in the fall? Sanders supporters point to polls showing that the Vermonter would be a stronger general-election candidate. However, Clinton supporters would obviously point out that Michael Dukakis was 17 points ahead of George H. W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election before right-wing media/political operatives unsheathed their machetes.

It is not irrational to be concerned that right-wing media/political operatives will exploit Sanders’s difficulties with black voters in a general election, promoting the idea that a Sanders administration will try to curry favor with African-Americans by lavishing largesse upon communities of color at the expense of working-class whites (especially the ones who have gravitated to Donald Trump). Right-wing media/political operatives (with Fox leading the charge, of course) will not hesitate to push the notion that “democratic socialism” is a politically correct term for “handouts in the ‘hood”; one cannot blithely dismiss the idea that a certain percentage of the voters who now say they would support Sanders over a Republican rival in a general election would be successfully seduced by relentless right-wing racial rhetoric in the weeks prior to Election Day.

Right-wing media attacks would not be Sanders’s only problem in a general election. It’s quite likely that mainstream-media outlets will also paint Sanders in the most negative light possible, in retaliation for Sanders’s extensive criticism of corporate-owned media entities. Presumably, the “corporate media” organizations the Vermonter has denounced would not be thrilled with the prospect of a President Sanders spending four to eight years condemning them daily from the bully pulpit of the White House, and encouraging Americans to stop reading and watching publications and programs connected to conglomerates. It’s entirely possible that mainstream-media outlets will be every bit as harsh as the conservative media will be towards Sanders, albeit for different reasons. You can imagine the perspective of the “corporate media” in this respect: Hey, Sanders isn’t being fair towards us; why the heck should we be fair towards him?

Does Team Sanders have a plan in place for dealing with tag-team trashing from conservative media and mainstream media in the event Sanders does the impossible and defeats Clinton for the Democratic nomination? If not, then the general-election savaging of Sanders will be remembered as the political equivalent of the chainsaw scene in Scarface.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 16, 2016

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialists, General Election 2016, Right Wing Media | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“What A Guy!”: Donald Trump’s Plan To Defeat Hillary Clinton Is Even More Delusional Than You’d Expect

The human brain has a magnificent capacity to adapt to bizarre circumstances and rationalize them as normal. Donald Trump’s chances of winning the Republican nomination — which even his skeptics (like me) now regard as plausible, and many consider likely or even inevitable — has caused a reconsideration of his standing with the public. Yes, polling data would suggest Trump is wildly unpopular with a solid majority of the public and would probably lose soundly. But polling data does not account for other, uh, factors imagined by Trump’s supporters, who now present their case to the media. “How Donald Trump Defeats Hillary Clinton” is the headline of a Politico story, and possibly the least convincing electability argument ever published in a mainstream publication.

The author, Ben Schreckinger, cites numerous arguments for why Trump would fare better than you think. Here are the most entertaining ones:

  1. Black people love him. “If he were the Republican nominee he would get the highest percentage of black votes since Ronald Reagan in 1980,” says Republican pollster Frank Luntz. “He behaves in a way that most minorities would not expect a billionaire to behave,” adds another pollster.

More likely, the Republican candidate to arrest the party’s deep decline among African-Americans is not going to be the candidate who spent his own money to whip up public demands for the execution of five African-Americans for a rape they did not commit, and who publicly questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. It is true that Trump does not behave the way minorities would expect a billionaire to behave, or, for that matter, the way white people would expect a billionaire to behave. You could expect a billionaire not to act like a racist buffoon. Trump’s non-stereotypical behavior does not necessarily give him special political appeal to the targets of his demagoguery.

  1. He has a brilliant plan to make Latinos stop hating him. “Trump minimizes his losses with Hispanics by running Spanish-language ads highlighting his support for a strong military and take-charge entrepreneurial attitude, especially in the Miami and Orlando media markets,” the story explains.

That’s all it takes! Just some Spanish-language ads in Miami and Orlando talking about the military and having a take-charge entrepreneurial attitude! Why didn’t Mitt Romney think of this?

  1. He’ll use Bill Clinton’s affairs against Hillary. Trump, continues Schreckinger, uses a weapon he has already begun to deploy: “He draws the starkest possible outsider-insider contrast with Hillary Clinton and successfully tars her with her husband’s sexual history.” Schreckinger allows that Trump running as a candidate of sexual propriety would be “audacious.” But there is also the problem of whether this tactic could succeed. Hillary Clinton’s popularity reached its highest level ever during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which suggests that voters are unlikely to punish her for being victimized by her husband’s infidelity.
  2. Trump will draw “extraordinary levels of working-class white voter turnout.” Somehow, though, all of this excitement he creates among voters who love Trump will not also excite countermobilization among voters who hate and fear him.
  3. If Republican pollsters can frame the election in a controlled setting, they can make voters agree. This part of the argument has to be read in its entirety to be believed.

[Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide] asked women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization who they respected more: a politician who is also charitable and a world-renowned businessman, father and grandfather or an “Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women.” The figure with the favorable abstract framing of Trump beat the figure with the negative abstract framing of Clinton by more than 20 points, according to Nunberg.

Well, okay. Likewise, if you asked some voters if they prefer a small-business owner who rose from poverty in an immigrant community over a bearded trial lawyer who murdered hundreds of thousands of Americans, they would report that they indeed believe John Gotti would make for a better president than Abraham Lincoln.

  1. Women can’t resist Trump. “He’s a masculine figure and that will attract women to him,” adds Nunberg. “It’s their dirty little secret. They like Donald Trump.”

Yes, Trump treats women with extreme levels of contempt, unashamedly valuing them entirely on the basis of their sex appeal, including his own daughter. But, hey, women obviously love him, as evidenced by the fact that they keep marrying him. The attraction will surely apply to voting as well. Women will feel drawn to him irresistibly. They may even want to vote against Trump, but they will find themselves physically unable to pull the lever for Clinton.

If you’re scared that Trump can win the election, you probably shouldn’t be.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 19, 2016

January 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Is Latest Version Of Long-Held Republican Strategy”: Trumpism Is Embedded In The Republican Party’s DNA

Is Donald Trump so different from Ted Cruz? From Ben Carson?

The Republican establishment is in a panic over the billionaire real estate mogul, whose poll numbers continue to rise despite (or because of) his racist and Islamophobic rhetoric, his lack of interest in the workings of government and his disdain for the boundaries of normal political discourse. Prominent Republicans are said to be mulling whether and when to try to trip Trump, opening a path for a different candidate.

Given the outlines of the GOP presidential contest so far, that would leave either Cruz, the senator from Texas, or Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, to take the lead. (Or perhaps Marco Rubio could edge in as the front-runner.) Currently, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, Trump has the allegiance of 30 percent of Republican voters, while Cruz draws 15.6 and Carson and Rubio are tied at 13.6.

Still, is Cruz so much more acceptable? The senator would trample the Constitution to end birthright citizenship and has insisted that Sharia law, a system of Islamic codes, is an “enormous problem” in the United States. Carson, for his part, has ruled Muslims unfit for the Oval Office, in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution.

That means at least 59 percent of Republicans support a candidate who bitterly disparages President Obama, who would trample the Constitution to discriminate against minority groups and who indulges birtherism — as Trump, Carson and Cruz have done. That’s what the GOP establishment ought to be worried about: its voters.

Of course, prominent Republican figures have pandered to and nurtured those racially tinged grievances in working-class white voters for more than half a century. It’s disingenuous of them to now pretend shock — horreur! — at Trump, who simply refuses to speak the coded language that party elders prefer. His racism and xenophobia are unvarnished, unsophisticated, unveiled.

But Trumpism is embedded in the Republican Party’s DNA, the cornerstone of its modern structure. Desperate to peel working-class whites away from their allegiance to the Democratic Party, associated since Franklin Roosevelt with the interests of the common man, the GOP played to the social and cultural fears and prejudices of less-educated whites with a Southern strategy honed by the late Lee Atwater, once a prominent Republican operative.

As Atwater put it: “By 1968 you can’t say (N-word) –that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites. … ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than (N-word, N-word.)”

Over the years, the Republican Party has refined and broadened that strategy. And it has been used by every Republican presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater, from Richard Nixon (“law and order”) to the sainted Ronald Reagan (states’ rights) to even the genteel George H.W. Bush (Willie Horton), cultivating the loyalty of working-class whites while simultaneously alienating black and brown voters. With the rise of a gay rights movement, homophobia has also become an honored tenet of that strategy.

When the nation elected its first black president in 2008, disaffected working-class whites became ever more resentful, many of them channeling their rage into a tea party movement that pledged to “take back” the country. How did the Republican establishment respond to that? By running from immigration reform, by indulging the birther movement, by disparaging Obama at every turn as a radical who would ruin the country and a weak-kneed coward who would give in to terrorists.

It worked. While a whopping 66 percent of Trump’s supporters believe Obama is a Muslim, a solid 54 percent of Republicans overall think the same thing, polls show. And 54 percent of Republicans also believe no Muslim should be elected president.

So the establishment wants to get rid of Trump? He may leave the race, but Trumpism is likely to linger for a long time.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, December 12, 2015

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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