I think I get this phenomenon. Mainstream media articles to the effect of, “Trump voters sure love Trump!” is essentially these institutions saying, “We don’t get these people, but we acknowledge that they exist!” It’s not really news so much as it is partly an overreaction to miscovering Trump for the entire election, partly blue staters gawking at red staters a la J.D. Vance or whatever the fuck his name is, partly the eternal delusion that this sort of thing will get them to listen to the MSM again. I don’t really think there was a “good” reason to vote for Trump but I know why people did. It’s really not like trying to figure out the ending to the movie Enemy.

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I actually agree with this, but it misunderstands both Trump and his supporters. Trump has abandoned essentially all of the populist positions he once espoused and his voters still embrace him. That’s not where their hearts were. It probably would have been better for his overall approval numbers to start with infrastructure but there’s a reason they led with nativism and why they’re sticking with it. And then there’s the problem that passing complex, large legislation is complicated and requires patience and resilience. Being a DISRUPTOR doesn’t. That blends nicely with golf weekends.

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I guess we’re arguing whether Hillary Clinton was the worst candidate in history or not again. I’m sort of bored by the topic but here goes. Clinton won 48%, pretty much exactly what John Kerry won in 2004. Trump won 46%, just slightly better than John McCain did in 2008. Both candidates more or less replicated (in percentages) the worst result their party achieved this century. It makes sense considering that both were very unpopular candidates. Which is why this Pierce piece strikes me as asinine. “Trump was actually pretty great” is something that will make Clinton supporters feel a bit better about having backed a candidate who twice lost elections deemed to be unloseable, but it just doesn’t add up. Trump won the nomination because the other major contenders were either tainted or had flaws that made them unpalatable. He managed a whopping 39% of the vote there. Trump’s general election win was largely dumb luck to such an extent that he didn’t even think would happen, Comey plus a fluke of the electoral system. It undoubtedly makes people feel better to build Trump up to argue that Clinton was actually a great candidate who just got beaten by a better one, but in actuality she and Trump were both pretty bad. The real difference is that Republican elites largely kept their distance from Trump until the election while Democratic elites nearly unanimously supported Clinton. That she failed twice makes them look bad. So it’s no surprise this sort of revisionism would appear.

In retrospect, Pierce was more right about Clinton a year ago than he is now. It’s a fair assessment that has aged well and got at what the problems would become. At any rate, Clinton isn’t the worst candidate in history or even the worst that Democrats have ever nominated (James Cox, Harding’s opponent, is my pick for the worst ever). But a large part of the party–including regular voters–deluded themselves about her abilities, which did not really include communication skills, media skills or particularly storytelling skills. No particular problem with a senator but fatal in a presidential candidate or president. I don’t blame Dem leaders to the extent that I blame Republican elites for not abandoning Trump out of patriotic motives (which they clearly didn’t possess), or media elites for jumping through Jason Chaffetz’s hoops and clinging to “both sides” bullshit, but their share is not zero. What does it mean going forward? Probably nothing. I doubt Chelsea Clinton ever runs for president. Still, while I might be willing to buy “Obama was a once in a lifetime event” as an excuse for her 2008 loss, I’ll be damned if I accept “Trump was a once in a lifetime event” for her 2016 loss. That’s one too many lifetimes for me, unless we’re arguing that Hillary Clinton is, in actuality, a cat.

 

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So I see lots of ads which I know for a fact are dishonest. You must too. “Trump’s changing mortgage rates!” or something similar is one I’ve been seeing a lot. I know he’s done nothing about this. It made some sense seeing these with Obama because he made big moves related to housing (but few, alas, on helping people suffocated by their mortgages), but “Trump” and “mortgages” haven’t even been together in the headlines. I’m not a homeowner (obvs, I live in the Bay Area and I’m not a tech executive), but given that the Trump Mortgage Relief Act of 2017 doesn’t exist, is this anything more than one group of Trumpians fleecing another? I can’t imagine very many liberals clicking through those ads, as an association with Trump would be poison. If so, brilliant microtargeting guys!

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It’s not me shitting on Bernie Sanders. It’s reality:

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates there’s no such thing as Trump voters remorse.

As President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any president in polls since 1945, 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do it again today.

The majority of those surveyed said Trump does not have the judgment or temperament to serve as president.

I’m not arguing that there aren’t any votes in what he’s trying to do, but basically all of the assumptions that Sanders appears to be operating under make zero sense, nothing more than common (even banal) Democratic wish fulfillment and intuition not based on facts. Virtually any liberal will bemoan the huge number of white working class voters who choose racism (or opposition to abortion, etc.) over their own economic interests. And yet they do. Perhaps better messaging will improve things a bit. Perhaps better policy positions will as well. But it’s insane to declare choice negotiable when there are demonstrable voters who probably wouldn’t vote Democrat (or at all) if the party dropped the choice stance it currently has, and few demonstrable voters who would join the party if they did. I don’t object to Joe Biden/Tim Kaine type Democrats who have their private views but also have more or less the right policy (though I don’t really give a shit about their grappling over it), but there’s zero point in promoting people actively working against choice. And while at one time there was certainly a constituency for this sort of politics, its last few practitioners have been looking for the exits in recent years: Stephen Lynch flipped when he ran for Senate, Tim Ryan also did essentially out of nowhere (probably in advance of a statewide run, but he’s won re-election since). Frankly, the entire notion smacks of paternalism and self-righteousness, and maybe even some desperate escapism when confronted with the realities of white conservative America. None of these give me much confidence in Sanders as a leader of progressivism.

Of all the possible outcomes I had in mind for Bernie Sanders in 2017, turning into a David Broder/David Gergen type with more lefty economic ideas wasn’t really one I had banked on. It’s a little disappointing.

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This is what it looks like, folks:

Among the 210 named by Mensch are individuals and entities who do have obvious or reported ties to the Russian government and intelligence agencies, ranging from WikiLeaks — which has denied that accusation — to the anonymous hacker Guccifer 2.0 to the Kremlin-owned news agency Sputnik. Mensch’s specific allegations draw on the reality of a large-scale and widely documented Russian campaign to influence the US election. But in many cases, she lacks strong, or any, evidence connecting her targets to that campaign.

In addition to the journalists, media personalities, and politicians, among those fingered are a Twitter comedian, a fake White House staff account, and a 15-year-old girl who Mensch suggested does not actually exist except as a Kremlin fabrication (BuzzFeed News interviewed the teenager via phone after first visiting her home).

Mensch’s criteria for accusing someone of being under Russian influence vary. Sometimes she cites her own and others’ reporting. In some cases, she points out suspicious geotags and catfishing attempts. In others, mangled English syntax appears to be enough to prove Russia ties. She has accused people of being affiliated with Russia simply for disagreeing with her or calling her theories far-fetched, but she has also called someone a Russian agent for being too enthusiastic about her own theories.

And before anyone says, “But there is definitely something there with Trump and Russia!” it’s worth keeping in mind that there was also something there with the stuff McCarthy was alleging too. There were Soviet spies in the government! The problem is means, not ends. You can carefully sift and arrange facts and derive from them what you can like Josh Marshall does, or you can just cite anonymous sources and create wild accusations. The only meaningful difference between Louise Mensch and Joe McCarthy (aside from holding US public office) is that the former names names while McCarthy kept things much more vague. That allowed McCarthy to keep the grift going a lot longer than Mensch will.

There’s every reason there’s something seriously off about Trump and Russia, and it would be great if that brought down his presidency, but this is nothing but a con job (which was also true of McCarthy, largely). Anyone who takes her seriously is going to reap what they sow.

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Sure, a Big Carbon hack is running the EPA, but the politics of opposition to his worthless blatherer boss and his nostalgia file energy policies could wind up spurring state and local efforts to deal with climate change, which could build momentum nationally after he’s gone. Case in point: big deal type things going on along these lines in the Bay Area. The effects are limited for now to Democratic areas, though there should be more of those come 2019.

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Sort of, in a way. Chait’s excellent article on Trump’s TV submissiveness contains this bit:

Nothing epitomizes the grip of television ephemera upon Trump’s mind like the upcoming milestone of his administration’s 100th day. Reporters have long used this artificial marker to issue extremely provisional assessments of a new presidency. Obama dismissed the occasion as a media concoction. (“It’s the journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday,” a senior administration official said eight years ago.) Trump has greeted the upcoming deadline with the utmost gravity. Trump’s staffers “said the 100-day mark is taking on significant importance for the president, who has already referenced upcoming cable television specials in conversations with aides,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “One hundred days is the marker, and we’ve got essentially two and a half weeks to turn everything around,” one White House official told Politico.

The thing is, while correct on the narrower issue of 100 days being entirely arbitrary, I’m not really sure you can call Obama’s approach the far superior one. So many of his victories simply vanished into the ether because he didn’t care to publicize them. Thinking that they’d “speak for themselves” or whatever was ridiculous, probably one of the bigger signs of Obama’s lack of seasoning. It’s fair to say that Trump’s too obsessed with publicity, but (all else being equal) it’s not a bad thing to build things up a bit and exercise a little showmanship. Trump’s problem is that really all he has to offer is his publicity expertise, scoring an absolute zero on matters of character, ability, and intellect. And given how much attention that the president gets, as opposed to being one of seventeen candidates struggling for attention, there’s a real limit to how helpful publicity can be. It’s extremely plausible that his obsession with having a big win for 100 days will shutdown the government, which would be perfectly ironic and, again, an outcome worth rooting for.

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