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I wish somebody would ask Jill Stein how well having a large, left-wing third party is working out in Spain. Might be interesting.

(Spoiler alert: it’s kept the country’s awful conservative PM in office by splitting opposition and refusing to enter a coalition with the center-left party.)

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This is a fairly trivial gripe that I probably feel more intensely than I should, but I find it utterly bizarre that every negative story about a candidate apparently has to involve an analogy to Richard Nixon. Trump’s aggrieved and holds grudges? He’s like Nixon. Hillary’s secretive? Nixon. Trump’s love of power is Nixonesque. Clinton’s ambition is Nixonesque. Nixon. Nixon. Nixon. Is Nixon the Rosetta Stone of political flaws? I doubt it–more the first resort of the lazy pundit. I do have to laugh at the funny way the online Nixon vents about all of these, but one wonders why it’s always Nixon. We’ve had 43 other presidents whose entire lives and careers can also be compressed into a unidimensional cautionary allegory, after all. Back in the day Jimmy Carter was the other one this happened to regularly, but that’s fallen by the wayside a bit. Now it’s just Nixon. And it’s really gotten stale. If everybody’s Nixon then nobody’s Nixon: if you can find the same Nixonian flaws in all politicians then they’re simply not remarkable flaws. And if that’s the case, then who cares?

In all honesty, it’s probably just as simple as Boomer pundits unable to get over Nixon, and Americans being historically illiterate. But it doesn’t speak well of the media that they keep hammering Nixon while treating the actually disastrous George W. Bush with gentle bemusement and puff pieces about his art, and trying to sell the public on George H.W. Bush as a compelling and meaningful figure, when we all know he’s a forgettable mediocrity with a Rolodex the size of Jupiter. One struggles to find a point of view that encompasses all this, except that all presidents are great and wonderful except Richard Nixon. Which is one the one hand a little too generous and on the other a little too mean.

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DNC

It’s really a stretch to make a 0 of the liberty bell.

I will admit that I watched almost none of the Democratic National Convention live, for the simple reason that I do not need to. I watched most of it in 2008 and less in 2012, but these conventions seem tailor-made to be consumed in the digested form that the web facilitates: so much chaff that can be immediately discarded, and it really is so easy to scan through it, reading and watching only the important stuff. A lot better of a plan than spending four days watching mostly useless party functionaries blather on. I do have a few observations:

  • Overall, I think it went about as well as it could have gone. Unlike the GOP convention it did what it had to do without every single night winding up snarled in its own chaos. It’s worth noting that even the bad stuff wound up being fine: the Wasserman Schultz resignation, the emails and the Bernie-or-Busters had little impact on the convention and helped provide a frisson of tension that almost certainly helped boost ratings beyond the Republicans’ convention (thanks Putin!). People tuning in to watch a trainwreck saw a perfectly fine convention. A propos, nobody really liked DWS, it was between people who hated her and wanted her gone and people who hated her and didn’t want the fuss. Ditching her wound up being anticlimactic and quickly forgotten.
  • It was a very clever idea to appropriate many of the traditional Republican rhetorical themes that Donald Trump abandoned–you know, rah-rah patriotism, exceptionalism, treacly optimism, all that. I tend to find those themes insipid but I think Joe Sixpack doesn’t, and it was a smart choice that cost nothing of substance while setting up a favorable contrast with the Republican convention (and demoralizing Republican pundits).
  • There is some truth in this, though I don’t agree with the thrust of the piece. I could not give less of a shit what Michael Bloomberg thinks about anything but elites and the media certainly do, so giving him a slot to blather about the obessions of the Economist set (with the implicit understanding that he’s speaking only for himself) gives nothing away and may add a little something. If Democrats get people to vote for them based on meaningless symbolism then so much the better. Republicans have been doing it for years, it’s about time we gave it a try.
  • My general election prediction: Clinton 52-Trump 45, which relative to 2012 would mean a slightly better performance for Democrats and a significantly worse one for Republicans (and would be quite close to Bush-Dukakis 1988, ironically enough). No landslide, but wider than would have occurred if Republicans had been able to put off reaping fifty years’ worth of sowing for just one more cycle.
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Is anyone else just done with Catholic Democrat politicians and their delicate, angsty dance between the Church’s moral authority and their political prospects deeply-held moral beliefs on abortion? Look, it was a bit of a novelty back when Mario Cuomo was cutting that particular rug, but we’ve been through this a few too many times for me to really care anymore (not to mention the citation-fucking-needed that the Catholic Church still has any moral authority left to be reckoned with). Lemieux is right on the money with respect to Tim Kaine and his dumb mistake on abortion. Good thing Hillary picked the safe, boring, competent guy, right?

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One would think that convention bounces are the sorts of predictable, ephemeral things that data journalism and statistical predictions are supposed to account for and not be swayed by unless they’re really different from the norm, but apparently not. Just a reminder that “numbers” are only as good as the person interpreting them, and that people can often get out of them exactly what they want to get out of them. I have to admit that the complete transformation of Silver into a conventional wisdom-spewing celebrity pundit happened a bit faster than I expected, but between his abysmal performance in the Republican primaries and his model giving Trump an even shot because his polling peaked predictably after his convention but before Clinton’s, a more charitable explanation eludes me.

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Lev filed this under: ,  

Pretty difficult to imagine a narrative more lethal to Trump than “he’s another country’s patsy,” given the tenor of his campaign and the extremely Russophobic (and largely older i.e. Cold War remembering) folks that largely supply Trump’s base. No idea where the story will go, but given that he’s based his whole thing on assertive nationalism, even what’s out there now is pretty bad for him. You have to wonder if getting some cheap headlines (and the own goal of ending any of Wasserman Schultz’s political aspirations) was really worth it, but as we’ve established before, Vladimir Putin doesn’t really understand American politics.

I have pointed this out before, but the only people really shocked by Trump’s success were the mainsteam media and elite conservatives (particularly elite conservatives within the mainstream media). It was definitely different than what had happened before but, then again, having people like Ted Cruz and Joni Ernst as Republicans in good standing is different too. Even a decade ago they would have been correctly branded as Birchers and given no support. The notion that the apparatus that created them could then turn around and nominate Jeb! was dubious at the time, in retrospect, just insane.

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If you find today’s “Trump is gonna win!” meme already tiresome, close that 538 tab and read Sam Wang. Long story short, Trump’s bounce is about two points and solely due to Republicans coming home. And, of course, there’s about to be a Democratic convention, which makes all this beyond pointless. But famous pundits need pageviews, so…

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