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How did Trump win the primaries? I’ve been working on a theory that he essentially did to the Republican Party what they’ve been doing to American society for the past two generations: divided and conquered it with polarization. He split off the Bush people, turned their latest office contestant into a despised joke and let Jeb! die off quietly. (The irony of the father’s tolerance of racebaiting (via Ailes and Atwater) creating a new GOP in which the son could not find purchase is both rich and satisfying, as is his being alive to see it.) Then Trump split the religious right into Trump and Cruz camps and turned Cruz into a pariah among many of the voters he needed, undermining Cruz’s integrity by calling out his aggressive tactics, making a mockery of any claim to moral leadership. He outsourced the work of taking down Rubio to Chris Christie, and then added Christie to his team. He basically ignored Kasich, which was the smart move there. So he won with 38%, likely the absolute maximum he could have gotten, but it was perfectly orchestrated so as to be enough. Karl Rove would toast him if he weren’t too busy crying into his beer.

Which is what makes this so comical. The notion that Democrats are “choosing” Muslims over LGBT people by, I guess, not supporting Trump’s immigration policies is a perfect example of why Trump’s skill set worked so brilliantly in the primaries but does not scale up to the general election. A wedge issue is only successful if the larger group actually supports it, and the Muslim ban does not do well outside of Republican primary voters. Seems obvious to me that Trump’s already used up his ammunition on Hillary and it did nothing, while the Democrats have just begun to hit Trump.

Given how poorly it’s going for Trump, you have to figure the odds of a convention coup are rising, but that cure would probably be worse than the disease. The only way it ends less than catastrophically for them is if Trump takes himself out of the race, and the likelihood of that depends on how much of a team player you think Trump to be.

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POLLYANNA-2As I showered this morning, I came up with another bit of perhaps overly Pollyanna-ish logic.  Considering that Trump is, in all likelihood, according to several respected commentators, going to be an epic catastrophe in a general election fight, Democrats on the downballot are going to have an even better chance of taking over the Senate, and, please jeebus, the House, and certainly some state-level offices.

Before I come up with my ultimate point, let’s bear a few things in mind:

  1. The economy is much improved from 2008 so the panic surrounding people’s lives collapsing is less omnipresent.
  2. Bernie has (a) stirred up a huge amount of energy for truly liberal ideas, (b) somehow taken at least some of the sting out of the term socialist, and (c) brought more attention to the perils of income inequality and our rigged system.
  3. Hillary has demonstrably shifted left on some issues in response to the Bernie phenomenon.  (Let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s all for show.)
  4. The last eight years have seen a complete decimation of New Democrats in Congress, wiping out many in the squishy centrist center, and especially a good number of Chickenhawk-Lites.
  5. Republicans have gone so completely insane that drawing a contrast with Democratic candidates is going to be easier than ever before (even if some of them might not be as progressive as we’d like).  (A timeless John Cole quote on Congressional “bipartisanship” is apt: “Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax.”  Hard to split the difference on that one.)

With all that in mind, I think we’ll be in very good shape if we take the Senate and/or House in November.  The last time we had all of Congress and the Presidency, it was a pretty mixed bag, in large part because of the aforementioned New Democrats and Chickenhawk-lites.  Way too many people were out there prostrating themselves at the grimy feet of Joe Lieberman.  Couple that with the hard lessons learned by many Democrats through the long days of Republican obstruction control of Congress, which has led to absolute and long-standing gridlock, and the realization that working with Republicans is mostly a fool’s game, it’s not crazy to think that we might get some real progressive reform out of a government led entirely by Democrats.  Moreover, throw in the Supreme Court, and I get a bit giddy.  What do you think?

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I’ve smelled some nasty brain-excrement from Rich Lowry before, but this dump really takes the cowpie:

[Trump’s] proposed Muslim ban is a mistake. It communicates a hostility to all Muslims and, besides, is unworkable.

[But………]

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies outlines a more sensible course. He suggests a return to a Cold War-era ideological test for new arrivals, geared to the new struggle against radical Islam. It would ask potential immigrants questions such as whether they support killing religious converts or homosexuals. Anyone answering “yes” would be excluded. Applicants could lie, but at least such an exercise would send a signal about what constitutes a lowest-common denominator of American civic life.

Overhauling the entire immigration system just to send a meaningless “signal” to all those suspicious Muslims?  Seriously?

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There’s a pretty simple way to get TykPEover squeamish second amendmenters who complain about banning people on the Terrorist Watchlist from buying guns (because of due process, blah blah blah).  Just pass a law requiring the FBI or local authorities to investigate whenever someone on the list tries to buy a gun.  That way, it’s not a complete ban.

Problem solved.  You’re welcome.

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The reason John McCain is saying this is because of this. It would be glorious for him to lose on this note.

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I can’t imagine who would be better suited to be Donald Trump’s running mate than Newt Gingrich, and I’d be quite surprised if it doesn’t happen. As the prototypical “stupid person’s idea of a smart person” alone, Gingrich should be irresistible to Trump. As a longtime (and extremely successful) purveyor of the nastiest form of partisanship, thinly veiled race hatred and entitlement-shredding (admittedly, he was rather less successful on the last one) who still somehow managed to be respected by the press for ages, Gingrich should be an unusually helpful asset (and mentor) for Trump. Like Trump, he’s a serial exaggerator and resume-inflater (his claims to have “brought down” Jim Wright are a bit undermined by the fact that every ethics charge he brought against Wright was dismissed). And given Trump’s contempt for the media, you can’t top this:

Come on, how can Trump pass that up? What, he’s going to pick some loser like Tim Pawlenty?

(Incidentally, I continue to think that Gingrich is more right than not on the substance of that clip, although coming from the man who spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars investigating Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior, the unacknowledged hypocrisy is massive.)

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