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I tend to doubt that the Trumpian energy will simply “go away” after he (most likely) loses. Perhaps elite Republicans would like to tamp it down for a bit and retool, but that simply isn’t in the cards. One of the first things President Clinton would do would be to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice. My guess is that that person won’t be Merrick Garland, who will likely go down as President Obama’s final, futile olive branch of bipartisanship. Regardless of who it is, immigration politics will be at the heart of that confirmation process as well as the politics immediately afterward. A Dem SCOTUS will almost certainly reverse the Fifth Circuit’s finding against Obama’s unilateral immigration reform, or if that case has already been heard, then Clinton can (and will) simply issue a similar order in the sure knowledge that it would be upheld by the Court. Regardless, this fight will ensure that the Trumpian energy is given no time to dissipate within the Republican Party. It’s easy to imagine Trump himself rebounding from a big defeat by getting on FOX and screaming about immigration a lot. Maybe setting himself up for another run in 2020. Crazy to imagine, but does anyone really think Paul Ryan can stop him?

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Lev filed this under: ,  

Atrios delivers a fantastic piece about the “both sides” tendencies in the media. I think the point really needs to be made that the MSM and the GOP–the two institutions who created Trump–paved the way by essentially abandoning empiricism in their own ways. The Republican Party rejected empiricism in large part because it conflicted with deeply emotionally-held beliefs (e.g. guns) or because it conflicted with the financial interests of the people who own the party (e.g. climate change). (Though there’s a pretty porous membrane separating these categories, sure.) And the media rejected empiricism because they panicked when they lost so many customers to FOX and Rush, and have not stopped trying to get them back. Of course, they’ll never come back, and Bill Kristol will laugh all the way to the bank whenever some MSM outlet pays him to spout nonsense b/c “balance.” But ultimately that’s that “both sides” is about.

The thing is, of course, that when you refuse to run criticism of one particular party unless you can find something similar the other side has done (or unless a notable member of that party publicly opposes something they did), you tend to miss big stories. Like, oh, I don’t know, the rise of Trump. There are certainly ways in which Trump is unusual for a presidential nominee, but as an enemy of empiricism he fits squarely into current Republican trends. Bob Dole, at one point an avowed enemy of supply-side economics, actually picked nonsense budget pioneer Jack Kemp as his running mate. Dubya rejected environmental science, budget math, and any semblance of a realistic view of what could be done in Iraq. McCain ran almost entirely on his (media-recited) biography as a national hero and selfless servant, even though he divorced his first wife for getting fat and only became a naval aviator because his dad pulled some strings, enabling him to be an incompetent Maverick wannabe who crashed multiple planes (oh, and he picked a Victoria Jackson SNL character as his veep choice, despite running a campaign with the motto “country first”). Long story short, notwithstanding a truly harrowing spell in the Hanoi Hilton, McCain is a hypocritical, selfish asshole and always has been, but the media recreated him as this glittering Cincinnatus. Then there was Mitt Romney, whose aggressive assault on any notion of objective truth was truly breathtaking and paved the way for Trump in ways that doth make him protest too much. Sure, Trump is a little worse than Romney, but ultimately not all that much, and the progression is clear enough. The media, however, spent the last twenty years pretending that nothing had changed. Wages of suppressing any trace of a point of view, I guess.

Lev filed this under: ,  

There sure are a lot of unlikely suspects facepalming over Trump’s irresponsible bullshit:

Radio host Hugh Hewitt sparred with Donald Trump on his radio program Thursday morning, pressing the Republican presidential nominee on his claim that President Barack Obama was “the founder of ISIS.”

“Last night you said the president was the founder of ISIS,” Hewitt said. “I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”

“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump replied. “I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”

Hewitt pressed Trump, explaining that Obama has not been “sympathetic” to the terrorist organization, “hates them,” and is “trying to kill them.”

“I don’t care,” Trump said. “He was the founder. His – the way he got out of Iraq was that – that was the founding of ISIS, OK?”…

An exasperated Hewitt responded by saying he’d “just use different language to communicate” the message.


Even perennial champion of “both sides do it” journalism Ron Fournier has had enough.

I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know what Trump meant to suggest when he said, “maybe there is” something Second Amendment supporters can do to prevent Clinton from picking judges.

But it almost doesn’t matter what Trump meant to say, because of the truth in this maxim about leadership: What you say isn’t nearly as important as what people hear you say.

What did people hear?…  They heard Trump say there is nothing a gun-rights advocate can do to stop her from appointing liberal judges.  They heard him say, wait—maybe there is something you can do…

If Trump meant to incite violence, he should be in jail. If this was an accident—if Trump doesn’t understand the danger he loaded into his language; if he doesn’t know how to measure his words—he should not be president.

(Yes, he did throw in a weak bit about a vaguely similar incident in the 2008 election but even he granted that it wasn’t a very apt.)


How do you deal with stupidity this severe?

The Trump backers I sampled at random all thought the election could be stolen… Connie Jagger reasoned that a Trump defeat would necessarily mean a stolen election because Trump’s crowds are bigger than Clinton’s.

This fallacy – that the winner is determined by crowd size rather than the 125 million ballots cast — makes Trump backers think a legitimate Clinton victory is impossible. “Trump in trouble? 10,000 people in Jacksonville!!!!” somebody named Eric Swenson emailed me Thursday. “Pathetic media, corrupt to the core.”


Now that Trump is getting dominated in the polls and seemingly entering a tailspin with no way out, I have to admit that I’m afraid he’s going to have a heart attack or something and they’ll stick Rubio in.

Then again, there’s no particular reason to think that Rubio could rein in what Trump has created. He is a useless glamour boy.

Lev filed this under: ,  

Today’s 538 NowCast:


As our esteemed (and sorely missed) contributor Rupert Psmith wrote elsewhere:

How bad a week does Trump need to have to push the 538 “Now-cast” to Clinton victory 100%? We may find out soon.

Update:  This McClatchy poll is pretty severe.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has surged to a 15-point lead over reeling, gaffe-plagued Republican Donald Trump, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll…   Clinton made strong gains with two constituencies crucial to a Republican victory – whites and men – while scoring important gains among fellow Democrats, the poll found.  Clinton not only went up, but Trump also went down. Clinton now has a 48-33 percent lead, a huge turnaround from her narrow 42-39 advantage last month…

Men had been the bedrock of Trump support. Last month, he was up by 14 percentage points among men; he’s now down 8.  Clinton remains strong with women, among whom she holds a 20-point advantage…  Trump collapsed almost everywhere that he’d built decent support. Even among white voters, a demographic that has favored Republican White House candidates in recent elections.