2016 Republican presidential nomination

The Donald Trump Show (¿Paradise Lost?)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

This is worth noting:

For the good of the country, Gov. Bill Haslam believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should withdraw his candidacy and give way to vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.

Haslam, R-Knoxville, became the first prominent Tennessee Republican to make such a statement when he issued his comments Sunday afternoon. He joins a growing chorus of national Republicans to repudiate their party’s standard bearer in light of a 2005 video where Trump made vulgar comments that appear to condone the sexual assault of women.

“I want to emphasize that character in our leaders does matter. None of us in elected office are perfect, but the decisions that are made in the Oval Office have too many consequences to ignore the behavior we have seen,” Haslam said.

“It is time for the good of the nation and the Republican Party for Donald Trump to step aside and let Gov. Mike Pence assume the role as the party’s nominee. If he does not step aside, I will write in a Republican for the office of President.”

(Boucher)

It is easy to get caught up in narrative and moment, and thus we sometimes feel flat-footed when history blows past us and, you know, of course we could see it coming, but it’s so easy to lose oneself in high-strung, even mythopoeic history that we often instinctively caution ourselves against believing the hype.

This time, though, let us go ahead and mark the moment with Gov. Bill Haslam; the Tennessee Republican’s statement serves as a personal benchmark insofar as it is now possible for me to believe that Donald Trump might well have finally done gone an’ broke it.

Just sayin’.

Even still, doubt whispers and cynicism clamors; this can’t really be the moment, except that yes, if “vulgar comments that appear to condone the sexual assault of women”, as Dave Boucher’s report for the Tennessean puts it―and why not? it’s a reasonable description dutifullyα ducking the fact that we all know there’s no matter of mere appearances about it―are somehow insufficient to settle the matter, then there is far more wrong in these United States than merely Donald Trump.

We kind of knew that last, already, right? I mean, we’re all clear on what is going on, here?

‘Tis easy to hedge. This is going to be an interesting week, proverbially and otherwise. Consider it this way, please: Mr. Haslam denounces Mr. Trump’s misogyny, preferring instead Mr. Pence’s less felonious misogyny. This ought to be absurd enough to get us through the days.β

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α There are reasons why the reportage is not supposed to do the convicting and crucifying. This is, however, really, truly that straightforward. What seems striking is that the nod and wink, this time, would reject the good ol’ boys’ club.

β And that’s a completely meaningless sentence, isn’t it?

Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Boucher, Dave. “Bill Haslam: Donald Trump needs to step aside for Mike Pence”. The Tennessean. 9 October 2016.

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The Donald Trump National Convention (Not Quite Jesus Trump)

Detail of cartoon by John Cole, The Times Tribune, 17 July 2016.It seems worth noting that John Cole’s editorial cartoon for the Times Tribune, regarding the GOP platform, is tagged: business, Climate change, energy, environment, National Politics, Climate change, Donald Trump, Gay rights, GOP, GOP convention, tea party, and Womens’ rights.

No, really. Just sayin’.

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Image note: Trump the Carpenter ― Detail of cartoon by John Cole, The Times Tribune, 17 July 2016.

The Donald Trump National Convention (Movin’ Right Along)

Melania Trump delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, 18 July 2016. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It’s worth noting that the New York Times headline, “Melania Trump’s Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama’s in 2008”, is rather quite generous.

Melania Trump earned praise for her speech on Monday at the opening night of the Republican National Convention, but her remarks almost immediately came under scrutiny when striking similarities were discovered between her speech and one delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008.

The phrases in question came when Ms. Trump―who told NBC News earlier Monday that she had written her speech herself―was discussing her upbringing in Slovenia and her parents.

(Haberman, Rappeport, and Healy)

On the upside, though, apparently Mrs. Trump’s dress was something of a hit; Bruna Nessif of E! reports that the $2,190 Roksanda “Margot” dress sold out in under an hour: “Now that’s how you make a fashion and political statement.”

Yeah, it’s a fabulous dress, and all, and a bunch of people apparently really did shell out nearly twenty-two hundred dollars per. And that’s the good news. All of it.

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Image note: Melania Trump delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, 18 July 2016. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Haberman, Maggie, Alan Rappeport, and Patrick Healy. “Melania Trump’s Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama’s in 2008”. The New York Times. 19 July 2016.

Nessif, Bruna. “Melania Trump’s Dress Sells Out Less Than an Hour After Her Republican Convention Speech”. E! 18 July 2016.

The Donald Trump National Convention (Sounds About Right)

Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters in North Charleston, 19 February 2016. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The lede from Jonathan Swan of The Hill might describe (ahem!) merely one small facet of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland―

A top donor raising money for Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee says he has resigned in disgust after the party muscled through a vote on the convention floor that squashed the “Free the Delegates” movement.

―but still, it seems significant of, well, at the very least, something. And maybe that sounds vague, but this is the conundrum:

Gary Emineth, the former North Dakota GOP chairman who joined the Trump-RNC joint finance committee earlier month, says he was disgusted by the floor vote and immediately texted his resignation to Priebus.

Emineth says he’s furious the campaign and RNC worked in tandem to keep delegates from voting their conscience.

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos, 18 July 2016.“I was on the Trump finance committee and I just resigned because that bully tactic is absurd,” Emineth said. “I just texted them right now. Why can’t the people be heard? I’ve been texting Reince for 10 minutes. He said we didn’t have the votes. We had 10, 11 states. They peeled people back. They were calling delegations asking people to step off the committee. You don’t do this in America. You do this in other countries.”

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The Donald Trump National Convention

This is the part where we’re supposed to say something momentous: So it begins, or something like that. Maybe: Time’s up.

Republican National Convention CEO Jeff Larson. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)The last time Jeff Larson agreed to help with the Republican National Convention, he inherited a bankruptcy and ended up paying for Sarah Palin’s new wardrobe. He must have thought that was as hard as it gets in convention planning.

This year, Larson is back. He’s the convention’s CEO and is forced to deal with some frustrated Republicans and donors inside the party who don’t want Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee and protesters outside the security perimeter who want to burn the whole thing to the ground.

(Gonzales)

Good luck? Godspeed? Have fun stormin’ the castle?

Actually, you know, that last ....

People get ready?

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Image note: Republican National Convention CEO Jeff Larson. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Gonzales, Nathan L. “From Palin to Trump, Larson’s Steady Hand Leads Another Convention”. Roll Call. 17 July 2016.

An Ominous Eye on Newt

Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) addresses the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, 23 September 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Oh, you know … please?

Fox News is suspending its contributor agreement with Newt Gingrich, the channel announced on Tuesday.

“Fox News Channel has mutually agreed to suspend its contributor agreement with Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich effective immediately. Due to the intense media speculation about Gingrich’s potential selection as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, we felt it best to halt his contributor role on the network to avoid all conflicts of interest that may arise,” Fox News’ executive vice president of news Jay Wallace said in a statement.

Gingrich is being vetted to potentially serve as Donald Trump’s running mate, and is considered one of the top contenders.

(Gold)

I mean, come on. Really. Please?

Perhaps it’s easier to note that while the phantom candidate notion still puzzles, me, the devastation we might perceive inflicted upon the GOP by Donald Trump’s presidential debacle might well find validation in a Gingrich vice presidential nomination. That is to say, could we ask for a more obvious sign? Is there some more knowing omen in the Universe we might read explaining and affirming that for whatever reason, the purpose of this trompe guignol really is the destruction of the Republican Party?

At this point we might as well chuckle and propose racism because Mr. Trump isn’t vetting Herman Cain.

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Image note: The last time around .... ― Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) addresses the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, 23 September 2011. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Gold, Hadas. “Fox News and Newt Gingrich agree to suspend contributor agreement”. Politico. 12 July 2016.

The Clinton Nexus: Critique and Purpose

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York, 7 June 2016, after vote projections achieved a majority of pledged delegates in the Democratic presidential primary. (Detail of photo by Steve Sands/WireImage)

As editorials in the guise of reportage go, Niall Stanage’s effort to get into the presidential race for The Hill isn’t as completely terrible as it could be:

In the general election, Clinton can offer a depth of policy experience that far exceeds that of Trump, who has never held elected office. But she also has no slogan as simple and straightforward as his exhortation to “Make America Great Again.”

It’s a failure that some Democratic insiders find perplexing.

“It’s not clear what the over-arching message is yet,” said New York-based Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “It is clear that being the anti-Trump has some value; it is clear that offering economic policy has some value. But there is no over-arching message.”

An anonymous Democratic strategist asks, “What’s her vision for the country?” In a way it seems a pertinent question, but in the end it is just another reporter complaining about a non-traditional year.

Part of the difficulty, Democrats say, resides in Clinton’s cautious personality and her past political experiences. Her tendency toward incrementalism doesn’t lend itself to bumper sticker slogans, but she learned the hard way how tough it is to enact sweeping change. Her push for health care reform during the first term of her husband, President Bill Clinton, ended in utter failure.

Those past political experiences help explain why Clinton exhibits a mild disdain for the soundbites that Sanders and Trump―and other candidates―can deploy so readily.

When Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists almost a year ago, she told them, “Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

Her arguments are such moments may well be fair, or at least plausible. But “change allocation of resources” is not the kind of call to thrill the masses.

In addition, some people suggest that the sheer length of Clinton’s record means that it is hard for to her to gin up the same enthusiasm as new arrivals on the political scene.

Trump “can say anything and he gets applause because he’s fresh and new. She doesn’t get the same applause because she’s not fresh and new,” Sheinkopf said. “It’s more difficult for her than it is for him because Trump has no political history and can therefore say anything and do anything.”

The answer exists within the explanation; it’s just not necessarily apparent because we are all supposed to be looking elsewhere. Stanage’s entire article orbits a presupposition that Hillary Clinton is making a mistake, yet here we encounter an occasion when the question of a mistake seems counterintuitive.

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The Donald Trump Show (American Distress)

Detail of image via Trump campaign.

“Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 + 1 does not equal 5.”

Steve Benen

The thing about politics right now is that everything is really, really depressing. I’m deathly sick of Donald Trump, yet the question persists: How did this happen?

Nor do I mean that in any context suggesting plaintive puzzlement. We all have a reasonable idea how the abdication of civic leadership in the context of public service struck the Republican Party so low after decades of pandering to ill-educated bigotry.

Donald Trump saying something stupid really shouldn’t be headline news. It shouldn’t be anything unusual. It shouldn’t be anything the rest of us have any reason to give a damn about. Then again, just how the hell did Republicans find themselves with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee apparent?

Oh, right.

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The Donald Trump Show (Sacrifice of the Intellect)

Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This is―

Has Donald J. Trump become a born-again Christian?

That is the suggestion of James C. Dobson, one of America’s leading evangelicals, who said Mr. Trump had recently come “to accept a relationship with Christ” and was now “a baby Christian.”

Dr. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and one of the country’s most prominent social conservatives, gave his account at a meeting Mr. Trump had in New York on Tuesday with hundreds of Christian conservatives.

In an interview recorded at the event by a Pennsylvania pastor, the Rev. Michael Anthony, Dr. Dobson said he knew the person who had led Mr. Trump to Christ, though he did not name him.

“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dr. Dobson said. “I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”

(Gabriel and Luo)

―you know, I don’t know. It’s fucking pathetic, is what it is.

Look, if this naïveté is the bounty of faith―no, really, pick your punch line. How about, I’m glad I called bullshit and walked away decades ago/ Maybe, Why would anybody want to be like them? Oh, hey, I got it: Why are we still paying attention?

I get that these people are desperate, but the capacity for self-delusion among conservative Christians is emblematic of self-inflicted human frailty.

And while “the dumbest thing James Dobson ever said” is kind of like trying to pick the best rock song ever recorded by surveying an 80s catalog, or the best movie ever made by scrolling through free cable on demand, the craven idiocy of trying to justify Donald Trump is itself a spectacle; “baby Christian”, though, is an all-time great.

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Image note: Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], 6 March 2014, at National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Gabriel, Trip an Michael Luo. “A Born-Again Donald Trump? Believe It, Evangelical Leader Says”. The New York Times. 25 June 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Total Devastation)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016. Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“A spokesman for Christie denied he was a manservant.”

Andrew Kaczynski

Two important points:

• Do you really want to know what that sentence means?

• Okay, look, the thing I still can’t figure out about the phantom candidate conspiracy theory is why. Still, though, it occurs to wonder at the actual reason Donald Trump has every appearance of trying to destroy the Republican Party. The bizarre bits and pieces we hear about Chris Christie seem nearly emblematic. Whatever hell the New Jersey governor’s reputation had already discovered one wonders at the penance of such humiliation in Donald Trump’s shadow. That the Republican nominee apparent is so vicious is beyond doubt, but what does Mr. Christie think he’s doing? Or Republicans, for that matter? The RNC, many congressional Republicans, and various prominent voices in the conservative discourse seemed to shrug and roll, shuffling in line behind their party’s primary winner. And then what happened? Look at what Donald Trump is doing to conservatives. This is astounding. This is unimaginable. This is your Republican Party, and if it wasn’t for the fact that they were Republicans we probably ought to pity them right about now. I mean, sure, for a lot of the rest of us our diverse grievances against and disputes with Donald Trump are pretty clear, but what the hell did the GOP do to piss him off this badly?

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Kaczynski, Andrew. “Scott Brown Says He Won’t Fetch Trump’s McDonalds Like Christie (Reportedly) Did”. BuzzFeed. 15 June 2016.