GOP 2016

The Donald Trump Show (Basketeers)

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

This is a long problem in the political discourse:

If you follow Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, you already know that statistics suggest that if only women voted for president, Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. Yet Trump’s female supporters are some of the most ardent folks on his side. He seems to appeal to women supporters as a candidate who will keep them safe and protect the borders from the bad hombres.

They don’t trust Clinton. And the endless stories about her emails don’t help build confidence with supporters of either gender. Yet when I ask for examples of what bothers people most about the emails, the answers seem to come directly from the Trump playbook. According to Trump supporters, the emails prove that Clinton is funding ISIS, ordered the massacre in Benghazi, is plotting to steal the election and is actually a pimp who procures women for her husband. “It just proves just how nasty she is,” one male voter told me.

When asked about the notion of breaking the glass ceiling by electing a woman to the White House, they all resoundingly said, “Not that woman.” Several women suggested that Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate in 2008, would make a great first woman candidate. “She is so much more prepared to serve than Hillary Clinton,” a stay-at-home mom from California said.

(King Collier)

It’s very nearly petulant, and comes in a variety of flavors. This time around it’s pretty straightforward: It is not that your voice does not matter; rather, forfeiture of reality simply does not constitute a middle ground. There is nothing we can do when the compromise point with conspiracists is granting the conspiracy theory.

And, frankly, it sounds like neurotic desperation, an excuse for supporting terrible people and ideas. The thing about self-indictment is that, for the most part, conscience will out; it’s part of being human. Relatively few of the infamously-designated deplorables actually celebrate their hatred; most of them try to find some way to believe they’re good people. We should find that encouraging; they want to be good. It’s just … I don’t know. This is the challenge. Pathos is one thing; self-imposed alienation is something else entirely.

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Image note: Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

King Collier, Andrea. “What are they thinking? Talking to Trump voters without judgment (and while black)”. Salon. 5 November 2016.

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Chuck Portent

Patricia Murphy, for Roll Call:

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks as part of an immigration policy "Gang of Eight", at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013.  (Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)Either Clinton or Trump will live in the White House, but when it comes to getting an agenda passed into law, they’ll need Senate Democrats’ votes to do it. And to get those votes, they’re going to need Sen. Chuck Schumer, the rising Senate Democratic leader and the man poised to be a Clinton consiglieri or Trump’s not-so-loyal opposition.

But after one of the ugliest presidential elections in history, Capitol Hill veterans point to Schumer as the glimmer of hope that Congress may finally be entering an era of accomplishment instead of gridlock after years of partisan paralysis.

The Brooklyn exterminator’s son, who finished Harvard and Harvard Law by 23, may seem like an unlikely vessel for hope in the post-Obama era, but Schumer’s existing relationships, caucus loyalty and prejudice toward action may make him the man for this moment.

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Image note: U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks as part of an immigration policy “Gang of Eight”, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., 18 April 2013. (Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters)

Murphy, Patricia. “Chuck Schumer Is on the Line”. Roll Call. 3 November 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Pants on Fire)

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in New York City, New York, 16 June 2015. (Photo: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency)

At this point, it’s so damn ridiculous we could go on like this all day today and tomorrow and not feel any better even after Hillary Clinton wins, because, really, the Donald Trump presidential nomination is one of those American wild somethings in the whatnow that we really ought not try again, and I won’t say anything about swamp eels.

Damn it. Okay, anyway, it is easy enough to get distracted by the tale of the twitless wonder, but we might also take a moment to raise a glass to the one and only Steve Benen, who took a moment amid his own astonishment at talk of Donald Trump’s vengeful ways to appreciate a great symbol of the Republican nominee’s gaslit campaign, coming as it did while the team rallied to capitalize on James Comey’s clodhopping bombshell. Or, as the New York Timesα put it:

Stephen Bannon, CEO of Republican nominee Donald Trump's presidential campaign, meets with the Trump Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in Manhattan, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Carl Allegri/Reuters)But they insisted that to truly exploit it, Mr. Trump needed to do something he had been incapable of in the past: strictly follow instructions, let a story unfold on its own and resist the urge to endlessly bludgeon his rival.

They headed to a fleet of cars that whisked them to the Radisson Hotel in downtown Manchester, where a crowd of thousands was waiting for the candidate to take the stage.

But his aides needed time to sketch out what Mr. Trump should say―and not say. They sent Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, onstage with a mission: stall.

As the aides agonized over which words to feed into the teleprompter, they become so engrossed that a hot light set up next to the machine caused Mr. Bannon’s Kuhl hiking pants to begin smoldering.

“I think my pant leg is on fire,” he said after noticing the acrid smell.

Yes, apparently, really.

Wouldn’t it be nice to say this is one of the silver linings we get from having suffered the Donald Trump Show? After all, what better emblem of the emblematic? This is, unfortunately, the sort of experience for which there really is no excuse. And it is easy enough to say we all have played our part in American society and its reinforcement of some terrible aspects about our human frailty, but let’s face it, this time it’s pretty much all on conservatives themselves. They’re already trying to blame Democrats for Donald Trump, and the election technically hasn’t happened, yet.β

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α And hoist again for the four reporters required to bring us this heady glimpse inside Donald Trump’s existential uncertainty: Maggie Haberman, Ashley Parker, Jeremy W. Peters, and Michael Barbaro.

β Is there a rule about putting a footnote on the last sentence? In the moment, it seems like there ought to be. Nonetheless, it seems necessary to remind that the 2020 Republican presidential nomination contest is already at least informally underway; it has been since, well, before the Republican convention was over, and we even got the fun little joke last month about Kellyanne Conway pitching her credentials toward the next cycle. And, you know, it is possible Ted Cruz has already lost. Republicans are amazing, sometimes.

Image notes: Top ― Donald Trump announces his candidacy. (Photo: Justin Lane/EPA) Right ― Trump/Pence 2016 campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon. (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Benen, Steve. “Driven by vengeance, Trump is eager to ‘punish his enemies'”. msnbc. 7 November 2016.

Haberman, Maggie, et al. “Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks Assurance”. The New York Times. 6 November 2016.

Rozsa, Matthew. “The big loser in Donald Trump’s war against the GOP is Ted Cruz somehow”. Salon. 11 October 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Piling On)

Melania Trump discusses her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, 17 October 2016.

To the one, there was no particular (ahem!) “Gary Hart moment” by which Donald Trump explicitly dared the press to do anything … or, you know, maybe there was and … and … I mean, come on, really, it would be easy to miss. After all, the Republican nominee has pretty much declared war against the press. As proverbial shows go, it would seem someone finallyα, took away Trump’s Twitter, which is probably for the best when we pause to consider the idea of a man who “privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day”, as the New York Times explains, “including a threat to fund a ‘super PAC’ with vengeance as its core mission”.

Setting aside the thought that, “Of course he would”, it always occurs to wonder just how often, within whatever schematic or flow chart or whatever else by which they define their expectations, any given bully so utterly fails to account for the idea that maybe the objects of belligerence might occasionally fight back. That is to say, what does he expect the press will do?

To wit, it’s not like they didn’t have any warning; Associated Press made clear they were onto the story of Melania Trump’s immigration and work history months ago; Alicia A. Caldwell, Chad Day, and Jake Pearson delivered the confirmation of what everyone already kind of suspected:

Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)The details of Mrs. Trump’s early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them. Trump has proposed broader use of the government’s E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work. He has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.

Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status. During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband’s hard line on immigration.

This is what I don’t get: Why? To the one, is it at all possible for any realistic person capable of running a business scheme like Donald Trump’s to expect that the press somehow would not or could not find this? To the other, in fairness, it is entirely possible that the GOP nominee didn’t know; it is entirely possible he is surrounded by so many yea-sayers that he has no idea what is going on, even with his own wife. To the beeblebrox, neither does the other preclude the one.

Honestly, only American conservatives could accomplish … well, this. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Donald Trump Show.

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α GOP strategist Mike Murphy, on msnbc last month after the vice presidential debate:

“Trump is a genius at stepping on his own messaging, and I don’t think there’s a force on Earth, at least without heavy weaponry, that can ever separate Trump from his ability to tweet. I think everybody in that campaign is trying to pry the smartphone away from him, and it’ll never happen.”

Image note: Top ― Melania Trump discusses her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, 17 October 2016. Right ― U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Caldwell, Alicia A., Chad Day, and Jake Pearson. “Melania Trump modeled in US prior to getting work visa”. The Big Story. 4 November 2016.

Day, Chad, Jeff Horwitz, and Alicia A. Caldwell. “Former modeling agent says he got Melania Trump’s visa”. The Big Story. 4 August 2016.

Gauthier, Brendan. “WATCH: Journalist Katy Tur responds after Donald Trump bullies her in front of 4,000 people”. Salon. 3 November 2016.

Haberman, Maggie, et al. “Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks Assurance”. The New York Times. 7 November 2016.

Sheehy, Gail. “The Road To Bimini”. Vanity Fair. 1 September 1987.

Uncertainty as Entertainment (Silver “Say What” Mix)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Harry Enten’s headline for FiveThirtyEight: “Has Trump Already Lost Nevada?” There is also his overall outlook on the Silver State:

For now, though, we don’t really know what the early vote in Nevada portends for Clinton nationally. It’s certainly not evidence that this election is over. It is, however, a potentially good sign for Clinton.

The road between is interesting enough; there is a lot to see.

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Image note: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump puts his notes away after the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Enten, Harry. “Has Trump Already Lost Nevada?” FiveThirtyEight. 6 November 2016.

Just a Question About “Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government”

I feel kind of silly because I can’t figure out―

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government ― a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

―if Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just dropped a headline. It is, to be certain, a breathtaking maneuver by FBI Director James Comey to so deliberately unsettle the presidential election, and Mr. Reid seems rather quite upset by the circumstance. Still, though, what am I missing? Because the bit about “coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government” just begs for attention. Please do, sir, tell us more.

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Reid, Harry. Letter to James Comey. 30 October 2016.

Reilly, Ryan J. “Harry Reid Blasts FBI Director James Comey Over Handling Of Clinton Email Probe”. The Huffington Post. 30 October 2016.

What Goes On In Nevada (What’s Going On?)

Jon Ralston posted some interesting insight into the electoral outlook in Nevada:

Tarkanian: CD3 Republican Early Vote Is Underperforming. At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, Danny Tarkanian said, “I haven’t slept for the last two days, and it’s because you guys are letting us down out here. I mean that. You’ve got a little shrug of the eyes, a little nervous. Tarkanian: CD3 Republican Early Vote Is Underperforming. At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, Danny Tarkanian said, "I haven't slept for the last two days, and it's because you guys are letting us down out here. I mean that. You've got a little shrug of the eyes, a little nervous. I'm going to be very honest with you right now. Congressional District 3 is underperforming by far of any district in the whole state. The Republican Party is down substantially in early voting; even more so that [than] it was in 2012. That in itself is bad, but Congressional District 3 is underperforming the rest of the state by 6 percentage points. Meaning that Democrats are voting at a 6 percent higher rate with respect to registration here in CD3 than Republicans are, and most of it is not so much that there's been more Democrats that have voted, we haven't got our Republicans out to vote." [Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, 10/25/16] Tarkanian: If Republican Turnout Doesn't Improve "We're All Going Down" And "Joe Heck Is Going to Go Down." At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, Danny Tarkanian said, "We need your help right now, because I'll tell you, if this doesn't change we're all going down in CD3. Every one of the people that spoke here, if you're in CD3 you're going to be in the same boat as I am, and Joe Heck is going to go down." [Southern Hills Republican Women's Club, 10/25/16] I’m going to be very honest with you right now. Congressional District 3 is underperforming by far of any district in the whole state. The Republican Party is down substantially in early voting; even more so that [than] it was in 2012. That in itself is bad, but Congressional District 3 is underperforming the rest of the state by 6 percentage points. Meaning that Democrats are voting at a 6 percent higher rate with respect to registration here in CD3 than Republicans are, and most of it is not so much that there’s been more Democrats that have voted, we haven’t got our Republicans out to vote.” [Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, 10/25/16]

Tarkanian: If Republican Turnout Doesn’t Improve “We’re All Going Down” And “Joe Heck Is Going to Go Down.” At a discussion with the Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, Danny Tarkanian said, “We need your help right now, because I’ll tell you, if this doesn’t change we’re all going down in CD3. Every one of the people that spoke here, if you’re in CD3 you’re going to be in the same boat as I am, and Joe Heck is going to go down.” [Southern Hills Republican Women’s Club, 10/25/16]

Daily Kos diarist First Amendment notes, “This is the reason Democrats are shifting volunteers from Nevada to Arizona”, and if that sounds strange at least we know where it’s coming from. To the other, it just doesn’t sound strange. Rasmussen/KNTV poll numbers coming down this week show Clinton leading Trump in Nevada, and, yes, incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Heck (R) trailing Democratic challenger Catherine Cortez Masto. It’s a thin lead, and the first time Cortez Masto has led during the cycle. Perhaps Danny Tarkanian overstates this part, or maybe not. Donald Trump continues his breathtaking plummet, dragging the Republican Party with him.

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First Amendment. “Republican panic in Nevada. ‘We’re all going down.'” Daily Kos. 26 October 2016.

Giordano, Al. “Breaking”. Twitter. 25 October 2016.

Ralston, Jon. “How bad has early voting been for GOP in NV?” twitter. 26 October 2016.

Snyder, Riley. “KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Clinton pulls ahead of Trump in Nevada as early voting starts”. KNTV. 24 October 2016.

—————. “KTNV/RASMUSSEN POLL: Cortez Masto narrowly eclipsing Heck in close Nevada Senate race”. KNTV. 25 October 2016.

Sean Hannity (Poor Donny)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity.  (FOX News, 2016)

“I have had it. Thirteen freaking days. Wake up. This can be won. But it’s very, very hard. And I’m telling all of you who is important here. And basically every red state’s important. If you think, ‘well, my state doesn’t matter, it’s Texas,’ no, you better vote. ‘My state’s Georgia,’ well we’ve seen polls that are close in Georgia. ‘My state’s Utah.’ Who’s this idiot that’s running third party that’s killing Trump out in Utah. Who put him up? What was it? The Bush people? The Romney people? Seriously? Really? You’re going to elect Hillary because we lose Utah? What a disaster that would be for the country.”

Sean Hannity

This is just a distraction. Media Matters offers a glimpse into Sean Hannity’s not quite struggle to wear both FOX News and Trump surrogate caps. Two hats, one tongue, half a brain? Right. Seriously: What joke goes here? Are not the words, “Sean Hannity”, enough?

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (left) with campaign surrogate, FOX News host Sean Hannity. (Credit: FOX News, 2016)

Media Matters Staff. “Listen To Sean Hannity’s Unhinged Rant Over ‘Idiot’ Evan McMullin Beating Trump In Utah”. Media Matters for America. 26 October 2016.

Dangerous and Unadmired

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). (Detail of photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Follow the bouncing Crapo:

Of all the congressional Republicans who’ve struggled with Donald Trump’s candidacy, arguably no one’s story is funnier than Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-Ill.). The Illinois Republican endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed Trump, then endorsed David Petraeus, then endorsed Colin Powell, then un-endorsed Powell, then said he no longer wanted to talk about it.

But if Kirk’s story is the most amazing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho is a competitive second ....

.... Yes, the Idaho Republican initially endorsed Trump. Then Crapo un-endorsed Trump. Soon after, the incumbent senator, up for re-election this year, said he’s an undecided voter. Yesterday, Crapo came full circle, re-endorsing the presidential candidate he un-endorsed two weeks ago.

(Benen)

This is important: Of all the unbelievable insanity we have witnessed through the 2016 electoral cycle, just how much of it is unbelievable, and why?

(more…)