Hey Republicans: YOU BUILT THAT!

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 2.01.49 PMForget Mondale, 1984 (won one state + DC, 13 electoral votes to Reagan’s 525, got 40.6% of the vote to Reagan’s 58.8). Forget Goldwater, 1964 (won 6 states to Johnson’s 44+DC, got 38% of the vote to LBJ’s 61%).  Right now Trumpus the Tank Engine is determined to set a new standard for losing a presidential election.  Down there with the 1940 NFL Championship Game, won by the Chicago Bears over the Washington Redskins, 73-0.  Trump wants to make history, and currently seems determined to do so, but not in the way he anticipated after scientifically targeting a surely-shrinking group of blindly loyal followers. As of midweek, he’d triggered talk of a new show on A&E… Celebrity Politician Intervention.

Smart CEO’s underpromise and overdeliver.  Before the Republican convention, this:

“It should be a monumentally magnificent convention and it should be brilliantly staged,” is what Trump told the Washington Post earlier this year. “The convention in Cleveland will be amazing,” is an exact quote of a tweet by Trump himself.

When the chalk dust finally settled, it was a radical case of overpromise and underdeliver.  Apparently Scott Baio, the UFC guy, the wife plagiarizing Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.01.03 PMMichelle Obama, and the 75 minute Rebel Yell Acceptance Speech didn’t move the needle the right way:

Two Gallup surveys of 1,000 adults after each convention found that just 36 percent said they were more likely to vote for Trump after watching the GOP proceedings, while 51 percent said they were less likely, a 15 percentage point disadvantage. That was the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1984 that a candidate has left a convention with a net negative. Previous conventions left candidates with a net positive ranging from a couple percentage points to a 45 point advantage. More below, courtesy Time Magazine:

Forget the ‘Convention Bump.’ Gallup Found People Less Likely to Vote For Donald Trump.

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Determined to run the table by offending every possible slice of the American electorate and then declaring that each one of those niches (women are a niche?) “love me,” here is the New York Times’ updated Twitter Insult list, as of July 29, that is a bit outdated since it doesn’t include Khizr Khan and Gold Star parents, babies, and the NFL scheduling computer.

The 250 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List

Less than 100 days before election day, and melting down in front of us is what is left of the Republican Party Hardly of Lincoln.  When he said in 1858 that a “house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln was referring to the divisions over slavery, not a political party itself.  But it sure applies right now, and it’s a party establishment against its own voters, many of whom have decided that frustrated anarchy carried out by an ignorant, unprepared, authoritarian one-man-band of bully is better than anything.  It’s like telling your 5-year-old to go to his room.  Time out.  Next thing you know you hear things crashing and breaking he’s so mad at you. It never ends well.  The lack of courage…. the outright fear in the souls of the members of the Republican party unwilling to put the welfare of the country… the world possibly…. above their own elected selves is a sad, mass case of Profiles in Cowardice.  So far, a few corporate executives and retiring members of Congress have stepped off the runaway train.  But very few.

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Finally, a quick math lesson. In 2012, Barack Obama harvested 66 million votes.  Mitt Romney got 61 million. In the 2016 Republican primaries, Donald Trump piled up 14 million votes, which was 45% of the Republican primary vote.  In other words, 55% didn’t like him much.  So, he needs every person who’s already voted for him, plus literally every person who didn’t (17 million).  That gets him to 31 million, if he were perfect in the preliminary Republican category.  He’s got to more than double that to win, assumedly by appealing to lots and lots of folks who don’t dislike him as much as they hate Hillary Clinton.  Good luck with that.  She may be best advised to take a 3 month cruise around the world and let Trump roll.

Another math lesson. Trump seems to start out fast and then fade over time.  His glory days as a developer of real estate are certainly behind him, but you’d never know that from the outward sheen of conspicuous consumption… the airplane and the helicopter with his name on them, the younger wife (latest model…. literally), and a braggadocious, bigger-than-life persona that makes one greatly appreciate the understated elegance of Hugh Hefner.  His boasting about the popularity of his Apprentice shows on NBC was always based on knowing no one would ever look up the raw numbers.  Let’s do it here, and you’ll quickly see the fade over time, and don’t add up to presidential consensus popularity:

Number of viewers the first six seasons of The Apprentice, 2003-2007: Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 4.08.23 PM

 

 

 

Rebranded as The Celebrity Apprentice, 2008-2015… a slight bump then the final fade out into political obscurity:Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 4.11.23 PM

 

 

It’s not fair to assume Trump’s tv ratings over time are now being reflected in his poll numbers as a presidential candidate.  It’s not fair.  But one can certainly hope.

15 Years After 9/11, We Can All Go Back To Hating New York Again

The Big Apple had its decade-and-a-half honeymoon. It officially ends Tuesday when Republicans in the Empire State join the enabling masses with an unforgivable, resounding victory for Donald Trump in the New York primary. He’ll falsely, shamelessly, and more obnoxiously than ever declare his gigantic, yuge home-state margin evidence of his overwhelming Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 9.57.32 PMpopularity with all of America.  A margin courtesy of Republicans in a party he says (use 4-year-old voice in back of minivan when sister is touching him) ISN’T FAIR. We’ll have to wait until the general to see him whipped in New York, probably by a girl.  I imagine he makes those insufferable phone calls in the morning to the shows in his pj’s in a Hugh Hefner-like pose but probably looking more like those late-in-the-Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 10.55.33 PMgame hermit shots of Howard Hughes before getting gussied up for the day.

Neanderthal, Originalist Scalia-type thinking does not do justice to the simplistic slop that is Make America Great Again.  Trump and the other two guys and all Republicans running for any office invoke Ronald Reagan and cherrypick his era in office (1981-’89) as the Last Golden Age of America.  Now three decades back, peoples’ memories are quite susceptible to the rote repetition that the 1980’s were FAN-tastic:  we all got along, we all loved Reagan, he beat the Ruskies and made ’em tear down that wall. He cut those mean taxes and the benevolent one-percenters (job creators) created jobs and the prosperity trickled down like soft rain over a happy, burgeoning Melting Pot Middle Class America while no bad terrorist guys would dream of attacking our homeland because the Mighty Reagan scared them so much.  He’d roll over and crush Nancy if he knew a would-be successor’s number one issue is a slightly different take on the wall bit.

It doesn’t appear likely that even though Trump has the best education of anyone ever with his undergraduate degree from Penn that included a few Wharton classes, which he has inflated to make you think he’s a real Wharton business grad— in spite of that pedigree he probably doesn’t realize the basis for his whining that Republican Party rules are designed to screw him adhere perfectly to the founders’ warnings against both parties and mob rule through “pure democracy.”

John Adams: There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

James Madison:  All civilized societies would be divided into different sects, factions, and interests, …of rich and poor, debtors and creditors, … the inhabitants of this district or that district, the followers of this political leader or that political leader, the disciples of this religious sect or that religious sect. In all cases where a majority are united by a common interest or passion, the rights of the minority are in danger.

George Washington: In his farewell speech, he predicted the rise of a Donald Trump, a scourge we have avoided for almost 230 years:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

As always, Trump seemingly has a point but plays to the worst, base instincts of the followers.  Bellowing the unfairness of it all, that the guy who gets the most primary votes should automatically be the nominee, previous rules be damned, he sets up what I saw back in June on Day One. It was The Descension Down Screen shot 2016-04-15 at 11.45.14 PMthe Stairs of Trump Tower past the Trump Bar, the Trump Grill, the Trump Cafe and Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor, beside the glass encasements selling Donald Trump neckwear.    That day, the first cards he put on the table were The Mexicans Are Criminals And Rapists, I’m Really Really Rich, I never lose and I will not under any circumstances accept anything less than full capitulation by everyone, everywhere at all times on my way to and while serving as your president.  It’s all about me.

Imagine a year 2000 scenario, where Al Gore won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College to George W. Bush (details notwithstanding). In the end Gore took the highest road and graciously conceded.  He didn’t have to.  It could have been quite ugly in the streets.  Trump is promising to not accept the outcome of the convention if he doesn’t win and threatens violence. Three other times in US history the guy with the most votes didn’t get elected.  The Electoral College Speedbump was put there by the founding fathers on purpose, imperfect as it is.  Political parties long ago decided to erect the barrier of the delegate system, imperfect as it is…. what it is…. a painful cliche that truly applies and could turn out to be America’s last defense against exactly the kind of rich, egomaniacal caudillo-in-waiting like Donald Trump.  But his setup of demanding a popular vote-only criteria for nomination is about to cause the final implosion of the Republican Party and take us where the founders feared most.

New Math: Donald Trump = Richie Rich x Archie Bunker ÷ (Joe McCarthy + Father Coughlin + David Duke & Pat Buchanan)

Two quickies for your Trump-loving friends to read that they’ll refuse to read.  Two quickies for you to read to reinforce George Burns’ famous quote: “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made,” lest you waver for even a second in thinking this guy’s a jerk but he may be onto something worth considering.  

First is from Mark Bowden, who 19 years ago was assigned to write a piece about Trump for Playboy.  Today he writes for Vanity Fair. Trump had literally fashioned his own self-image as the embodiment of that phony Hugh Hefner view of how a man could navigate the world of relationships and money…. as long as he was Hugh Hefner.  Trump might have been that guy who really DID read the articles, thought the jokes on the back of the centerfold were the best ever and believed the Playboy Advisor was so shrewd he should have a cabinet position.  His dating history, revealed hereis an entire fantasy team of first-rate femme fatales…  How any of this turned  into his constant references to his desire to have sex with his daughter would lead us to a whole new post.

 

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Donald Trump Really Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You This, But …

Impressions from a weekend in November, 1996:

“He was like one of those characters in an 18th-century comedy meant to embody a particular flavor of human folly. Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression. Who could have predicted that those very traits, now on prominent daily display, would turn him into the leading G.O.P. candidate for president of the United States?…..As I’ve watched his improbable political rise, it is clear that he hasn’t changed. The very things that made him so unappealing apparently now translate into wide popular support. Apart from the comical ego, the errors, and the self-serving bluster, what you get from Trump are commonplace ideas pronounced as received wisdom. Begin registering all Muslims in America? Round up the families of suspected terrorists? Ban all Muslims from entering the country? Carpet-bomb ISIS-held territories in Iraq (killing the 98-plus percent of civilians who are, in effect, being held hostage there by the terror group and turning a war against a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims into a global religious crusade)? Using nuclear weapons? The ideas that pop into his head are the same ones that occur to any teenager angry about terror attacks. They appeal to anyone who can’t be bothered to think them through—can’t be bothered to ask not just the moral questions but the all-important practical one: Will doing this makes things better or worse? When you believe in your own genius, you don’t question your own flashes of inspiration.”

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Then, there is the equally incisive drilldown into the mind of Trump by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:  It’s Too Late to Turn Off Trump  He could have titled it, Trump: All I Really Need to Know I Learn by Watching The Shows.

“….in Donald Trump’s world everything is about him, but Trump’s campaign isn’t about Trump anymore. With his increasingly preposterous run to the White House, the Donald is merely articulating something that runs through the entire culture.

It’s hard to believe because Trump the person is so limited in his ability to articulate anything. Even in his books, where he’s allegedly trying to string multiple thoughts together, Trump wanders randomly from impulse to impulse, seemingly without rhyme or reason. He doesn’t think anything through. (He’s brilliantly cast this driving-blind trait as “not being politically correct.”)

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It’s not an accident that his attention span lasts exactly one news cycle. He’s exactly like the rest of America, except that he’s making news, not following it – starring on TV instead of watching it. Just like we channel-surf, he focuses as long as he can on whatever mess he’s in, and then he moves on to the next bad idea or incorrect memory that pops into his head.

Lots of people have remarked on the irony of this absurd caricature of a spoiled rich kid connecting so well with working-class America. But Trump does have something very much in common with everybody else. He watches TV. That’s his primary experience with reality, and just like most of his voters, he doesn’t realize that it’s a distorted picture.

If you got all of your information from TV and movies, you’d have some pretty dumb ideas. You’d be convinced blowing stuff up works, because it always does in our movies. You’d have no empathy for the poor, because there are no poor people in American movies or TV shows – they’re rarely even shown on the news, because advertisers consider them a bummer.

Politically, you’d have no ability to grasp nuance or complexity, since there is none in our mainstream political discussion. All problems, even the most complicated, are boiled down to a few minutes of TV content at most.”

Three or more nights per week, the cable news channels ditch whatever they’re doing to show Trump’s latest live increasingly Nazi-like Beer Hall Putsch rally of followers somewhere in America.  I watched the first few.  But like his unlistenable, repetitive, droning intimidation appearances via phone, assumedly from his golden toilet in Trump Tower, on “the shows,” I turn away immediately.  The uninterrupted, unchallenged lies, cheap shots, threats, and bragging about polls that have him number one (berating and declaring polls that have him number two as invalid) are so far beyond insufferable…. it is like verbal waterboarding to listen to the guy.  Assuming he will win the nomination, his general election, non-stop, over and over again line is this: “Hillary is a person who doesn’t have the strength or the stamina, in my opinion, to be president. She doesn’t have strength or stamina. She’s not a strong enough person to be president.”  Since nobody loves women more than Donald Trump  (I know this because he told us), he’s way too classy to decipher his own dog whistle code of, “Hillary is an old bag who’s too slow, too old, and too ugly to be president.”  Hey ladies…. Trump is more than a year older than Hillary…. and a mere 24 years older than his latest wife!  Not that there’s anything wrong with that…… JFK was only 12 years older than Jackie.

 

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