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 “love me,” here is the New York Times’ updated Twitter Insult list, as of July 29, that is a bit outdated since it doesn’t include Khizr Khan and Gold Star parents, babies, and the NFL scheduling computer.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.

Convention Kvetching Conclusions 2016- Mourning or Morning in America?

Before the conventions, Donald J. Trump knew he was going to be outgunned in terms of star power, so he did what he always does: he bragged and lied about how the Republican convention “wouldn’t be the usual boring parade of politicians” … the entertainment value would have us all riveted to our seats…. and of course, the ratings would be HUGE. That type of reality show delivered us his 3rd wife Melania, ripping off Michelle Obama, his chief rival Benedict Arnold Cruz wearing a political suicide vest shockingly telling people to Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.02.59 PM“vote their consciences,” and an angry, nasty, all-about-me-as-your-savior Trump acceptance speech that drew the same number of viewers that “choker, loser” Mitt Romney had in ’12. On July 4, the Associated Press had been reporting sterling fake optimism:

Trump’s team says he’s up to the challenge. “This is not going to be your typical party convention like years past,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller. “Donald Trump is better suited than just about any candidate in memory to put together a program that’s outside of Washington and can appeal directly to the American people.” …Ivanka Trump predicted in a recent radio interview the GOP convention would be “a great combination of our great politicians, but also great American businessmen and women and leaders across industry and leaders across really all sectors, from athletes to coaches and everything in between….I think it will be a convention unlike any we’ve ever seen,” she said. “It will be substantive. It will be interesting. It will be different. It’s not going to be a ho-hum lineup of, you know, the typical politicians.”  

The result:

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Hillary Clinton’s convention stole Ronald Reagan’s sunny attitude about America’s best days being ahead of it, with plenty of military heroes and police officers for good measure. Finally the pre-speech bio on Thursday narrated by God.

Trump’s was voiced by Jon Voight.

Slight image edge to the Democrats.  I was worried when Chelsea Clinton played the dangerous “mommy read ‘Goodnight Moon’ to me” card, but Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.11.32 PMthat turned out to not be a problem. 

Just like he learned from Vince McMahon in wrestling, when the ref catches you doing something illegal or just plain crappy you put up your hands, walk away, and say, “who, me?” Mediaite reports that the New York Times asked Trump about why his convention seemed haphazardly thrown-together, unlike the very coordinated and on-message Democratic convention and unlike Republican conventions of the past. “I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” he responded. In other words, Trump takes no responsibility, blames everyone else…. just the kind of “buck doesn’t stop here” presidency we all hope for.  There’s that invaluable, convincing, “we need a successful businessman like Trump” leadership on display.

If you saw this moving moment on Thursday: Khizr Khan, the Pakistan-born immigrant whose son Humayun was killed in Iraq in 2004, lecturing Donald Trump and asking if Trump had ever read the constitution he pulled out of his pocket…..

…. if you saw that moment you most certainly weren’t watching Fox News, now Roger Ailesless, which did its best to not broadcast the Democratic Convention while pretending to do so. They covered up literally every moment from the podium before 10:00 Eastern, running opposition guests on impossible-to-preempt OReilly and Kelly and usually squeezing the silent convention picture over to the side.  For exactly what your grandpa saw when Mr. Khan was speaking, see Slate’s great piece here.

In the end, the two conventions really ended up being Mourning in America vs Morning in America.  It’s our choice come November.

Are You A Trump Tax Truther?

I am a Trump Tax Truther.  I will explain why later.

Up until the moment of this writing, there has been nothing on the Republican side to derail the blind obedience of primary voters willing to support Donald Trump, buying his braggadocious, scattershot combination of policy-free, nationalistic, populist, racist, personality-driven, misogynistic ego-tripping drivel…. all under the umbrella of sticking it to the man.  More than 65% of his electoral fans say, that so far, there is literally nothing, possibly including murder, that he could do or say that would shake their support for him.  Not surprising for a guy who has been building brand loyalty to his image and name for close to 40 years.  Britt Whitmire, on our podcast the other day, zeroed in on an analogy that is so frighteningly on target that it hurts:  That Trump has inhabited the mind space in politics right now that the most obnoxious, violent, money-flashing, arrogant rappers have for many years…. except with a totally different audience.  It works like this–the rappers (Trump) are, at least publicly, off-the-charts confident, and really, really rich (supposedly) and display that wealth in the most ostentatious ways, with planes and boats and buildings and trophy wives/girlfriends.  For the rappers, this translates into musical popularity and sales.  For Trump, it translates into vote for me and my success will somehow reflect on and rub off on to you and your life and country will be better.

One of the greatest ad slogans was for Air Jordan shoes from Nike. “Be Like Mike.”  It’s a fairly safe bet that even the most out-to-lunch fool you could find never really thought changing sneakers would enable him to play as well as Michael Jordan.  Trump has been able to ride this never-Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 10.49.23 AMbefore-seen (in politics) Al Pacino/Scarface persona beyond the standard party guardrails by gaining trust and getting people to believe (100% falsely, I believe) that he is so far superior than anything they’ve ever experienced in politics… that the details don’t matter.  What’s not to like in a guy who never, never, never loses and promises you nothing but wins, wins, wins?  Beam Me To The Polls, Scotty!  More from Zach Blumenfeld in a piece called:  DonYe: How Trump and Kanye are Alike, and How They’re Critically Different

The comparison seems too easy to make. Donald Trump. Kanye West. Two narcissistic egomaniacs. Both wildly overestimate their influence, both say things that no decent person would ever think of saying, and both find themselves constantly embroiled in controversy, with passionate defenders battling the Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 10.50.34 AMlegions of harsh critics… Yet there’s a crucial distinction to make when comparing the egos of Donald Trump and Kanye West, one that gives the latter far more redemptive quality: Kanye knows and admits that he is fallible. Trump does not.

I wanted to make sure that the growing demand for Trump to release his income tax returns is not out of the ordinary for presidential candidates.  If it was, he could claim he’s being unfairly picked on because he’s the richest guy to ever run for president (allegedly) and is self-funding.  Fortunately, there is something called The Tax History Project.  You can look at the Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 10.52.20 AMreturns of every president going back to Nixon.  Harry Truman made his available and so did FDR.  Both of them released their taxes for many years before they were president and Truman kept putting out his 1040’s all the way until he died in 1972!

So, it’s official…. Trump is stonewalling putting out his income tax returns. Surely this will be 100% excused, forgiven, and alibied by his fans, as are all of his other excesses, rhetorical, actual, political, and human.  He will strike back at previous rich guy/victim Mitt Romney for Paying It Forward and gossiping that there’s a “bombshell” in there.Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 11.01.41 AM

But the real question is why?  This is the one issue that cannot be papered back into the corner, especially with anyone not 100% sold on the guy.  When you’ve been touting your overwhelming business success, your wealth, your not being beholden to anyone because of that wealth, you gotta show the world your tax returns and how much you’ve been making and how much you’ve been paying what percentage you’re paying.  You know that.  We so want to believe everything you ever say about anything…. but just this one, little detail would really seal the deal.  If you keep blocking, we’ll have to believe you either are not nearly as rich as you say you are, you pay little or nothing in income taxes way below the rate of the average person, just like Mitt Romney (15%) …. which may be legal but is indefensibly immoral.  Here’s a clue, when he said he pays: “as little as possible because it’s an expense and it’s not one I’m happy paying because frankly the United States government wastes a lot of money.”  Of course, it’s also possible that his wealth is more of marketing mirage than any of us could have conceived as he lives off the biggest, blackest most platinumest American Express Card ever!

In the golden days of Ann Landers, if a woman wrote: Dear Ann:  I am madly in love with the greatest guy in the world, “Donald.”  He is so kind to me, showers me with gifts, and his kids from his previous marriages love him so much!  Sometimes “Donald” is mean to other people, but I know he’s really got a good heart because he keeps telling me so and promises me a perfect future together.  One thing bothers me, though.  I hear through the grapevine that he is not as rich as he says he is.  Ann, that’s not so important because I would love him even if he were poor.  Ok, I’m lying about that, but I need to know for sure.  Would it be ok to ask to see “Donald’s” tax returns for the past, oh say…. 30 years… to verify and trust to seal the deal?  Signed, Tillie in Tampa.  The answer would be-Ann: Tillie… you bet your bottom Peso you should ask this Revolting Romeo to show you his financial cards.  A man who’s not totally honest with his finances will never be honest in his relationship with you.  Bash that Bozo in the choppers if he’s not straight with you and head for the exits.  Hoping he’ll change after the wedding is the worst idea I can think of.  They never change.  Wake up and smell the Starbucks, sister. 

One thing’s for certain.  If Trump thought he had anything to gain by releasing his tax returns so he could brag and shove them down the collective throat of America and his critics, he surely would.   He obviously has something to lose, so he hasn’t.  Earlier this week he said he hasn’t put the returns out there because they’re “extremely complex.”  Right.  You people, especially you uneducated people (another never-before-explicitly-targeted group of Americans until Trump called them out)… you dummies have been saved from mass confusion by Trump doing you the favor of not putting out his tax returns.  Add 3 more points to his polls. But as for me, I am a Trump Income Tax Truther, and proud of it!

And Jimmy must be listening to the Brad and Britt Podcast!