Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Like a lot of other people, I've been assuming that Donald Trump will eventually fade or implode, or hit the upper limit of his appeal, at which point Jeb Bush will win the Republican presidential nomination; after that, I assume, Jeb will be the media's choice -- he'll be portrayed as the moderate, genial alternative to that hateful harridan Hillary Clinton.

But I just came across this Politico Magazine piece from a couple of days ago:

... The ease with which Trump has stepped into the passion vacuum in the Republican race points up a bigger problem for Jeb: The only excitement generated by his Bush candidacy so far seems manufactured, much like the exclamation point at the end of his Jeb! logo.

... Recall the infamous moment when Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee, was asked by CNN’s Bernard Shaw at a debate whether he would support the death penalty if his wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered. Dukakis’ passionless reply -- “No, I don't, Bernard, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life” -- solidified his reputation as an out-of-touch wonk.

Bush may be in the process of generating a similar image on the campaign trail....
I've been expecting the press to demonstrate a craving for a Republican Daddy in this election cycle. I assumed journalists were going to content themselves with the shambolic, doughy Daddy Jeb seems to have become. But ... they're calling him Dukakis! Maybe it's not going to work out for Jeb.

Which is not to say that the press is coming around to Donald Trump and his "passion" -- at least not yet. But I wonder if it could happen.

Shortly before I read this Politico piece, I saw that Hunter at Daily Kos was quoting a harrumphy mid-June critique of Trump from Chuck Todd. Here's the discussion, from an episode of Morning Joe:
CHUCK TODD: This is the problem with Trump. He doesn't play by a set of rules. And this is why campaigns complain to folks like me off the record but they don't have the guts to criticize him on the record because they know he's kind of a media bully. You know what I mean? He doesn't -- he plays by his own set of rules. He'll say whatever. He'll go on any platform to say it. And that's why I say, look, we've all --

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Is that a media bully or someone who, you know, doesn't --

TODD: We all have a responsibility here I think to say, you know, has he earned his way on this stage? I mean, again, we're four years removed from the ridiculous spectacle of birtherism.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Chuck Todd. Ben Carson is at the top of the polls. I don't hear you, like, you know --- wearing sack cloth and ashes about Ben Carson.

TODD: The guy is legitimately trying to run for president. I think he's got -- putting out an actual agenda, doing policy speeches. Look, if this is what Trump does and he spends the next three months going after --

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Ben Carson keeps comparing America to Nazi Germany, Chuck.

TODD: And I think it's something that --

SCARBOROUGH: I think your outrage is a bit focused on Donald Trump.

TODD: Well, look, I don't want to see the Republican primary race or any presidential race turn into a three-ring circus and us, you know, sitting there going isn't this great? And look at the shiny metal objects. It's not fair to what is the strongest Republican party presidential field in 36 years.
Pause a moment to be disgusted at Todd's cheerleading for "the strongest Republican party presidential field in 36 years," then notice what he says about Trump -- yes, Trump disgusts him, but it would take very little for Trump to pass the Todd test. Joe Scarborough -- and I hate acknowledging that Scarborough is the voice of reason here -- asks Todd why he's not similarly disgusted by Ben Carson, and Todd says that Carson is a legitimate candidate, "putting out an actual agenda, doing policy speeches." All Trump has to do is be as serious as Carson and, as far as Todd is concerned, all will be forgiven!

I've been to Ben Carson's campaign site. I've looked at "Ben on the Issues." Here's Carson's entire tax proposal, as presented on his site:
The American People Deserve a Better Tax Code

The current tax code now exceeds 74,000 pages in length. That is an abomination.

It is too long, too complex, too burdensome, and too riddled with tax shelters and loopholes that benefit only a few at the direct expense of the many.

We need wholesale tax reform.

And, we won’t get that from career politicians in Washington. They’re too deeply vested in the current system to deliver the kind of bold, fresh, new reforms that the American people are demanding.

We need a fairer, simpler, and more equitable tax system. Our tax form should be able to be completed in less than 15 minutes. This will enable us to end the IRS as we know it.
Wow -- "We need a fairer, simpler, and more equitable tax system"! That's ... profound and well thought out! I can see why Chuck Todd is impressed!

Now, let's go Carson on Russia:
Russia and Lessons Learned

Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become dangerously belligerent. It is actively destabilizing Ukraine, endangering Europe in the process and continuing to fuel destabilization in the Middle East. This newfound aggressiveness is a rising threat to the peace and security of the American people.

The United States must be resolute in the face of these Russian transgressions. We must lead our allies, both NATO and non-NATO alike, from a position of strength.

History has painfully taught us that letting dictators run amok and hoping for the best fails.

President Putin must come to learn that there will be grave and serious consequences when Russia engages in naked aggression against other sovereign nations and free peoples. All options should remain on the table when dealing with international bullies such as President Putin.
"Grave and serious consequences when Russia engages in naked aggression"! Thoughtful! Complex! Yes, Chuck, Carson is really a serious political thinker!

See my point? All Trump has to do is fake seriousness by somberly uttering platitudinous nonsense of this sort, and Beltway journalists will instantly start cranking out "Taking Trump Seriously" think pieces and asking aloud, "Have we been underestimating Trump the way we underestimated Ronald Reagan?"

Of course, Trump is highly unlikely to do anything like this -- really, what's the point when he's leading in the polls without making an effort?

Eventually, I suppose, the MSM (and GOP Establishment) might bail on Jeb Dukakis in favor of a Daddy who combines a patina of seriousness with, as the Politico story puts it, "passion." Maybe (now that Chris Christie has clearly passed his sell-by date) it'll be John Kasich -- hey, he did go from nowhere to qualifying for the Fox debate, and he does have both a long political career and, we're told, an anger management problem. Perhaps if he pops off a few times on the trail he'll be called "the serious Trump," and it'll be a compliment.

(Chuck Todd link via Bob Schooley.)


bgn said...

John Kasich? Not Scott Walker?

mlbxxxxxx said...

The real genesis of the anger media types like Todd have for Trump is because he criticized McCain and never apologized for it. We all know how many times McCain has been on MTP and, of course, there's that time McCain let them swing on his tire swing. McCain is very important to Todd and his buddies. I don't think Trump's going to get any love from Todd unless he apologizes for the McCain slur. Of course, Trump doesn't need the approval of the likes of Chuck Todd and, in fact, media attacks on him probably only make him more popular.

Hell, even I'm starting to like Trump more. He's probably now my 2nd or 3rd choice for the R nomination (based on my theory that we need them to have not the easiest candidate to beat but the safest for posterity in the event Hillary can't pull it out.) Trump is at best an inconstant and inconsistent conservative whose SCOTUS nominees would be more likely to be Souter-types than Scalia-types. Plus a Trump candidacy would alienate and energize the minority vote, something I think Hillary is going to have some difficulty with on her on. Not to mention that the election would be endlessly entertaining. What's not to like?

Redeye said...

Trump is the media's mouth piece, he says out loud what they say behind closed doors.

petrilli said...

The inability for Todd to assess his own limitations in the examples you show illustrates the problem. He's clearly not equal to the gravity of his job. Yet, he has the power the affect millions of opinions out there. But I think that the influence of Journalism Media Big-Shot has waned a lot this election year. And Todd isn't the only villager who is disoriented and confused about why that is.

nonynony said...

The inability for Todd to assess his own limitations in the examples you show illustrates the problem. He's clearly not equal to the gravity of his job.

I can't think of any pundits that actually are, to be honest. Todd's case is especially sad - Peter Principle in action. He was pretty good at being an "explainer" in earlier elections, and then he got "promoted" to pundit. A job he's both bad at and not even entertaining enough to make up for it.

As for Trump - I continue to believe that his ceiling is right around 27% (+/- 5%) of GOP support. But I'm starting to worry a bit about a lemming effect. If his debate performance is suitably firey and tweaks his immediate poll numbers up about 30% and the debate performance of the rest of the crowd is lousy and knocks them down, GOP voters may start to think of him as the inevitable nominee. They may not want to support him, but may not see any choice. Especially if Jeb Bush and Scott Walker both manage to shove their feet into their mouths while standing center stage next to Trump.

I keep thinking about how Reagan got underestimated by everyone in 1980. Now it isn't 1980 and Trump is no Reagan, but still - my inner pessimist is starting to doubt.

swkellogg said...

Q. How much todd could a Chuck Todd chuck if a Chuck Todd could chuck todd?

A. Apparently enough to reach eyebrow level.

Of course, after your submerged up to your eyes, what's the point?

Victor said...

UpChuck Toad is a vacuous boob!

@nonynony has it right:
He's the living embodiment of The Peter Principle.
He was pretty good at crunching the numbers, but the boys critical thinking skills are sadly lacking.
AND he really has no personality!
He's like cottage cheese:
White, lumpy, and easy to digest - but of little nutritional value.

theHatist said...

TODD: "We all have a responsibility here I think to say, you know, has he earned his way on this stage?"

This is the same guy who thinks when Republicans drop baldfaced lies on Meet The Press, it's not his job to point out that they are lying.

True story- had a conversation with Chuck Todd for a few days over email. Bought and mailed him a copy of Manufacturing Consent.

He hasn't gotten back to me.