Tuesday, June 07, 2016


Chris Cillizza thinks mainstream Republican supporters of Donald Trump can't sustain their strategy of backing him while keeping him at arm's length until November:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that Trump's comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel are "the textbook definition of racism" before adding: "Do I believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? I do not."

... Think of the logical inconsistency in Ryan's comments Tuesday. Yes, Trump is engaging in a "textbook" example of racism. No, I will not rescind my support. What conclusion can possibly be drawn from those comments? That, sure, Trump is playing with racism but he's still better than Clinton?

The way Ryan sets up the argument -- if it's not Trump then it's Clinton -- bypasses a third option that the likes of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Graham have already taken: Choose not to vote in this election because you cannot in good conscience support either of the candidates.

I get that no politician who spends his or her life asking people to vote and emphasizing how important doing so is for democracy wants to publicly choose not to participate in an election. But how is what Ryan is doing right now not worse for himself and the broader Republican brand? Yes, my candidate is a racist, but he's still my candidate because Clinton?
But notice what happens every time a Republican makes a statement like this: The notion that Hillary Clinton is a genuinely awful person gets reinforced. ("Yes, what Donald Trump said is outrageous, but at least he's not -- ick! ptui -- Hillary!") It sends the message that Trump is bad but Hillary is unspeakable.

If you're a Republican and you think some voters are persuaded by your words, do you want to tell them you're sitting out the election because both Trump and Clinton are equally unacceptable, which might help persuade some of your audience that the choice is tossup and some of them might as well vote for Clinton? Or do you want to keep saying that nothing Trump has done rises to the level of sheer horror that is Hillary?

For Ryan and the rest of the GOP, I think it's an easy choice.

The flip side of this message is: Really, what's so awful about what Trump is saying? It's bad, but it's not that bad. What Ryan and others are doing is defining deviancy down. Since this is still a majority-white country, that message is certain to find a receptive audience. (I'm not convinced that the Curiel business is even going to hurt Trump or other Republicans in the polls. We really don't know whether white America accepts the notion that respected non-white judges can be trusted to be impartial.)

Cillizza thinks the GOP, and mainstream backers like Ryan in particular, can't continue to stand by Trump without being permanently tainted. I'm going to continue to say what I've been saying -- that the Beltway will decide that all is forgiven as soon as Trump is out of the picture, simply because Trump regularly denounces the GOP establishment and establishment figures (mildly) denounce Trump, which means the establishmentarians weren't really Trumpites. The alternative to accepting Ryan et al. back into the fold would be to reject an entire major party; the Beltway is so deeply invested in the notion of parity between the two parties (both sides do it!) that that's simply unthinkable.

So, yes, Ryan and the rest will continue to say they're troubled by Trump's words, will continue to back him, and will continue to get away with it.


Many people wonder whether Trump is committing political malpractice by focusing on Curiel right now. Here's Byron York:
The problem is, Trump, while busy shooting himself in the foot, is missing opportunity after opportunity to go after Clinton. As a campaign, the Trump team made almost no use of the State Department Clinton email report. The same was true for the terrible jobs report. It didn't respond well to Clinton's much-discussed anti-Trump speech last week.
Is it possible that this is a strategy that has some logical basis, whether or not it's actually a smart one? Trump knows that Clinton can throw a punch and, perhaps more important, take one. He knows she's powerful, with powerful allies and a powerful organization behind her. If you rank-ordered everyone in America, Curiel would rank much lower than Clinton. In the never-ending brawl that is life as Donald Trump sees it, Clinton is a ranked heavyweight; Curiel is a palooka.

So maybe Trump is pummeling a palooka to distract us from Hillary Clinton, who might land a few punches if he takes a swing at her. Maybe Trump knows exactly what he's doing. That's not to say it's a good strategy. But it might be a strategy.


Never Ben Better said...

It's also occurred to me that Trump might think attacking the judge so blatantly is a good legal strategy for the lawsuit defense: Keep hammering at the attack so egregiously that he (a) forces the judge to recuse himself as no longer able to remain impartial, or (b) can have any judgment against him set aside on appeal on grounds of bias.

It's a boneheaded strategy, if so it be, but I can see Trump coming up with it and deciding it's brilliant -- besides being fun and satisfying.

Gerald Parks said...

The GOP/Republican Party WILL not defend their nominee BECAUSE he expresses what they have and do in fact ... practice.

This overt racism is what their policies and practices at every level of their governance IS.

AND the media MSM and others WILL treat this entire episode with "willful ignorance" and NOT connect the dots in their reporting.

Their faux display of "horror" at this blatant, overt, verbal racism and feeble attempt at "separating" the words from the person is what they fervently hope the American people and the MSM will accept. And that ... without questioning THEIR actions for the past 7 1/2 years toward America's 1st and only AFRICAN-American POTUS!

Let's not forget ...it was this same type of "reaction" to factual events that allowed Jim Crow to be practiced not just in the South but in various forms across the entire USA for 100 years!

Willful ignorance is not BLISSful ...just plain stupid!

Will WE the People prove to be stupid THIS time around?

Unfortunately ... way too many of US(America) will.

Victor said...

What @NBB said!

Yeah, I can see tRUMP coming up with that scenario, and patting himself on the back.

Never Ben Better said...

And totally ignoring any of his (doubtless aghast) attorneys who try to stop him -- after all, he knows better than anyone else, on any topic, amirite?

Missy Vixen said...

Trump's plan all along was to use the racist GOP base and the power of the GOP presidential nomination to damage the lawsuits against him. His campaign staff are trying to change course, so he rallies the surrogates to his cause himself.

As to white America's acceptance of Trump's claims of bias, once someone reminds them that if non-white judges are biased against whites, it lends credence to minority claims of bias from white judges.

They'll dump Trump in a heartbeat.

Feud Turgidson said...

I dunno how this goes. The closest cmoparators are around the Civil War. Predictions are tough as it is, but where's the control groups on this?

One difference is the Civil War's overt racist had a lot what they were able to argue as "science' on their side, an a recorded human history in which slavery was pretty much ubiquitous. These GOPers in the bigot role aren't 'statesmanlike', or wizards, or even very smart:a significant high percentage of them are incompetent buffoons adhering to strategy devised for Gen Eric Republican and recruited or self-selected into a life of low-grade crude corruption.

So I sure don't want to make guesses about behavior by folks I don't really understand even in less stressful times for the busiiness model. I'm not saying others aren't smarter'n me and see this as obvious, but if that's so, why do I see such huge disgreement between smart people? I don't mean Steve M. vs Cillizza, I mean Steve (and I assume Charlie Pierce) vs Josh Marshall and Booman. My FEELIIES tell me this election she is most unusual, and a lot of Chickenshit Littles will lose their heads. But I know that's also naivee when considered against the full arc since Declaration.

Aside, or maybe not really: A lot of folks here and elswhere have referred to a case before a federal District Court judge named "Chin" who got challenged by one side's ATTORNEY'S in ways quite a bit more subtle that client Trump has been going about it with Judge Curiel, and, like the Hollywood line, Chin made sure those duded never worked again. Good story, anyway. With this big fat twist: the genius attorney who self-gutted in going after Judge Chin was Larry Klayman .... yes, the vary same Larry Klayman who 'founded' and is 'da brainz' be Judicial Watch. Small freaking world don't hardly explain that.

There's another factor being down-played here, as to why Trump's ticked off with Judge Curiel. It's bad enough he's losing "to" a Mexkin, but the real Fear Factor IMO is that Curiel spent so much of his pre-judge professional life as someone who WORKED WITH TRUMP'S MENTAL CONCEPTS: fraud, conspiracy, organized crime. And Trump can't buy off this dude and he's not sure about how far he NEEDS to go to blow Curiel off the case. Look at his talk with BillO: DT sez I HOPE he's NOT prejudiced against me but BILL!! I just gotta get this guy GONE! So Trump isn't going to stop these attacks, unless AT LEAST someone like Newton's gambling billionaire funds settlement (which could happen).

So, DT keeps saying he COULD settle. So why isn't he? Because he actually can't. His own resources aren't set up for the kind of exposure or even settlement he's facing in Califormia. Seriously: he's SORT of a billionaire because he's got things set up so he can live like one - but he can't touch much if any of the core moated behind 4-500 Trump companies. Trump can't EXPENSE that settlement against an existing project - unless it's his conduct in this role within the GOP, and on that kind of challenge Trump's whole life has proven he can't be trust to live up to any deal.

AllieG said...

Don't overthink it. They can't renounce Trump and keep their own jobs. The rest is just weasel words for the Beltway nitwits, the only people left dumb enough to believe them.

Ernest Lamonica said...

I would like to know why the polls that are released usually on Mon.-Tues. are missing. What I mean is since Hillary castrated Trump and Trump started his Jihad against the Judge no new National Polls reflecting those 2 events have been released. You would think those polls would be out with great fanfare but bupkus?

Steve M. said...

Four polls released this week are cited at Pollster, all with HRC up by 3 to 5 points.

mlbxxxxxx said...

It's beginning to look like derailing this lawsuit was a prime motivator for Donald's run for the White House.

To the point of your post though, Mark Kirk has now rescinded his endorsement of Trump. Will it become a trend, at least for blue state GOPers? Maybe. Regardless, Donald is doing real damage to the GOP right before our very eyes. It's a thing of beauty.

And he is going to leave a mark. You wrote earlier that the media will let the GOP off the hook for Trump -- and they may well -- but he's done, and is doing, real damage to the GOP brand at the retail level. The GOP isn't going to just bounce back from this.

Steve M. said...

Maybe. Or maybe this will all be forgotten once the next news cycle starts, as the political world tells itself that maybe Trump will really tone it down this time.

Feud Turgidson said...

mlbxx etc- there is precedent for this.

Long long ago, far far away, in the Great White North.

Folks here recall hockeyist Wayne Gretzky? It was a big deal when a cash-strapped supposed multimillionaire in Edmonton who owned the NHL Oilers pro franchise sold Da Gretz One by stealth to a coin grifter in LA who owned the NHL Kings.

The LA dude was named Brue McNall: phat phuck phraud artist & horse track guy with a jones for rare coin collecting, which was really a front for his fencing stolen and smuggled antequities. Did some time. Somehow returned from prison STILL rich as Croesus, but hey, this's AMERICA, man!

It's the OTHER dude who's the predecedent. Nave of Peter Pocklington. Canadian, car sales millionaire (bribing various shady types with the Alberta government to gain the bulk vehicles sales to the Alberat Government Highways Expansion program, woorth hundreds of millions PER YEAR and billions over time. Parlayed that into buying a Canadian TRUST company, sort of like a savings and loan except more like a bank/ estate work thingee, it's Canada, eh? Also bought up a number of big meat killing, rendering packing plants in Alberta and went head to head with the big boys.

Okay, downfall story: that trust company. Pocklington treated it like a private piggy bank, 'lending' hundreds of millions to a property speculatin and management company, private owned by a number, but the number wa really his wife. In the early 1980s the bottom fell out of the property market in Alberta and commercial interest rates went To The Moon, Alice (or To The Moon, Patricia, as that's Pockington's wife's name). So now he's in rrap with federal banking regulators, the provincial motor vehicle supply contract gets torn up so goodbye cash floow, there's a meat packing war between Pocklington's antiunion plants and his unionized competition, and teh Oilers are fun and winning but not making enough money to saye his butt because his personal deal with the Tretz One is COOOOOSSSSTTTTTLLLLLYYYYY.

So he's got the fraud poliice on his ass, it's a matter of time, and what does he do? HE RUNS FOR CANADIAN P'M.! Acutally, he runs to be leader of the Conservative pparty, or PC or WTF they called themselves them, a particular Boehner-esque level corrupt bunch who were getting their chance to rape the country because the ruling Liberals got tired old dull nasty and sloppy, or all that plus sleazy.

But Pocklington didn't really run to win: he ran to secure him ass from being indicted, or mounted or whatever they do up there. As soon as he saw who the likely winner would be, he took his supporting delegates and made a huge peacock display all over Canada's TV screens of 'annointing' Mulroney, the super-corrupt uber-Boehner who ran the country like a mob hq for the next 8 years.

Now ... WAS THAT what Trump was really after here? Immunity from all the Trump U avalanches now about to reign down on his nasty fat ass? POSSIBLY!!The dude really hasn't haa a Big Earner for some years now, he's strapped; he can't afford to lose the California and NY Trump U lawsuits.

But he's FIGURED to hand his support to someone else - I figure he tried to sell himself to BushCo and they weren't buying, not from him anyway - and then, holy hand grenades Pythons, all these GOP candidates are DOG POOP.

The rest is history and we get to live it in real time.

Ten Bears said...

The better sports analogy is football, where if the scoring team can kick a point after before the defending team can contest the touchdown there is no foul. It's the only explanation I can come up with for this jihad-like rush to declare a presumptive nominee.

Jeff Ryan said...

A "strategy"?


Thanks for that. The afternoon was starting to bog down.

"Strategy"! Oh man, that's a good one!

Never Ben Better said...

Jeff, I know, right? But can't you just see The Donald believing it's brilliant?

Jeff Ryan said...

Maybe. But I don't think he's capable of thinking strategically.

Aunt Snow said...

The problem for Republicans is that Trump is making it very difficult for them to support him. He's basically thrown their advice and criticism in their face, and is doubling down on the racism. They have to make a decision to either 1) embrace the crazy, which makes them look crazy, racist, or hypocritical; or 2) take a stand against him, which means repudiating the party - quite risky - or 3) pretend to disappear. Disappearing means they won't help with the GOTV or surrogacy, which is more damaging to Trump than he seems aware. Yet disappearing also damages the disappeared.

The right thing to do, the honorable thing to do would be to take a stand against him, but few of them have the integrity and balls to do that.

But either way it goes, it's also not good for Trump. He is putting his potential supporters between a rock and a hard place, and I don't think any of them is going to extend themselves out too far for him.

Never Ben Better said...

Eh, Jeff, I should've put "strategy" in quotes. I'm sure he couldn't see any, let alone all, of the possible ramifications long term; I doubt he's even good at tactical thinking. But I don't doubt he considers himself a master strategist inside his own YUUUUUUGE bubble.

Aunt Snow, well put. And stupid stuff like attacking Gov. Martinez is a perfect example of his incompetence to be engaging in a political campaign, even without all the bigotry baggage.

It's like the Peter Principle on steroids, innit?