Monday, October 10, 2016


I'm told that yesterday's events are unprecedented in American politics. Here's The Washington Post's Dan Balz:
The answer is no: We haven’t seen anything quite like this

The question has been asked so many times over the past 16 months of this presidential election that it has become a cliche: Has anyone ever seen anything quite like this? And yet, once again, Donald Trump took Campaign 2016 to places no one could have imagined when it all began.

... [Trump] tried to turn attention away from the damaging video by saying that Clinton’s husband, Bill Clinton, had treated women far worse. And he pledged that if he becomes president, he would appoint a special prosecutor to go after her for her use of a private email server, saying if he were in charge of law enforcement, she would be in prison.

... never has there been a debate in which the attacks, the body language and the exchanges conveyed the degree to which this campaign has reached the depths of division and disagreement, not just between the two candidates but between two Americas.
Right -- we've never seen anything like this in a general-election presidential debate. But the only thing new that happened yesterday was that Trump brought the attitudes, suspicions, and resentments of conservative America to the debate stage undiluted. (Headline of Rosie Gray's debate write-up at BuzzFeed: "Trump Goes Full Breitbart.")

What we saw from Trump yesterday is what we've seen on Fox News, talk radio, and conservative websites every single day for the past twenty years. We're just not supposed to see it from the Republican presidential nominee, who's supposed to go light on the demonization and degradation of Democrats that's the common language of the right. Trump's just not bothering to engage in the usual deception.

How can we be shocked that Trump said he'd put Hillary Clinton in jail? The mantra of his convention last summer was "Lock her up"; there are voter-created "Hillary for Prison" signs all over America. (And this isn't even new. In the 2000 campaign, a guaranteed applause line in Pat Buchanan's stock speech was his assertion that his first act as president would be to turn to the outgoing president, Bill Clinton, and say, "Sir, you have the right to remain silent.")

And how can we be shocked that Trump believes Bill and Hillary Clinton regularly preyed on women? That's been a staple of conservative discourse for a generation, and it would have been used by the conservative press against Hillary even if this year's nominee chose not to raise it personally.

Here's a Fox Nation post titled "A Millennial's Guide to Bill Clinton's 20+ Sex Scandals"; it was published in December 2015, when the outcome of the Republican primaries was still in doubt. And from November 2007, when Hillary Clinton seemed likely to be the 2008 Democratic nominee, here's a Sean Hannity interview with Kathleen Willey:
SEAN HANNITY ...: In her new book entitled "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," Kathleen Willey takes us on a detailed account of the alleged assault in the Oval Office, to the fallout that followed, to the death of her husband....

Well, you've known you were going to write this book, and you know the Clinton operatives, because you've lived through this, they're -- they're going to come out. They're going to assassinate your character. You've lived through this.

WILLEY: I have.

HANNITY: As has every woman who has ever accused Bill Clinton of anything. They've all gone through this, right?


HANNITY: And you are friends with Juanita Broaddrick.


HANNITY: You've talked to Paula Jones. We know that he admitted to lying about Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.

And on and on. This stuff isn't going out on the dark Web -- it's hiding in plain sight. If it shocks you coming from Trump, where were you when it was bubbling up from the fever swamps all these years?

Trump said last night that Hillary Clinton has "tremendous hate in her heart"; in The New York Times, Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin describe this as a "startling accusation." But what's "startling" about it? Conservatives have been describing Democrats and liberals as America's real hatemongers for years now -- if you call out racism, the right says that you're the real racist. This happens all the time. There's nothing new here.

Donald Trump is the real Republican Party stripped of phony civility and fake high-mindedness. He represents his party better than John McCain and Mitt Romney ever did. He's the genuine article. If you're shocked by his campaign, you've had your head in the sand for a long time.


Lit3Bolt said...

They're not shocked, they're angry the both sides fig leaf was torn away and have no choice but to condemn the Republican candidate. That means less beer commercials, less car commercials, and the media groveling for forgiveness from their masters and promising to really, truly investigate those nasty Dems.

Never Ben Better said...

^^^ This, mostly, though never discount the power of denial when faced with an unpleasant reality.

Feud Turgidson said...

The only real interest in this has to be commercial - right? Recycled stories about the Clenis, or fresh Don John audio?

In judging commercial potential in the underworld of quasi-celebrity, I yield to the maestro of messy, the sultan of scum, the crown regal of crud: Geraldo Rivera.
Rivera's going to the tapes.

He's already in the promo phrase, previewing his personal collection in the vault behind the mouldy green door. He will release teasers, each of which will approach but never actually capture a reveal. He'll talk 'about' and 'around' the subject, process, depth, breadth, colors ... stuff; he'll run out words like "devastating", & "bombshell". But we'll see nothing before the tv special & less even in the spatter resistant bathroom book. It'll all be flaccid, tiny & frustrating.

Marc McKenzie said...

This. All of this.

Trump has simply taken all of the GOP's anti-Clinton bullshit and dragged it into the light and right onto the stage. The sad thing is that there are the few on the Left who have also quaffed this swill--remember the chants of "lock her up!" at this year's DNC? Or the mad ravings of H.A. Goodman, Gary Leupp, and Ron Chusid?

Tengrain said...

Your final paragraph is the best summary of this election cycle.

I've been saying for moths (a year, perhaps?) that Trump is not a symptom of the GOP's prion disease, he is the GOP; he's the portrait from the attic, but now it is in the parlor, and it ain't going back.



id brink said...

When 55-60 percent of the country would still buy into the Top Gun rah-rah and Viva Las Vegas capitalist dreams if a "palatable" Republican were the nominee, pretending to be shocked, shocked at the Donald seems par for the course. And you're correct, Steve, that in the post-election they're going to do their damndest to isolate him as a analmolous problem child -- like McCarthy, Nixon and Gingrich -- because too many of them still are conditioned to desire the Disneyfied Republican fantasies.

Plebeian said...

What did you expect? Power is rarely relinquished peacefully, and that is what we are living through now. Power is being transferred from the status quo to a more diverse cast of characters. As a white guy I see it, feel it and really don't feel threatened by it.

But I, by no means speak for my white guy cohort, if you think things are ugly now, just think someday, people will look back on this time as the "Good Old Days".

Kathy said...

Maybe it was seeing it so vividly that brought this home to a lot of people who've only been reading about it. Trump’s serial killer routine last night was genuinely frightening. Nicole Wallace said it well when she observed that if a man did that to her on the street she'd have 911 cued up on her phone.

Jim Snyder said...

FWIW, the NBC / WSJ poll that dropped this morning has Clinton leading 52-38.

Steve M. said...

Yeah, I seriously underestimated the impact of this.

Jim Snyder said...

Well, that initial Morning Consult poll suggested a small effect.

I'm surprised to see that an effect that large... chances are it's an outlier. But even if the "real" margin is 8 points, or if the effect fades by Election Day, the GOP is in Deep Doo-doo.

Especially if, as seems likely, there's another vid waiting to drop. The Trump-supporter who controls the archive is threatening a lawsuit against anyone who leaks anything, so there's something there. And it'll drop before the election, if only because NBC owns the archive.

Frank Rich over at NYMag thinks that the vid didn't cause the damage; he thinks it gave fence-sitters the excuse they needed to jump.

Check this out:

It is the most damning indictment of a presidential candidate I have ever seen in a major newspaper. And read to the end, because there's a break in the middle for not-Trump news.

Nova Pravda front page is all false equivalence. Surprised that they buried Trump's "jail" threat.

Jim Snyder said...

A few excerpts from that WaPoop article:

-- Trump’s collapse has already ruined many political careers, and it will probably ruin more… The ambitious Republicans who submitted and capitulated to Trump after he personally insulted them and their families continue to be personally humiliated.

“Everything Trump touches dies,” said Republican consultant Rick Wilson, who is advising independent candidate Evan McMullin. “This is going to last forever,” he told Phil. For years now, Democrats will be able to roll out TV ads and say, ‘When John Smith says today he’s for a brighter future, remember who he stood by: Donald Trump. He stood by Donald Trump’s misogyny, racism, sexism and stupidity.’”

“The Republican Party will look like Berlin circa 1945,” (GOP operative Steve Schmidt)

-- Schmidt, one of John McCain’s top advisers in 2008, said this weekend’s donnybrook “has exposed the intellectual rot in the Republican Party.” “This candidacy – the magnitude of its disgrace to the country is almost impossible to articulate,”

And a threat that no-one saw coming ... not even thinly veiled, which drives home Rick Wilson's point:

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lashed out at the Republican lawmakers who are jumping ship by saying that “some of them” sexually harass women in the Capitol. She did not name names but told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night that some of the members are known for “rubbing up against girls” and “sticking their tongues down women’s throats uninvited.”

I am at a loss for words. Trump's campaign manager, a well-connected GOP apparatchik, sounds for all the world like a mobster. And she's threatening her team!

Jeff Ryan said...

Let us not forget that David Fahrenthold saved the Republic.

Jim Snyder said...

@JeffRyan: responded in gmail, but my response hasn't posted.

What I said in response to SteveM's next article: in short, and against all my strongly felt principles, I plan to take out a subscription to Pravda on the Potomac in thanks to the only newspaper in the country that's still doin' journalism.

Dog, it hurts me to say that ...

Jeff Ryan said...

@Jim Snyder: I somehow got this thing through Amazon where I get an email every day that links to "top" stories in the Post. But you can usually only link to those specific stories. I linked to the Daily 202 piece you provided the link for here, but I did it through Google News. For some reason (and there's one time it didn't work), Google News' links bypass paywalls. And I think they work for every link that Google News returns. (Though someday we will all bow down to our Google masters.)

If I had the disposable spondulix, I'd go ahead and subscribe, because the Post always has something worth reading.

Jim Sweeney said...

Trump is a boor, and Paul Ryan is right to hold his nose and step back, but the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver is not one whit less evil than the snatch-snatcher, er, pussy-grabber. Ryan's policies would immiserate millions, and he could never repudiate his party's standard bearer because the improbable victory of the short-fingered is the only way Ryan could achieve his dystopia.

rclz said...

I have to say I was stunned after that Trump brought those women out and shoved them in Hillary's face. I felt a bit ill for Hillary. I could see if Bill were the one running but this is just plain nasty for the sake of nasty. It will garner him new voters, it will hurt him with independents, there was no real reason for it beyond being an asshole. I pay attention to politics and the nastiness of the right but I guess I forgot who they are. My mother says I have a polyanna streak that comes out now and then, I should have remembered who republicans are at the basic level. After what they did to Max Clealand nothing should surprise me.

Jim Snyder said...

@JimSweeney: "snatch-snatcher": +1

@JeffRyan: chrome (and possibly other browsers) allows you to create multiple personas, each of which seems to have access to a full load of 10 free articles. Kinda a nuisance, but it's a work-around. I was surprised when I thought about it that WaPoop, er, I mean Pravda on the Potomac has a much wider range of op-ed political viewpoints than Nova Pravda. Krugman, yay ... Collins more often than not, but srsly, David Brooks? The Mustache of Wisdom?!? Arthur Brooks of the AEI?!? vs Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman and Eric Wemple and Alexandra Petri and Dave Drezner and Catherine Rampell and David Weigel and Radley Balko ... I've even slummed to the level of reading Jennifer Rubin for the schadenfreude (over-consumption of which can be dangerous to your health. Ahm jes' sayin'.) Ya gotta figger de Debbil is ice-skating when Rubin and Gerson and Kaplan and George Fsckin' Bow-tie Will make sense. (OK, Will somewhat less often, but still...)