Saturday, March 19, 2016


The Utah caucus is on Tuesday, so Donald Trump was campaigning in Salt Lake City last night. He tossed off an insult that made no sense -- and yet the media treated it as headline news:
Donald Trump pilloried Mitt Romney on his home turf on Friday, making his best appeal to the state's majority Mormon population and questioning whether Romney truly represented their faith....

"Do I love the Mormons? I have many friends that live in Salt Lake City -- and by the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them," Trump said to applause. "Are you sure he's a Mormon? Are we sure?"
That was from CNN. Trump asking whether Romney is really a Mormon also became a story at The New York Times, NBC, Business Insider, The Hill, the Blaze, and The Washington Post, and I'm sure that's a partial list.

At the Post, we get this very important clarification:
Romney’s Mormon faith is well-documented and has been the subject of lengthy discussion in the past. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has made a home in Utah and regularly speaks about his religion.
Wow, thanks for nailing that down.

Romney is so obviously a Mormon that the joke doesn't even work. It's just Trump going on autopilot, repurposing material that's worked for him under other circumstances -- but it doesn't work in this context. Watch the clip above -- the remark barely got a reaction. Trump calling Romney "a choke artist" got a much bigger reaction. So did Trump's reference to the fact that his daughter is on the verge of giving birth.

And yet the press thinks this is a real news story. The press is so in awe of Trump at this point that this is treated as a devastating insult. I don't get it.


And speaking of awe, last night I listened to a nine-minute story about Trump's insults of women from WNYC, New York City's NPR affiliate.

Interviewed on the segment were Franchesca Ramsey, a writer for Larry Wilmore's show and the host of MTV's Decoded, and Michael Musto, the former Village Voice gossip columnist and sometime TV personality. Both told the host of the segment, David Furst, that Trump's attacks on women will do him no harm in the election.

Here's Musto (at 4:32 in the segment) talking about Trump's announced intention to attack Hillary Clinton on the subject of Bill Clinton's infidelities:
Well, it weird that Trump is going to use Monica against Hillary. Monica already was something used against Hillary by her husband. Hillary was the victim. I hope he realizes that. In the case of Donald's misalliances while he was married, that was his fault. He was the predator, the perpetrator, and there's a difference there. And it's all going to come out, but...
... but, unfortunately, none of it is going to hurt the Donald. This is the man who fought the pope and it didn't hurt him. This is the man who wasn't sure if an endorsement from the KKK was a good thing, and it didn't hurt him. So the fact that he cheated on wives or mistreated them in many ways or objectified women is not going to be any kind of setback for him, and that's really tragic.
Musto go on to say of Trump, "He is definitely Teflon. Nothing he says or does hurts him."

Ramsey (at 6:29) is equally despairing:
I don't believe that the way that he speaks is ever going to hurt him, and I think that that is the result of us living in a society that still doesn't really give women agency over their bodies, over their sexuality. And so we are seeing a symptom of the world that we live in.
Furst asks Ramsey whether it's hard to write comedy about Trump. She replies:
It is hard, because every time, I realize, in some respect you just start giving him more press. And it's hard, because the people who I think really need to think critically about the things that he's saying, I don't think that they're watching any content that is talking about him with a critical eye.
But Musto and Ramsey are looking Trump's success with women (and men) in Republican primaries and extrapolating it to the general election. Trump clearly has Teflon with many Republican voters, including women. But in the public at large, the reaction to Trump is very different:
Half of U.S. women say they have a "very unfavorable" view of the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, up from the 40 percent who felt that way in October.
And as the L.A. Times notes:
More Republican women view Trump more negatively than positively, according to Gallup. And in a hypothetical matchup with Clinton, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found this month that Trump loses the women’s vote by 21 points.
And the Millennials who presumably watch Ramsey's shows despise Trump, as USA Today recently noted:
In a hypothetical Clinton v. Trump contest in November, voters under 35 would choose Clinton by a crushing 52%-19%, a preference that crosses demographic lines. Among whites, she'd be backed by nearly 2-1, 45%-26%. Among Hispanics, by more than 4-1, 61%-14%. Among Asian Americans, by 5-1, 60%-11%. Among African Americans, by 13-1, 67%-5%.
So negative portrayals of Trump are working -- they're just not working with enough of the voters who are getting to vote on Trump now.

The press has to recognize that a lot of what Trump is doing isn't succeeding -- it's succeeding for the moment, but it's sabotaging Trump for November. It's highly unlikely that he can be stopped in the primaries, but that's because because Republican voters are rageoholics who admire bullies. But he's not unstoppable. Wait till fall.


AllieG said...

The unstoppable Trump theme has bipartisan appeal. Republicans dote on a feeling of triumphalism, justified or not. Democrats love to worry and fret, justified or not.

Yastreblyansky said...

Mister Optimist! But it's true. Trump is really just an epiphenomenon in the drama of the GOP's self-destruction.

Lucia said...

Did you come to that conclusion by a maieutic process?

If I can take a drink out of Steve's usual glass, however, I'm not yet convinced that Trump will be the nominee. Granted, the stop-Trump movement can't seem to get moving, but Trump still has to win a majority of delegates from here on in. Then the GOP has to fail to pull any rules skulduggery at the convention. We could still end up with Paul Ryan, heaven help us.

oaguabonita said...

This all seems so obvious to me (so obvious I've even written essentially the same argument more than once) that it shouldn't even need pointing out.

As Steve's quotes demonstrate, the obvious isn't obvious to some, though, so I guess it bears repeating.

GOPers have good cause . . . VERY good cause . . . to be freaking out over Drumpf looking inevitable as their nominee.

Good reason for anyone else to be freaking out over any likelihood of Prez Drumpf? Not so much!

retiredeng said...

So, President Obama says he has faith in the American people to NOT elect Trump as the next president. Ever the optimist. No?

Ten Bears said...

Knowing what I know of Mormons, which is far more than I care to know about Mormons - like lawyers and the homeless, you can't swing a flyswatter around here without hitting one and there's even more than a few in the family - Donald T Rump just lost that sizable population of the white "christian" vote. Willard Romney is a Bishop, quite possibly the next President, of the Mormon Church.

At this point I would venture were a Mormon to vote for our little dicked would-be Mussolini they may well find themselves answering that self-same question - are you sure - to church authorities.

For example, Willard (Mitt) Romney.

Feud Turgidson said...

This follows up on Lucia's point.
Rachel Maddow has a great feature piece up on the internecine ratfuckery that goes on in and around the RNC primary and convention process. And 2012 was no aberration. The same sort of craziness happened in all throughout 1952, 1964, 1980, and 2012, in the primary process of 2000, and at the convention in 1976.
That is: in 6 of the 10 'competitive' contests for the GOP nomination in my lifetime, the NORM has been extreme insider ratfucking. But in 5/6 cases, it was the Republican establishment doing the fucking.
The only exception was in 1964 - when the GOP establishment was torn, going off in 5 directions (at least five: Michigan Governor George Romney, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Pennsylvannia Governor William Scranton, Calfonia Govenor Ronald Reagan and former veep Richard Nixon), allowing the insurgent, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the necessary room to prevail - despite being opposed by ALL FIVE of the establishment favorites (tho, there's a lot that Rich Perlstein and others have had to say about how Nixon was pulling strings to serve chaos in the near run and his own future prospects over the longer one).
Another way of looking at the GOP fondness for internecine ratfucking is to consider the cycles where it DIDN'T go on: 1956, 1972, 1984, 1992 and 2004, when a Republican president was up for re-election; and 1968, when the Grandest Ratfucker of All, Nixon, pre-fucked the entire process. IOW, all things being equal, there's a deep and abiding affection for the GOPers to lard up into the Viagra and start hunting for insider victims that's almost invariably irresistible against any candidate who's not already in the White House.
So, that history suggests this current situation is ripe for convention chaos, so long as there's even a chance of it happening, because the GOP establishment simply isn't strong enough to prevent it.
Indeed, it's already happening, not just in the #NotDrumpf efforts (pathetic as they are), but in the practical steps aimed at keeping Drumpf from getting to Cleveland with a majority of regular delegates locked down for the first ballot, including much more successful ground level efforts to screw the Donald out of delegates than is being generally reported (in part because the delegate selection process isn't just underway, it remains ongoing for several months more, in some instances into June).
As matters currently stand, the RNC Convention will be co-chaired by RNC Chair Reinhold Priebus and House Speaker Representive Paul Ryan (both, BTW, from the Great Ratfucked State of Wisconsin). From their behavior so far, we can't expect either to take up any particular position - more or less like what happened in 1964 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. But that doesn't mean there won't be at some point, I should think most likely with Priebus taking the lead role - definitely not for, tho possibly against Drumpf, depending things like polling between now and then, and what money changes hands and promises are made.
And it's not actually necessary that either the co-chairs cooperate with the 'establishment insurgency' in Cleveland (I don't know what exactly to call it, but it does seem to me an opportunity to revisist that old thrill word for early stage spelling bee-ers 'antidisestablishmentarianists'.).
Just to give a flavor for this: one of my neighbors is high mucky-muck in local establishment GOP politics, and she's actually floated with me, who she knows to have never voted for even one Republican presidential nominee (tho I have voted for a few Republican candidates in other federal but mostly state and local offices, including her - I co-chaired one of her campaigns), to consider re-registering as a Republican so I can stand for selection as a delegate.
This is crazy, of course: but I know for a fact that it's not a singular request, and that far crazier things than this are being discussed and worked up now within the party establishment.

sdhays said...

@Feud Turgidson: Did those other conventions include the serious threat of violence at the prospect of the leading candidate not becoming the nominee? I wonder how that will color the actions of the others.

CH said...

My faith in the American electorate is, shall we say, somewhat less robust than Obama's; 2004, 2010 and 2014 come to mind, not to mention 1980 and 1984. In any event, I'd breathe more easily were the R's to nominate Ryan or the like, and fail to appease Trump enough to prevent him running independently. OTOH, if they nominate Trump, I think we might nab the Senate; but if they have a Ryan at the top of the ticket, I think the R's could well keep their majority, regardless of whether Trump 3rd-parties it or not.

sophronia said...

This is why I feel like sighing whenever Democrats I know insist that Hilary will be able to withstand any personal attacks Trump makes. The Republican SOP is to attack their opponent's strengths and turn them into weaknesses. So if it looks like Hilary is appealing to women and Trump isn't, they're not going to go after Hilary personally -- they're going to go after women. We can expect misogynist, sexist campaign rhetoric on a level that makes "bleeding out of their whatevers" look like sweet talking. And there are plenty of people in America who love that shit and will happily join in.

Remember how Obama became the most polarizing president in history by actually mentioning once or twice that he was a black man? Hilary will get that and worse, because they're really angry now.

Ten Bears said...

Anyone who is willing to put the rest of us through all that, because "it's her turn", doesn't have the best interests of the country, of the rest of us, at heart.

Sweet Sue said...

If Hillary can take it (and she can), then God knows I can, too.
Of course, she has the best interests of our country at heart: the twist is that she also has the best interests of women and girls at heart.
I know, the plot thickens!