Saturday, June 25, 2016


There's near-universal agreement that Donald Trump made a fool of himself in Scotland yesterday:
TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Arriving here Friday for his first trip abroad as the likely Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump did not seem to understand the gravity of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

As the value of the pound collapsed in the morning and stock markets around the globe plummeted, Trump attended a surreal ribbon-cutting at his luxury golf resort in this seacoast village and barely mentioned the global news until reporters pressed him to do so....

He landed by helicopter, sporting a white cap bearing his presidential campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The theme was tweaked on red caps worn by resort staffers: “Make Turnberry Great Again.” At a news conference later, Trump stood in front of a bagpiper and continued to speak after a prankster threw several dozen red golf balls bearing swastikas onto the grass.

As reporters pressed him on the referendum to leave the E.U. known as Brexit, Trump declared the vote “fantastic” and “great” because it reflected the anger of voters -- even though Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain....

“I think it’s a great thing that happened,” Trump told reporters shortly after his helicopter landed. “People are angry, all over the world. People, they’re angry.”
I don't think this will hurt him. Help him? No, it won't help him either -- but I think it's a wash. His poll numbers went down after he spent days attacking the judge in the Trump University case. I don't believe this will have a similar effect.

If you like Trump, or at least find him somewhat appealing, you probably liked this press conference. It was the distilled essence of his campaign message: I am a businessman who builds things. I think people are fed up with the status quo, which is about to change for the better.

I know, I know: The golf course he built is an abject failure:
Trump has ... reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project -- even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

Trump’s original plan: ... The project would pump millions of dollars into the local economy and create 6,000 jobs -- maybe even 7,000 jobs, Trump said at one news conference....

Today, the Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen employs 150 people.... Lonely and desolate, the resort has attracted no major tournaments, and neighbors say the parking lot is rarely, if ever, full.
But Americans, or approximately half of them, love this sort of rah-rah business boosterism. They really believe that Trump is the greatest businessman in the country. They really believe he's as rich as he says he is. And they've been told for decades, going back at least to the Reagan era, that the cure for all economic ills is guys in expensive suits creating jobs out of the goodness of their hearts, because that's what capitalism is.

So Trump embodied that yesterday even as he embodied the other widespread view of business in America, namely that fat cats -- other fat cats, not Trump -- have made a mess of America and the world, primarily through globalism and lack of respect for white people. Oddly, an American building a golf course in Scotland isn't regarded as globalism by Trumpites, or maybe they see it as globalism going in the right direction, i.e., us doing stuff to them. (Scots are white too, but they're foreign.)

Trump was criticized for not making a statement reflecting the seriousness of the situation in Britain. But what he did instead was really hammer away at phrases that strike a nerve with his base:
People want to take their country back. They want to have independence, in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You're going to have more than just -- in my opinion, more than what happened last night, you're going to have, I think many other cases where they want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back.

They want to take a lot of things back. They want to be able to have a country again. So, I think you're going have this happen more and more. I really believe that, and I think it's happening in the United States....

But I really do see a parallel between what's happening in the United States and what's happening here. People want to see borders. They don't necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don't know who they are and where they come from. They have no idea.

... again, I think that's what's happening in the United States.... It's a really positive force taking place. They want to take their country back. The people want their country back. We don't want to lose our jobs, we don't want to lose our borders.

... You're taking your country back, you're going to let people that you want into your country, and people that you don't want, or people that you don't think are going to be appropriate for your country, or good for your country, you're not going to have to take.
Over and over and over again. I'm sorry, but that's all some voters want to hear. They don't want to hear a well-informed candidate make an unemotional statement of concern combined with reassurance. They think people who make statments like that in situations like this are the people who've ruined everything in the world.

I'm not saying that the people who responded well to Trump are a majority of American voters. I'm just saying that if you like the sort of thing Trump regularly does, then you probably liked what he did yesterday. If not, not.

Bonus: He was accused of being a Nazi. The fact that he's hated in that way is a mark of virtue for his fans.


AllieG said...

Judging from Trump's favorability numbers, most people find his behavior a turn-off. Of course a large percentage of Trump voters liked it. Another country voted to make racism state policy.

Raymond Smith said...

I agree with your opinion but I could not help laughing and your title. The part that got me was "I don't THINK', brought back memories for me of college many years ago. I used the line also and was politely told by my then professor that it was nice of me to admit in the very beginning I choose not to "THINK".
I know numerous use the line but it can easily be turned against the writer.

Unknown said...

Meanwhile Hillary still has 13 pt lead. Trump's ceiling is, maybe, 38%. Pretty favorable?

aimai said...

There's a difference between being hurt politically and losing some supporters. Trump isn't the kind of candidate that loses supporters--that's true. They love him because they feel like permanent victims, and he is offering them a kind of balm to their wounded souls. As far as they can see there is no one else out there to speak for them, or about them, and they really aren't looking. Trumps voters are not eagerly scanning the news for reasons not to like Trump, they take in only enough to enjoy when he triumphs over their enemies and they will ignore the rest.

But that is not to say that Trump can't be hurt politically with the rest of the electorate. We know for a fact that there is a large swathe of the Republican electorate which is very uncomfortable with Trump--hell hey are announcing every day that they will vote for Hillary. They don't have to do that--they could just stay home, they could simply quietly not vote. There are people who are so afraid of Trump winning that they are actively putting their shoulder to the wheel and publicly coming out (because they believe, however erroneously, that their names matter) and asking other Republicans to join them in voting for Hillary.

For those voters every time Trump tries to shore up his foreign policy cred, or appears on a world stage, its an enormous humiliation. And Those people matter. They are part of the hard working, GOTV, money donating, Republican base. Trump's mouth breathing exciteable primary fans are not the entirety of the Republican voting base. Far from it. I think Scotland/Brexit is going to create a stampede towards Hillary which will, indeed, hurt Trump Politically.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

You'd be correct if you said it didn't hurt him much. More correct would be to say that he is further solidifying his position as an historically bad candidate and big loser in the approaching presidential election. A single drip doesn't matter much but the prolonged relentless drip, drip, drip of sociopathic obliviousness matters a great deal.

Steve M. said...

I don't think he's going to have a historically big loss. Right now Hillary's lead in the Real Clear Politics average is 5 in a four-way race and 5.9 in a two-way race. I think he's going to lose by a McCain-Obama or Romney-Obama margin, not a Goldwater-Johnson margin.

Unknown said...

I have a second comment on Trump. I have been a Liberal Democrat since I was 17 and campaigned for JFK in 1960. Has there ever been a Candidate for President in either Party that has been as well defined as a LOSER in mid June as Trump has been? He is categorized and even if he pretends "Presidential" it is too late. He can not help himself. Every time he opens his mouth a steady stream of junk comes out.

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M., partly that assumes that the Dem split will be on Election Day what it is now - something I think is profoundly counter-supported given what happened in 2008 after June, what the polls really say about the relative attractiveness that HRC and Trump hold with da yutes, and the track record HRC has in overcoming such lazy (sorry) early assumptions about her capabilities at fighting - and partly that Trump will be able to gather in all or substantially all of GOP votes after a spectacularly successful and triumphant RNC in ... Cleveland, a Dem city, in July, the Riot Month.

I "don't think" you can assume what things will be like io November from how they've been in the past or are now or both. Those all help with TREND predictions, not actually predicting the future.

Also, on the polls: AFAIK, the indvidual pollsters still really have never overcome the phenomenon that Nate Silver pressed in 2008 that helped make hims famous among aggregate poll analysts: the increasing trend of Americans towards 100% reliance on cell phones with no land lines and the legal restrictions that tend to obscure when components of the Dem coalition will go viral on voting or not.

sdhays said...

I don't think Brexit is going to make a big impact on Donald Trump's campaign. At this point, there's not a whole lot that could really up-end the cart because it should already be abundantly clear what Trump is. But it's another piece of straw on that camel's back for independents and Republicans who don't like Hillary Clinton but are already having serious doubts about supporting Trump. There will be more pieces of straw, and the Clinton campaign is correctly highlighting these issues. Each person's threshold is different, but more people will reach their threshold the closer we get to November.

In Trump's position, anything that isn't changing the public perception of him is bad. The Trump "plan" seems to be that millions of white racists who never voted before are going to flood the polls and put him on top. This isn't actually what happened in the primary and there's no evidence (that I'm aware of) that this is happening for the general election.

A continual drip of embarrassing and/or offensive news about Trump through November is not going to hurt him all at once, but by November it will be overwhelming.

KenRight said...

It should be said the most all experts agree Scots were moving toward an increasingly anti-British voting perspective, one which at the least would grant them much more of the political freedoms English of both liberal and conservative stripe only begrudgingly wished to grant. And moving to ultimate independence.
In that populist/nationalist spirit Trump also was certainly correct no matter the tactics which are employed by the Scots.

Feud Turgidson said...

KenRight, I ken U R wrong.

You've taken a field facts, seeded with some mysterious "experts" generically modified seed, came a cropper wtih weirdo poppy-tulip hybrids, and *POOF* somehow come up with 'Trump Was Right. Your process uses faux curd and all you've done to include Trump is throw him in the whey. IMO you're analysis is to intellectual rigor what 'partially fermented milkish cheese-like byproduct is to actual cheese.

Steve M. said...

Feud, I think Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are going take a bigger-than-usual share of the vote from disaffected Bernieites and Trump skeptics -- 2-5% each. I also think a lot of young male Bernieites will vote for Trump, just to let it burn, and I on't think HRC will get a lot of R moderates. So it's going to be a fairly tight race.

Ten Bears said...

I think you're mostly right about Johnson and Stien, disagreeing on the young males. I know quite a few. Am wondering, though, if the Robert Kagan and the neoconservative (confederate) Project for a New American Century Clinton endorsement counts as "R moderate?"

Glennis said...

People want to see borders. They don't necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don't know who they are and where they come from.

I find this utterance a fascinating insight into the strange mind of Trump. "People" want to see borders - that is, the right kind of people. "People don't want [other] "people" pouring into "right kind of people's" country. And as for "don't know who they are" - well, they are [other] people, right? And they "don't know where they come from" because why would "people" know geography?

There are clearly, in his mind, two kinds of "people" - legitimate ones and non-legitimate ones. And the non-legitimate ones are unknowable and from unknowable origins.

Glennis said...

Has there ever been a Candidate for President in either Party that has been as well defined as a LOSER in mid June as Trump has been?

I was having a conversation with someone and I posed the question, has there ever been a Candidate for President in either Party whose party officials have been so eager to distance themselves from as Trump? Oh, sure, Republican leaders have gone on record as endorsing him, but when asked to comment on him, or asked about his methods, they RUN AWAY from the microphones and cameras as fast as they can; they are certainly not stumping for him, they aren't attending the convention, and even the RNC webpage (yes, I just looked again) doesn't even MENTION HIS NAME. How many of the major leadership is even willing to appear on the same dais as Trump?

Has this ever happened before? My friends mentioned the reluctance of the establishment Democrats to support McGovern, but I don't think that it quite approached the utter embarrassment and shame that Republican leaders seem to be exhibiting with Trump. They simply don't know what to do about him.

I think it's unprecedented, at least in my memory, but what do you all think?

Glennis said...

In that populist/nationalist spirit Trump also was certainly correct

KenRight, Trump could not possibly have been correct because he doesn't even comprehend what Brexit is. If you think so, you are as big a fool as he is.