Friday, September 23, 2016


David Brooks thinks Hillary Clinton's campaign is drab and old-fashioned:
Her donor base and fund-raising style is out of another era. Obama and Sanders tapped into the energized populist base, but Clinton has Barbra Streisand, Cher and a cast of Wall Street plutocrats. Her campaign proposals sidestep the cutting issues that have driven Trump, Sanders, Brexit and the other key movements of modern politics. Her ideas for reducing poverty are fine, but they are circa Ed Muskie: more public works jobs, housing tax credits, more money for Head Start.
Trump's ideas for reducing povery make no sense -- wave a magic wand and suddenly America will be great again, with millions more jobs and taxes slashed -- but never mind. We know the wall won't work; we know the trade war with China won't work. But Trump is nationalist at the top of his lungs, so it's exciting:
We have an emerging global system, with relatively open trade, immigration, multilateral institutions and ethnic diversity. The critics of that system are screaming at full roar. The champions of that system -- and Hillary Clinton is naturally one -- are off in another world.
"Screaming at full roar" is really the point here. Trump is keeping this close not just because a lot of white Americans are racist, but because a lot of other white Americans who aren't racist (or aren't very racist) find the "disruptive" nature of the Trump campaign bracing and sexy, and thus are willing to overlook what they find distasteful about Trump. They like the fact that Trump is competitive despite doing everything you're not supposed to do as a candidate. Older college-educated whites, as much as (or perhaps more than) millennials, think it might be cool to see everything blown up.

At BuzzFeed, Ruby Cramer notes that the Clinton campaign made a strategic decision in the spring to stop linking Trump to the GOP and portray him as a person who's beyond preexisting bipartisan political norms. I assume this was done after a lot of focus groups and a lot of poring over data: the members of Team Clinton who favored this approach must have concluded that there was a statistically significant likelihood of winning more votes this way, because one approach led to X response and the other approach led to Y response.

But this is Clinton being a careful nerd, and much of America will vote for a guy who just tosses all the paperwork in the air and decides to go with his gut, even if his gut is the gut of a bigoted simpleton with narcissistic personality disorder.

That's why Trump is likely to be declared the winner of next Monday's debate. Paul Krugman wants him to be called on his inevitable lies in the debates, in real time:
Will the moderators step in when Mr. Trump delivers one of his well-known, often reiterated falsehoods? If he claims, yet again, to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning -- which he didn’t -- will he be called on it? If he claims to have renounced birtherism years ago, will the moderators note that he was still at it just a few months ago? (In fact, he already seems to be walking back his admission last week that President Obama was indeed born in America.) If he says one more time that America is the world’s most highly taxed country -- which it isn’t -- will anyone other than Mrs. Clinton say that it isn’t? And will media coverage after the debate convey the asymmetry of what went down?
But that's unlikely, and not just because, as Krugman says, pointing out the fact that Trump lies far more than Clinton would seem like an act of partisan bias, even if it's objectively true. Trump won't be called on his lies because there's quiet admiration in the media for his unmitigated gall, and for the fact that it works. We'll get this instead:
One all-too-common response to such attacks involves abdicating responsibility for fact-checking entirely, and replacing it with theater criticism: Never mind whether what the candidate said is true or false, how did it play? How did he or she “come across”? What were the “optics”?
To some extend, I understand why the Chuck Todd's of the press will respond this way -- much of the public just likes it when Trump gets away with stuff. But much of the media does, too, and Trump may be covered that way just because some in the media simply admire him for being such a clever rogue. I don't know how Clinton will beat that.


AllieG said...

Trump has gotten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to fall in line. That is all that has happened. That's why the election is close. It has nothing to do with "wanting to blow stuff up." Trump remains unpopular with a majority of the public, but many Republicans are willing to put aside their dislike for the sake of victory.

Anonymous said...

Obama and Sanders tapped into the energized populist base, but Clinton has Barbra Streisand, Cher and a cast of Wall Street plutocrats.

Obama's 2008 campaign took off with a splashy appearance with... Oprah Winfrey. Fuck David Brooks roughly with something jagged.

Victor said...

Preferably, fuck Bobo with something white-hot, and jagged - with barbs!

Maybe, like a "pearl-necklace" of white-hot fishing lures running from his ass, out of his mouth.

t_RUMP would love to have celebrities, but all he can muster is Baio, that Armadillo woman - one of his few African-Americans - and Ted "They Human Angry Booger" Nugent, a has-been guitarist.

Kathy said...

I'm from another era, huh? Good to know. As someone who's done fundraising, I think the Clinton campaign is doing an excellent job. Ask early and often, and personalize your approach. Beats the hell out of Trump's "Dear _____" emails. That's literally what I received, several times, before I unsubscribed. Never did figure out how I got on the list in the first place.

Phil Freeman said...

Trump's gonna look really stupid on Monday night. He's got a couple of major problems going in:

1) He does well in a group situation where he can let other people do most of the talking and every once in a while, interject a mean jab at his chosen victim for the evening (Rubio, Jeb(...), Cruz, etc.) - in a one on one debate, where he's gonna have to talk a lot more, he won't do as well because

2) His speeches, if you watch them at full length, are actually terrible and boring. He has a couple of big lines, which are the bits that get picked up by the nightly news, but they're stuck in the middle of 45 minutes of rambling, empty bluster. Yes, he speaks to big crowds, but there's plenty of reporting documenting the fact that people leave halfway through the "show." On debate night, he's not gonna have the video editor on his side to pluck out the one halfway-cogent (in a horrible, racist, thuggish sort of way) bit and spotlight it. It's gonna just be word salad upon word salad. And

3) If he goes straight at Clinton on the stage, he's gonna look like a bullying asshole, for several reasons, including the fact that he's about a foot taller than she is. If he pulls some shit like Rick Lazio pulled, actually getting into her physical space, he'll fuck himself completely.

4) Also, a big part of his act is feeding off the crowd. There are TONS of call-and-response bits in his usual act - everything from asking the crowd who's gonna build the wall to his repeated refrains of "Believe me!" The debate audience is under STRICT orders to remain completely silent at all times. Without that sounding board, Trump is gonna flounder, and will probably have at least one "lost-in-the-weeds" moment.

Steve M. said...

On debate night, he's not gonna have the video editor on his side to pluck out the one halfway-cogent (in a horrible, racist, thuggish sort of way) bit and spotlight it.

I couldn't disagree with this more.

The debate audience is under STRICT orders to remain completely silent at all times.

Who's going stop them if they want to cheer? Is Lester Hold going to tase violators?

Phil Freeman said...

What's to disagree with? The debate is a live event. Sure, it'll be Soundbite City the next day. But in the moment, he's gonna be up there with nobody "Trump! Trump! Trump!"-ing him along, just staring into the darkness and trying to get from one sentence to the next without emitting a Palin-esque yarn-ball of gibberish, while Clinton makes the same "are you finished yet, dumbass?" face she made at Trey Gowdy at the Benghazi hearing. But whatever.

Glennis said...

There's a great article by JAmes Fallows at the Atlantic about the debates:

Worth a read. He makes clear the difference between the primary debates, which had multiple contenders, and a one-on-one debate. Trump managed to excel at the first, mainly by insulting people and making zingers, but Clinton had a whole primary's worth of one-on-one debate practice with Bernie. She's clearly got the advantage.

Of course that doesn't mean that the media won't be grading Trump on a curve - he will have no trouble meeting the low expectations they have for him.

KenRight said...

How did Krugman get by with lying that he was a progressive when he supported free trade for so long?
Anybody here gather of list of Krugman's lies about Sanders' economic program flaws?
Okay, I guess this wouldn't be the proper time to list them.

KenRight said...

Are you folks excited....about Clinton's Max Boot and Michael Hayden
neocon campaign tactics?

If not, why not vote Stein for your own integrity? And bloodless hands.

Ken_L said...

Hillary's campaign has been pretty awful to be honest. It's all very well to say "Oh she doesn't like big stadium rallies and isn't good at them" but that's beside the point. A presidential candidate SHOULD not only be good at them, but enjoy them. As Obama has said, part of the job is performance art.

She's also failed to develop a handful of powerful themes. The last reference I could find to her talking about global warming, for example, was in July. July!

She seems to have based her campaign on the belief that the more Americans saw of Trump, the less they'd be inclined to vote for him. It wasn't an unreasonable expectation, but it's been clear for more than a month that it was wrong. But she doesn't seem to have a plan B.

Glennis said...

If KenRight says it, the opposite is true.