Saturday, October 22, 2016


David Atkins of The Washington Monthly has just published a piece titled "How Trump Could Still Mount a Comeback." Atkins realizes that such a comeback is extremely unlikely, but he does think there are elements of Trumpism that could, in theory, be the basis of a come-from-behind victory -- or of electoral success by a Trumpite candidate of the future.
This formula is still Donald Trump’s best bet to win now. There has always been some question just how committed Trump is to orthodox Republican policies. He has already quite successfully broken with the GOP on trade policy, promising to renegotiate free trade deals that harm American workers and bring jobs back to the United States. He could break with the GOP on tax policy as well, and commit to reducing inequality and reinvesting in American jobs and infrastructure. He could promise to upend the tuition infrastructure and make college affordable, and he could claim the mantle of his knowledge of real estate to promise to address the housing affordability crisis. He could promise to decriminalize marijuana and put an end to overseas interventions.
Atkins can't imagine Trump actually doing all this:
... for all his faux populism, Trump is still a plutocrat who is unlikely to back any tax policies that don’t enrich him, nor is he empathetic enough to understand what he would need to do to have a prayer of winning over anyone not already in his alt-right camp.
But I can imagine a lot of mainstream pundits nodding in agreement, because they think Trump really is a different kind of Republican whose populism is genuine and whose differences with the GOP establishment are profound.

I suspect Richard Branson would know better.

Branson, the founder of the Virgin corporate empire, tells us that he got the measure of Trump when he first met him:
Some years ago, Mr Trump invited me to lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan. We had not met before and I accepted. Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.

He didn’t speak about anything else and I found it very bizarre. I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them. There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life.
For Trump, of course, everything is about vengeance.

But what does that have to do with the hypothetical populist message laid out by David Atkins? Well, here's the reason it's unimaginable that Trump would ever deliver that message. It's true that Trump has broken with the GOP on trade policy -- but that's because he wants to get back at foreigners with whom his business dealings haven't always gone well. As for the rest?
He could break with the GOP on tax policy as well, and commit to reducing inequality and reinvesting in American jobs and infrastructure. He could promise to upend the tuition infrastructure and make college affordable, and he could claim the mantle of his knowledge of real estate to promise to address the housing affordability crisis. He could promise to decriminalize marijuana and put an end to overseas interventions.
He was never going to do any of that because he's not angry at anyone about America's many generous tax loopholes, he's not angry about inequality, he's not angry about the cost of tuition, he's not angry about housing affordability, and he's not angry about the war on drugs. He's only an angry (pseudo-)populist about the things that affect him personally -- dealings with the Chinese and other foreigners, and perhaps infrastructure (because he thinks New York's airports are shabby).

For more than a year, pundits have treated Trump's occasional populist talk as sincere. It never was. It was about getting back at people. That's Trump's prime motivation in life.


Never Ben Better said...

Heck, getting back at Obama for being humiliated at that dinner is likely one of the prime motivators for his whole candidacy. The 3:00 a.m. tweetstorms at Machado and others are perfect illustrations of his desperate need for vengeance.

Victor said...

He seeks vengeance against those whom he feels disrespected him.

He HAAAAAAAAAAAATES being considered a loser.

And soon, outside of his t-RUMP-a-loon-pa's, no one will respect him!

The best thing will be that he will be declared a big LOSER by the political world after Election Day!

He’ll be shunned in NY and DC by the really rich and powerful.
No more charity gala’s in those towns. Who would invite a skin-flint to a charity event?He’s burnt and crispy toast.

No more parties either – who wants a boorish serial sociopathic liar, and LOSER, who might pop a couple of Tic-tacs, stick his tongue down some woman’s throat, and grab her pussy, at any social event!?!?! Especially not if HE tries to throw it.

He’ll be stuck either alone with his boorish family in t-RUMP Tower, or in some mansion in Florida.
And that’s if – IF! – Melania and his kids stick with him. When they find out they’re shunned, too, and nowhere near as rich as daddy said, they may flee from him, as well!

The Scots won’t want him, so I doubt he’ll be able to move there.

In about 5 yrs, he’ll either be in some segment of “Where are they now,” on TV, or, if the shit that’s come out in his campaign about theft, and using his charity as a “Mad-money” slush fund, and t-RUMP (FUCK) U., he might be in a cell next to Bernie Madoff.

It couldn’t happen to a…
Well, you get the idea.

And finally, t-RUMP’s greatest punishment, will be when, after the election, the media, the rich and famous, and ordinary people – except his millions of despicable deplorable’s – ignore him.

Can you imagine his outrage when, if he decides not to concede – but Hillary has far more than 270 electoral votes – no one gives a flying pussy-grab about it?


Dark Avenger said...

"But what's this long face about, Mr. Starbuck; wilt thou not chase the white whale! art not game for Moby Dick?"
"I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales, not my commander's vengeance. How many barrels will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket market."

"Nantucket market! Hoot! But come closer, Starbuck; thou requirest a little lower layer. If money's to be the measurer, man, and the accountants have computed their great counting-house the globe, by girdling it with guineas, one to every three parts of an inch; then, let me tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great premium here!"

"He smites his chest," whispered Stubb, "what's that for? methinks it rings most vast, but hollow."

Anonymous said...

Twentieth century educator, physicist and prolific social commentor (thinly disguised as science fiction) Issaic Asimov argued that violence is the last resort of the incompetent. I disagree. Vengence, is the last resort of the incompetent.

Violence is merely the last resort
Ten Bears

Swellsman said...

In this, Trump - once again - is a perfect avatar for the GOP. Not only for the vengeance, of course, but as you point out Trump only gets exercised about "the things that affect him personally . . . . "

How many times over the years have we witnessed otherwise stalwarts of the GOP break with their party on issues like, say, LGBT rights only because they, personally, have a beloved family member who is gay? How often did male GOP leaders begin their condemnation of Trump's "pussygate" comments with some variant of "as the father of one or more daughters/the husband of a loving wife/the grateful son of a wonderful mother/etc."?

It very much seems that Republicans can only convince themselves to care about an issue if they themselves are personally affected. One of the things that does seem to define the modern Republican party is an inability to care or empathize about anything that is not about them. No wonder Trump got their nomination.

bowtiejack said...

I suspect that one of the NY tabloids has already mocked up their post-election front page with a picture of Der Trumpf and a 96-point headline - LOSER!

sdhays said...

For about 5 minutes in the summer of last year, I was genuinely afraid of Trump because it looked like he might just be poised to run a campaign like this. It wasn't clear how that would end up, but it definitely had the potential to reshuffle some coalitions.

And then he released his tax plan and I never worried again. It was clear that he going to blunder past this and it was always his only real shot at winning the whole shebang.

jsrtheta said...

Many years ago, a lawyer remarked to me about a client, "This guy thinks it's all on the legit!"

That is the problem with this election's coverage and commentary: The assumption that Trump is somehow a serious candidate with the knowledge and ambitions that come with the territory.

He is not. This has always been a psychodrama. I expect (and hope) future mental health teachers and professionals will be required to watch videos from this campaign, with the goal of identifying as many DSM-V diagnoses they can find. Nothing he has ever said in this process demonstrates familiarity with, knowledge of, or interest in serious political concerns. That was obvious from the day he announced, and the punditocracy should have seen that and called him out daily as the campaign progressed.

For a pundit to write about the political stands Trump could take, and thereby save himself from defeat, simply proves said pundit has been watching a different movie from the rest of us.

It's like speculating on the likely preferred trade policies of a rhino charging you. That's not the point. Action and survival are.

Feud Turgidson said...

Can't stay long; too busy dancing the Told Ya So:

So many lives messed up by him and his serviles, it's nice to see not just him toppling but Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani in particular.

Joseph Nobles said...

I'm halfway convinced that Trump's revenge after losing will be a claim that Bill and Hillary put him up to run for the nomination so he could take a dive for them in the general.

There are many downsides to this tactic, but none I can think of that Trump would care about. It casts him as the brilliant one who fooled an entire party. It smears the Clintons - and a sizable portion on the left already believe Bill enticed him to run. It makes the GOP establishment out to be chumps. And his supporters would certainly hate him, but their ire would be directed at Hillary and the GOP establishment. Indeed, for a candidacy heavily steeped in the tactics of the WWE, it would make him the most successful heel in history.

Someone, please convince me that I'm wrong.

Dark Avenger said...

TB, even the ancient Hebrews were wiser than verklumpt schiesskopf Trump:

"Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord: I will repay."

Anonymous said...

No Joseph, I'll not even try; it has been my contention from the beginning.

Think of it as herding cats.

Only, DA, if one were to bow drown to lords and dogs and graven images.

Human Beings do not
Ten Bears

Dark Avenger said...

LORD SUMMERHAYS. Do you never condescend to do as common people do?
For instance, do you not pray as common people pray?

LINA. Common people do not pray, my lord: they only beg.

LORD SUMMERHAYS. You never ask for anything?


LORD SUMMERHAYS. Then why do you pray?

LINA. To remind myself that I have a soul.

Dr.BDH said...

After reading Atkins' remarkably misguided piece, I feel we all need to remind ourselves that we are dealing with a post-Broder press corps, especially among our pundits, that is too stupid to understand policy issues, that finds numbers and details boring, and probably could not do simple arithmetic on a calculator, let alone tackle statistics and probability. Since mug's horse-racing is the only form of political journalism they have the brain-power to embrace, everything they write must necessarily devolve into horse-racing of the stupidest kind: what is the jockey's number, how many letters are in the nag's trainer's name, what did the guy at the end of the bar say about the state of the track?

Feud Turgidson said...

WaMo has two really good commentators during the regular week, working well where the great Ed Kilgore used to. But Atkins wafts continually between moron & wimp; I stopped reading his inane crap months ago.

And I just don't get how WaMo got themselves into leaving their good name and platform at the misguided whims of such a nitwit. Every time Steve M. can't attend to posting here, he brings in nothing but great substitutes, particularly the fizzing aimai. If Atkins were to gain a regular spot during the week, I wouldn't hesitate to remove WamO off my headlined bookmarks.

jsrtheta said...

@Joseph Nobles: I don't know any person, serious or otherwise, who believes for a second Trump was put up to this by the Clintons. I've heard it as a joke, but that's it.

And think about it: Unless you believe Trump is the greatest actor of all time (and he isn't), there's no way this could be true. He has behaved like an idiot, and been adjudged one, for some time, something he refuses to accept. Are you seriously suggesting that anyone would expose themselves this way as part of a Machiavellian scheme, and it's all a ruse? Why? What in his personal history suggests such a thing? His personal history is there for everyone to see - it's why he's finally tanking, frankly. Everything he's done is absolutely consistent with that history. Nothing in his past points in the other direction. Ever notice what his biographers all say when asked whether his current behavior surprises them? They all say the same thing: Yeah, he was always a total jerk. I mean, do you think Branson's lying?

Okay, you say he'll just claim this. Who would believe it? No one.

You think if he said this his minions would blame Hillary? Why? She didn't stand there and lie to them - he's the betrayer, not her. They'd rip him apart. They'd blow up Trump Tower. Though, frankly, they likely wouldn't believe the claim, and kill him anyway.

Occam's Razor, my friend. You need to calm down and get a grip.

pluky said...

Before seeking vengeance, first dig two graves.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Chelsea Clinton refused to invite him to her wedding. And so it began...