Friday, January 04, 2019


Representative Rashida Tlaib used a bad word in reference to President Trump, and Chris Cillizza is on it:
Hours after being sworn in as a freshman member of the 116th Congress, Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib told a crowd of liberal activists of her plans for President Donald Trump: "We're gonna go in there and we're going to impeach the motherf****r."

... What Tlaib did on Thursday night might feel good for Democrats.... But it almost certainly is the wrong strategy if Democrats want to beat Trump in 2020.

Why? Well, put as simply as possible: Never wrestle with a pig because you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

To expand on that slightly: Donald Trump will say and do anything -- and I mean anything -- that he believes will work to his political advantage. There are no guardrails, there is nothing that he considers off-limits or out-of-bounds. You simply cannot go lower than he is willing to go.

... there's this, too: People don't hold Trump to the same standards that they hold other politicians to. Look at the exit polling from the 2016 election. Two-thirds of voters (64%) said that Trump was neither honest nor trustworthy; one-in-five of those people voted for him anyway. A similar 63% said Trump lacked the temperament to be president; he won one-in-five of those voters too.

The point here is simple: Trump didn't win because voters thought he was a great guy. They knew he wasn't. Many of them disapproved of the way he ran his campaign -- and the way he acted in his life. They just decided that other things, namely that he represented radical change in Washington, mattered more.
Here's what Cillizza is missing: This wasn't a calculated frontal attack on Trump. It wasn't Mitt Romney's recent op-ed or Ted Cruz's decision to turn on Trump in the 2016 primaries. It was Tlaib talking not directly to Trump but to a gathering of her own supporters, in language she's comfortable with. It was Tlaib, in other words, being herself among like-minded voters -- being "authentic" and "genuine" and all those other words that are regularly applied to candidates like Trump, but rarely to Democrats. It was Tlaib's version of one of the many Trump rallies Cillizza's employer broadcast at full length in 2016.

Because Trump (with the help of Russia, James Comey, a Hillary-hating media, and the Electoral College) won in 2016, Cillizza believes he -- and apparently he alone -- has Teflon when it comes to intemperate statements. Cillizza seems to believe that Trump has an immunity from bad consequences of his own actions that no other politician -- certainly no Democrat -- has.

But what if Tlaib also has passionate voters who'll conclude that what she said was no big deal (or was actually just the right thing to say)? What if a large percentage of voters either approve of what she said or are unfazed by it? What if, in other words, someone other than Trump also has Teflon?

Does anyone remember when Ted Cruz tried to tarnish Beto O'Rourke's reputation by pointing out that he uses the F-word?
In a new TV ad by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, his opponent, Democratic Congressman and senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, is featured using the F-bomb five times and suggests that O’Rourke’s rallies are no place for kids.

“Beto O’Rourke wants to be a senator,” the ad starts with, followed by a short clip of O’Rourke saying “f**k that” at a campaign event. The ad continues, broken up in certain parts by four more short clips of O’Rourke cursing at various speaking events on the campaign trail.

“So, he’s showing up across Texas, sharing his wit … his wisdom … and his character,” the ad says. “If Beto shows up in your town, maybe keep the kids at home. Beto O’Rourke, he’s showing the f**k up.”
Cruz beat O'Rourke, but only one of the two could be elected president in 2020, and it ain't Ted.

Cillizza writes:
Calling Trump names -- even explicit ones -- isn't going to convince people who are on the fence about him in 2020 to cast their vote for a Democrat.
But literally every day Trump does something designed to alienate everyone except his base -- and Cillizza apparently thinks that's a brilliant approach to politics. Tlaib did this once, two years before the next election cycle. Has Cillizza considered the possibility that maybe this won't help Tlaib in future elections, but it also in all likelihood won't hurt, because it will be forgotten? Trump doesn't have a monopoly on Teflon (assuming he still has anywhere near a full coating). Maybe there are other people to whom bad things don't stick, hard as that may be for Chris Cillizza to believe.

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