Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Kevin Drum writes:
Over the last 24 hours Donald Trump has:
* Accused Jews who support Democrats of being disloyal.

* Explained that Kashmir is a difficult problem because “You have Hindus and you have the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great.”

* Canceled a planned visit to Denmark because they declined to discuss the sale of Greenland.

* Thanked a nutcase conspiracy theorist who said that Israeli Jews “love him like he is the second coming of God.”

* Told reporters “I am the chosen one” to take on China.

* Said the prime minister of Denmark was “nasty” about his proposal to buy Greenland and he’s not going to let her talk to him that way.

* Confirmed his disloyalty remark: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to the Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”
This is not the behavior of a man in control of his faculties. It’s just not.
Understandably, there's more "is Trump losing it?" talk today than usual. I've seen the speculation. I agree with some of the armchair diagnosticians. (Malignant narcissism? Yeah, he's got that.) But I don't believe we're seeing manifestations of dementia, and I don't think he's lost "control of his faculties."

First, dementia. Yeah, I've seen the comparison videos. Maybe, if you watch a long-ago Trump interview on Larry King's show, he seems calmer and a touch more polysyllabic. But he can seem that way these days in an interview that takes place in what he considers a safe space.

But what persuades me that he's not losing his grip is the way he performs at his campaign rallies. He's still an effective insult comic. His jokes are terrible and obnoxious, but he lands them nearly every time. That riff about wind power, with the guy who'd like to watch television, but he can't because there's no breeze outside? It's ignorant, but it kills. Trump delivers it with comedy timing every time out. He doesn't forget where he is in the joke halfway through. The deplorables love it.

Overall, I'd say Trump hasn't lost "control of his faculties" so much as he's concluded that seeming out of control is what got him to the White House in the first place.

He's not completely wrong -- being a nasty, vengeful sonofabitch with an emotional age of eleven is what made him the most beloved politician of my lifetime among Republican voters. But it alienates other voters, many of whom are much more highly motivated to vote against him this time around than they were in 2016. What's more, he didn't win strictly on his personality -- he also had Russian interference and the elite media's email obsession and James Comey's eleventh-hour intervention to thank, and he still lost the popular vote by nearly three million.

He thinks his personality, particularly his penchant for vendettas, got him over the line in 2016, so he should dial it up for the 2020 campaign and he'll win more decisively. In fact, he's been dialing it up for the past month and his approval rating has slipped, while his disapproval rating has risen, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. And as Reuters recently noted, Trump's racial anger seems to be making voters less racist overall and more inclined to vote against him:
Reuters/Ipsos polling of 4,436 U.S. adults in July showed that people who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting in the 2020 general election than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases.

In 2016, it was the reverse....

This year’s poll found that among Americans who feel that blacks and whites are equal, or that blacks are superior to whites, 82% expressed a strong interest in voting in 2020. That was 7 percentage points higher than people who feel strongly that whites are superior to blacks....

White Americans are ... 19 percentage points more supportive of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and 4 points less supportive of increased deportations, when their responses from the July poll were compared with a Reuters/Ipsos poll in January 2015.

The July 17-22 poll also found that 29% of whites agreed that “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage,” down 7 points from a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in August 2017 and 9 points down from another Reuters/Ipsos poll in August 2018.

The poll also found that 17% of whites and 26% of white Republicans said they strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country, a drop of about 6 points and 8 points respectively from 2017.
But hey, he's the world's greatest expert on winning elections, with his impressive record of (checks notes) one (technical) victory. So I urge him to keep doing exactly what he's doing.

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