Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trump Sitting Pretty

I woke up last night thinking about Donald Trump's ever-present "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" cap. Trump wears it whenever he is outdoors to protect his elaborate comb-over from a troublesome gust of wind. Could Trump's pomposity bear a flapping in the breeze of a comb-over revealing the baldpate of an aged man? If Trump ends up in the White House will he shun the Rose Garden? If he goes to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns will he do so with "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" firmly secured to his head?

Then I asked myself, "Why am I thinking about this?" Though it did feel like a revelation, much other significant news is aborning. There is continued movement to jump start peace talks on Syria. Jejune Saudi defense minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud could be proving his naysayers wrong as the Houthis appear to be on the run in Yemen.

But the news dominating the coverage in the United States is of the 2016 presidential election still half-a-year off.

At this point I don't see how Trump can be beat. Over the weekend he released his plan to deal with immigration. It is being roundly criticized in the press. There is a particularly cogent piece, "Donald Trump’s Claims on Immigration: A Reality Check," and it is short too, in today's paper by longtime Mexico reporter Julia Preston. She lists the plan's many contradictions and failings before concluding with an acknowledgement of its political potency:
Yet among Mr. Trump’s populist proposals are some that could attract support from Americans in the beleaguered middle class. He went further than his rivals calling for changes to the temporary work visas known as H-1B, to raise the wages paid to immigrants and tighten requirements for employers to search first for Americans to fill jobs.
This is an issue that resonates with many voters across the political spectrum. The digital economy is creating pockets of amazing wealth which is not trickling down to the "soccer mom" suburbs. The go-go growth is in the urban core and the jobs appear to be going to foreigners from Indian. Trump can demonize Mexicans at the low end and Indians and Pakistanis at the high end, and he'll laugh all the way to election day.

Hillary on the other hand is not laughing. In fact, she should be crying (though Nate Silver gives her an 85% chance to win the Democratic nomination; Nate Cohn, the Gray Lady's Nate Silver simulacrum, basically agrees, without quantifying the odds).

An interesting longer story today by Amy Chozick and Eric Lichtblau, "Facing Money Gap, Hillary Clinton Slowly Warms to ‘Super PAC’ Gifts," gets at why both Silver and Cohn think that Hillary will have a tough time in the general election. The GOP is raising a lot more money in million-dollar-plus Super-PAC contributions, and this money is being used by both top-contenders like Jeb Bush and also-rans like Carly Fiorina to pummel Clinton in the here and now:
Republican contenders have used their overflowing coffers to bash one another, but the money has also helped finance months of attacks on Mrs. Clinton.

In mid-September, Right to Rise, a super PAC supporting Mr. Bush, plans to spend at least $10 million on television ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the group. Last month, Mr. Bush’s two PACs, which raised a record $108.5 million, reported spending $100,000 on online ads in early primary states in part opposing Mrs. Clinton.
And a super PAC supporting the Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, which recently trumpeted a “fiery new attack ad aimed squarely at Hillary Clinton,” received about $1.6 million, nearly half its funding, from a single donor: A. Jerrold Perenchio, a Los Angeles billionaire who made his money in media investments. 
Mrs. Clinton’s donors have taken notice. “Over the last two months, they’ve seen in real time what’s actually happening on the other side and the severe attacks Hillary is under,” Mr. Cecil said, “and the reality that when it comes to how campaigns are won, the ground underneath us has changed.”
Romney was a weak candidate. But what 2012 proved in terms of presidential electioneering is that if you drive up a candidate's negatives sky high early on then that candidate is most likely doomed come November. This is what Hillary is up against. Sanders is going to rough her up as well.

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