Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trump Pros and Cons (The Cons Have It)

There are two ways to look at the ascendance of Donald Trump, one pro and the other con; both positions find expression in Jennifer Steinhauer's frontpager this morning, "Republican Race Puts Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course."

The positive is that The Donald is destroying the current Republican Party. Look at what the reality television star has accomplished so far: He quickly asphyxiated the presidential candidacy of a truly baleful Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker; and he ruthlessly exposed the Bush dynasty as nothing more than a mirage generated by the heat produced by furiously spending tens of millions of dollars.

Trump has proven himself an avatar of the new media. According to Nicky Wolf, a reporter covering the U.S. presidential race for The Guardian who was interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now!, Trump is rewriting the playbook:
But I think Trump is also a uniquely 21st century social media phenomenon, too. He’s huge, to paraphrase him, on Twitter. He’s got this enormous following. He can reach more people with a tweet than almost every TV ad market in the country. Now, that’s something that Schwarzenegger never had and that Jesse Ventura never had, that Reagan never had. I think that changes the arithmetic of stuff a bit here. And he’s just so able to build this brand. It’s difficult to not see him as a pretty unique phenomenon now. And it’s amazing to watch. I mean, it’s just absolutely spectacular how he’s playing with the Republican Party like a cat with a mouse. It’s fantastic.
The reason it is fantastic is that Trump is trumpeting positions that are the direct opposite of GOP orthodoxy -- on trade, on Social Security, on Russia. These differences between Trump and the Republican congressional agenda are what Steinhauer highlights in her story. We can only hope that enough power brokers in the GOP establishment maintain their delusion that Trump can somehow be kept from the nomination. The idea that some of these dead-enders seem to be forming, now that it is apparent that Rubio has very little mojo, is of a brokered convention that produces Paul Ryan as the party's nominee. As Steinhauer explains,
Though most in the Republican establishment are hoping for the dust to settle and for Senator Marco Rubio to emerge as their nominee — his Capitol Hill endorsements stack up daily — some still murmur privately that in the event of Mr. Trump’s nomination, they would like to see Mr. Ryan emerge as a brokered nominee at the Republican National Convention in July.
This amounts to a nuclear option. The potential damage to the GOP is beyond comprehension.

That's why there is already a significant amount of noise emanating from Capitol Hill that all sounds like "Wait a second. We can work with Trump." According to Steinhauer,
Some Republican lawmakers say, though nervously, that there would be plenty of intersection between their agenda and Mr. Trump’s. His tax plan — which calls for large tax cuts for all Americans, especially the rich — is similar to Mr. Ryan’s. Mr. Trump, like Mr. Ryan, is all for repealing and replacing the current health care law, although he, unlike Mr. Ryan, has endorsed the individual mandate. 
“In a lot of ways, it might actually be conducive to getting things done to have someone with business sense in the White House,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Like Mr. Ryan, Mr. Trump also supports gun rights and a strong military, although Mr. Trump has broken with many Republicans with his criticism of the Iraq war. 
“All of the Republican presidential candidates would be better than Hillary Clinton,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan. “And Speaker Ryan would be able to work with any one of them.” 
Some even argue that Mr. Ryan, who operated in lonely political waters before his party took over the House in 2011, will adjust to the environment and try to help Republicans in congressional races who, in many states, will be fighting for their lives. 
Congressional Republicans — especially senators up for re-election in swing states — have been terrified to criticize Mr. Trump by name because they need his voters, too, in primary and possible general election battles. White-hot fear is beginning to set in.
This is the negative: Trump is the right wing's Obama 2008, a shape-shifting Manchurian Candidate who is in fact loyal to the 1%. I think this is the correct interpretation, brought home to me one morning reading a Gail Collins column, "Trump Shows His Inner Rabbit," where she points out that Trump back-tracked on his most powerful statement during the last Republican debate, that Bush and Cheney lied to get us into Iraq:
In a dramatic highlight of the last Republican debate, Trump accused the Bush administration of deliberately deceiving the American public about the invasion. (“They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none.”) It was a potentially historic moment: a top Republican candidate for president attempts to lead his party into a frank reappraisal of the Bush-Cheney administration’s inherent honesty.

Here we are, one week later: “I’m not talking about lying. ... Nobody really knows why we went into Iraq.” 
Meanwhile, reporters continue to ask Trump supporters what the attraction is. And his fans say that he tells it like it is.
Trump is an agile performer whose gift is the ability to mesmerize an audience with an apparent spontaneity; this sponateity creates a facsimile of truthfulness.

It is of course nothing of the sort. It is bullshit. A Trump White House would preside over a large tax cut for the 1% and a big increase in military spending. It would be Reagan's first term all over again.

Let's see who Trump selects for a VP. My guess is a hawkish general a la Curtis LeMay, George Wallace's running mate in his 1968 independent presidential bid.


  1. For the last fifty years VPs have been the insurance for the status quo. Lieberman? Lloyd Bentsen?

  2. Maybe Trump will surprise us and pick Michael Powell, Colin's son, or Susana Martinez, the Republican governor of New Mexico. But I bet he chooses a retired general, like "My God is bigger than your God" William Boykin, who is now at the Familty Research Council.