Friday, May 26, 2017

Russophobia Alone is Not Going to Work for Democrats

Yesterday afternoon I was ready to declare that Trump is in real trouble based on a reading of Nate Silver's article from Wednesday, "Donald Trump’s Base Is Shrinking":
...Trump’s base seems to be eroding. There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump’s strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support. And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an “enthusiasm gap” that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP’s initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters.
But then this morning there is the news that Republican Greg Gianforte handily beat Rob Quist, darling of the Bernistas, in the Montana special election to fill Ryan Zinke's at-large congressional district seat, and this despite Gianforte being charged with assault on the eve of the election.

The anti-Trump mainstream press is spinning the result by closing the barn door after the pony has departed the farm, saying that, well, Quist never really had a chance to win. Here's a sample from Nate Silver's "What Went Down In The Montana Special Election":
Our vantage point is that we’re mostly looking at special elections in terms of how they might predict 2018. A night where Democrats are losing Montana by “only” 6 or 7 points is consistent with the sort of map you might see if Democrats were either taking over the House, or coming pretty close to it.
On the other hand, our expectations were already pretty high for Democrats. The opposition party — the party that doesn’t hold the White House — usually does well in midterm elections. And Trump is not a popular guy. The Democrats have plenty of issues, like the GOP’s unpopular health care bill, to campaign upon. This isn’t complicated stuff. You’d expect them to do pretty well under such circumstances, and to have a decent shot — let’s call it 50 to 60 percent — of taking over the House.
This result in Montana doesn’t change our priors much, therefore. Furthermore, it’s a somewhat quirky race, given that Quist and (especially) Gianforte both have their issues as candidates, and that Montana has been a little bit more competitive in Congressional and statewide races than in races for the presidency. Quist winning by 1 or losing by 13 might have called for a recalibration of our assumptions; we don’t think this result does.
We have a situation where Trump is losing his true believers at the same time the Democrats are trying to find true believers based on a new McCarthyism. It is a race to the bottom. While the touts at FiveThirtyEight are proclaiming, based on the numbers, that control of the House should shift to the Democrats. The problem with this is all the Dems are offering voters is an infantile, delusional complaint that it is all Russia's fault.

Look at this morning's lede unsigned editorial "President Trump Fails NATO," in the "newspaper of record":
That Mr. Trump and the allies were unable to agree on a common approach toward Russia was also worrisome. Moscow has become increasingly aggressive as Mr. Putin annexed Crimea, waged war in eastern Ukraine, meddled in the American and European elections and intervened militarily in Syria. The most that emerged from a meeting between Mr. Trump and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, was that the two shared the “same line” on Ukraine.
All told, Mr. Trump’s commitment to NATO and America’s tradition of leadership remain very much up in the air. Should the president abdicate both, no one would be happier than Vladimir Putin.
If Russia were an aggressive power, shattering states right and left, forever on the offensive, this pitch might find an eager audience. Instead it's an upside-down view of the world. Russia is acting overwhelming in a defensive manner. The deep-state Democratic Party is asking voters to embrace a Bizarro World. That's a tough sell.

Trump is peddling a similar product. Rather than Russophobia, Trump is pitching Wahhabi-philia. It is not just the reality of Trumpcare upsetting his true believers; it's Trump's cavorting with the sheikhs and failing to collaborate with Russia to role up ISIS that is prompting his die-hard supporters to calve off from the base. Once this happens, once your vanguard crumbles, the rout is on. (A modified form of this happened with Obama in 2013.)

It surprised me that on Tuesday David Brooks, "The Alienated Mind," nonchalantly referred to Trump's impeachment as inevitable:
As the impeachment investigation proceeds, it’ll be important for us Trump critics to not set our hair on fire every day, to evaluate the evidence as if it were against a president we ourselves voted for. Would we really throw our own candidate out of office for this?
But in order for that to happen, Democrats have to take back the House next year. Russophobia alone is not going to get that done.


  1. Exactly. I suspect that the Deep State and the DNC realize that with the current crop of Dem candidates that they can't retake Congress. The fraud that they've run does not work. There are still H. Clinton true believers, but it's always been a minority group within the Party. People who want healthcare reform know that Clinton said it would be impossible. People who want higher wages know that Clinton said it wouldn't happen. Most people who realize that taxing the 1% is the key to making the economy livable for the bottom 90% know that Clinton and McCaskill et all won't do what they have to do. In short, the theory for the Dems is "We won't do anything for you, but we won't hurt you like Trump." Not much of a rallying cry. Plus, we know that along with becoming the CIA's favorite party we will get more and more wars, coups, destabilizations.

    The half-million bribe to the mayor of Flint through Clinton's billionaire friends in Chicago did not generate enough black votes to win in Michigan. Obama's inaction against Republican voting restrictions across the country allowed Trump to steal Wisconsin et al.

    "The customer is always right" is not necessarily so, but it holds some truth in politics because if you don't enough get votes to win you didn't sell your product to the voters.

    I still run into people on the Book of Faces who answer criticisms of the Democratic Party by saying "She won the popular vote." But that isn't enough to win! While it's clear that demographically the country is farther to the left than its representatives, a true liberal party would have made an effort to get rid of the electoral college decades ago. They didn't.
    By the Dems' calculation of backing Wall Streeters and candidates with vague neoliberal connections it knows that it does not win Congress, or any political office below that. If I can see it they can see it. The current Democratic Party does not want to win Congress. They would rather have a Hillary run the wars of conquest overseas and modulate the slow, inexorable Republican control of the rest of the government.

    Interesting observation. If you're familiar with Russ Bellant's work you know about the Republican Ethnic Heritage group. It kept resurfacing like a bad meal from Nixon through Bush 41. But it became bipartisan with Bill Clinton. It was the Dems supporting the fascist residua in Croatia and Bosnia against Yugoslavia, essentially the same geopolitical strategy as run by the Nazis in WWII (Take a look at maps of Eastern Europe from 1942). H. Clinton has used the Ukrainian fascists as a shiv in Russia's back.

    It is as if the Deep State were dividing up our government like the old Roman republic, a duality where one consul (party) runs foreign policy and one runs domestic.

    Since the Democrats are controlled and funded by the Yankee part of the ruling class (as opposed to the Cowboy section; I'm using Oglesby's model) I see no way for any real egalitarian reorganizing of this government.

    That is, we're fucked. But maybe we've always been fucked and that damned Kennedy gave us false hope.

  2. On the topic of the Gehlen Organization, did you see that Arse Yatsenyuk was in D.C. a couple weeks back making the rounds. He even had time to cuddle with Obama.

    What is helpful about Peter Baker's story is he spells out how identical Yats' talking points are identical to the Dems'.

  3. One hedge I should have mentioned. If McConnell gets Trumpcare through the Senate I think the Dems can carry the House regardless of their "nothing-but-Russophobia" campaign.