Clinton and Warren Electrify Cincinnati

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Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren                                                          (Sam Green / Cincinnati Enquirer)

Electricity: that intangible Clinton’s campaign has apparently lacked in the run up to the nomination, Trump seems to have in abundance.  Well,  at the Clinton rally in Union Terminal in Cincinnati on Monday, I can testify that there was plenty.  As  the Washington Post reports, “Her rally with Warren had a different feel. It easily was one of the most electric events of Clinton’s campaign.”

 

Together, Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton showed a remarkable chemistry.  The papers seemed to think Warren stole the show, but that might be in part because she was what was new.  Warren was the attack dog.  Clinton delivered the substance, and a few effective jabs at Trump as well.

Warren is being vetted as a potential running mate. There are practical considerations that suggest this might not be the wisest choice.  Several people I have spoken with think that the American voter might balk at seeing two women on the ticket.  And there is the precious Senate seat:  electing Warren to the Vice Presidency would give a Republican governor a chance to appoint the replacement.

However, the surest path to victory in November is with rallies like this one, rallies that can energize the grass roots campaigners, the get-out-the-vote efforts.  If Clinton can generate the same enthusiasm with someone else, I am all for it.  But I saw an effective campaign partnership, and I would hate to see it broken up.

Cinton Warren Crowd

(Melina Mara / The Washington Post)

Clinton Warren me

That’s me behind the baby.  You can see my right hand sticking up behind his ear and my left eye, well covered by sunglasses.  (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

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The Donald Still Dominates

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photo/donkeyhotey

Even after banning half of the press from covering his rallies, Trump still takes up all the oxygen in the room.  It seems we just can’t get enough of this horror show.

For example, on Thursday (6/23) morning, on the Washington Post Opinions web page, almost half of the articles named Trump in the title.  The “Load More” added more essays, again about half were on Trump.

 

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photo/donkeyhotey

Clinton was not mentioned until you got down to “The Post’s View:” “Hillary Clinton offers a welcome concession to reality ”.  This was an analysis of her address on economic policy.  Hillary said things like “it takes a plan.”  She seems to actually have one.  The Post commented that her assessment of the economy “has the advantage of being true.”  It sounded like a relatively boring speech devoted to what actually needs to get done in order to govern well. It’s not going to win many hearts.

Of course, the article on Clinton’s policy statement also talks about Trump, who had just delivered a blistering attack, just what his supporters were hoping for: exciting, direct, forceful, and on message.  It was also mostly fictional.  The AP used a dozen fact checkers to keep up with all the distortions and out-right lies.  Trump knows how to push the emotional buttons, and those buttons are a lot easier to push if you not tethered to reality.

Realpolitik lies at the heart of Clinton’s appeal, but this is reality television.   Whatever Clinton says, she cannot turn up the volume loud enough to be heard, unless, of course, she starts making stuff up the way Trump does.  She is reasonable, compassionate, competent, and able to explain coherent policies in complete sentences. But these are simply boring when placed beside the ranting Donald.

Can reason win?  It’s possible, but Americans vote with their hearts.

Except on Fox News, the press coverage of Trump is more profoundly, uniformly negative than for any major political candidate in memory.  But bad news attracts our attention, and all eyes are on the Donald.  Clinton might be the most qualified candidate for president that we have had in decades, but most votes will be for or against that other guy.

Like it or not, this election is all about Donald Trump.

 

But Is It Racist?

Trump smirkThe Republican elites are used to having their bigotry served with a certain elegance: a nutritious entrée of reactionary policies smothered in a rich rhetorical sauce.  However, the Republican base has chosen fast food.  Instead of policy positions, Trump serves up empty slogans and preposterous proposals. Instead of carefully crafted, tele-prompted speeches, he offers a hot sauce of off-the-cuff remarks, without any concern for being politically correct.  His supporters love that.

For the rest of the party, this poses a problem: the bigotry is left out in plain site, for everybody to see.  Republican candidates find themselves continually accosted by reporters asking about the latest Trump gaff: Has it crossed the line?  Would you call it “racist”?

Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant, advises, “Get used to it. This is your life for the next five months.

Though his more recent comments reiterating his hard line against Muslims or calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” are problematic, the Donald’s most overtly racist statements since becoming the presumptive nominee of the party concerned Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the trial of the bogus Trump University.  Trump called the judge a “hater”, and said that the judge should recuse himself because of his ethnic heritage.

The very definition of racism” declared Paul Ryan, trying desperately to hold on to his personal integrity while still supporting the party’s nominee.  Poor Mr. Ryan wants the message to be about Republican ideas, ideas that he knows will have no chance under a Clinton administration.  However, his attempt to introduce the world to Republican ideas on fighting poverty got completely buried, as all the press wanted to talk about was Trump’s latest gaff.

In turn, Trump rips into Romney for the remarks on racism, and barely mentions policy.  The Donald can’t be bothered with the details.  He touts, “My voters don’t care and the public doesn’t care.

When asked whether or not he considers Trump’s remarks about the judge racist, California Republican State Senator Joel Anderson, a Trump supporter, showed a remarkable skill in avoiding the question in an NPR interview with Renee Montagne.  His deflected the question once, but she continued to press him for a direct answer.  Then, he responded:Joel_Anderson

Look, listen, we’ve seen story after story from the beginning of ambush interviews looking for the poison dart to kill Donald Trump. You haven’t found any in the press, and now you’re picking on a senator to try to find something.

He went on for a while, and Montagne ran out of time.  This professional politician wants his audience to believe he has was unfairly “ambushed” by a question about what had been headline news for days.  I’m sure that many Trump supporters agree with him that the mainstream media is simply out to get Trump.

However, many Republicans aren’t buying it.  One senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois, used this as an opportunity to withdraw his support for the Donald, almost grateful for being given an off-ramp to the Trump bandwagon.  At the other end of the spectrum, the spineless Rob Portman of Ohio could only muster up the courage to call the remarks “a distraction”.

People like Mitch McConnell and Newt Gingrich offered a different kind criticism.  These professional politicians view the campaign as a kind of game, like chess or poker.  To them, Trump has made a blunder.  “One of the worst mistakes Trump has made” declared Gingrich, going on to describe it as “inexcusable.”  McConnell instructed Trump to “get on message.”  Gingrich and McConnell seem to object not to the substance but to the amateurishness of the remarks.   They prefer the message be veiled in precisely the kind of politically correct language that Trump has derided his entire campaign.

Trump himself doesn’t see much of a problem.  Seeing the fallout, he has tried to defuse the situation by saying his comments were “misconstrued”, but this acknowledgement is as close to an apology as he is likely to get.

In truth, there was nothing new here.  Among Trump’s supporters, there was no harm done.  Those of us who were offended were not going to vote for Trump anyway.

However, for those who are running on the Republican brand, it poses a real problem.  The Republican Party has been covertly appealing to the bigotry in America for a long time.  With Trump in the foreground, the pretense is dropped, and the racism is out in the open. Republican candidates will have to decide where they stand.  Are they going to bow to pressure to maintain a unified front, regardless of what the front represents, or are they going to stand up for the American ideals of justice and equality for all?

 

 

 

 

 

Time for a Clean Sweep

trumpaustralia-1The proof is in the Trumping: the Republican Party of 2016 has shown itself to be morally and intellectually bankrupt.

The bungling of the Bush years you can chalk up to policies that, though misguided, were at least arguably well intentioned.  However, once the American people had the gall to elect that nigger president, those good intentions evaporated.  Starting with the “You Lie” blurted out during Obama’s first state of the union message, and continuing through today with their refusal to even grant Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, the Republican Party abandoned all pretense of serving as a loyal opposition.  The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower has transformed into the party of obstruction, disfunction, willful ignorance, and blatant racism.

Trump surveyed the ground and found it well fertilized with resentment, misinformation and obscure conspiracy theories, including one absurdity he helped propagate.  He seized an opportunity that nobody else seemed to understand, tapping into the fear and resentment that Republicans had cultivated over the years.

So what if his policy statements make no sense.  People haven’t cared about the policies anyway.   As Chris Ladd (goplifer) put it:

gopliferFrustrated by our failure to overtly embrace their agenda, Republican bigots have finally found a candidate who has dropped the pretense and run an explicitly white nationalist campaign. We are discovering that no one ever really cared much about abortion. No one cared about fiscal restraint, or tax cuts or nationalized health care. The Republican base we painstakingly assembled across fifty years is only really interested in one thing – preserving the dominant position of their white culture against a rising tide of pluralism. Other issues only mattered to the extent that they helped reinforce and preserve white supremacy.

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Paul Ryan (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Poor Paul Ryan doesn’t know what hit him.  He still thinks “Republicans lose personality contests … but we win ideas contests.”   This hasn’t been true for a long time.  Certainly, George W. Bush didn’t win on his ideas, nor did McCain loose on his personality.  If Paul Ryan actually gets around to making any of the positive proposals he claims to be interested in, he will find little support for them from the Donald.  Trump has no interest in ideas, and he makes no pretense of appealing to the intellect.  He succeeds because the party is intellectually bankrupt.

Make no mistake: Trump is danger to our democracy.  Beyond his obvious lack of qualifications, he shows all the signs of a budding tyrantA few  with integrity are standing on their principles, but the large majority of Republican running for office are falling into line, putting party unity and their own job security above all else.  Because the Republican Party is morally bankrupt, Trump will have little trouble in unifying it behind his candidacy.

The Republican base has chosen this narcissistic sociopath as their standard bearer, and it is now up to the American people to reject him and everything he stands for.  However, Trump is just the symptom.  In order to cure the disease, we must excise Republicans from power at all levels.  America must reject those who put party loyalty above loyalty to their country.

Perhaps from the ashes of a crushing defeat we can raise a second party that is based on principles rather than ethnic identity, and America will once again be offered reasonable choices worthy of a vibrant democracy.  But for 2016, vote straight Democrat.  It’s the only way to make America great again.