Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Remembering the Many Ends of Donald Trump

I remember the beginning of Donald Trump's campaign, and how the end was always insight. The conventional wisdom always suggested that this flip flop, this racist rant, this sexist remark, this revelation was going to be the one to finally burst the fantasy bubble of Trump as a viable candidate. But the media and Republican establishment routinely underestimated the way Trump would tap into certain parts of the national schizophrenic psyche. Obama in 2008 taped into the desires of people for change and for the hope in a better world. Trump seems to be tapping into white anger over the changing of their country and the losing of their privilege. It is interesting to watch, how the conventional wisdom in recent times has been that racist remarks, gaffes or associations could spell the end of a candidate's career or at least hurt them politically. This isn't true with Trump however, at least not yet. Trump's sometimes thinly veiled, sometimes overt attacks on immigrants, non-whites and women all empower him with particular sectors of American society, most of whom are in the Republican "big" tent. The possibility of the Republicans becoming a European style Right-Wing crazy party is very real. I never imagined that I would care so much about the fight for the soul of the Republican party.

Below are examples of Trump's end being advertised a bit too soon.

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"The Beginning of the End: Inside Trump's Redstate Meltdown"
Benjy Sarlin
MSNBC
8/8/15

ATLANTA — The conservative RedState Gathering began Thursday night with activists cheering wildly at a debate party as Donald Trump dismissed a question from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly about misogynist rhetoric as “political correctness.”

Less than 36 hours later, the same audience erupted into applause and a few scattered boos Saturday as host Erick Erickson announced he had banned Trump from the event for suggesting Kelly was menstruating when she asked the question.

“I think he has disqualified himself,” Erickson told reporters, adding that the episode “probably is the beginning of the end” for Trump.

If there’s one thing Trump has proved so far, it’s that nobody can predict what’s going to happen in the polls. But the political winds seemed to have changed here in Atlanta, where Trump wore out his welcome in an extremely short period with the hardline voters who should be his base.

To hear Erickson describe it, the Trump cancellation is the start of a broader exorcism for the conservative movement in which they must confront their snarling demons to find salvation the other side.  

“I have emails from people referring to Megyn Kelly as a whore, I have emails from people referring to me as gay, I have emails referring to the president by the n-word and [saying] Donald Trump is standing up to all of us,” he said onstage. “We will not gain the White House if we are not going to be happy warriors.”

Language like this prompted whoops of approval Saturday, but it may have fallen flat even a day earlier. In over a dozen interviews before Trump’s feud with Kelly, RedState participants offered strikingly similar assessments of the billionaire populist. Nearly every attendee who talked to msnbc praised Trump for channeling their anger at the status quo, for drawing attention to issues like illegal immigration, and – perhaps most of all – for giving establishment Republicans fits with his outrageous rhetoric.

“We need drastic change,” Jack Staver, 61, told msnbc on Thursday. “He may not be the right guy, but others need to adopt his attitude and stop being politically correct.”

“When he says that without him we wouldn’t be talking about immigration policy, he’s dead on,” political activist Cindy Lamar, 62, said on Friday.

Not one person during this stretch said Trump was their first choice to be the party’s nominee, but they were still plenty happy to watch him prove his doubters wrong.

“I want Trump to remain at the top for as long as he can because he changes the conversation,” Diane Hubbard, 57, who traveled from Indiana, told msnbc on Friday.

As the weekend wore on, however, criticisms started to pop up more and more. Some said his performance raised new concerns for them about his qualifications. Others were upset by his refusal to rule out a third party run if he felt mistreated by GOP leaders.

“I like what he’s contributing to the debate, but I would not vote for him while he’s threatening us,” Martha Moore, 69, said.

Myra Adams of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, told msnbc she was interested in Trump heading into Thursday’s debate, but had soured on him afterward.

“He didn’t show he can be an adult,” she said. “It’s like a kid on a playground who can’t play well with others.”

Then came the Kelly remark, which most of the gathering only learned about the next morning as they arrived for breakfast.

From that moment on, the dam burst entirely as organizers and attendees alike lined up to enthusiastically criticize his latest comments.

Courtney Hall, 22, said she was intrigued by Trump’s business record heading into the debate, but his response to Kelly was “awful, misogynist and petty.”

“I went from ‘possibly considering’ to ‘no way at all,’” Hall said.

“You can’t talk that way about women – period,” RedState director Bryan Pruitt told msnbc.
Daniel McCabe, 65, a lawyer and GOP activist from Connecticut, said he was open-minded about Trump as well after watching him build a real estate empire in New York. Then came Trump’s claim in Iowa that John McCain was “not a war hero,” which rubbed McCabe the wrong way, followed by a never-ending series of feuds between Trump and various critics.

“The GOP has to win in 2016 and at this point, it’s a huge distraction,” he told msnbc.
Trump’s penchant for feuds, which roused attendees when it was aimed at immigrants and the GOP elite, suddenly seemed less charming when turned against two of the right’s favorite media outlets in Fox News and RedState.

“He has an insult generator in his head that shoots automatically at whoever he’s feuding with,” Ken Romero, 26, said. “He was bound to cross the line sooner or later.”

There were at least a handful of Trump defenders left in the crowd. Outside the main ballroom, Michael Pemberton, 66, who wore a handwritten “I AM DONALD TRUMP” sign on his coat with an American flag button, protested to Lynda Peach, 71, that Trump had been misunderstood.

“When I hear blood, the first thing I think of is stigmata, the martyrdom,” he said. “Why did they think of menstruation?”

“If [Trump’s] statement was made in a business context, you’d be brought up on sexual harassment charges and fired,” Peach responded.

Pemberton told msnbc he was supporting Trump because he liked his stance on “political correctness.” Peach said she saw the appeal, but concluded Trump had gone too far off the rails.  
“I thought Trump was making waves because he had the guts to say what we were saying,” she said. “I’m less enthusiastic now because statements like that turn off people.”

As the day wore on, the mood in the room continued to sour on Trump. Jeb Bush – who was booed loudly at the debate watch party on Thursday – roused a now-friendly crowd with a denunciation of Trump onstage

“Do we want to insult 53% of all voters?” Bush asked. “What Donald Trump said is wrong.”

Erickson went from describing racist and chauvinist emails from Trump supporters in the morning to reading them aloud in the afternoon, then declared: “These are not the people I ever want at a RedState event.”

A day earlier, the standard line at RedState was that Trump was a voice for righteous anti-establishment rage. Now Erickson mocked Trump fans as cranks and bigots.
“I think you need to understand the type of people who have been drawn to Donald Trump like moths to a flame – they will burn all of us if we don’t say its unacceptable,” Erickson said.

That line was too much for the crowd, some of whom jeered loudly while others applauded.
Trump fever may have been receding in Atlanta, but many in the audience were uncomfortable with dismissing his backers with such a broad brush. After all, it’s fired up conservatives like them who have spent six weeks telling pollsters Trump is their favorite pick to lead the party, even as he’s insulted Mexican immigrants, mocked POWs, and questioned President Obama’s citizenship. Trump the candidate may fade, but to purge Trumpism is to disband the party itself.

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Iowa is the beginning of the end for Trump
by Pascual Gobry
The Week
2/1/16

There's one problem with pundits. Alright, there are many. But one of them is the following: When they make prognostications, they seem to always make them with the requisite qualifications so that they can't be proven wrong. "I said Mitt Romney had a 60 percent chance of winning! Which meant he had a 40 percent chance of losing! So I got it right!"

I think we can do better. So let me stick my neck out there and make some specific predictions for the Republican primary.

Iowa: Ted Cruz first, Marco Rubio second, and Donald Trump third.
New Hampshire: Rubio first, someone else second.

Those predictions don't line up with the polls, so here goes.

I think Trump will peter out at the polls. Several writers I respect, including Ezra Klein, Tim Carney, and Ross Douthat, have laid out the case for believing, even six months later, that Trump's support will eventually decline.
First, it's important to realize, with regard to this election, that polls suck. It's a widely reported fact that opinion polls have been increasingly inaccurate. The proliferation of cell phones and the decline of land lines means that people are harder to reach. Those who do participate in polling tend to be older than the average voter. Second, the Trump phenomenon is probably more akin to a howl of anger than a real decision. Countless voters or would-be voters are telling pollsters they support Trump as a way to send a message but they actually do realize he would be a terrible president, and they're not going to pull the lever for him. Third, caucusing is different from voting. Caucusing is a complicated, involved process, and the demographic that Trump draws upon in polls may not turn out for him, especially because Trump doesn't have a strong turnout operation in the state. And once Trump does worse than expected in Iowa, it's going to change the momentum of his campaign. The soufflé is going to come down. Doing badly in Iowa will lead to him doing worse in New Hampshire, and so on.

I also think that Rubio is a perennially underestimated candidate, and my colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty lays out nicely the case for underestimating Rubio. It's convenient to describe him within the framework of what's sometimes known as the "two lanes" theory of primary voting. The idea is that in the Republican primary there are only two types of candidates: the establishment politician and the base politician, and Rubio is the candidate of the establishment. There's definitely some truth to this: Many in the establishment feel that Rubio is their candidate and has the best chance to defeat both Trump and Cruz, and later on Hillary Clinton.

But Rubio is also a Tea Party conservative with a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. And conservatives know him, which is not the case with Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, nor was it the case with Mitt Romney. Rubio might not be the first choice of many conservatives, but he is still appreciated and trusted. Of course, everyone brings up his major heresy, his support for comprehensive immigration reform. But even though the immigration issue is powerful this year, experts tend to overestimate the importance of anti-immigration voters in the GOP primaries. lt was widely predicted that John McCain's support for immigration reform was going to cost him the GOP nomination, and it didn't. Earlier Pat Buchanan's anti-immigration stance was supposed to lead him to victory, and he went down to miserable defeat. All other conservatives — as well as moderates — feel good about Rubio. And the history of Republican primaries shows that the ability to win a general election is important for Republican voters. Rubio is probably the most electable candidate this time.

I think all of these factors together mean that Trump will do much worse than polls suggest, and Rubio will do better. This means a Cruz win in Iowa, because he's been camping there for months and has a great ground operation, but a stronger-than-expected showing by Rubio, which will propel him to a win in New Hampshire, where he's already doing better than Christie, Kasich, or Bush.
We'll soon see if I'm right.

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 The Beginning of the End of Donald Trump
Sara Fagen
CNBC
September 15, 2015

While it's true Donald Trump's political demise has been written before and he has continued to defy political pundits with his strength atop the polls, we will look back at last night's debate and see it as the beginning of the end of Donald Trump's grip atop the GOP field. Three reasons make this so.

First, the petty insults about people's appearances and intelligence levels are getting old. Sure, it was entertaining for a few months while we all watched in wonderment of how someone in such a prestigious position could say such outrageous statements. But, everyone in show business knows you need a second act. What was funny and bold is now starting to become boring. How many times can one person insult Rand Paul? It's just no longer interesting. Most Americans who follow politics only peripherally will be slower to come to this conclusion, but they will eventually get there.
Second, as last night's debate moved into substantive discussions, Donald Trump faded in the background. He's no doubt a highly intelligent person (just ask him!), but his command of policy is weak and he doesn't seem to have improved or gained new knowledge since entering the race. He's not in command of facts and figures and his answer simply is that he'll hire the best people. The best people?? Seriously? That's a weak answer. It might be an acceptable band-aid of a statement in the early summer months of a campaign, but it won't fly long-term. He has one, maybe two more debates to show he has a deep command of issues.

The challenge for Donald is the narrative on him is starting to shift. He's no longer going to get away with petty insults and mistakes about foreign policy. The political press is becoming more aggressive, as are his opponents. Donald Trump is easily irritated by tough questions. He showed that again last night. And when he's irritated, he more likely to make mistakes. Seasoned candidates understand this dynamic. They understand there's no second take on live television. It's only a matter of time before there's a moment on camera that even the Donald wishes he could take back.
That's not to say Donald Trump will fall immediately. He has a strong base of support that appreciates his blunt style and some of them will stick with him no matter what he says or does. He appeals to peoples' fears, which won't fade overnight. He will be a factor in the race and he may play a pivotal role in deciding who will carry the party's mantle. Like it or not, the Republican Party needs to take him seriously.


First, it's important to realize, with regard to this election, that polls suck. It's a widely reported fact that opinion polls have been increasingly inaccurate. The proliferation of cell phones and the decline of land lines means that people are harder to reach. Those who do participate in polling tend to be older than the average voter. Second, the Trump phenomenon is probably more akin to a howl of anger than a real decision. Countless voters or would-be voters are telling pollsters they support Trump as a way to send a message but they actually do realize he would be a terrible president, and they're not going to pull the lever for him. Third, caucusing is different from voting. Caucusing is a complicated, involved process, and the demographic that Trump draws upon in polls may not turn out for him, especially because Trump doesn't have a strong turnout operation in the state. And once Trump does worse than expected in Iowa, it's going to change the momentum of his campaign. The soufflé is going to come down. Doing badly in Iowa will lead to him doing worse in New Hampshire, and so on.

I also think that Rubio is a perennially underestimated candidate, and my colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty lays out nicely the case for underestimating Rubio. It's convenient to describe him within the framework of what's sometimes known as the "two lanes" theory of primary voting. The idea is that in the Republican primary there are only two types of candidates: the establishment politician and the base politician, and Rubio is the candidate of the establishment. There's definitely some truth to this: Many in the establishment feel that Rubio is their candidate and has the best chance to defeat both Trump and Cruz, and later on Hillary Clinton.

But Rubio is also a Tea Party conservative with a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. And conservatives know him, which is not the case with Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, nor was it the case with Mitt Romney. Rubio might not be the first choice of many conservatives, but he is still appreciated and trusted. Of course, everyone brings up his major heresy, his support for comprehensive immigration reform. But even though the immigration issue is powerful this year, experts tend to overestimate the importance of anti-immigration voters in the GOP primaries. lt was widely predicted that John McCain's support for immigration reform was going to cost him the GOP nomination, and it didn't. Earlier Pat Buchanan's anti-immigration stance was supposed to lead him to victory, and he went down to miserable defeat. All other conservatives — as well as moderates — feel good about Rubio. And the history of Republican primaries shows that the ability to win a general election is important for Republican voters. Rubio is probably the most electable candidate this time.

I think all of these factors together mean that Trump will do much worse than polls suggest, and Rubio will do better. This means a Cruz win in Iowa, because he's been camping there for months and has a great ground operation, but a stronger-than-expected showing by Rubio, which will propel him to a win in New Hampshire, where he's already doing better than Christie, Kasich, or Bush.

We'll soon see if I'm right.

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