Saturday, May 07, 2016

All Hail Trump

Anai humålom si Trump gi botasion para President gi ma'pos na sakkan, i meggai ma po'lo na eskareng gui'. Tåya' chanså-ña. Ti "serious" na gåyu gui'. Anggen un ekungok gui', kalang kaduku gui' nigap, taklalalo' gui' på'go yan agupa' taitiningo'. Achokka' mitbotleha yan masumai ni' tinaimamahlao i sinangan-ña, i otro na gayun Republican ti ma gof fåna' pat kontra gui', sa' pine'lo-ñiha na ti magåhet na kadidåtu gui'. Sen ma'lak i danges-ña på'go, lao para u malachai chaddek siempre.

Mansen lachi siha nu ayu. Gi ma'pos na simåna, tumunnok si Ted Cruz yan si John Kasitch. Si Trump i uttimo na gåyu tumotohge gi Republican påtida na bånda. Guiya humahatsa på'go i babaon Republican. Lao kao anggokuyon este na guerrero? Taitai este na halacha' na tinige' siha ni' hu hokkayi guini.

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The GOP's 24-hour meltdown
by Nolan McCaskill
May 6, 2016
Politico

Donald Trump on Tuesday night assumed the mantle of presumptive nominee and declared: “We want to bring unity to the Republican Party. We have to bring unity.”

Three days later, the GOP is tearing itself apart.

Friday brought another day of incredible division and revolt with Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham falling in line not behind Trump, but behind House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said a day earlier that he cannot yet support the brash real estate mogul as his party’s standard-bearer.

Trump, instead of trying to make peace, lashed out.

He fired off a vicious statement, calling Graham an “embarrassment” with “zero credibility.”

Then he laced into both of his former rivals during his rally in Omaha, Nebraska, where he is continuing to campaign ahead of Tuesday’s primary, despite having vanquished the rest of the GOP field.

“But I won’t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say — I will not say he’s low energy. I will not say it,” Trump told a boisterous crowd who booed at the mention of his critics. “I will not say it. And I won’t talk about Lindsey Graham, who had like 1 point, you ever see this guy on television? He is nasty. … He leaves a disgrace, he can’t represent the people of South Carolina well.”

Trump also alternated on Friday between shrugging off Ryan’s bombshell announcement and scorching him.

During a phone interview with Fox News, Trump said he was “very, very surprised” at Ryan’s comments. “It’s hard to believe,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t bother me at all.”

His tweets, however, suggest otherwise.

“So many great endorsements yesterday, except for Paul Ryan!” Trump tweeted. “We must put America first and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Roughly 90 minutes later, Trump came back with a sharp critique of another comment Ryan made Thursday. “Paul Ryan said that I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong, I didn't inherit it, I won it with millions of voters!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The sharpest words, however, came from Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. Not only did she say it’s incumbent upon Ryan to be the one bringing unity to the party, she suggested Ryan may be ill-suited for his current job.

Asked pointedly by CNN’s John Berman whether Ryan is fit to be speaker if he can’t come around to supporting Trump, Pierson responded, “No, because this is about the party.”

In the 10 months since Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid in front of paid actors, the Republican Party has failed to coalesce around a strategy on how to marginalize the reality TV star.

Now that Trump’s the presumptive nominee, a full-bore GOP civil war has broken out, dividing the party into factions that are providing fresh headaches for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Priebus on Friday tried to encourage his fellow Republicans to put down their arms. Sitting down for a one-hour conversation with POLITICO’s Mike Allen, the beleaguered party leader repeatedly stated that it’s just been three days since Trump became the presumptive nominee, and that it’s going to take time for Republicans to absorb their new reality.

Priebus said Trump understands that the party has to unify wide blocs of voters, and he dismissed the latest furor over Trump’s tweet celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a picture of him tucking into a taco bowl.

“He’s trying, and honestly, he’s trying and I will tell you what, I honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the party is the only way we’re going to win," Priebus said. "And I think he gets that.”

Playing the role of chief GOP diplomat, Priebus empathized with Ryan, who said on Thursday afternoon that he’s “not ready” to support Trump and that, “I think what a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard-bearer that bears our standards.”

Priebus said the speaker is “being honest, and I know how he feels.”

“And so, I'm comfortable with the idea that it is going to take some time in some cases for people to work through differences,” he said. “We talked about it and talked about it multiple times, and they're very comfortable with sitting down with Donald Trump, and it may be at my office, it may be somewhere else, but we're going to have that meeting to start the process of unifying.”

Ryan’s office announced later on Friday that the high-stakes meeting will happen next Thursday with Priebus in tow.

"Having both said we need to unify the party, Speaker Ryan has invited Donald Trump to meet with members of the House Republican leadership in Washington on Thursday morning to begin a discussion about the kind of Republican principles and ideas that can win the support of the American people this November. The Speaker and Mr. Trump will also meet separately, along with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus," the statement read.

The Republican leaders will have plenty to discuss, including the growing number of former Republican candidates who are ripping up their former pledges to the RNC to support the eventual nominee.

Lindsey Graham on Friday first issued a statement and then went on CNN — the same venue Ryan used — to explain why he can’t support Trump.

He said he couldn't back Trump because he doesn't think he is a "reliable Republican conservative, nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as commander in chief."

Jeb Bush took to Facebook to announce his disavowal.

“The American Presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics. It requires of its occupant great fortitude and humility and the temperament and strong character to deal with the unexpected challenges that will inevitably impact our nation in the next four years,” Bush said in his post.

“Donald Trump has not demonstrated that temperament or strength of character,” he continued. “He has not displayed a respect for the Constitution. And, he is not a consistent conservative. These are all reasons why I cannot support his candidacy.”

It’s not clear when Trump’s most recently downed rivals will announce their positions.

Ted Cruz, who dropped out Tuesday night after Trump’s blowout win in Indiana, has not yet indicated to people close to him what he'll do regarding an endorsement. John Kasich, who dropped Wednesday, has been quiet about what's next, but according to a source close to the governor, the early indicators are that he's unlikely to throw his support behind Trump.

But not everyone is forswearing the real estate mogul, with some stating that it’s important to bring the party together for its battle against Hillary Clinton.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday said he will support Trump, after previously calling the billionaire a “liberal Democrat.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who had endorsed Cruz, said he’s now all-in for Trump.

“I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the state of Indiana,” Pence told reporters, according to Indianapolis' Fox affiliate. “I’m going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House.”

And Ryan’s counterpart in the Senate isn’t on the same page, at least publicly.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week offered a tepid endorsement of Trump, remarking in a statement that "I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination."

With Congress coming back to Washington next week, Republicans will have plenty to talk about.
In the meantime, there’s at least one Washington figure reveling in the GOP’s identity crisis — President Barack Obama.

He came out at the top of the daily news briefing to talk about the latest jobs numbers, but was clearly ready to talk Trump. When asked about Ryan’s stunning announcement from the day before, Obama told reporters — with a smirk — that he couldn't begin to guess what will come of the civil war.
"I think you have to ask Speaker Ryan what the implications of his comments are," Obama said.

Katie Glueck, Daniel Strauss, Nick Gass and Brianna Gurciullo contributed to this report.
 
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Truth and Trumpism
by Paul Krugman
New York Times
May 6, 2016
 
How will the news media handle the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? I suspect I know the answer — and it’s going to be deeply frustrating. But maybe, just maybe, flagging some common journalistic sins in advance can limit the damage. So let’s talk about what can and probably will go wrong in coverage — but doesn’t have to.

First, and least harmful, will be the urge to make the election seem closer than it is, if only because a close race makes a better story. You can already see this tendency in suggestions that the startling outcome of the fight for the Republican nomination somehow means that polls and other conventional indicators of electoral strength are meaningless.

The truth, however, is that polls have been pretty good indicators all along. Pundits who dismissed the chances of a Trump nomination did so despite, not because of, the polls, which have been showing a large Trump lead for more than eight months.

Oh, and let’s not make too much of any one poll. When many polls are taken, there are bound to be a few outliers, both because of random sampling error and the biases that can creep into survey design. If the average of recent polls shows a strong lead for one candidate — as it does right now for Mrs. Clinton — any individual poll that disagrees with that average should be taken with large helpings of salt.

A more important vice in political coverage, which we’ve seen all too often in previous elections — but will be far more damaging if it happens this time — is false equivalence.

You might think that this would be impossible on substantive policy issues, where the asymmetry between the candidates is almost ridiculously obvious. To take the most striking comparison, Mr. Trump has proposed huge tax cuts with no plausible offsetting spending cuts, yet has also promised to pay down U.S. debt; meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has proposed modest spending increases paid for by specific tax hikes.

That is, one candidate is engaged in wildly irresponsible fantasy while the other is being quite careful with her numbers. But beware of news analyses that, in the name of “balance,” downplay this contrast.

This isn’t a new phenomenon: Many years ago, when George W. Bush was obviously lying about his budget arithmetic but nobody would report it, I suggested that if a candidate declared that the earth was flat, headlines would read, “Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.” But this year it could be much, much worse.

And what about less quantifiable questions about behavior? I’ve already seen pundits suggest that both presumptive nominees fight dirty, that both have taken the “low road” in their campaigns. For the record, Mr. Trump has impugned his rivals’ manhood, called them liars and suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was associated with J.F.K.’s killer. On her side, Mrs. Clinton has suggested that Bernie Sanders hasn’t done his homework on some policy issues. These things are not the same.

Finally, I can almost guarantee that we’ll see attempts to sanitize the positions and motives of Trump supporters, to downplay the racism that is at the heart of the movement and pretend that what voters really care about are the priorities of D.C. insiders — a process I think of as “centrification.”

That is, after all, what happened after the rise of the Tea Party. I’ve seen claims that Tea Partiers were motivated by Wall Street bailouts, or even that the movement was largely about fiscal responsibility, driven by voters upset about budget deficits.

In fact, there was never a hint that any of these things mattered; if you followed the actual progress of the movement, it was always about white voters angry at the thought that their taxes might be used to help Those People, whether via mortgage relief for distressed minority homeowners or health care for low-income families.

Now I’m seeing suggestions that Trumpism is driven by concerns about political gridlock. No, it isn’t. It isn’t even mainly about “economic anxiety.”

Trump support in the primaries was strongly correlated with racial resentment: We’re looking at a movement of white men angry that they no longer dominate American society the way they used to. And to pretend otherwise is to give both the movement and the man who leads it a free pass.

In the end, bad reporting probably won’t change the election’s outcome, because the truth is that those angry white men are right about their declining role. America is increasingly becoming a racially diverse, socially tolerant society, not at all like the Republican base, let alone the plurality of that base that chose Donald Trump.

Still, the public has a right to be properly informed. The news media should do all it can to resist false equivalence and centrification, and report what’s really going on.

Read Paul Krugman’s blog, The Conscience of a Liberal, and follow him on Twitter.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter
 
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Why Hillary Clinton is Uniquely Suited to Take on Donald Trump
by Sam Stein
Huffington Post
5/6/16

Back in the fall of 1989, a group of researchers published a paper looking at the ways in which individuals contort the circumstances surrounding them into their preexisting world views.

This particular investigation, titled “Expert Decision Making in Evolving Situations,” gave 11 groups of Army intelligence analysts a realistic battlefield scenario and asked them to assess the most likely avenue for an enemy attack. The scenarios were largely the same, though with slight variations to produce different answers. Each group was given time to study and each expressed confidence in their answers. 

The noteworthy stuff is what came next. The groups were given updated intelligence reports and asked to reconsider their assessments. Some reports contained items confirming initial judgements. Others were designed to spur skepticism. The majority were neutral. The process was then repeated two more times. 

In the aggregate, the level of confidence should have stayed roughly the same. But what the researchers found was that the groups grew more convinced in their initial judgements the more information they received. Only one of the 11 teams changed its assessment of how the enemy would  attack. Seven of the 11 teams expressed more confidence in their call over time. 

Additionally, the subjects gave significantly more weight to information that reinforced their earlier decisions. Not only that, but when presented with contradictory evidence, they were dismissive or downplayed its significance. 

Confirmation bias like this had been observed before. What stood out to the researchers was that individuals trained to be open and sober-minded were now exhibiting it. 

“The results of this experiment lend support to the general conclusion that trained subjects in an evolving, realistic, decision environment demonstrate performance characteristics similar to those of novices working with less realistic and relatively more static scenarios,” the study read. “Specifically, confidence in an initial hypothesis is generally high, regardless of the hypothesis.”

Presidential campaigns are not literal battlefields. And voters are not Army intelligence analysts. But as the 2016 general election comes into focus, the same behavioral patterns observed in this study will play a significant role in determining the next president. 

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, filleted a field of 17 Republican primary candidates by branding them in uniquely terrible ways: Little Marco Rubio, Lyin’ Ted Cruz and Low Energy Jeb Bush. With his attention shifting to November, the fear among preternaturally panicked Democrats is that he will do the same against his likely opponent: Hillary Clinton. Trump has already begun trying, adding the descriptive “Crooked” to her first name.

But political scientists and branding experts aren’t so sure that he’ll find much success. And it goes back to “Expert Decision Making in Evolving Situations.” Referencing that specific study, Timothy Calkins, a clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, noted just how hard it is to mold perceptions when people have already thought through their choices. 

“It is very hard to reposition a well-established brand, and what we have here are two really well-established brands,” Calkins said of the election matchup. “There is a whole idea of mental exhaustion. When you force people to really think about something, it is difficult and challenging. And the easy thing to do is to just not think about it. For someone to really challenge and change their beliefs requires a lot of energy.” 
When you force people to really think about something, it is difficult and challenging. And the easy thing to do is to just not think about it. Timothy Calkins, a clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
At its current juncture, the Democratic primary is boiling down to a fight over electability. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who trails in pledged delegates, has argued that party insiders should switch their votes to him precisely because his polling numbers are better suited for the general. And that’s true. Sanders does better in mock contests against Trump. His favorability ratings are far superior to Clinton’s. 

These strengths, however, are somewhat cosmetic. Though he’s been on the trail for over the year, Sanders is not as known a political figure as Clinton. He’s faced a tiny sliver of the negative attacks. As The Huffington Post reported in mid-April, of the roughly $383 million spent on campaign television advertising in 2016, only about 2 percent was on anti-Sanders ads, much of which just briefly mentioned his name or featured his image. 

“People are pointing to his general election numbers as being stronger than Clinton’s, and that’s largely a byproduct of the fact he hasn’t seen incoming fire,” said Brendan Nyhan, a political science professor at Dartmouth College and a columnist for The New York Times.
Clinton, by contrast, presents a surer bet, albeit with less potential upside. Should she secure the Democratic nomination, she would have a favorability rating worse than any general election candidate in history ... save for Trump himself. 

But she brings advantages to the ticket too. 

On the trail, Clinton touts the political battles she’s experienced as proof that she can succeed where Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted and Low Energy Jeb failed. The impression left is that she has the political acumen to navigate a race against Trump. But what she is also underscoring is that she has the longevity to not be defined by her opponent. Like those Army intelligence officers, the voters have studied her resume, and new parcels of information will simply be plugged into their preexisting views.  

“People have an amazing ability to reinforce what they believe,” said Calkins. 

Consider this: In public opinion polls, a full 96 percent of the public is able to rate Clinton either unfavorably or favorably, the same percentage as Trump. By comparison, 86 percent of the public was able to rate Mitt Romney when he was the presumptive nominee in May of 2012. In July of 2015 — roughly when the Republican primary began — 67 percent of the public was able to rate Ted Cruz and 64 percent of the public was able to rate Marco Rubio

The public is about as likely to have a strong opinion about Clinton at the start of the general election as they were to have any opinions about Cruz or Rubio at the beginning of the GOP primary. Across recent polls, more than 60 percent rate her at one extreme or the other: either “very favorably” or “very unfavorably.” Since last June, her numbers have moved relatively little, considering all the campaigning and negative headlines. Her average unfavorable rating has drifted from the high 40s to the low- to mid-50s, but that is likely due to dissipating goodwill from her time as secretary of state. Her favorable rating has dropped, but it’s likely to rise again should disaffected Democrats (Sanders supporters) come back on board. 
The numbers are relatively static for Trump, too. Despite being the most divisive political figure in the country over the past year, his unfavorable rating remains in the low 60s (the same place it was in June 2015). His favorable rating is the one that’s changed, rising from the mid-20s to the mid-30s, presumably as Republican primary voters have gotten to know him as a politician.

“Look at Trump,” said Nyhan. “With all the stuff that has been said about him, his unfavorables ... they barely changed. This whole time. With everything that has been said about him. It is strikingly stable.” 
In a year without Trump, the case could be made that Clinton would be a serious gamble for Democrats — voters’ confirmation biases would be working against her were she facing a more-liked Republican nominee. But there are other factors influencing elections beyond a candidate’s favorability rating. Often, in fact, favorability ratings tend to be overstated as a metric. Nyhan has written extensively about this.
While it might seem obvious that people vote for the candidate they like best, that notion often gets the direction of causality backward. In the heat of the campaign, we ultimately tend to find reasons to support candidates who share our party affiliation or seem to have a good record in office (and to oppose candidates who do not).
Certainly, there are exceptions to the rule that party, not personality, is more determinative of election results. Trump could very well be one. The outsized force of his personality overshadowed nearly all the traditional contours of the Republican primary, and the next six months will test whether partisanship is an even stronger motivation.

But by and large, as the general election progresses, the expectation among political scientists is that we will enter a more stable race than the current political commentary foreshadows. Republican voters will warm up to the nominee. Beleaguered Sanders supporters will find a way to Clinton. A brutally negative campaign will be waged, but confirmation biases will once again take hold. 

“Public opinion figures tend to converge,” Nyhan noted. “When Al Gore ran, Democrats weren’t enthusiastic about his candidacy but they mostly made their peace with him. [Senator] John McCain had incredible favorability numbers. But to win the nomination he became a classic Republican, and he ended up performing like a general Republican when the election came around. So personal qualities tend to be overstated relative to other structural factors.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated what Donald Trump has been calling Hillary Clinton. He has been using the term “crooked,” not “corrupt.”

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