Thursday, June 09, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: Can Trump Really Win?

Every news cycle seems to bring another round of bad news for Donald Trump, and a fresh batch of confident predictions that his campaign is hopeless. 

Yet... does anyone else feel like he can still win? After all, these same pundits gave him no chance to win the nomination. And Hillary Clinton is, by many reports, a vulnerable candidate.

So what would have to happen for Trump to win? Would it be enough, say, if Clinton is charged with a misdemeanor in the case involving her emails while she was Secretary of State? Or would it require an even greater calamity for her to lose?

Also, Republican friends... are you open to voting for Donald Trump come November?

Nobody knows anything--and that goes double (triple, to infinity and beyond) for me.

Elections are funny things. "Riding high in April; Shot down in May." But there is always June (and July and October and, finally, November).

Can Trump win? Of course, he can. Anybody can win an election--especially if they are running against the 2016 version of Hillary Clinton. Will he win? I am going to double-down once again (to the tenth power) and say I still cannot see a man of his temperament and bearing and capacity win the presidency. But it could happen (in a million different scenarios).

Would I ever vote for him? Yes. I would like to avoid it, but, hypothetically (as Jonah Goldberg, famous #NeverTrump partisan theorized), if I were charged with casting the deciding vote in this election between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, I would vote against Hillary and for Trump.

I will not vote for Trump. If I had to face that hypothetical question where I had the deciding vote between Clinton and Trump, I would join P.J. O'Rourke and vote for the one who is bad within the normal confines of sanity. She's wrong on a lot of issues, strident and uninspiring, but she will hire competent people and do the wrong things in a normal kind of way. She's not a dangerous, narcissistic madman. Like Trump.

But therein lies the problem. Why will a lot of people vote for Hillary. Because she's not Trump.

And that, my friends, is a LOSING strategy!!

More and more this election reminds me of 2008. One party begrudgingly nominates a candidate who has been in the public eye since the 70's, been prominent since the 80's and has a long record of bipartisan cooperation and accomplishment. The other party nominates someone who is almost a blank slate when it comes to policy and political achievement. The only thing this candidate has done is make aspirational speeches. But this candidate has a positive theme. Really, what's difference between "Make America Great Again" and "Hope and Change"?

Just about every successful candidate had a positive theme that summarized their campaign. "Hope," "Bridge to the 21st Century," "It's the Economy Stupid," "Kinder, Gentler/No New Taxes," "Morning in America," "Are you Better Off Now than you were 4 Years Ago," "I'll Never Lie to you," etc.

I hate to say that sound bite politics matters, but it does. What's Hillary Clinton's THEME? The WHY that we should vote for her, as opposed to AGAINST Trump? That she's a woman? The people to whom that MATTERS would vote for just about any Democrat. That's not who she needs to attract. She needs to find something to get the undecideds in her column. And so far, I see nothing.

And as previously stated, my plan is to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson.
The European transplant in me would like to believe Trump will not win. That belief is based on many a European’s perspective of America where they still put people to death, but protect immigrants’ rights, America where half of the imprisoned population is black, but elect a black man president…twice. It looks though, a scary portion of America nowadays is taken with Trumps’ base comments and crazy rhetoric, enrapt with his bombastic demagogy, exploited by anger and fear and blinded by his promise to Make America Great Again, a promise only a megalomaniac can do in today’s global context. Needless to say I will not vote for Trump and voting for Hillary does not make me happy…just the opposite. But what does one do when the choice offered is not life or death, but gun or poison.
I cannot and will not vote for Trump. Hilary may be every bit as honest as Richard Nixon, but still, she is qualified to be President, and he is not, not even on Planet Bizzaro with Mitzoplik as a running mate. Scott Davis
There are multiple things that could happen to swing the election to Donald Trump. The economy appears to be stagnating; that always helps the out-party. It is oddly also helpful to Trump, since many younger voters and working class people justifiably doubt Clinton's commitment to them. Trump's position on trade will mean a lot to people in places like Fall River, MA, or DeKalb, IL (You are all reading Thomas Frank, right?) Trump will doubtlessly hit on the Administration's refusal to release all of HRC's epistles on the benefits of the TPP before the election. I know I would.

Then, there is the rather serious matter of Clinton's email server, its intended evasion of record-keeping requirements, and perhaps the (criminal) disclosure of classified information. The scofflaw tag already will be hard to shake. If the worker bees at the FBI believe she should be indicted, and it is stifled by Comey (unlikely), or somebody as Justice (more likely), you can bet it will be leaked.

Third, if there is a terrorist incident, especially in the US, prior to the election, Trump cruises.

Lastly, I think all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Donald Trump and his performance in the primary season is going to be forgotten by most people, if they were paying attention in the first place. That's the solid political science reason why a candidate can pander to the base in primaries and run to the middle in a general. Tone the Donald down, coach him in a solid, emotive language performance at the debates (he's a smart man; he has the potential), he gets under Hillary's skin a little (he will), and Hillary tries to out-wonk him, and presto, he's a threat.
And just for the record, I am not a Republican, so I posted the comment without standing to do so.
I think he can win because he has the ability to soften and become less "hateable" to the Republicans and moderates who hate him. I'm not sure what Hillary can do to be less "hateable" to those who hate her.

For my part, I'm in the "Never Trump" camp. To quote the musical Hamilton, "But when all is said and all is done, Jefferson has beliefs, Burr has none."
And further to the issue of Trump's intelligence: Remember, he believed he could win the nomination; none of the arrayed media and punditry though he had a chance. People laughed out loud at Keith Ellison when he said not to underestimate Trump.

My social media Democratic pals still all dismiss Donald Trump. But I think he figured out the zeitgeist this cycle.
Interesting segment on NPR this afternoon in which the director of the new seven-part OJ doc talked about how people misunderstand the jury nullification b/c they are totally ignorant of the context of LA's black community following Rodney King and Latasha Harlins and a ton of other slights and mistreatments over the course of decades. For those of us around at the time we remember that the verdict and the massive African American celebration following the acquittal shocked and sickened "respectable society." The point of this documentary, evidently, is to explain how the seemingly irrational was perfectly rational.

And then it occurred to me that we are not taking seriously the great American jury pool with which Trump resonates. Something is bubbling. Perhaps the end result will not be the election of Donald J. Trump, but something is bubbling and there will be an end result.
What I am hearing is that no one wants someone like the Donald whose actions and words have caused distrust and fear around the world nor do they want someone like Hillary Clinton who we have been told to distrust. We are told she may have been in the room when something maybe happened or could happen maybe later.. Well she may be involved but she is not telling us, maybe.
We just returned from overseas where they have not had the advantage of being influenced by the constant barrage of messages that money spews out and our media only amplifies. They like Hillary Clinton for her accomplishments, her actions and her intelligence. That is all they know. So she still has a good reputation.

I can think of no one running for President who has survived so many proven baseless attacks and "what if's" than Hillary Clinton. She has survived and thrived. She has been liked and admired by both parties when she has been in office because she is very good at whatever she does. She had an approval rating of near 80% before she declared herself a candidate. When she runs for office she is not as lucky. Now that she is the candidate she is discussed as being as much of a dirt bag as the Donald. I am not sure a competent woman can do anything to be less "hateable" to those who feel threatened.

Donald, I am sure, can be less "hateable", but then he would be nothing. He would be soft mush. This is not a comfortable place for a narcissist and a braggart. The more this campaign has gone on the more I am impressed with Hillary Clinton's fortitude and competence. I
I never thought I would say that, and I will miss Bernie.

I would welcome something specific, concrete, factual and that has actually been proven that shows Hillary Clinton is dishonest, disloyal, dangerous or is not competent. Only then, would I will join you in considering her as an equivalent threat to our country as I think Donald Trump would be.

"we are not taking seriously the great American jury pool with which Trump resonates"

That is the same jury pool that I was raised in. White, working class and pretty much dismissed by the Democrats since they decided to move up the food chain. Hillary is not the candidate of my peeps.

There is a book I have recommended for a long time, "Deer Hunting with Jesus," by the regrettably late Joe Bageant.

"Make America Great Again" sounds like sophomoric sloganeering unless American hasn't been very good for you for a long time. And Hillary's reply, "America is already great!" was so tone deaf that it made my teeth hurt. And let them eat cake, too. There are a couple of cartoons out there, incidentally, with Hillary as Marie Antoinette that are pretty damn funny.

I mean, jeepers, when your standard bearer wear a $12.5K feed sack, you have to begin to have doubts. The first several of my cars didn't cost that much. The one I currently drive probably isn't worth that much. Bernie, on the other hand, looks like he gets his hair cut where I do. (Or maybe Mark does, but that's another story.)

I doubt, frankly, that either the Republican or Democratic establishments have the smallest notion of the forces unleashed this cycle.
I do not assert that the following rises to the level of "specific, concrete, factual proof" that Hillary Clinton is dishonest, disloyal, dangerous or incompetent, but they do give me pause:

1. After leaving the White House with relatively modest wealth, Hill and Bill enriched themselves giving speeches and lending their name to enterprises and running a charitable foundation. Specifically, Hillary hit the rubber chicken circuit, speaking to fat cats in mega-corporations and literally earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for 20-30 minute lectures. For anyone who has listened to Hillary speak for thirty minutes the question arises: what makes these utterances worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Really? What gives? To make matters worse, to further stymie inquiring minds, she refuses to release the transcripts for these encounters. Is that dishonest? Maybe not. But, for me, it is at least disquieting.

2. Hillary Clinton went to great pains to secure a private server to maintain control of her emails generated in the pursuit of her public service as secretary of state. Evidently, her actions violated specific rules, and she was not always forthcoming with her department and the White House about the extent to which she employed this system (presumably to protect her from FOIA requests). When authorities discovered her subterfuge she offered up several statements that have since proven less than 100-percent truthful (no classified materials on the server, I had permission, it was common knowledge, everybody did it, and so on). While I do not think this rises to the level of a criminal act--even though the FBI, evidently, remains in the process of conducting a criminal investigation (and I am not even asserting that it is disqualifying), I think is inarguably a bit dishonest.

So, I humbly submit that the questions surrounding Hillary's character are not totally fabricated (regardless of what our friends across the pond might fancy).
As I was saying, only much better than I did:

"If they had any brains, Beltway Dems and their clucky sycophants like Capeheart would not be celebrating this week. They ought to be horrified to their marrow that the all-powerful Democratic Party ended up having to dig in for a furious rally to stave off a quirky Vermont socialist almost completely lacking big-dollar donors or institutional support."
To WF 11:12 post...

Hillary didn't do anything different by hitting the rubber chicken circuit for big $$$. They all do it so I can't and won't hold that against her. I don't understand why these organizations shell out the big bucks but they do. As for the e-mails: I have a problem with the e-mails and it bothers me a lot.

In the end, however, I will cast my vote for her unless between now and November she ends up in jail.
Thanks for responding WF and Steve. I am still waiting to hear about any dishonest or disloyal actions that Hillary Clinton has been proven to have taken. As I have said earlier no one has been and continues to be tested as much as this very competent woman. She remains untouched.
I would prefer someone that avoided controversy. I think that the ruthless attacks on her during her time in public view have taken a toll and she now is very thick skinned.
The email controversy will pass without any accusations of wrong doing,
I favored Bernie because of Hillary Clinton's defensive stands on her email and looseness to the banking industry.
She remains a powerful positive face for America wherever probabilities are trumped by facts.
It also remains important that we have a President that is respected. We are part of a global community and they do have a clearer view free of the political noise.

John, There is this going around:

I didn't set out to respond to your question earlier, per se, but since you repeated it and mentioned me, here's a video that might.

The State Department IG report refers specifically to 1) Secretary Clinton's lack of permission for the home email server, either asked or given, 2) the fact that classified materials were passed on it, and 3) her refusal to cooperate in the investigation. She dissembled about each of these things to the public.

To Christine's point, I believe that the Hillary Victory Fund is an active circumvention of federal campaign finance law.

The photo for the stories, by the way, is of two senators and a governor raising hands with Secretary Clinton at a Democratic confab in Minneapolis where the Hillary Victory Fund was hatched.

I am also waiting for somebody to do a timeline of contributions to the Clinton Foundation and decisions taken at State under Secretary Clinton's watch. I don't actually know, so I won't assert anything, but I suspect such an exercise would yield some interesting, um, harmonic convergences.

Arguing whether Hillary Clinton has committed truly criminal acts, or is just secretive, insecure and paranoid is EXACTLY why I think Trump could win this thing.

If he is able to turn this election into an assessment of all things Clinton, Hillary will have to play defense. And defensive campaigns rarely win.
John: Thank you. I am intentionally leaving the verdict of honesty or dishonesty to you (as I say, I find them disquieting and just a tad dishonest but not disqualifying), but, more importantly, as far as I know, nothing I cited is in dispute as a matter of public record.

Having said all that, I have admired Hillary Clinton for a quarter century (and have generally been much more effusive in my praise for her than my friend, Mark--although he may well close that gap and surpass me between now and November). Believing that the Democratic nominee was a shoe-in for 2008, I did all I could do to make sure that that person was Hillary, whom I believed and still believe was better suited than President Obama to face the trials and momentous decisions of the past eight years.

And, honestly, I will not vote against Hillary in 2016 for any of the valid reasons I listed above (I did that only to offer you an honest enumeration of why honest people view Hillary as a candidate who does not inspire trust).

I will vote against Hillary for the same reasons you will vote for her: she represents an vital continuation of Obamaism. The election of Hillary will mean that the new era of disproportionate unprecedented and unchecked power in the executive will continue. The election of Hillary will mean that the Supreme Court will no longer serve as a governor to the Progressive view of the role of government for at least a generation--maybe for eternity. The election of Hillary will mean that Obamacare will limp along and eventually morph into something resembling a very bad American version of the NIH. The election of Hillary will signal a national compliance with the current trajectory of post-modern Progressive culture.

Again, these are all good reasons for you to vote for Hillary regardless of her character just as they are all good reasons for me to vote against her (with a little gratuitous character assassination thrown in to assuage my political conscience). Godspeed to you, John. And may God bless America. Amen.
If Trump were investigated with the intensity that Clinton has been, there would not be accusations with no proof, but indictments. He has abused the bankruptcy process and enriched him at the expense of creditors and stockholders, paying himself well, running the businesses down and then putting them (not himself) through bankruptcy. Trump University was an absolute fraud, and should have resulted in indictments, let along successful consumer lawsuits. Trump has been involved in hundreds, some say thousands, of lawsuits, many initiated by him as part of his corporate strategy.

And the man contradicts himself all of the time, denies what he said weeks, days, and hours before. If that is not a pattern of lying, perhaps it is the beginning of the onset of dementia.
I see there are Waco Friends and Farmers. :)

You must believe me, Waco Friend, when I say I have no time for Donald Trump. But let us assume for a moment what you say about the Donald is all true. (I reserve judgment on the indict-ability, though.) FBI director Comey is unlikely to say, however, We won't seek the indictment of Hillary Clinton for breaches of national security because Donald Trump is also a crook.

I suspect that Professor Osler would confirm that it is not a defense to a criminal charge that other people are also crooks but have not been charged, even if it is the same crime. (Laying aside the sliver of selective enforcement cases decided on civil rights grounds.)

The original question posed was Can Donald Trump win? I maintain that he can. The events in Orlando this morning, and any others like it before the election, increases Trump's chances. Watch the polls in the next week.
I don't believe that you really think that when Trump infers that the President of the United States is behind the actions of a crazed American and that the act of a terrorist should be met with his crazed scared ill thought-out solutions, this will make voters run toward him. What an indictment of the American voter.

Yes Hillary is too secretive. She is absolutely not paranoid nor insecure. She is steel. This is exactly why many fear her. This discussion comes down to; Who is it that we fear the most? Some of us fear a competent woman, others fear a confidence man. Some seem to fear both equally.

I do think that anti-immigrant bias, Muslim bias, and bias against the GLBT community assists Donald Trump, certainly in the present climate of fear. It is an indictment of the American voter: that's why Donald Trump is where he is.

We seem to have a need to fear some Other; the Other has been a variety of people throughout our history. It is an eminently exploitable feature of politics.
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