Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

It Happened Here

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Image result for trump inauguration fist


Last week, the previously unimaginable happened:  the first black President of the United States and his family were succeeded in the White House by the most high profile proponent of the ridiculous, racist Birther conspiracy theory.

Anyone who watched national TV in the last year knows Trump’s list of indiscretions, but it’s worth remembering that he spent most of his time running for president demonstrating just how unfit he was for the job. This is a man who made fun of a handicapped reporter to entertain a throng of cheering fans, a man who joked about the assassination of his political opponent, who attacked the parents of a decorated soldier for their religion, who said in one memorable Republican debate that he would force US soldiers to commit war crimes and bragged about the size of his penis, who stated in a another debate that he would put his opponent in jail if he won the election, who not only lost the three debates he participated in by a large margin, but publicly melted down during and after those debates… and to top it all off, was revealed on tape bragging about how he sexually assaults women in a tape that was released a month before the election.

Democrats have a lot of theories about how this could have happened and many of them have merit. Despite Trump’s desire to make it go away, it’s clear that Putin and Wikileaks were effectively acting as some combination of a Pro Trump Super PAC and Nixon’s Plumbers. There’s even more evidence that James Comey’s unprecedented last minute interference (not to mention a cabal of FBI agents colluding with Rudy Giuliani who may have forced his hand) was the coup de grace for Hillary, with late deciders breaking hard for Trump. And it’s also true that if black turnout was higher and more Bernie Sanders voters weren’t actively working against her, then she still could have won. But much of this misses the point. Donald Trump is an awful human being, totally unfit for the job and the race never should have been close. Hillary lost because she got trounced among white working class voters and she got trounced because she failed to articulate a credible case that she would ease the economic problems that have ravaged their communities since the 1970′s.

Hillary’s loss is made all the more dire by what George Packer calls the “hollowing out” of the Democratic party during the presidency of Barack Obama.

The Democratic Party claims half the country, but it’s hollowed out at the core. Hillary Clinton became the sixth Democratic Presidential candidate in the past seven elections to win the popular vote; yet during Barack Obama’s Presidency the Party lost both houses of Congress, fourteen governorships, and thirty state legislatures, comprising more than nine hundred seats. The Party’s leaders are all past the official retirement age, other than Obama, who has governed as the charismatic and enlightened head of an atrophying body. Did Democrats even notice? More than Republicans, they tend to turn out only when they’re inspired. The Party has allowed personality and demography to take the place of political organizing.

There’s a lot of technical analysis that I could go into to try to explain what has happened in the past 8 years, but I think that the inescapable conclusion is that what was good for President Obama’s electoral fortunes was a disaster for the national Democratic party. The historic nature of his candidacy and his electoral success hid (and even accelerated) the shift of the Democratic Party from a party built on a working class base, to a party increasingly made up mostly of women, minorities and  professional whites clustered in urban areas and on the coasts. These voters can continue to be a base for the Democrats, but the election of Trump (not to mention the elections of 2010 and 2014) shows what happens when working class whites abandon the Democratic party in droves.

For anyone hoping to understand the election of Trump, George Packer is required reading. Packer talks about the disconnection that many working class whites have felt over the decades as jobs left their communities and they felt increasingly disconnected from politics in America.

(They) have no foundation to stand on; they’re unorganized, unheard, unspoken for. They sink alone. The institutions of a healthy democracy—government, corporation, school, bank, union, church, civic group, media organization—feel remote and false, geared for the benefit of those who run them. And no institution is guiltier of this abandonment than the political parties… So it shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise when millions of Americans were suddenly drawn to a crass strongman who tossed out fraudulent promises and gave institutions and élites the middle finger.

Trump focused his campaign on the two issues where both parties had ignored the will of the white working class: trade and immigration. For decades, their views on immigration and trade were ignored by a consensus among “elites” in both parties. Republicans had traditionally supported free trade, but in the 1990′s, Bill Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council made it a core part of the national Democratic party’s agenda. Politicians gave protectionism lip service, but always supported the trade deals when they came up.

On immigration, Business “elites” supported open borders because they want the cheap labor and liberal “elites” supported it for humanitarian reasons. The result is very little border security and a de-facto amnesty for those already here. As the working class saw their communities decimated by the decades long de-industrialization of America, they watched as both parties ignored the forces they felt were fueling it.

Trump’s campaign team took advantage of this rift masterfully, making the white working class “a self-conscious identity group” and setting them in opposition to the “globalist” ethos that the Democratic party increasingly personified.

Packer recounts a conversation with Charles Murray:

The energy coming out of the new lower class really only needed a voice, because they are so pissed off at people like you and me…We so obviously despise them, we so obviously condescend to them—‘flyover country.’ The only slur you can use at a dinner party and get away with is to call somebody a redneck—that won’t give you any problems in Manhattan. And you can also talk about evangelical Christians in the most disparaging terms—you will get no pushback from that. They’re aware of this kind of condescension. And they also haven’t been doing real well.

Trump spoke directly to these voters with a clear message: The Washington poiltical establishment has ignored your concerns and allowed your jobs to disappear. I’m not going to let that happen anymore. Hillary Clinton responded with a message that was almost devoid of economic messaging, basically ceding this ground to him and choosing to repeat the same messages about how unsuited he was for the job and preaching the message of tolerance and national unity. This strategy was taken right out of Obama’s playbook, but Obama was always very careful to keep the economic pitch at the forefront of in his campaign messaging.  Hillary failed to keep that focus, esentially forgetting her husband’s 1992 maxim: “it’s the economy, stupid.”

The election of Trump is a primal scream from Middle America. We are right to ask ourselves how our fellow Americans could have voted for a man that epitomized the worst tendencies in American society. But if we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again, we need to understand how we got here in the first place. If you listen through the noise, you can hear it: the recovery hasn’t spread to us, we’re hurting out here and we need your help. Quit condescending and start explaining how your policies are going to address our problems.

Until Democrats start making a better case that they have the answers to these problems, expect the beatings to continue.

Romney’s New Aggressiveness

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Last week, Mitt Romney secured enough delegates to get the Republican nomination at the same time he was attending a high profile fund raiser with the race baiter and publicity whore Donald Trump. Earlier that day, Romney released his birth certificate for the first time, claiming that it was at the request of reporters and had nothing to do with his meeting with Trump. Pundits from across the spectrum were incredulous about Romney’s public embrace of Trump. George Will noted that the risks of appearing with what he called a “bloviating ignoramus” far outweighed any possible benefit, and Lawrence O’ Donnell said that the only explanation was Romney’s goal to “leave no racist behind” in his search for votes.

Byron York puts the decision to appear with Trump in context. As York notes, the Romney campaign strategy has to be viewed in the context of a Republican base that saw John McCain’s refusal to attack his opponents personal character or exploit American racial grievances in 2008 as a sign of weakness instead of a sign of patriotism, in Mitt Romney’s need to ingratiate himself with that base, and in the calculation that, while there may be a short term cost to the decision, the long term effects will be negligible.

Buzz Feed’s McKay Coppins takes the analysis further, highlighting Mitt Romney’s new attempt to appeal to the Republican base, not by tacking to the right along policy lines (which Romney can’t afford to do anymore), but on the basis of campaign tactics. According to Coppins, Romney’s bizarre embrace of Trump, his surprise speech at Republican solar energy boogeyman Solyndra’s shuttered corporate office and the team Romney’s heckling of  David Axelrod’s attack on Romney’s jobs record in Massachussets, are all part of a new aggressiveness that has conservatives cheering.

The conventional wisdom of the chattering class has been that Romney is captive to the Republican Party’s conservative base, desperate and anxious to maintain their tepid support. But his new appeal to the right marks a recognition that he can court conservatives without, in any traditional sense, “tacking right.”

The theory is that conservatives “can live with Romney’s moderate record – as long as he’s a fighting moderate.”

This is probably good strategy on Romney’s part and it goes a long way toward explaining his more questionable moves in the last few weeks. As I pointed out previously, the Republican race often resembled a contest to see who can say the most outrageous things about Obama, and the Romney campaign was always destined to lose that contest. Now that he has the nomination, Romney can’t afford to tack any further right on policy, but he has been effectively signaling that his campaign won’t hesitate to take the fight to the President… and that’s one way to rally the conservative base around him.

Obama At White House Correspondents Dinner

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

This was overtaken by other events, but deserves it’s own post.


Starts slow and then builds.

Obama savages Trump with a smile on his face.

I love watching Trump’s face while Obama (and Seth Meyers) clown him.  Trying to be all serious just makes him look even more ridiculous.

Seth Meyers was good too.

Obama’s Big Week

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

What a surreal week Obama must have had leading up to the raid on bin Laden’s compound.

On Wednesday, the White House finally had enough and Obama took the extraordinary step of holding an impromptu press conference to announce that he was releasing his long form birth certificate. The birth certificate was released in advance of the press conference, so the nation was treated to the split frame of Donald Trump landing his oversized helicopter in New Hampshire and the podium in the White House where Obama was about to speak. 

In a ridiculous press conference in an airport hanger, Trump stated (multiple times) that he was  ”really, really proud of myself” and “really honored” that he had just wasted months of the nation’s time on a conspiracy theory with (very) thinly veiled racial overtones.

Just after, a visibly annoyed President Obama took the podium, announcing that he had released his birth certificate, stating, in an obvious shot at the guy who was just on everyone’s TV: 

We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers….We have better things to do. I have better things to do.

Conservative blogs snickered as Obama headed to Chicago to tape an episode of Oprah. Meanwhile very few people in the world knew just how pressing the “better thing” Obama had to do was.

On Friday morning, Obama gave the final go ahead for the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He then traveled to Alabama to visit the devastation wrought by tornados and meet with victims. Then it was on to Cape Canaveral where he met with Gabby Giffords and made a speech to NASA.

On Saturday, the president did 15 minutes of stand up comedy at the Washington Correspondents Dinner, which featured him just savaging Donald Trump  (Jon Stewart later said that he tuned in to “The Celeberity Apprentice” on Sunday just to see if it had made a visible mark on him). As he was doing a standup routine that mostly revolved around making fun of the the birthers, a SEAL team in Afghanistan was preparing for the raid on bin Laden’s compound.

By mid afternoon the next day, Obama was huddling with his national security team in the White House Situation Room and watching the raid unfold. By 4:00, he was informed that bin Laden has been tentatively identified and by 7:00, they knew for sure.

At 11:00, he announced to the nation and the world that Osama bin Laden has been killed.

All in all, not bad for a week’s work.

Lawrence O’ Donnell Skewers NBC Entertainment and Trump

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Trump, You’re Fired.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The Front Runner

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

What a Country!

Trump-Bachman 2012!

Vote for Sleazy and Dumb as Rocks!

It’s been enjoyable to watch Trump make an ass out of himself and embarrass the Republican party, but Laurence O’ Donnell reminds us how bad for the country it is for Trump to continually be on TV fanning the fires of intolerance.