Monday, July 18, 2016

Last Call For Feeding The Rough Beast

Something of a Monday Long Read this evening when you get a chance, but it's a good one nonetheless: BuzzFeed senior political writer McKay Coppins details Donald Trump feeding off the people who dislike him, and how his upcoming nomaination as GOP presidential candidate is almost certainly a product of Trump's drive to exact petty vengeance against slights both real and perceived, making him the perfect candidate for the Republican party in 2016.

Donald Trump stood on a debate stage in downtown Detroit, surrounded by haters he was determined to dispatch: Liddle Marco to his right, Lyin’ Ted to his left, Megyn Kelly at the moderator’s table straight ahead, and — somewhere out there, in a darkened living room 1,500 miles away — me.

About 30 minutes into the debate, Kelly asked Trump to respond to a recent BuzzFeed News report about his position on immigration. 
“First of all, BuzzFeed?” Trump said, waving an index finger in the air. “They were the ones that said under no circumstances will I run for president — and were they wrong.” My phone lit up with a frenzied flurry of tweets, texts, and emails, each one carrying variations of the same message: This is all your fault. 
Trump was referring to a profile I’d written two years earlier in which I chronicled a couple of days spent inside the billionaire’s bubble and confidently concluded that his long-stated presidential aspirations were a sham. He had tweeted about me frequently in the weeks following its publication — often at odd hours, sometimes multiple times a day — denouncing me as a “dishonest slob” and “true garbage with no credibility.” 
Breitbart published an “EXCLUSIVE” with Trump and his employees claiming I’d boorishly harassed various women during my brief stay at his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago. (“I don’t know how to say it — he was looking at me like I was yummy,” complained one hostess named “Bianka Pop.”) There were a lot of things about Trump’s wrathful, wounded reaction that seemed weird at the time, but in retrospect, the weirdest was that it never really ended; for two years, Trump continued to rant about how I’m a scumbag or a loser or “just another phony guy.” 
Trump’s performative character assassination led to plenty of teasing from friends and colleagues about how I had inadvertently goaded Trump into running. But as his campaign gained traction, the tone started to curdle into something more…hostile. Once, after discussing Trump’s latest outrage on cable news, the host grumbled to me, “Won’t it be great when Donald Trump becomes president because you wrote a fucking BuzzFeed article daring him to run? I mean, won’t that be fucking fantastic?” I mentioned to former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett that Trump’s candidacy had me yearning for a new beat. “So, wait a second, you get all of us into this, and now you decide it’s beneath you?” he demanded. “No, you stay ‘til it’s fucking over. The whole thing. You stay here with the rest of us until it’s done.” 
It’s not done yet. As Trump completed his conquest of the Republican Party this year, I contemplated my supposed role in the imminent fall of the republic — retracing my steps; poring over old notes, interviews, and biographies; talking to dozens of people. What had most struck me during my two days with Trump was his sad struggle to extract even an ounce of respect from a political establishment that plainly viewed him as a sideshow. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he’d felt this way for virtually his entire life — face pressed up against the window, longing for an invitation, burning with resentment, plotting his revenge. 
I had landed on a long and esteemed list of haters and losers — spanning decades, stretching from Wharton to Wall Street to the Oval Office — who have ridiculed him, rejected him, dismissed him, mocked him, sneered at him, humiliated him — and, now, propelled him all the way to the Republican presidential nomination, with just one hater left standing between him and the nuclear launch codes. 
What have we done?

I find it very interesting that a media outlet is considering its role in creating the Rough Beast slouching its way towards Cleveland at all, much less the more specific charge of enabling Trump's rise through not taking him seriously as a threat to the nation until it was far, far too late.  Sure, it was extremely easy to dismiss Trump as a clown in 2012, but he learned from his mistakes, and he learned from his detractors as well.

I'm glad that Coppins realized what the problem was, but the question remains, political media: what have you done?

Trump Cards, Con't

While the focus this week in politics is on the RNC convention in Cleveland, it's important to note just how many people the Republican presumptive nominee has alienated through his racist, hateful rhetoric so far, the the point where it may not be possible for Trump to win.  Trump is at best in the single digits among black voters, but he's also doing nearly as badly among Latino voters.

Donald Trump remains overwhelmingly unpopular with Latinos, a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll shows, with only about one in seven Latino voters say they support the presumptive GOP nominee.

A whopping 76 percent of the 300 Latino registered voters in the poll said they back Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head race, while just 14 percent said they back Trump.

What's more, 82 percent of Latino voters say they have an unfavorable view of Trump, while just 11 percent view him positively.

Yeah, Trump is in the teens with Latino voters.  That sound you hear is the RNC having a heart attack because they know they've just lost North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia for sure if those numbers remain true.  Support that low from Latino voters could put other states in play too like Arizona, and could even have some effect in Texas if Trump keeps this up.

Latinos, a fast-growing bloc of voters nationwide, have supported Democrats by significant margins in recent elections. But Trump's low level of support with the group is unprecedented.

Mitt Romney won 27 percent of Latinos in 2012; John McCain - a champion of immigration reform - garnered 31 percent support; and George W. Bush won around 40 percent in his re-election effort in 2004.

Combining this with Clinton winning the college-educated white vote, something the Democrats haven't done since Eisenhower and a group that Romney won by 14 points in 2012, and the coming wipeout of Trump is going to be legendary.

If the voters show up, that is.

The First Month's Agenda

As Hillary Clinton will speak at today's final day of the NAACP national conference here in Cincinnati, a preview of what she has to say came from a video appearance at the Netroots Nation 2016 conference on Saturday in St. Louis, where she laid out her plan for the first 30 days at the White House:

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, made the announcement in a video for the annual Netroots Nation progressive conference.

"Today I’m announcing that in my first 30 days as president, I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people — all of us — the chance to reclaim our democracy," she said.

"I will also appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy. And I will fight for other progressive reforms, including small-dollar matching and disclosure requirements."

In a statement, Clinton also pledged to "promote SEC rulemaking requiring publicly traded companies to disclose all political spending to their shareholders" and to sign an "executive order requiring federal government contractors to fully disclose all political spending."

Campaign finance reform is all well and good, but this is what got my attention.

Clinton also called for criminal justice reform, laying out two additional proposals for turning "talk into action," especially in the wake of recent deaths of black men shot by police.

"First, as president I’ll bring law enforcement and communities together to develop national guidelines on the use of force," Clinton said. "Second, I will target $1 billion in my first budget to take on implicit bias, which remains a problem across our society and even in the best of our police departments."

It's a start, and only a start, but getting that start is necessary.  I'm hoping there's a lot more to Clinton's CJ reform proposals, and the voter registration proposals she is expected to talk about in Cincinnati today, but again, any changes to the Voting Rights Act or to criminal justice and mandatory minimum sentencing depends on the makeup of Congress next January.

If the GOP still controls the House, all bets are off.


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