Friday, June 17, 2016

Mr. Trump Meets the General Electorate (and some opera thoughts)

By Kit

IF there is one image that encapsulates the state of the Republican Party in their most winnable race since 1980 (or 1984) it is this graph of the RCP Average over the last 3 weeks (for Reference, Trump is Red and Hillary is Blue):

Secretary Clinton is clobbering Mr. Trump

Dan McClaughlin (@baseballcrank on twitter) compared these numbers to previous races and it appears that at this point in the race just about every candidate of the two major parties, never mind the winning ones, since at least 2004 was already at or above 40 in the head-to-head polls. While it is still possible that Sunday morning’s shooting in Orlando, as well as the asinine behavior of the Democrats, could still give Trump a bump, a recent CBS poll found while the numbers for Mrs. Clinton’s and Obama’s responses to the shooting were evenly with a third approving and another third disapproving, the numbers for Trump were far worse: 51% of Americans disapproved of his response to the shooting while only a quarter approved.

It seems the big question this election year is not whether Trump will win or lose the White House but how many Republicans in the House and Senate, as well as those holding various state and local offices, he will drag down with him when he loses. Indeed, with numbers like this and the polls showing depressed enthusiasm among Republicans, we may lose not only the Senate, and thus give the Supreme Court to whichever Sotomayor-clone Hillary Clinton picks, but the House of Representatives as well. So great is the fear that it has increased the talk within the GOP that the party should dump him at the convention, which they can do if the delegates vote to “release” themselves when they vote on the convention’s rules in mid-July.

And this year was supposed to be an easy year for us Republicans.

The reasons for why Trump is behind should be obvious. First, as anyone will tell you, his fiery rhetoric during the primaries clearly poisoned the well of the general electorate. But given that Mrs. Clinton’s numbers are so terrible he could have recovered, heck, he had a slight lead in early May. All he had to do was spend the next month hammering Clinton on her email server in his usual unrestrained style. He could have shouted that “Hillary was a dumb Secretary of State. She used a bad server, a weak server, and she let the Chinese in and now they are killing us. They are killing us! She was reckless and they are killing us!”

See, how easy that was? Yes, the media would’ve engaged in their typical pearl-clutching, “How dare he launch such a sexist attack HM Queen Hillary Clinton!” but it would have mattered little in the grand scheme because, however much it would’ve annoyed a public already annoyed with Mr. Trump and his signature style, it would’ve forced the media to discuss details about Mrs. Clinton that also annoy the public. Namely, that she was so lacking in any scruples and so eager to conceal evidence of corruption on her part that she recklessly America’s national security at risk. It would not matter what idiotic hyperboles he used and no matter how much the media tried to cover for Mrs. Clinton’s deplorable conduct as Secretary of State they would still be discussing, and thus reminding America’s voting public of, Mrs. Clinton deplorable conduct as Secretary of State.

But he didn’t. Instead, for reasons known only to Mr. Trump, he spent the rest of May and the early part of June hammering judge presiding over the lawsuit against him because the judge made a ruling that he did not like and was, for a few days, making a few headlines. This despite an earlier memo to his surrogates telling them to avoid questions about the lawsuit. The effect of this attack was, interestingly, similar to what would’ve happened had he spent that time doing what I described above, only it hurt him. Because, whatever the merits of Mr. Trump’s complaints against the judge, bringing it up reminded people that Trump himself has unsavory characteristics; first, that he has a history of engaging in shady business deals and scams and, second, the nature of his attacks brought to mind the racially-tinged nature of his primary campaign that has repulsed so many Americans.

Sadly, however, it’s not hard to figure out why Trump is doing this. He, despite claiming to have $10 billion dollars in the bank and therefore being able to entirely self-fund his campaign (again, he claims), is low on campaign funds. He needs to raise money and fast, especially with Hillary Clinton building up a massive war-chest and buying up ad space for what will surely be an unremitting assault on Donald Trump unlike anything he experienced in the primaries. He needs to raise money and he needs to do it quickly. He knows that the immigrant charge has worked well so why not? Which makes it all the more stupid because a series of volleys against Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal would’ve worked just as fine, maybe even better.

Of course, he may have done it because his ego could not stand a few days of unpleasant headlines about a topic that is apparently a rather sensitive one to him. Who knows.

The good news is that he seems to recognize that his polls are sliding. Maggie Haberman of the New York Times said in a tweet: “Trump, in phone interview before rally, made first concession that I've heard him make that he is not leading the polls.” So the question is what will he do now. He has three options: First, he could stay the course and double-down, continuing to make idiotic statements that further poison the well of the electorate. Second, he can change course. This would mean admitting to himself he had made mistakes. Fortunately, he seems to have backed off the Curiel attacks so there is some hope there.

There is a third option which, I’m afraid is the worst, at least when it comes the Party: declare war on the party. Scapegoat the party’s leadership for his woes, accuse them of undermining his campaign, and maybe even demand some resignations. This would infuriate the leadership, burn bridges needlessly for him, and only increase calls to dump him at the convention. This would, on the surface seem monumentally stupid. It would be a slap in the face to those who voted for him and could kill the party. But, if Trump seems determined to kill the party anyway, the RNC and a simple majority of the over 2000 delegates meeting in Cleveland might decide that in this case an amputation is the only cure.

But would this be so bad for Mr. Trump? He could go back to selling himself as a brand. He'd do interviews attacking the GOP and promoting a Dolchstoßlegende that could haunt the Right for decades. He might even launch that rumored cable news channel of his (which his campaign has flatly denied) and use it as a platform, or he could just (ghost-)write another book. Whatever he did he would likely profit handsomely for it, though the Republican Party, and the country as a whole, would not.

Whether he is kept on the ticket or not, Trump will excoriate the GOP leadership for "Screwing him out of a win" if he loses and his supporters at Breitbart and Fox News will go along with it for the ratings boost from angry Trump supporters. The best that can be said is keeping him on is the marginally better option, but only marginally.

The future of the party seems to rest in Donald Trump’s tiny hands. It is unlikely he will win. Indeed, even if he does alter course slightly over the next few days it is hard to imagine those rhetorical habits that have so poisoned things for him, and the Republican Party as a whole, in the general not rising back up just enough times to keep him from hitting that magic number, 270 in November 8. The question is will he behave responsibly enough to prevent the GOP from experiencing its worst electoral calamity since 1964.

Le Nozze di Figaro

Given that this has been a rather dour post I thought I should do something to liven it. I’ve recently taken a liking to opera. What? I needed the distraction.

I’m still a beginner, of course. I’m making my way through a 1990s production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in Italian). I’m about halfway through and am enjoying every single second of it. I can only describe the play as sublimely decadent in ways that not even the raciest sitcom would dare venture. The plot concerns the servant Figaro’s attempts, along with his fiancé Susanna and the Contessa, to spoil the Count’s scheme to invoke the right of Droit du seigneur upon his wife. Really. And it’s a comedy, albeit one with some rather dramatic elements.

The music is fantastic, and, for a sample, I’m going to give you this clip from a 1980 production. The song is the famous aria “Non so più,” performed by the character Cherubino, a teenage boy who has now discovered the joys of being a teenage boy; being madly in love with every woman he sees. Now, you might notice that he is rather feminine, that is because Cherubino has, since the play was first performed in 1786, been played almost always by women.

There is a line at the end that I find rather interesting. Throughout the aria Cherubino speaks about how he always “speaks of love,” prompting these lines at the end:

And if I do not have anyone near to hear me
I speak of love to myself!



tryanmax said...

Kit, I think you're also catching a whiff of a scent I first detected about a week ago and have been waiting for the right prompt to bring it up. If I'm right, this gives me a newfound appreciation--for lack of a better term--for the Trump supporter. In the words of Milo Yiannopoulos, unabashed supporter of "President Daddy," neither of the political parties is fit for purpose. In this, I wholeheartedly agree. The modus operandi of both parties has been to bash their own supporters. Oddly, Democrats lap this up while Republicans react like normal human beings. While Milo has no prescription for the demolition of the Democrat Party, he has stated publicly that Trump is the vehicle by which to destroy the GOP, a declaration which was met by the full approval of his audience. In essence, a vote for Hillary is a vote against Trump, but a vote for Trump is a vote against the system. And that, I can appreciate. Unfortunately, I think too many people are in favor of the system, regardless the amount of complaining done about it. How else can you explain the seriousness with which certain Republican talking heads proclaim they'd rather support the certainty of Hillary taking us 4 - 8 years further down the path we're on over the likelihood that Trump would take us somewhere different, even if we don't know where?

But who am I kidding? It's all about virtue signaling. Politics is the American religion, and Democrat is the "proper" denomination.

ScottDS said...

Anyone who calls Trump "President Daddy", even as a joke, needs to be f---ing lobotomized.

Having said that, I also agree with your thesis - the one thing (literally, the one thing) I can appreciate is the "against the system" part of it. I am, after all, a disenfranchised Independent and I have nothing to lose either way. But what do you rebuild in its place?

The other thing with Trump is, if he wins... we're in for four years of comedy gold!

Kit said...

Tyranmax, Scott,

"While Milo has no prescription for the demolition of the Democrat Party, he has stated publicly that Trump is the vehicle by which to destroy the GOP, a declaration which was met by the full approval of his audience"

This is partly what I despise about the Trump movement: That these so-called conservatives hate the Republican Party more than they hate the Democrats. Indeed, it seems they'd prefer the rule of the Democrats over the Republicans.

And why not? Democrat rule has been quite profitable for Fox News, Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh, and the rest. They were probably Having Trump guarantee us another 4-8 (or more!) years of Democrat rule and Republicans struggling against it would give that despicable lot plenty of fodder.

Say what you will about Glenn Beck (and there are many things to say about him) but he understood the danger of Trump and was willing to preach against it.

Kit said...

I understand some conservatives, like Rick Wilson and Tom Nichols, who prefer Hillary over Trump. Largely it is in the "Devil you know" area and that Trump seems both borderline insane and all a foreign despot has to do is stroke his ego. Remember Putin?

Trump: "Iran, you need to stop building your nukes!"
Iran: "Trump, you are a strong leader who does many great things for his country."
Trump: "You know what? Keep all the nukes you want!"

I'm not saying I agree with them, (I'm probably voting Gary Johnson*) but I understand it.

*I live in Alabama. If my vote could make a difference it means that Trump is in danger of losing Alabama and if that is the case come November 8 then he has already lost the election.

BevfromNYC said...

However, it is almost voting for Trump to piss off the rest of the world. I personally don't give a flying fig what German pundits think...

BevfromNYC said...

However, it is almost worth voting for Trump to piss off the rest of the world. I personally don't give a flying fig what German pundits think...

Koshcat said...

Love your post, Kit. I have tried to like Trump and I at least better understand why he got so much support. What is baffling is that what some are now worried about him is what those of us not in favor of him were warning about from the beginning: he is a narcissistic asshole.

If his poll numbers continue to drop, I expect a very interesting convention. Trump has another option and that is to graciously drop out of the race. I know, I know, I had trouble keeping a straight face typing it.

tryanmax said...

Scott, in fairness, "Daddy" is the new, on-the-rise slang term. Although, it does carry heavy sexual connotations. That said, Milo is flamboyantly gay. On the other hand, I could work in one more caveat.

Anthony said...

Hillary's Hope is doing as well as I and no doubt Hillary expected he would.

Kit said...


I can see Trump deciding to piss off the GOP so much that a revolt is almost inevitable so he "drops out" in the most childish way imaginable, blasting the GOP.

I still don't think he'll be dropped by the convention as I think it would turn out very bad for the party.

Kit said...


"Hillary's Hope is doing as well as I and no doubt Hillary expected he would."

That he is.

Kit said...

"What is baffling is that what some are now worried about him is what those of us not in favor of him were warning about from the beginning: he is a narcissistic asshole."

Exactly. To quote Ian Malcolm, "Boy, do I hate being right all the time."


Kit said...

From a telephone interview w/ the New York Times: “I’m four down in one poll, three and a half in another that just came out, and I haven’t started yet."

Again, he is not campaigning. He is fundraising because for some reason, a man who (claims he*) has $10 billion is incapable of funding his own campaign and must rely on donors.

This makes his apparent refusal to help the RNC cajole donors into providing funds for the party even more infuriating.

Hillary has her cannons primed and ready for when USS Republican Party comes into view. Meanwhile, officers Reince, Ryan, and McConnell are still trying to get Captain Trump out of bed.

*He is probably lying about his wealth. Currently, Forbes puts him at a net worth $6 billion and back in 2004, when he claimed he had about $5-6 billion, he sued a journalist for claiming he was worth only $150-250 million. With an "M."

Kit said...

Oh, and this is interesting.

Coup? Reince Priebus reportedly calling state delegations, asking how many want to dump Trump

Now, most likely he is just trying to get the lay of the ground here, when you have a potential revolt on your hands you want to know how big it will be, but it is interesting, nonetheless.

BevfromNYC said...

On the Opera front, I am thrilled you are discovering opera. It is a magnificent art form. I always loved working on operas when I was in that line of work. Opera folk are wonderful and talented, and zany too. And to start with Mozart is an excellent choice.

Kit said...

By the way, to depress you even further. I think we'll probably lose in 2020, as well. The guys who run the Republican Party work at Fox News and they have now realized how much money is to be made with candidates like Trump crashing and burning.

Probably not 2024 but given how this year has gone, who knows?

Kit said...

Also, Michael Brendan Dougherty is awesome:

Millions of Americans detest the idea of choosing between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Perhaps you're among them. You may think that both presumptive nominees are unfit for office. You may loathe the way their candidacies are warping the personalities of your friends and family, particularly on social media. Perhaps you simply feel that each of these candidates is somehow undeserving of the time and energy that is required to vote.

You might also feel some pressure to suck it up and vote for "the lesser of two evils." Well, I have a simple message for you: Don't.

Don't let anyone steal that disgust from your heart. It is a precious thing. You should treasure your disgust as a sign of your decency, particularly because hardly anyone else will. Don't let anyone tell you that the nearly uncontrollable urge to retch at the thought of this election is disproportionate, or somehow uncivil. When you contemplate the fate of your country in 2016, you have the right to be depressed, or even despairing.

You know that Donald Trump is an unstable imbecile. But this knowledge doesn't oblige you to discover new qualities in the bottomlessly cynical, power-mad grifter Hillary Clinton. In your heart of hearts, you may suspect that if she thought it would get her four centimeters closer to the presidency, Hillary Clinton would devour your squealing grandchild, or her own, live on the set of The View. It's a terror to contemplate. But in no way should this terror obviate your equally credible suspicion that Donald Trump is rabies in human form, likely to drive our country into a feverish search for scraps in the neighbors' garbage only to get us run over by a truck.

Read the whole thing. Every damn word.

Amen, son. Amen.

tryanmax said...

I'm exhausted by this "don't settle for a lesser evil" argument. (Insert Cthulhu promo here.) I'm certain it's as old as electoral politics and all it seems to guarantee is the greater evil. No one preserves their dignity by abstaining. You will suffer the same indignities as those who voted. There's no exemption written into law for the people who didn't vote the last time around. The rules are clear, simple and well known. Sitting out is material support to whoever ends up winning. Those who think they've washed their hands need instead to soak their heads.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryanmax - I am just exhausted period.

Anthony said...

Trump's populism, willingness to lie on demand and regular eruptions of verbal diarrhea have thrilled some people (enough to win him the nomination) but will no doubt cause many others to stay home on November.

What should have been an easy win may become a loss or even a bloodbath (though November is a long ways off so the Clintons have both the time and the inclination to make big mistakes) because voters opted for a bombastic reality tv show host prone to conspiracy theories rather than a conservative politician with a record of accomplishment.

tryanmax said...

I'm always checking the RCP average. As of this morning, it looks like Trump found his floor.

Anthony said...

The stakes are rising. Clarence Thomas is rumored to be contemplating retirement this year.

Justice Clarence Thomas, a reliable conservative vote on the Supreme Court, is mulling retirement after the presidential election, according to court watchers.

Thomas, appointed by former President George H.W. Bush and approved by the Senate after a bitter confirmation, has been considering retirement for a while and never planned to stay until he died, they said. He likes to spend summers in his RV with his wife.

ArgentGale said...

Things just keep getting worse with that news about Thomas... I really hope that the people who gave us Trump are satisfied are happy when the Democrats become, for all practical purposes, the only game in town politically because of the long-term damage his nomination inflicted. I don't know what to think about this mess anymore...

AndrewPrice said...

I am back!

Over 100,000 attended Comic-Con. Most were in costumes. It was amazing! :)

Kit said...

" I really hope that the people who gave us Trump are satisfied are happy when the Democrats become, for all practical purposes, the only game in town politically because of the long-term damage his nomination inflicted."

They'll just blame the RNC because they undermined/didn't back him. Expect to hear a "stab-in-the-back" narrative for the next four years.

Kit said...

By the way, Trump will be campaigning in Utah after the convention.

In Utah!

Kit said...

But for now he's visiting Scotland to attend the opening of a new Golf Course.

If he won't actually campaign, maybe we should dump him.

Kit said...

"On the Opera front, I am thrilled you are discovering opera. It is a magnificent art form. I always loved working on operas when I was in that line of work. Opera folk are wonderful and talented, and zany too. And to start with Mozart is an excellent choice."

I am too!

ArgentGale said...

Oh, of course, Kit. They can never admit when they messed up. Well, I guess we'll have a while to get used to long-term Democrat rule, huh?

Kit said...

With the finances released you might see an update on this coming in June 24!

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