Saturday, September 05, 2015

IMAGINE IF HILLARY CLINTON'S SECURITY DETAIL HAD DONE THIS

This story barely caused a news ripple:
Protesters clashed with Donald Trump's employees Thursday as the staffers tried to move and take signs from anti-Trump protesters....

Video shows security staff ripping signs away from demonstrators, causing a tussle with pushes and punches.
That's from local news station NY1; Gothamist's story was a bit more direct:
Video: Trump's Top Security Guard Hits Protester In The Face

One of Donald Trump's security guards punched a protester in the face outside of Trump Plaza yesterday -- in front of a large crowd of reporters -- during a protest coinciding with Trump's official pledge of loyalty to the Republican Party. Many of the protesters were Latino, demonstrating against Trump's track record of racist anti-immigration comments.
Here's the video:



The story is already fading from the headlines. But can you imagine the consequences if a member of Hillary Clinton's security detail punched a white anti-immigration protester?

The right-wing media would turn the protester into a household name. There'd be more than a hundred segments about the punch on Fox News within a couple of weeks of the incident. An activist right-wing legal organization would announce that it was taking on the protester's case and planned to sue the Clinton campaign for millions of dollars. The protester would claim severe injuries -- far beyond what would seem reasonable given the nature of the incident. (Recall Kenneth Gladney, who briefly landed on the ground during an altercation with supposed "union thugs" at a 2009 demonstration; he was later regularly seen in a wheelchair, and was wearing a neck brace two years later when his alleged assailant was found not guilty of misdemeanor assault charges.)

And it wouldn't just be the vast right-wing conspiracy piling on. Maureen Dowd, Ron Fournier, Chuck Todd, and other mainstream journalists and pundits would furrow their brows and declare that the incident embodied several regrettable trends in Hillary World: an unwillingness to engage with the public; an obsession with control; a reckless disregard of the law. All this raises troubling questions.

Whereas with Trump it's just an awesome rich celebrity using thick-necked tough guys to protect his rich celebrity awesomeness. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Friday, September 04, 2015

PEGGY NOONAN'S HILARIOUS EFFORT TO PEEK INTO DONALD TRUMP'S PSYCHE

In today's column, Peggy Noonan, tries to imagine how Donald Trump thinks, without much success:
This week’s thought on Mr. Trump: The shrewdest words on him from another candidate were Chris Christie’s observation a month ago that Mr. Trump will be as good a candidate as he wants to be, which implied that others would not bring him down, but he could bring himself down. My thought, which is really a question, is that candidates for president, while natural competitors, sometimes get to the point where they think they are going to win, and it messes with their heads. Maybe they fear, deep down, that they’re not quite up to the office -- their skills don’t match its demands, their psychological makeup can’t withstand its burdens. They start to think: A guy like me shouldn’t be president! At that point they begin to undermine themselves with poor decisions and statements. I’ve wondered about what Mr. Trumps’s inner workings might tell him in this area. Sooner or later we’ll find out if he has any taste for self-sabotage.
As the kids used to say a decade ago: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

It's true that a lot of high-status people, no matter how well they've done in life, really do "fear, deep down, that they’re not quite up to" whatever it is they're trying to accomplish, at least occasionally. Do you think there's even the slightest possibility that Donald Trump is one of those people? Do you think he's thought, even for a second, that a guy like him shouldn't be president? No. He thinks only guys like him should be president. He's a winner. Losers shouldn't be president.

Noonan goes on to write:
That of course would only happen if in his mind the White House, the office of the presidency, holds a certain mystique, certain historic vibrations: “Lincoln walked here.” “FDR found out about Pearl Harbor in this room.” I’m not sure everyone has those feelings anymore. They used to. Poor Nixon wouldn’t put his shoes up on a hassock unless he covered it with a towel, because it was White House furniture.
Nixon also got blind drunk in the White House and plotted multiple felonies. But to Noonan I guess none of that is relevant to respect for the presidency and the White House.

In an odd way, Noonan and Trump are approaching this question the same way. Notice what kinds of thoughts are supposed to inspire awe in presidential wannabes, according to Noonan: “Lincoln walked here.” “FDR found out about Pearl Harbor in this room.” In other words, thoughts of Great Men. In my opinion, what ought to inspire awe in presidential aspirants are thoughts along the lines of: The decisions made here affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people. To Noonan, do such thoughts matter at all?

Noonan's focus is individual greatness. Great Men roamed the halls of the White House -- that's what's important. Well, Trump is already 100% certain that he's a Great Man. So why would anything about running for president -- or being president --give him the slightest pause?

TRUMP VS. HEWITT: WHEN GRADE-GRUBBERS TRY TO HUMILIATE THE MOST POPULAR JOCK ON CAMPUS, THE GRADE-GRUBBERS LOSE

It should absolutely terrify us that we might elect a president who's as cavalier about learning the details of the problems he's likely to face in office as Donald Trump is.

I say that, but I have to add that the American people have often shrugged this question off. They didn't seem to worry about Ronald Reagan's knowledge gaps, or George W. Bush's. That was especially true of Republican voters. Reagan and Bush seemed to hate the right people, and that was enough. They also, if you liked them, seemed to be rugged, manly jocks -- Reagan the horse-riding former lifeguard who played a football hero in the movies, Bush the bike-racing, brush-clearing smart-ass frat boy.

Trump is a different type of Big Man on Campus, but (at least among Republican voters) he's the jock all the cheerleaders are swooning over and all the lesser males want to be. Which is why it's actually going to help him that grade-grubbers are trying to embarrass him:
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt found something Donald Trump doesn’t win at on Thursday -- knowing his terrorists.

“I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?” Hewitt asked the 2016 Republican candidate, referring to the respective leaders of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

“No," Trump said....

Trump also mixed up the Quds Force, the elite foreign unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, with the Kurds -- the Middle Eastern ethnic group concentrated in nothern Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey.
The fans don't care. The fans are on Trump's side. And I think a lot of Republican voters who are still on the fence might also be on Trump's side -- they don't know who all the players are, and they're likely to think Hewitt is coming off as an obnoxious know-it-all. It would be a different story, of course, if Hewitt had exposed ignorance on the part of someone they hate -- Jeb Bush, for instance. Or, as Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft says, the president:
Trump did not know the terror leaders with their repective Islamist organization.

So what.

Did Obama EVER have to answer a question like this.

Think, Hugh, Think!

Whose side are you on?
Hewitt compounded this by calling on another grade-grubber, Carly Fiorina, to answer the question. She more or less aced the snap quiz:
So, as an experiment, Hewitt invited Republican candidate Carly Fiorina to answer the same question — without any preparation -- to see if she had a similar amount of trouble.

Asked if she knows who General Soleimani is, Fiorina replied with a hesitant “Uh, yes.” She stalled a bit by getting Hewitt to say what about the Iranian general he wanted to know before she answered. But then, she ended giving an answer that was far more thought-out and rational than anything Trump was able to manage:
Look, we know that the general of the Quds force has been a powerful tool of the Iranian regime to sow conflict. We also know that the Quds forces are responsible for the deaths and woundings of American soldiers. We also that the Quds forces have been in Syria and a whole bunch of other countries in the Middle East. The Iranian deal -- which sadly, has just been approved by Congress -- starts a massive flow of money, and that money is going to be used not only to build up an Iranian nuclear weapon – which they have been hell-bent on getting for thirty years -- that money is also going to go to the Quds forces, going to go Hezbollah. It’s going to go to all of Iran’s proxies which is why I’ve said to you on other occasions, Hugh, that we have to stop the money flow. And even if Congress had succeeded in stopping this deal -- which we now know they have not -- the reality is that China and Russia and European money are already flowing to Quds forces among proxies. And that’s why I’ve said I’d cut off the money flow by letting the Supreme Leader know that, hey, there’s a new deal, and we’re going to make it as hard as possible for you to move money around the global financial system so that we cut off the money flow from the Iranian regime to whomever, including the Quds force.
Hewitt seemed relieved. “That’s the same basic question set that I posed to Donald Trump that he objected to,” he told Fiorina.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Jeb also played teacher's pet:
He joined the pile-on over an interview Trump did with radio host Hugh Hewitt in which he dismissed the importance of knowing different Middle East leaders and groups and mixed up Kurds with Iran’s Quds Force.

“You got to know who the players, you need to know what the capabilities of the U.S. are, you need a strategy,” Bush said.
And there was also this, from NPR's Don Gonyea, apparently from another Bush campaign appearance:
GONYEA: It was just the kind of opening Jeb Bush wanted. By the time he met with reporters after his town hall last night, he was ready with this:

BUSH: He ought to know who the players are, for sure. I'm sure he'll bone up on this now. But this is not a flippant thing. This is a serious deal.
For Trump, this is terrific: Nerdy,"low-energy" Jeb Bush is attacking him for not spending all his time with a nose in a briefing book.

I know, I know: Sarah Palin displayed ignorance in 2008, and that hurt her. Yes, but that was a general election, and the voters who were put off were not Republican diehards -- the diehards still loved her. And she suffered in part because she seemed to get thrown on the defensive. That's hardly what's happening with Trump:



Forget it. Ignorance is bliss. GOP voters will say Trump won this round.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

KIM DAVIS MAY BE THE NEW DONALD TRUMP

I don't mean that Kim Davis is going to run for president -- not this year, in any case -- but, like Trump, she could help brand the GOP in a way it doesn't want to be branded:
ASHLAND, Ky. -- A federal judge here on Thursday ordered a Kentucky clerk jailed for contempt of court because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, was ordered incarcerated after a hearing here before Judge David L. Bunning of Federal District Court. The contempt finding was another legal defeat for Ms. Davis, who has argued that she should not be forced to issue licenses that conflict with her religious beliefs....

Judge Bunning said Ms. Davis would be released once she agreed to comply with his order and issue the marriage licenses.
In the way that Trump now seems to be branding the GOP as a party that hates immigrants (and Hispanics in general), Davis seems to be compelling the Republican presidential field to choose sides regarding her case. So far, only two of the Republican candidates believe Davis should either follow the law or resign: Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina. (Watch this grind Fiorina's recent poll momentum to a halt.) Now, you'd expect Christian rightists Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Ted Cruz to back Davis, but so are Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio -- a supposed libertarian who's believed to have a youth following and two people widely regarded as moderates. (Rubio is widely regarded as a very electable moderate.)

Is this going to leave a mark on the party? It depends on how long the story is in the news. It's quite possible she'll resign, announce her book deal, and go on the talk-radio and lecture circuit. (We know she's going to do that eventually, as Dan Savage has noted -- though I believe her gay-hate is sincere, so I don't think money is her sole motive.) But if this drags on, it could be a litmus-test issue for Republicans, especially in states where Christian rightists make up a large percentage of the primary/caucus electorate -- Iowa, South Carolina, and all the other Southern states.

The GOP limited the number of primary-season debates in order to prevent candidates from pushing one another to the right in ways that might make them unelectable in November 2016. On immigration, however, Trump doesn't need debates to push the candidates rightward. And Kim Davis may push the candidates to the right without being a politician.

I should add, however, that the mainstream press is endlessly willing to forgive GOP excesses. If the Trump and Davis moments pass and the party nominates someone who can be passed off as right-centrist, all this will probably be flushed down the memory hole. So we'll have to see how it all plays out.

IS KIM DAVIS FOLLOWING THE BLUEPRINT OF ONE OF JEB BUSH'S FAVORITE POLITICAL WRITERS?

The New York Times points out today that Kim Davis is not alone:
Of the local officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kim Davis, the clerk here in Rowan County, Ky., is the best known, at least for now.

But there is also Charlie Smoak, a former magistrate in Moore County, N.C. And Nick Williams, a probate judge in Washington County, Ala. And Molly Criner, a clerk in Irion County, Tex., who has declared that “natural marriage cannot be redefined by government.”

All of them have argued that as government employees, they should not be required to recognize same-sex marriage, citing religious objections. And all have turned, for representation, to Liberty Counsel, a legal nonprofit that has been on the front lines of the same-sex marriage fight for roughly two decades.
Liberty Counsel seems to believe that if enough people resist the law, there'll be legislative pushback at the state and local level:
Even if it is unsuccessful, Ms. Davis’s case may benefit the conservative cause in other ways, said Jennifer C. Pizer, the law and policy project director for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. Losing such cases, Ms. Pizer said, could have the effect of persuading legislatures that rules should be changed to accommodate such dissenters.

“There may be an effort here to create martyrs,” she said.
Or maybe Liberty Counsel just thinks that the government will give up and stop trying to fight resisters, if there are enough of them.

If that's the case, it would appear that Liberty Counsel is trying to do with same-sex marriage what Charles Murray proposes that right-wingers attempt in the case of government regulation. This is from a review of Murray's latest book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission:
[Murray] proposes a private legal defense fund -- the “Madison Fund,” honoring the father of the Constitution -- that businesses and citizens can rely on for representation against federal regulators. By engaging in expensive and time-consuming litigation on behalf of clients that refuse to comply with pointless rules, the fund drains the government’s enforcement resources and eventually undercuts its ambitions. The state can compel submission from an individual or company with the threat of ruinous legal proceedings, Murray writes, “but Goliath cannot afford to make good on that threat against hundreds of Davids.”
Or, to put it another way, Murray proposes a campaign of harassment against government regulators, especially in the areas of business:
... Murray claims that his Madison Fund can essentially harass the government into compliance. The federal government, Murray claims, cannot enforce the entirety of federal law “without voluntary public compliance.” Federal resources are limited, and only a small fraction of these limited resources have been directed towards enforcement. Thus, Murray argues, by simply refusing to comply with the law and contesting every enforcement action in court, regulated entities can effectively drain the government’s resources and prevent it from engaging in meaningful enforcement.

The Madison Fund would spearhead this campaign of harassment, defending “people who are technically guilty of violating regulations that should not exist, drawing out that litigation as long as possible, making enforcement of the regulations more expensive to the regulatory agency than they’re worth, and reimbursing fines that are levied.”
It seems to me that Liberty Counsel is trying to amass a large group of "Davids" to fight same-sex marriage, and that it's trying to serve as the movement's Madison Fund, using the contributions this high-profile campaign is bringing in. It's not hard to imagine right-wingers adopting this strategy to fight on both the social-issue and regulatory fronts -- and I can also imagine them backing down the feds. (Notice how much difficulty the feds are having in enforcing the law against the likes of Cliven Bundy.)

Charles Murray is best known as a coauthor of the notorious neo-eugenicist bestseller The Bell Curve, but he's widely praised on the right for other work. Shortly after this year's unrest in Baltimore, Jeb Bush praised Murray:
.... suddenly Charles Murray’s name is in the news again.
Asked to elaborate on his concerns about family formation, [former Gov. Jeb Bush] twice praised author Charles Murray, best known for his highly controversial 1994 book which touches on racial differences in I.Q., for his later research into the rise of single motherhood.

“My views on this were shaped a lot by Charles Murray’s book,” Bush said.
The Republican presidential hopeful added, “I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.”
"Family formation" refers to Murray's writings on marriage and illegitimacy. Murray has also (in a book titled Coming Apart) blamed the struggles of downmarket whites on the fact that richer whites no longer live among them as neighbors (the well-to-do are supposed to lead them by example, I guess).

This civil-disobedience thing is a bit of a detour for Murray -- but I wonder if Jeb, his "nerd" admirer, thinks it's a good idea. In any case, it seems to be a model the religious right is already following.

HILLARY CLINTON STRUGGLING IN THE POLLS: NOBODY COULD HAVE FORESEEN!

Yesterday, in The Washington Post, Greg Sargent argued that the email story isn't causing an unusually steep decline in Hillary Clinton's poll numbers -- in fact, public approval of Clinton reaches the levels we're seeing now whenever she's perceived as someone mired in politics:



... the pattern is pretty clear. After Bill Clinton won the presidency, Hillary Clinton’s national favorability rating jumped to 59 percent. It dropped during the 1994 midterm elections, and dropped precipitously, into the 20s and 30s, during the 1996 reelection campaign. It then climbed again, and reached a high point in the late 1990s, during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, when she became a sympathetic First Lady figure suffering the slings and arrows of politics.

Then, in 1999, when it became clear that Clinton was going to run for Senate from New York, her numbers sank down into the 50s and even into the 40s, where they remained throughout her victorious campaign. Her numbers then slowly climbed over the years, getting into the high 50s, then promptly sank just after she launched her last presidential campaign in early 2007. They jumped again, then dropped further towards the end of the losing 2008 presidential effort. They then rose again over the years as she carried out the job of Secretary of State, peaking in January of 2013 -- before plummeting steadily as it became increasingly clear she was running for president again, to where they are now that she’s a declared candidate.
Sargent adds that if there weren't an email controversy, something else would inevitably be dragging her numbers down:
If there had been no email story, voters would probably be getting fed other types of negative information, due to attacks from the opposition party and intensified scrutiny from the political media. And at any rate, Clinton’s career appears to illustrate -- perhaps to a unique degree -- that the American people have consistently been much tougher on her when she’s a politician than when she isn’t.
This information isn't privileged and confidential -- it's from Washington Post/ABC polls. It was readily available to members of the Democratic establishment, as well as to other ambitious Democratic politicians.

So why does it seem as if every Democrat looked only at Hillary's impressive approval numbers from a few years ago when deciding how to approach the 2016 race? Why did the party seem determined to create a glide path for her nomination? Why didn't a few more high-profile Democrats shrug off the then-current numbers and start making serious plans to run, based on the recognition that a steep decline in Clinton's numbers as sure to happen was soon as she was back in the fray?

It's sad to see Joe Biden looking at the race now and thinking maybe he might kinda consider whether he ought to sort of sidle into the contest. If he were going to make a move, he should have started making it a year or two ago. Maybe Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand should have thought about it. I have no great love for Andrew Cuomo, but it's obvious he thought about running and decided it wasn't worth the effort this time around. Why not? Can't he read polls?

Look, if Hillary Clinton had really become as imposing a figure as she seemed to be to poll-readers a year or so ago, she'd be beating marquee names with well-established campaigns right now, and she'd still be winning every national and swing-state poll against Republicans. But if she had weaknesses, as turned out to be the case, it would have been good to have a bigger field of candidates.

Bill Clinton got into the 1992 race when a lot of Democrats were assuming that George Bush was unbeatable in the general election. Barack Obama got into the 2008 race when Hillary Clinton seemed unlikely to lose the primaries (and he was joined by John Edwards and quite a few others, including Biden). Maybe Bernie Sanders is the guy who inherited their foresight (although I think he's trying to be a protest candidate and never quite expected the level of success he's had). But there wasn't much foresight on the part of Democrats. And they could have known a race was worth the risk.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

THIS IS AMERICA! DONALD TRUMP'S GRADE-SCHOOL-AGE SON SHOULD SPEAK ENGLISH EXCLUSIVELY, DAMMIT!

Donald Trump attacked Jeb Bush again today:
2016 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump told Breitbart News that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should be speaking English—not the Spanish he spoke to attack Trump in Miami this week—on the campaign trail....

“I like Jeb,” Trump said. “He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.”

“El hombre no es conservador,” Bush said in Spanish of Trump in Miami, according to the Tampa Bay Times. That means, according to that newspaper, that Bush is saying of Trump: “The man is not conservative." ...
If Trump really believes that, shouldn't his family set an example for the rest of us by speaking English exclusively? After all, he's married two immigrants, including his current wife, the Slovenian-born Melania Knauss Trump -- and, as she told People in 2009, their son has been raised to be trilingual:
While attending the MET Gala event, Donald Trump and his wife Melania Knauss Trump stopped to talk to reporters and the proud mama couldn’t help but gush about her “delicious” little boy. “He’s very special, he talks nonstop,” she says.

“He talks three languages. He speaks my language -- Slovenian -- English and French.”
In 2011, on CNN's Joy Behar Show, Mrs. Trump said he was still displaying split language loyalties:
BEHAR: What's the language?

TRUMP: Slovenian.

BEHAR: Slovenian.

TRUMP: And Baron speaks two languages, completely perfect --

BEHAR: He does?

TRUMP: He goes from one thing to another.

BEHAR: What languages?

TRUMP: Slovenian, English.

BEHAR: Really.

TRUMP: And he talks with my parents in Slovenian....
Why isn't Donald Trump raising a True Patriot who exclusively speaks English? Why do the Trumps hate America?

*****

Here's one more nugget of information about Barron Trump, which I'm posting here even though it has nothing to do with language. It's from the New York Daily News in 2013:
Donald and Melania Trump’s 7-year-old son uses caviar moisturizer every night

... When it comes to skin care, Donald Trump's son Barron with wife Melania Trump is surely living in the lap of luxury.

The 7-year-old uses his mother's Caviar Complex C6 moisturizer from her newly released beauty line every night after he takes a bath.

"It smells very, very fresh," said the current Mrs. Trump....
Wait, there's more.
"I put it on him from head to toe. He likes it!"
CANNOT. UNTHINK. THIS.

THE GOP ESTABLISHMENT BACKED THE WRONG ENTITLED SCION

New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reports on a new flare-up of Romneymania:
As Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential race, frustration and panic have become high enough to make some inside the party Establishment pine for a candidate they roundly rejected as recently as January: Mitt Romney.
National Review's Eliana Johnson quotes some of the well-heeled piners:
Dr. Greggory DeVore, who in 2012 raised more than $1 million for Romney, is one of these men. He’s even printed up Romney 2016 bumper stickers, and his black Audi S8 has two pasted on the back. “Romney 2016,” they say. “I told you so -- now let’s fix it.”

“The guy was prophetic in what he saw,” DeVore says of Romney.... According to DeVore, several top Romney donors are keeping their powder dry because they “recognize that the people we’ve put out are not the same caliber as a Mitt Romney.”

... Dave Van Slooten, a former Wall Street investor who donated more than $50,000 to Romney, says he’s similarly underwhelmed by the current GOP field. “We got exposure to all the candidates in the last debate, and I personally don’t think any of them measure up to Mitt,” Van Slooten says.
The problem, as Slate's Jamelle Bouie writes, is that the GOP needs someone this year who's like Romney, someone who could run in the primaries the way Romney did in 2012 -- a candidate who might not excite a fervent cult but is broadly acceptable:
Romney wasn’t the first choice for the majority of Republican primary voters, but he was the first alternate for when everyone’s various infatuations died down. “Romney was viewed positively by likely Republican primary voters regardless of whether they were conservatives or moderates, pro-life or pro-choice, relatively wealthy or not, Tea Party members or not,” write political scientists John Sides and Lynn Vavreck in The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election. What’s more, Romney had high ratings among voters who backed candidates like Cain and Gingrich: “About 74 percent of conservative Republican primary voters had a favorable view of him,” they write. When it was time to choose, Romney was the strongest contender, and Republicans were ready to pick him.
No Establishment-friendly figure has poll numbers and approval ratings like that this year -- Jeb's favorability is in the tank, while Rubio gets high favorable ratings but is very few voters' first or second choice.

However, some Romneyites say he has numbers like that now. Sherman writes:
Romney's rehabilitation campaign began with his starring role in last year’s documentary Mitt and continued with his charity boxing match against Evander Holyfield this spring. It turns out that Romney the noncandidate connects with the public in a way Romney the gaffe-prone plutocrat candidate never did. So much so that Romney openly flirted with a third White House run this winter. “When people were polling this stuff back in January, what was striking was not his popularity but the breadth of it,” says Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief 2012 strategist. “Unlike a lot of candidates, his support wasn’t siloed. The non-tea-party folks liked him, and the tea-party folks liked him. It’s unique.”
I haven't seen Stevens's numbers -- but before you say he's delusional, remember how much better Romney was at saying what the crazy base wanted to hear in 2012. (Obamacare is evil! Benghazi was evil! Undocumented immigrants should self-deport!). Also, remember how nasty and snarly Romney was -- a huge contrast with Jeb Bush. I'm not saying that Romney could have won an extended match of the White Man's Dozens with Donald Trump, but he might have been vitriolic enough to hold his own against Trump.

I'm not joking about this. I think back to that CNN poll from early 2014 in which Romney beat Obama 53%-44% in a hypothetical matchup and I'm happy the GOP Establishment chose Jeb in the battle of the entitled scions. Yes, Romney lost to Hillary 55%-42% in that same poll, but Hillary was a hell of a lot more popular back then. Am I seriously arguing that Romney could have been competitive not only in the 2016 Republican primaries but in the general election? I am, and I don't care if you think I'm crazy. I imagine someone will poll both these questions eventually. I think the numbers will vindicate me.

THE DADDY PARTY IS FRESH OUT OF DADDIES

I understand the conventional explanations for why CNN amended its rules to allow Carly Fiorina into the main Republican presidential debate later this month. Fiorina's gaining in the polls, and CNN's formula for inclusion in the main debate didn't take that into account. The GOP wants her there as a show of gender diversity. The GOP also wants her there because she attacks Hillary Clinton relentlessly.

I'm sure CNN and the GOP are thinking all that. But I also think The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty has a point:
In the enormous Republican field, she is the only one who has demonstrated anything that rivals the thrust-and-parry skills of front-runner Donald Trump -- another political outsider who comes from the business world. Trump dominated the main stage in Cleveland, in part because none of his rivals had any idea how to take him on....

In [the "undercard" debate in] Cleveland, she may have gotten off the best jab at Trump, even though she wasn't on the stage with him. Referring to a Washington Post report that former president Bill Clinton had called Trump while the New York real estate mogul was considering whether to run, Fiorina said: "I didn't get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn't. Maybe it's because I hadn't given money to the foundation or donated to his wife's Senate campaign."

The other candidates seem to recognize that someone has to take on Trump.
If the GOP pressured CNN to change the rules in part so that Fiorina can take on Trump, I think that's hilarious.

After all, we've been told for years that the Democratic Party is the soft, nurturing, liberal party of femininity and the GOP is the conservative, traditionalist party of manly men. We've been told that the Democratic Party is the Mommy Party and the GOP is the Daddy Party. And we've heard conservatives endlessly extol the virtues of masculinity, which they claim is under constant assault from liberals and Democrats, whose worldview is creating a race of mutant, unmanly men.

Thus we have Mona Charen at National Review writing about the passengers who recently prevented a terrorist attack on a European train:
There’s one more thing to be said of the heroes on the train. They were men. So-called “traditional masculinity” is a major target of feminists on college campuses and elsewhere. That, they teach, is what creates the “rape culture.” The Obama administration has joined in (naturally). A government website urges that colleges “Promote an understanding of the ways in which traditional masculinity contributes to sexual assault and other forms of men’s violence against women.”

Men have been defamed and devalued in our society for decades. Their high spirits are punished in schools. Their natural protectiveness has been scorned as sexism.

The passengers on that French train are surely grateful that some manliness remains indominatable.
We have Fox's Brit Hume on Chris Christie, not long after the Bridgegate scandal broke:
When the Chris Christie bridge scandal erupted, Brit Hume, the Fox senior political analyst, said in Christie’s defense: “I would have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risks.”

He sought to clarify this way:

“By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like a kind of an old-fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which he operates. This guy is very much an old-fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”
We have Peggy Noonan shortly after 9/11:
... men are back. A certain style of manliness is once again being honored and celebrated in our country since Sept. 11. You might say it suddenly emerged from the rubble of the past quarter century, and emerged when a certain kind of man came forth to get our great country out of the fix it was in.

I am speaking of masculine men, men who push things and pull things and haul things and build things, men who charge up the stairs in a hundred pounds of gear and tell everyone else where to go to be safe. Men who are welders, who do construction, men who are cops and firemen. They are all of them, one way or another, the men who put the fire out, the men who are digging the rubble out, and the men who will build whatever takes its place.

... when we killed John Wayne, you know who we were left with. We were left with John Wayne's friendly-antagonist sidekick in the old John Ford movies, Barry Fitzgerald. The small, nervous, gossiping neighborhood commentator Barry Fitzgerald, who wanted to talk about everything and do nothing.

This was not progress. It was not improvement.

I missed John Wayne.

But now I think ... he's back.
Conservatives love manly men. Conservative candidates have traditionally promised to be the manly men who will keep us safe from everything bad.

And now we have fifteen conservative men running against a bully named Donald Trump -- including Christie, a guy we were old for years was tough as nails. And yet the Daddy Party may believe a woman is the only person who might be able to back the bully down.

Hilarious, I tell you.

****

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan's shaky grasp of history is fact-checked in the comments. See comment #2, from Impolitics.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

DON'T GIVE DONALD TRUMP TOO MUCH CREDIT FOR ORIGINALITY

In a post titled "The Immigrant/Crime Nexus," Ed Kilgore suggests that Donald Trump introduced something new (and toxic) to our discussion of immigration:
As we should know by now, the immigration issues is not a discrete policy area isolated from others. For many years, opponents of increased immigration on both ends of the political and ideological spectrum have tied it to concerns about unemployment and wage stagnation. In 2014, we saw Republican candidates tie it to national security, with lurid images of ISIS terrorists crossing the Mexican border.

It should also be clear by now that Donald Trump’s big innovation is tying the immigration issue to a growing backlash against supposed tolerance for crime. His original attention grabbing explosion was about Mexico exporting its criminal element to the U.S. He jumped on the Kate Steinle case in San Francisco (the woman killed in an apparent crossfire shooting by a man previously deported five times) instantly and brought it up constantly. His comments suggesting that gangs of “illegals” were behind street protests against police around the country made the ride-the-backlash motive unmistakably clear.

Now Trump is really going medieval on the immigration-crime nexus (h/t MoJo’s Miles Johnson) with an Instagram video wherein Jeb Bush’s famous comment about some people breaking immigration laws to be with their families being an “act of love” voiced over images of three “illegals” charged with murder, and the tag line: “Forget love! It’s time to get tough!”
I take issue with the reference to "Donald Trump's big innovation" -- Trump isn't that clever or original. If there was an innovation here, it was his decision to link immigration to crime openly and unabashedly in a presidential campaign -- but apart from that, all he's done is talk about undocumented immigrants the way right-wingers have been talking about them for years.

Remember, the first crime attributed to an undocumented immigrant that was singled out by Trump wasn't the shooting of Kate Steinle -- it was the murder of Jamiel Shaw in 2008, for which an undocumented immigrant named Pedro Espinoza was convicted in 2012. Trump met with Shaw's father in July, after the elder Shaw praised Trump. But Trump didn't just intuitively grasp the potency of this issue on the right -- conservatives have been all over the Shaw story since the immediate aftermath of the murder, and Trump just talked about the issue the way they've always about it. (Scroll down here to see the number of Jamiel Shaw threads there were at Free Republic in '08; also see Michelle Malkin's site.)

And Trump wasn't the only Republican to see this as a vote-getting issue: In February of this years, not long after President Obama announced his executive action on immigration, House Republicans held an oversight hearing at which Shaw's father testified:
“My son, Jamiel Andre Shaw II, was murdered by a DREAMer, a DACA recipient, a child brought to this country by no fault of his own,” Mr. Shaw told Representative Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) while testifying before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee panel.
Of course, the murder took place during the last year of the Bush presidency, so Espinoza wasn't a DREAMer or a DACA recipient -- but this was a politically potent soundbite nonetheless, as House Republicans clearly understood.

Conservatives have been describing undocumented immigrants as criminals for years, and were ratcheting up this rhetoric just as Trump was making plans to enter the race. Here's just a sample of Breitbart headlines from the first half of this year:

* January 28, 2015: SHERIFF JOE: MEDIA IGNORING RETURN RATES ON CRIMINAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
* January 30, 2015: 1,000 CRIMINAL IMMIGRANTS RELEASED IN 2013 COMMITTED NEW CRIMES
* February 25, 2015: REP. JIM JORDAN SLAMS DHS SEC. FOR DECLINING TO TESTIFY WITH VICTIMS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CRIME
* March 1, 2015: LEAKED REPORT: DEPORTED ILLEGAL ALIENS FREELY JUMP BORDER TO COMMIT CRIMES
* March 9, 2015: OVER 2,000 CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIENS ARRESTED IN NATIONWIDE BUST
* March 24, 2015: JUDICIAL WATCH: 165,900 CRIMINAL ALIENS INTO US POPULATION THROUGH APRIL 2014
* April 14, 2015: ICE DIRECTOR STRUGGLES TO EXPLAIN RELEASE OF THOUSANDS OF CRIMINAL IMMIGRANTS
* April 14, 2015: GOODLATTE: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RESPONSIBLE FOR RELEASE OF THOUSANDS OF CRIMINAL IMMIGRANTS

Trump's not being original. It's just new that he's talking this way in a presidential race, where you're supposed to be on your best behavior.


IF HILLARY CLINTON WERE JUST ONE OF THE GUYS

In his latest column, David Brooks tries to explain why Hillary Clinton is having some trouble in the polls. One reason, he informs us, is that she has "an embattled combative posture, and sometimes an air of reactiveness."
In her campaign speeches she describes a political, economic and global world that is red in tooth and claw. The main traits required to survive in this struggle against the contemptible foes are tenacity, toughness and calculation. There is a pervasive us/them assumption in her speeches, and the need for armoring up. The defining verb in her political campaign is “fight.”

In speeches she is at her best when describing people who have been pushed to the wall by circumstances -- the single mom who is trying to find a way to pay for day care, the college student deluged with rising tuition costs. She can be quite funny in her speeches, but her humor is the humor of the counterattack -- mostly sarcastic humor aimed at Republicans, the press and her critics.
So that's why she's struggling?

Okay, read that passage again, but imagine that Brooks is describing Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. Is there anything Brooks says about Clinton in what I've quoted that isn't more or less true of Trump? Doesn't he portray "a political, economic and global world that is red in tooth and claw" in which the requisite survival skills are "tenacity, toughness and calculation"? Isn't his humor "the humor of the counterattack -- mostly sarcastic humor aimed at Republicans, the press and ... critics"? Doesn't he champion "people who have been pushed to the wall by circumstances," or at least people whose family members have been the victims of crimes attributed to undocumented immigrants?

Look, there's obviously a big difference between the campaign styles of Trump and Clinton. Trump is a happy warrior; Clinton, this year, seems rather miserable on the trail. Trump has found his party's pleasure centers, whereas Clinton is still searching for what thrills her party. But Brooks says that an angry message and a dark view of the world are harmful to a campaign. And for Trump that's not true at all.

****

See also Rebecca Traister at New York magazine, on the subject of whether there's a double standard in the coverage of Clinton and Joe Biden:
Consider for a moment everything that we know to be problematic with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy:

She is regarded as a centrist Democrat. She is old. She is compromised on the right by her attachment to the Obama administration, compromised on the left by her relentless 2008 campaign against Obama, in which she deployed egregious rhetoric about “hardworking white people.” Clinton has been way too cozy with the financial industry, both in the Senate, wherein 2001 she voted for a bill that made it harder for consumers to declare bankruptcy (similar to one she’d urged her husband to veto back when she was First Lady) and more recently, when she, Bill, and Chelsea have accepted ginormous speaking fees from institutions to which no lawmaker -- let alone president -- should be beholden....

Just compare her to Joe Biden. Who is a centrist Democrat, older than Hillary by five years, and wholly enmeshed in the Obama administration. Biden also made appalling remarks during the 2008 race, calling Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.” As a senator from Delaware, home of the credit-card industry, he voted for several versions of the bankruptcy bill, in a period that overlapped with the years that his son Hunter was drawing a hefty consulting fee from financial-services behemoth MBNA, a company that was regularly among the biggest donors to Biden’s political races. Hunter Biden also works on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that has lobbied Congress in its efforts to help Ukraine become energy independent....
And yet Biden is getting lots of media love right now, while Clinton is getting next to none. Read the whole thing, especially what Traister writes about the overwhelmingly positive press treatment of Biden's relationship with Elizabeth Warren, which hasn't been much cozier over the years than Clinton's but sure has been treated that way of late in the press.

I don't deny Hillary Clinton's shortcomings as a candidate. But some of the things she does are seen as flawed because of who she is, not what she's doing.

CONFIRMED: DEMOCRATS SUCK AT MESSAGING

So it would appear that the Iran deal has the support of a majority of Americans:
A new survey of a representative sample of American voters showed that a majority of people want Congress to uphold the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

According to the survey from the University of Maryland, 55 percent of people said that Congress should get behind the agreement, despite some concerns.
Ahh, but:
The poll was conducted online, and the participants went through an in-depth process of listening to arguments from both sides. People were subjected to a detailed list of critiques of the agreement, followed by rebuttals to those arguments with reasons to get behind the deal.
Respondents to this poll got a thorough briefing on the deal, with a balance of arguments from both sides. Then they were asked to come down on one side or the other. Only then did they choose the deal.

By contrast, here's what's happening in the real America, where no attempt has been made to balance the pro and con arguments citizens are hearing:
Other recent polls, providing few details or specifics of the deal, have generally found Americans tenuous about the agreement and tilting toward opposition.

For example, 55 percent of voters opposed the deal in a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday -- more than double the 25 percent who supported it. A mid-August CNN-ORC poll found 56 percent saying Congress should reject the deal....
In the actually existing America, right-wing propagandists flooded the zone with tens of millions of dollars' worth of ads describing the Iran deal as the gateway to nuclear oblivion for the West, while proponents barely tried to combat the media blitz. And polls conducted in that real-world America show significant opposition to the deal.

I realize that the Obama administration was focused on what was necessary to preserve the deal, which was persuading enough Democrats in Congress to sustain a veto of a Republican bill rejecting the agreement. But that's left us with a nation that thinks the deal is a terrible idea -- just as we're heading into an election season in which Democrats are going to have to run on the president's record.

Democrats fought this propaganda battle as poorly as they fought the hearts-and-minds battle over Obamacare -- and we're still dealing with the fallout from that Democratic failure. Yes, Obamacare is in place, but it's unloved, and it may be unloved for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Democrats have been shellacked in two straight midterms, and they're likely to go into the next presidential election with a sitting president of their own party under 50% approval and a nominee (whoever it is) who's regarded with suspicion by even some voters in the party. At least there could have been some effort to sell the administration's last huge foreign policy accomplishment.

But we're Democrats. We don't do messaging.

Monday, August 31, 2015

CONSERVATIVES, WHY DO YOU HATE SARAH PALIN? (updated)

You've probably heard that Republicans, particularly from Ohio, have denounced President Obama for officially restoring Mount McKinley's original name, Denali. Conservative anger is quite strong on Twitter:




Never mind the fact that this is a popular move in Alaska, even among Republicans:



Hey, angry conservatives, do you know who calls the mountain Denali?

Sarah Palin.

She called it Denali in her 2009 gubernatorial resignation speech. Go to 1:25 in the clip:



And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun.

Denali was also Palin's Secret Service codename during the 2008 election.

Angry conservatives, why do you hate Sarah Palin?

****

UPDATE: And since I'm getting some positive reactions to this on Twitter, I'll add it here.



WILL BEN CARSON BE THE ONE PERSON TRUMP CAN'T ATTACK?

There's yet another Iowa poll with Donald Trump and Ben Carson at the top -- but in this one they're tied:
Ben Carson and Donald Trump are tied at the top of the Republican field in a new survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers with 23 percent each, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll released Monday.

The good news continues for the retired neurosurgeon with his favorability ratings, as 81 percent said they view him favorably, compared to just 6 percent who do not....

Carson leads among Evangelical voters, earning 29 percent to Trump's 23 percent, while non-Evangelicals backed Trump with 24 percent, followed by Carson at 18 percent and Fiorina at 13 percent.
Here are the rankings -- which are quite ugly for Jeb Bush, as well as for former Evangelical favorite Mike Huckabee:
When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (23%) and Donald Trump (23%) tie for the top spot. The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%). The last two Iowa caucus victors, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, each garner 2% of the vote. None of the other six candidates included in the poll register more than 1% support.
So there may be a limit to Trump's dominance of the polls. Now, what does Trump do when he feels challenged? He lashes out in a crude and nasty way. So far, he's gotten away with every attack -- on John McCain, on Megyn Kelly, and so on. He's certainly not upsetting anyone by attacking Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. It seems as if he can get away with attacking anyone.

Now that Carson is threatening to take the lead from Trump, isn't Trump going to attack Carson, crudely and nastily? And what happens then?

I know that Republicans are awfully comfortable with racism -- send them an email forward with a bone Photoshopped through Obama's nose and they'll send it to ten more friends with the subject line HILARIOUS.

But they're awfully protective of black conservatives. They love Clarence Thomas and Allen West and Thomas Sowell and Mia Love. And Carson, although he severely criticized President Obama in that National Prayer Breakfast speech, is usually not in attack mode. He has a nice-guy image. My sense is that conservatives regard him as, well, saintly.

True, they didn't rally around Herman Cain four years ago. But it seemed clear that Cain was guilty of the behavior of which he was accused -- the National Restaurant Association, of which he was chief executive, paid money to one woman who accused him of harassment. and he acknowledged making payments to a woman who said she'd had a long extramarital affair with him.

Trump will probably attack Carson without provocation. He'll say Carson is "weak." He'll mock Carson's way of speaking or something Crson said. He'll say he's known some of the world's top surgeons -- brilliant doctors, he'll say, but otherwise they're not very bright. That's what Trump does.

I know that the safe bet is that Trump will get away with everything, but I'm not sure he'll get away with this. Too many white conservatives really like themselves for liking Carson. They wield their admiration for him as proof that they're not racist, no matter how many nasty things they say about Al Sharpton and the Obamas and Black Lives Matter. Trump's Teflon will probably hold, but Carson just might be Trump's nemesis.

WALKER WAS SUPPOSED TO BE TRUMP. THEN TRUMP SHOWED UP.

Today in The Washington Post, Dan Balz and Jenna Johnson are asking, "What happened to Scott Walker?" They blame Walker's decline in the polls on his campaign's stumbles, as well as the rise of Donald Trump:
Walker’s backers see a campaign discombobulated by Trump’s booming popularity and by his provocative language on immigration, China and other issues. They see in Walker a candidate who -- in contrast to the discipline he showed in state races -- continues to commit unforced errors, either out of lack of preparation or in an attempt to grab for part of the flamboyant businessman’s following.
In the latter category are confused statements about immigration -- most recently, he's suggested that we might need a wall on the U.S.-Canada border.

Yeah, he's trying too hard. He's making mistakes. But he'd be struggling even if he were running a flawless campaign.

Walker was supposed to be Trump. Walker was the guy who was going to be smite all the people right-wingers hate. That's what he told them in that January speech in Iowa, the one that, as National Review's Michael Barone wrote at the time, catapulted him into the top tier:
Many activists in the crowd, but by no means all Iowa Republicans, knew that he had battled the public-employee unions in Wisconsin -- and that the Left, which prides itself on compassion and civility -- responded with riots and death threats and a June 2012 recall election. Walker won that contest as he had in 2010 and did again in 2014: three elections in four years in a state that has voted Democratic for president since 1988.

Walker had his applause lines down pat: We celebrate the Fourth of July, not the 15th of April; the safety net should be not a hammock but a trampoline. His emphasis was almost entirely on economic issues, but laced through his text were references that sounded offhand and authentic to family and faith.
Walker was going to crush unions, stop doling out so much government money to them, and get liberals squealing -- he knew how to beat us in elections. Wow! That's slaying a lot of enemies! But Trump has the base believing he can slay all the enemies:



Walker won three elections and hates everyone the base hates -- but Trump seems to hate everyone the base hates and he's a billionaire, which, to the base, means he has the necessary executive experience to do anything he wants to.

Walker isn't a D.C. politician, but Trump isn't a politician at all -- and Trump has now made GOP voters believe they can reject politics altogether in this election. That's helping Ben Carson to rise in the polls as well. Walker was supposed to be the Jesus-loving, soft-spoken Boy Scout who smites all the enemies with his righteous wrath, but voters who like the soft-spoken and God-bothering parts of that formula are gravitating toward Carson, while fans of pure smiting love Trump, who promises to do nothing but smite.

If Walker were what voters really wanted, he'd survive his campaign's awkward moments -- the multiple answers on the question of birthright citizenship, the claim that beating unions means he can beat ISIS. (When Trump claims he can crush ISIS, isn't he also saying you can count on him to triumph because in the past he's bested some foes in stateside wars of wills that are completely unlike geostrategy? And don't the voters nevertheless find him completely plausible?)

Voters liked Walker because he seemed like the best they could do. But now, with Trump (and Carson) they think they can destroy politics altogether. Walker just can't compete.

(Tweet via Paul Canning.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

MAN WHO IS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING REPEATS PAST IDLE THREAT TO RUN FOR THE SENATE

Former CNBC host Larry Kudlow says he might launch a Senate campaign:
Conservative economist and media figure Larry Kudlow says he’s talked to national Republicans about running for Senate in Connecticut.

During an interview on his radio program with Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., over the weekend, Kudlow said he would mount a challenge to incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal if the Democrat supports the international agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
This is not the first time Kudlow has made such a threat. In 2009 he said he might run against Connecticut Senate Chris Dodd the following year. Dodd chose not to run, leaving an open seat, but Kudlow skipped the race. He also considered a run in 2010 in New York against Chuck Schumer, but he passed up that race as well. At the time, both Gawker and The New York Observer asserted that Roger Stone, the veteran Republican dirty trickster and sleazebag, was backing Kudlow.

Kudlow famously spent years predicting that the Great Recession wouldn't happen, and then asserting that it wouldn't really be that bad. This was a serious failing, considering that understanding economics and the financial markets was, y'know, his job. As Salon's Andrew Leonard noted, Kudlow was wrong about this as far back as 2005, when he wrote:
Homebuilders led the stock parade this week with a fantastic 11 percent gain. This is a group that hedge funds and bubbleheads love to hate. All the bond bears have been dead wrong in predicting sky-high mortgage rates . So have all the bubbleheads who expect housing-price crashes in Las Vegas or Naples, Florida, to bring down the consumer, the rest of the economy, and the entire stock market.
(Emphasis added.) I quote this because the sentence in bold is precisely what did happen.

The Huffington Post's Mark Nickolas gathered together some of the pronouncements Kudlow made as the markets were on the verge of imploding. A few highlights:
October 3, 2007:

The recession forecast is all but wiped out....

November 21, 2007:

Too much is being made of both the sub-prime credit problem and the housing downturn.

... It's just not that big a deal.

December 5, 2007:

The recession debate is over. It's not gonna happen. Time to move on.

December 6, 2007:

There ain’t no recession.

December 7, 2007:

There's no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It's not going to happen.... The Bush boom is alive and well. It's finishing up its sixth consecutive year with more to come. Yes, it's still the greatest story never told.

December 10, 2007:

This sort of fiscal and monetary coordination will continue the Bush boom for years to come. Though mainstream media outlets will never admit it, President Bush has kept America safe and prosperous.

February 5, 2008:

I'm going to bet that the economy will be rebounding sometime this summer, if not sooner. We are in a slow patch. That's all. It's nothing to get up in arms about.

April 7, 2008:

And let's also remember that recessions are therapeutic.... If anything, recessions make for clean starts.
And when he's not being wrong about the economy, he's wrong about politics. On August 1, 2008, a few weeks before John McCain announced the identity of his running mate, Kudlow wrote this:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has exactly the high energy, political toughness, and conservative reform message that would boost Sen. John McCain’s presidential run if Big Mac were to put her on the ticket.
After her convention speech, he wrote:
Sarah Palin shows us all that she is a superb communicator, which of course is so essential to a successful politician.... A Western frontier version of Thatcher? Gosh, does the Republican Party need her.

Watching her phenomenal communication skill, and her disciplined yet positive style, I can’t help but be optimistic.
Kudlow will probably go down in history as the only person ever to call Sarah Palin "disciplined."

Yeah, Connecticut GOP? You want to run this guy? A guy who even attacks the Pope when the Pope criticizes capitalism? Be my guest.

TRUMP: HE'LL BE YOUR MIRROR

So I'm looking at the op-eds in today's New York Times and I see that Ross Douthat, the reform conservative, thinks the deeper meaning of Donald Trump is that his candidacy could be a gateway to reform conservatism:
He won’t [win], of course, but it matters a great deal how he loses. In a healthy two-party system, the G.O.P. would treat Trump’s strange success as evidence that the party’s basic orientation may need to change substantially, so that it looks less like a tool of moneyed interests and more like a vehicle for middle American discontent.

In an unhealthy system, the kind I suspect we inhabit, the Republicans will find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message. In which case the pressure the Donald has tapped will continue to build -- and when it bursts, the G.O.P. as we know it may go with it.
According to Douthat, if I'm reading this correctly, either Trump's candidacy will lead to Douthat-style reform of the GOP or it will lead to a crisis within the GOP that will destroy it -- and what will emerge from the ashes will be, I suppose, precisely the sort of reform Douthat likes.

That's Douthat seeing his own obsessions and hobbyhorses reflected in the Trump candidacy. What does Maureen Dowd see?
Trump is a manifestation of national disgust -- with the money that consumed politics, with the dysfunctional, artificial status quo and with the turgid return to a Bush-Clinton race, with a less adept Bush and Clinton.

“The prospect of Hillary and Jeb as the nominees created a huge opening for something like this,” said former W. strategist Matthew Dowd. “The American public looked at it and said, ‘I do not want that.’”

... Trump’s “gusto,” as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary.

Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics....
Dowd looks at Trump and sees ... a pathogen that contains a precise cocktail of antibodies to the things she hates most in the world, Clintonism and Bushism!

Why, it's almost as if both Dowd and Clinton Douthat are looking at Trump and seeing a reflection of themselves! Funny how that works.