Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trump surges in the polls, again

     Bullies are cowards. 
     Donald Trump is a classic rich bully as only a guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth can be—for all his talk of his own business genius, his father Fred, a millionaire real estate developer, gave him his start. So as soon as Trump got some pushback for his crude comment about Fox's Megyn Kelly asking him tough questions at last week's Republican presidential debate because she was having her period, he let out a shriek of self-justification and began furiously backpedalling—No, he meant nose. Blood dripping from her nose.
      I hadn't heard a person make a she's-on-the-rag crack since junior high school, and would be aghast, but that would be naive. Then again, naive is the new black. Those not among the Republican faithful figured, "Okay, now he's toast. Now we can get to the real campaign and focus on our country's real problems." They've already forgotten that Trump not only survived castigating John McCain and every American POW who ever lived as non-heroes who blundered into captivity, but he became even more popular. 
     Guess what? It happened again over the weekend. Trump surged even further ahead, one poll giving him 32 percent of potential GOP voters. 
     What is happening here?
     I'm tempted to say we've plunged through a crack in the universe into some kind of parallel political dimension, a nightmare Twilight Zone world of politicians in pig masks spouting utter gibberish on TV while herds of sheep voters bleat in rapture. Why this is hell, as Christopher Marlowe said, nor are we out of it. 
    But that's a cop-out. There are actual real-life reasons why Trump is doing well. And since so much verbiage is being spilled on Trump, and I hate to join the chorus, I'll limit myself to three.
    First, all publicity is good publicity. There is an established phenomena where a bad review helps—people hear about how terrible something is and become intrigued. Or they don't remember the content of the bad news, only the name of the product that was found deficient, and buy it. 
     Second, the poll is being taken among what statisticians call a "self-selected group." We aren't asking all American voters what they think of Donald Trump. We're asking Republicans. And who's a Republican? A Republican is someone who would see the most important source of women's reproductive services in the nation, Planned Parenthood, shut down over some cobbled together video shot by an anti-abortion group. So of course they don't care if a particular woman, and a journalist at that, is humiliated unfairly because of her gender. 
     A Republican is someone who would herd 11 million American residents into cattle cars and ship them back to Mexico because they or their parents entered the country illegally. So what do they care of "fair"?
     A Republican is someone who can look at the overwhelming evidence for global warming, or the overwhelming evidence for evolution, and dismiss it because to do otherwise doesn't serve the commercial interests of their plutocrat overlords, or their personal notions of faith. So who worries over the lack of a factual basis for the things that Donald Trump says? He's rich! Are you? Of course not. 
     How much of a lapse is it to keep  backing Donald Trump compared to backing that? 
     And third, the success of Trump merely reflects our cultural moment of vapid celebrity worship.  We all love this stuff; we're addicts. The reality show, TMZ celebrity pap that we zup up every day has become the only thing we can consume, and so we eagerly consume an endless opera buffo of Don-said-this, Megyn-said that. We might not like what we see in the mirror, but it's still us. Donald Trump is us. 
   Well, the GOP anyway. Not all of us, thankfully, not yet.  There is still plenty of time for Trump to flame out, as front-runners often do. But even if he doesn't — a terrifying thought that has to be ushered into the realm of possibility — there is always the salvation of the general election.
      Up until a few days ago, I viewed Hillary Clinton through latticed fingers. Sure, she's qualified. Sure, she's smart. But God, not the Clinton years again. Not Bill back in the White House, on her arm, a surreal inversion of expected roles.
     Then look at Trump. And his rapturous welcome among GOPers hot to lash out at a modern world they neither understand nor accept. And suddenly Hillary becomes the free safety in the backfield, the lone tackle between Donald Trump and the goal line glory he's speeding toward, legs pumping, toupee flapping in the breeze. 
     That isn't quite true quite yet. A year of campaign, God help us, and plenty of time for Trump to fall apart, though if rhetorically waving Megyn Kelly's bloody tampon over his head — I thought the Fox hosts were fair and pointed, to my vast surprise — doesn't sink him, it's hard to imagine what will. Maybe he'll drown a puppy in a bucket at the next debate.
     Still, there's always Hillary, looking suddenly heroic, our Ulysses, home at last, surveying the hall of arrogant, loutish suitors, drawing her bow. Perhaps fate is inflicting Donald Trump upon our nation now to make her victory in November, 2016 all the more sweet. 
     Nah, the guy will be president. Serves us right.


  1. I'll paraphrase Mark Steyn and say, welcome to the Donald Trump Menstrual Show! We despise the likes of the Koch brothers, George Soros, Karl Rove, and Sidney Blumenthal, working behind the scenes with their media contacts, spreading half truths and sleeze into the mainstream media news cycle. I can imagine the transparency of a Trump Presidency. In the future someone like John Kerry will holding a press conference and solemnly intone, "This administration is a miserable failure." Then later hearing Trump's squeaky New York accent, "Miserable failure? Look who's talking! Call the Ketchup Lady (gives out Teresa Heinz's cell number), and ask her what it's like to have a gigolo sponging off you!" The NSA is collecting all this metadata on the American people, maybe Congress will begin to have second thoughts if the Executive Branch starts putting it to good use.

    1. Mark Steyn? He's still around? I thought all his time was being taken up defending himself against the lawsuit brought by the climate-change scientist he slandered.

    2. I recall his columns in the ST some years back. I don't want a conserve. Canadian telling Americans what's wrong with them.

    3. Especially one with a phony British accent.

    4. Is Mark Steyn still around? Hell yeah, and he's been milking the lawsuit for all its worth as today's column illustrates. Mark can turn a phrase, and has a higher order of mockery that I aspire to. Slander? Prof. Mann, accused of deleting emails, and encouraging others to do so, boasted he was cleared of wrongdoing by a Penn. State ethics investigation. Steyn pointed out the same ethics panel had also cleared Jerry Sandusky of any wrongdoing, Prof. Michael Mann interpreted that as libelous, and proceeded to walk into a buzzsaw by filing a lawsuit. Steyn has counter sued for ten million, and intends to show in court Mann's work is, in his opinion, fraudulent.

    5. Steyn was a receding bad memory -- that of a poor man's, and more consistently right wing, Christopher Hitchens -- that I sought to refresh by looking up his Wikipedia entry.. When I got to the part about him writing articles and a blog defending his friend Conrad Black during the trial of Neal's illustrious former boss I stopped reading.

      Tom Evans

    6. Tom,
      At the risk of straying off topic here, I agree whole heartily, you picked up on the one thing Steyn is being pig headed about. Black owned a majority share of a publicly traded company, Hollinger International. Conrad then proceeded to steal all the company's liquid assets. I lost all respect for Jim Thompson when his role in the fiasco became public.

    7. Oh, he's pigheaded about all sorts of things. In fact, pigheadedness is his defining characteristic, I'd say.

      I don't get where Jerry Sandusky has anything to do with the price of rice here. Steyn claimed that Mann falsified data and Mann sued him for it. If that's "walking into a buzzsaw," I'd have to say it's a pretty weak buzzsaw, based on what's happened so far. Steyn's lawyer tried to get Mann declared a "public figure," meaning he would have to meet a higher standard of proof about Steyn's reckless disregard for the truth. The judge ruled, correctly IMO, that some snotty neckbeard running his fat mouth about you on his blog does not make you a public figure.

  2. Clearly, there is a segment of the electorate (I'm guessing mostly white & male) who do indeed long to "Take America Back(wards)," back to when you could openly and loudly presume any woman who isn't nice to you is on her period, when you could casually make gender/race/ethnicity jokes in the workplace, or any public forum, and not be taken to account for it. Trump is working that room hard, and will continue to do so. His classic bully technique (I'm a little surprised he isn't owning it that he made a menstrual reference) will continue to succeed with that small but aggressive sector of the electorate. Watch & listen, we ain't heard nothin' yet...

    1. Unfortunately, Mr. Tindall, there are some white females that don't even have to be that old, that like Republicans, especially in the south and some parts of the mountain time west.

  3. Again, not to worry, Trump has probably turned off Republican women, or some. He won't get the nomination. And let him go ahead and run as an independent.

    In the meanteam, the other Republican nominees get little coverage. And the talk about Hillary and where her fundraising money has come from, is on the backburner.

    Wasn't it Ike who said to give McCarthy enough rope and he'll hang himself? The same will happen here. One day he's going to slip and use the N word, perhaps and that will be that. There's only one way to handle a bully.

    Notice he hasn't said much for or against the police vs. A-A issue, as far as I know.

  4. (meantime)

    The press attention is what's keeping him going, not possible votes.

  5. Years ago I did not believe the American voters would elect a washed up B movie actor who had recently destroyed the economy of California during his term as governor. I underestimated the stupidity of the electorate then. I would advise people not to make the same mistake with Trump. Be passive and you will be sorry.

    1. I've been invoking Reagan for weeks. People forget, due to his subsequent canonization, what a clown he was, at first. And then he wasn't.

    2. He still wasn't as much of a clown or as offensive as this guy, so it's not the same and not a matter of forgetting.

    3. I agree entirely. I remember waltzing into the chambers of the judge I was clerking for--an old Wisconsin Democrat from way back--and saying wasn't it great that Reagan got the nomination. What a clown. Not a chance. I was strongly rebuked. He told me that you always want the opposing candidate to be the best candidate possible, because he may well win the election. Then he told me that when he was running for Senate against Joe McCarthy in 1952, Democrats told him that they'd crossed over and voted for McCarthy in the primary because he'd be the easier candidate to beat. The lesson made a strong impression.

  6. Republican politicians only have themselves to blame for this travesty. They fueled the flames of a narrow demographic, encouraging their anger and bigotry. Well, the firestorm has blown them away, fed to inferno strength by their outdated values and prejudices. What's left isn't a Phoenix rising from the ashes; it's Donald Trump.

  7. As a GOPer I am embarrassed that Trump is even in the running on our side. Besides his enormous buffoonery he took a dump on every POW living or dead as well as every MIA... "I don't like guys that get caught. ok?" I am mystified that he is ahead in the polls. Any person with any grey matter between the ears has to know this guy is a complete joke.

  8. I hate to be the guy complaining about what the columnist chooses to write about, but I guess I will be, in this instance. But only because this is the 4th post in about a month devoted to Trump (not including the racing form for the debate) and because our host has noted in the past that he doesn't even prefer to write about a.) politics or b.) stuff everybody else is writing about.

    This fascination with Trump and his followers by our own clear-eyed NS really perplexes me. I remember Reagan's ascent as well as many of you folks do, but to suggest that he was as vacuous as Trump is just disingenuous, IMHO. Plus, he didn't ride the 20 Mule Team from Death Valley to the White House without a whole lot of stops in-between, notably 2 terms as governor. Trump is attempting to walk off the set of The Apprentice and directly into the Oval Office, and it just ain't gonna happen.

    A better analogy, to me, is to Sarah Palin. She was MUCH more popular than Trump, at her peak, but she only got where she was because she was picked from obscurity and thrust right into the VP nomination. Once the whole country got to know her, she didn't manage to translate her celebrity, former popularity or crowd-pleasing inanities into any real power at all. Anybody remember Howard Dean's presidency? He had a core of partisan support at one point that made him look like he might be going places, too. Didn't work out that way.

    I can see the appeal of this moment for our host, I suppose. When you look at the way he defines "A Republican" in this column, and elsewhere, it makes it seem like they're all a bunch of buffoons and creationists. Trump is the personification of what NS seems to prefer to believe every Republican represents. Many may well be similar to the picture he paints, but nowhere near all, however much one might care to stereotype. And there are plenty (likely a healthy majority, given the polls) who realize what a fool Trump is and what damage he's doing to their party.

    If, much later than this, it's between Trump and, say, 2 other candidates and he does even better in the polls, I may begin to think there's some point to wondering about his chances. Until then, I'll continue to believe that this is all just a carnival side-show and a function of the apparent fact that folks who enjoy reality TV need something to watch in the summer.

  9. You do have a point, Jakash.

  10. Mr. Steinberg, Perhaps this article will help you feel better. And sometimes bad publicity can be bad.

    Donald Trump.

    Real-estate magnate Donald Trump continues to hold his grip on the top of the Republican presidential primary field in Iowa, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

    The Suffolk University survey found Trump leading the Hawkeye State with a relatively low plurality: 17% of the Republican vote.

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) placed second at 12%, followed by US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at 10%, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 9%.

    But the poll also showed signs of limited potential growth for Trump after a debate performance that ended up creating more controversy.

    "It appears that Donald Trump’s lead is strong so long as the number of active opponents remains above a dozen," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

    "If the Republican field were winnowed down to five or six candidates, Trump’s 17% probably wouldn’t be enough to win in Iowa, as polling indicates that his further growth has limitations. The long-shot candidates staying in the race help keep Trump on top — at least for now."

    Some of the warning signs for Trump:
    •Contrary to his public proclamations, most Iowa voters don't think he "won" the debate. He came in fourth place when respondents were asked which candidate "impressed" them the most, behind Rubio, Carson, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
    •Among respondents who watched the debate, Trump fell into an overall tie with Walker when voters were asked their first choice for the GOP nomination. His performance is much more impressive among voters who didn't tune in: He gets 21% of those voters, with Carson trailing behind at just 10%.
    •Just 23% of Republican voters said they were "more comfortable" with Trump as a candidate after the debate, compared with 55% who said they were "less comfortable." And a majority — 54% — disagreed that the moderators "targeted Trump unfairly."

  11. One day Trump will slip and make some slur against gays and that will be it.


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