Bless you, S.E. Cupp!
This conservative commentator and Donald Trump critic had the sense to say what I’ve been thinking for months: The continual media mania over whether Trump will “pivot” away from his scorched earth approach to campaigning – to instead adopt a more moderate tone and more sensible proposals – is ridiculous and irresponsible.
Posting at CNN.com on Monday, Cupp recapped how, after over a year of journalists wondering whether Trump is “ever going to become a smart, serious and disciplined candidate,” the recent upheavals in his campaign have them all aflutter again about whether he’ll finally reset his campaign in a positive way.
TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN
Whatever else emerges from this year’s presidential campaign, one thing is certain: Donald Trump is mainstreaming bigotry.
How could I seriously suggest this, given the widespread outcry against his repeated bigoted belches, and given the political harm they have caused him?
Here’s how: The Republican Party nominee has voiced and validated many voters’ worst instincts, to much tut-tutting but no disavowals of him by his party’s leaders. What’s worse, he recently doubled down by bringing on the far right’s channeler-in-chief, Steve Bannon, to be his campaign’s CEO. Bannon’s contribution to mainstreaming bigotry largely flows from his popular right-wing website (and associated radio program), Breitbart News, which is increasingly promoting the views of the Alt-Right.
At a campaign rally yesterday, Donald Trump seemed to suggest that a way to protect the Second Amendment could be for “Second Amendment people” (i.e., gun owners) to take action against his Democratic rival:
“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially, the Second Amendment,” he said. “By the way, and if she gets the pick—if she gets the pick of her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno.”
Was he simply joking? Perhaps. But as The Atlantic points out in analyzing the video of his statement, “At no point in recent American history has the nominee of one of the two major parties even jested about the murder of a rival.”
PICK YOUR PAC
It’s hard for the press to pick which outrageous Donald Trump statement to prioritize, when he erupts so regularly. Still, the transcript of Tuesday’s exceptional Washington Post interview with him had a humdinger that the media (including the Post’s own article summarizing the interview) has overlooked.
Here’s that humdinger: Toward the end of the talk, and out of the blue, Trump matter-of-factly states that at some point after this year’s election “I’m gonna do two or three $10 million PACs at the right time” to selectively go after both Republican (!!!) and Democratic candidates. He specifically mentions Ohio Governor John Kasich as a potential target.
This is amazing. Donald Trump is having a meltdown in front of the whole country. Via an interview that’s the basis of the lead article at The Washington Post website right now, he’s picking fights with the leaders of the Republican Party.
Check out this passage concerning John McCain:
On Monday, McCain, a Vietnam war hero, issued a lengthy statement denouncing Trump for his comments about the Khan family. Asked about McCain’s rebuke, Trump said, “I haven’t endorsed John McCain.
John McCain merits praise for his public statement today, blasting Donald Trump’s attacks on the Muslim American parents of a U.S. Army captain who died a hero in Iraq. As you probably know, Khizr Khan’s dramatic Democratic Convention speech honoring his son and slamming Trump sparked a bitter dispute with him about bigotry and sacrifice.
Nevertheless, McCain’s statement was both bizarre and revealing about the contortions that leading Republicans are going through as they stand with Trump, even as they stand against so much that he stands for. McCain’s strangest line was this: “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”
Your flag flyin’ over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t
-Bruce Springsteen, “Long Walk Home”
Perhaps you have heard the Democratic Convention speech by Khizr Khan, the American Muslim whose Army captain son died a hero in Iraq and who is causing Donald Trump to cause himself so much trouble.
If you haven’t, you have to.
The speech and the subsequent media battle with our Bigot in Chief says a lot about the best and worst of who we are as a nation. It’s illuminating, moving stuff that left me both proud and ashamed.
Rather than add to the vast and correctly caustic commentary on Donald Trump’s dark and dystopian convention speech, I’ll post a video from a fount of much wisdom. Jon Stewart put in an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show last night. While one might have expected an excoriation of the Republicans, Stewart instead turned his focus to Fox News.
And justly so. Stewart’s rant (which starts at about the four minute mark) gets to the root of one big reason why so many people buy into Trump’s take on an America besieged by evil, exploitative foreigners: Fox and the rest of the far right media, which preach “us versus them” and, as Trump puts it, America First. In particular, the video humorously highlights Fox star Sean Hannity’s hypocrisy.
Slate provides quite the compendium of 141 things Donald Trump has said or done that disqualify him from the presidency. Some stand on their own to make him unfit. Others are part of a larger pattern. I’d imagine the list will grow.
Trump unqualified for the presidency? Some might say, “Tell me something I don’t already know.”
Then how about an additional reason we’ll call #142: It’s a recent assessment by Tony Schwartz, the extremely repentant ghostwriter of Trump’s best-selling 1986 memoir, The Art of the Deal:
Name the politicians: A mainstream Democratic presidential candidate who is competent and experienced, yet flawed and uninspiring. A Republican opponent with dubious qualifications. And a proud progressive complicating the electoral equation.
No, we’re not talking Clinton, Trump and Sanders. We’re talking Gore and Bush. And in the wake of Bernie’s lukewarm endorsement of Hillary, we’re talking the one word that diehard Sanders supporters need to remember: Nader.
With everything at stake in 2016, Ralph Nader’s role in the 2000 presidential election merits emphasis, perhaps particularly for millennials. Sixteen years ago, Nader inadvertently helped usher George W. Bush into office. Today, Sanders supporters could conceivably ensure the election of the demagogic, race-baiting Donald Trump, with whom even the disastrous Bush pales in comparison.
It ain’t no secret
It ain’t no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
– Bruce Springsteen, American Skin (41 Shots)
It’s no secret that we’ve witnessed yet another bloody flood of real-life, race-related gun violence in recent days.
A Louisiana cop kills an African American selling CDs outside a convenience store.
A crazed assault weapon assault, on Dallas police guarding a Black Lives Matter protest, leaves five officers dead.
And sandwiched in-between – and the most illuminating of the three incidents, for reasons I’ll address – a Minnesota cop kills an African American motorist.
…or at least that’s the way it started, according to the former communications director for Donald Trump’s now-disbanded Super PAC. In a recent blog post, Stephanie Cegielski claims that Trump never initially intended to win the Republican nomination:
Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well.
Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.
WE ARE NOT DENMARK
Say “Nordic model” to most Americans, and they’ll perhaps think of sexy Swedes. The more policy wonkish among us also will focus on how Scandinavia features superb social services, high taxes, affluence and five of the ten happiest countries in the world.
Two things Americans don’t associate with Scandinavia, though, are robust capitalism and selfishness. This recent Atlantic Monthly piece, by a Finnish expatriate residing in the United States, makes a convincing case for why Bernie Sanders has been correct in pushing that model – and for why Hillary Clinton is mistaken in dismissing it when she asserts that “We are not Denmark.”
POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS
Justice Antonin Scalia’s death has me thinking about South Africa. (Doesn’t everyone think about South Africa when a Supreme Court justice dies?) More specifically, as someone who works on both legal and political issues in developing countries, I’m constantly exposed to the interface between the two. And one of the best studies of that interface is UCLA law professor Richard Abel’s book about using the courts to fight South African apartheid three decades ago.
Without doing full justice (so to speak) to his thesis, suffice to say that his book’s title encapsulates what Abel ably argues: law is Politics by Other Means. Law was used in South Africa as a tool of repression. Nevertheless, human rights lawyers’ somewhat successful litigation there was an element of the much larger battle to undermine the country’s racist government. Law was part of politics.