Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trump: Putting Out The Fire With Gasoline

While Greece races towards yet another deadline it's going to miss and the Chinese stock-market goes down like a Malaysian airliner (too soon?) once again, The Omnivore turns to the shining Trump Tower on the hill--the one with the cheap doorknobs.

That's because something . . . interesting is happening. Something maybe even new.

Breaking The Code of Apology

The Omnivore knows the playbook as well as anyone: you say something racist (or, more likely, get caught saying something racist), people denounce you--you either fold instantly (recommended), try to explain it (not recommended), say it was "a joke" (definitely not recommended), or double down (prolonging the agony)--then, pressure builds even worse--and you cave.

You issue a real apology-apology (your first one was probably a non-apology-apology) and you maybe do some penance in the wilderness of the temporarily dispossessed, and then you get your TV/Radio/Reality/Cooking show back--and it's all good.

Society has had its pound of flesh and you--you know better next time: Don't say it where they can hear.

You ban cell phones from your stand-up (a good move, regardless).

George Takai (Sulu) did this exact thing just a little while ago--and now everyone has moved on.

Donald Trump hasn't . . . yet.

Triple Dog Dare

The key thing here though, the thing that's maybe new, is that while Trump has paid the price (loss of business, endorsement deals, etc.) he has yet to lose his resolve--in fact, he has turned up the heat. This is because (a) he's getting props for it from, well, the GOP Base and (b) he makes most of his money off his properties so all those deals are, really, small potatoes. In other words: what if he really is above the law?

The near unanimity of Trump's electoral foes in denouncing him (save Cruz, who is probably hoping to pick up his voting bloc when he eventually collapses) is interesting too. The Omnivore guesses it's  a semi-coordinated top-down attack from the RNC. After Rick Perry decided to go and give solid air-cover with the first attack, everyone else is now fine to say "He doesn't represent the party! He doesn't speak for me."

Of course . . . he kinda does. If you are anyone but Jeb Bush or (maybe) Marco Rubio, you are courting The Base--and The Base doesn't like illegal immigrants or amnesty at all. They also think what Trump is saying is, well, true.

When Trump tripled down--saying diseased immigrants were streaming across our border, there was, yes, push-back from the educated class and the other candidates--but there was also agreement!

The Daily Caller and other outlets noted that a recent murder was committed by an immigrant who should have been deported--if not for specific "sanctuary city" laws that prevent local law enforcement from working with ICE. Stories about "Rape Trees" (trees with women's underwear hanging from them as signs of rape) are circulated--proof he's right.

Of course he's not--or at least not in the un-nuanced way he says it.

Trump brings out two of the Right’s worst tendencies: the inability to distinguish between entertainers and political leaders, and the habit of treating politics as an exercise in emotional vindication.

Meanwhile, too many of Trump’s GOP primary competitors, afraid of angering his fans, stand mute or mumbling. Republicans are fielding the best candidates in a generation, but Trump is poised to make them chumps by association. He has no chance of becoming president, but he has the huge potential to deny his alleged party a White House victory in 2016.
Commentary finds him (and Cruz) selling snake-oil:
When conservatives are asked why they think Trump’s candidacy is resonating with the right, they most commonly reply, “He is saying things that people want to hear.” This says less about the electorate than it does about the candidate capturing so many disaffected imaginations. When voters are faced with unpleasant realities, there will always be a market for comforting fictions; just ask the Greeks. A legitimate problem for the GOP is, however, that too many believe that Trump is disseminating hard truths when the opposite is the case.
Of course Trump is pretty much unstoppable right now: he just gave an NBC interview saying he'd "win the Latino vote" (by creating jobs). Those brands that left? They'll all be back. And as if to prove it, he has, over-night, fielded the most substantial field organization in the GOP. 
Behind the glitz, however, is the infrastructure of a presidential campaign: The seven full-time staff Trump's campaign says it has hired in New Hampshire—and nine in Iowa—gives Trump possibly the biggest operation in the Republican field, second only to Democratic front-runner Clinton.

Worst Case Scenario

Candidates have come out saying that Trump isn't "their GOP" (just what GOP do they think they are part of??). Conservative commentators have noted--with some astonishment--that people think what Trump is doing reflects (badly) on the GOP. After all, who is Donald Trump (other than a top-10 candidate). And, of course, the debates are right around the corner.

But what if Fox decides not to let Trump into the hen-house? Well, here's a worst case scenario:
Donald Trump Declines to Rule Out Third Party Bid
“I’ve had many, many people ask me about running as an independent,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Examiner’s Byron York. “My sole focus is to run as a Republican. I’m a conservative Republican.” 
Still, Trump isn’t ruling out running under a different party banner.
What if that happened? Firstly, Trump can do it in a way no one else can--he doesn't need, well, anything. He doesn't need the RNC. He can buy, it seems, top political consultants and field organizations. He doesn't appear to be running in a haphazard way--and if he did run--if he actually made it to the November 2016 ballot, his vote would be a full-throated protest against a GOP that conservatives think has betrayed them over and over and over.

The Donald, as an independent might not split the party. He might break it.


An Observation: Trump combines actual charisma (and a VERY strong personality) with a complete lack of accountability. He's been compared to Todd Akin on steroids (Akin made damaging comments about rape and then refused to get out of the race costing the GOP a seat). The problem is that he's not Akin. Trump isn't stuck in the social conservative dead-end where he has to grapple with a pretzel of logic around sexuality that can't be untangled without looking prehistoric.

He's completely free to hit the exact markers that will sell to his audience--and so he is. Look at this quote from the VERY strong personality link above (an interview with NBC):
TRUMP: I have the license to have a gun, yes, I do.
TUR: Do you own one?
TRUMP: Yes, I do.
TUR: Do you use it? Gun range?
TRUMP: That’s none of your business. It’s really none of your business. I have a license to have a gun.
TUR: Gun control?
TRUMP: What are you talking about?
TUR: Or stronger background checks?
TRUMP: Yes, I have a gun and, yes, I have a permit to have a gun.
TUR: Stronger background checks? What about that? Is there any steps that you would take to make it harder to get a gun in this country?
TRUMP: Once you get into that, you start getting into a situation, the slippery slope where all of a sudden you’re going to really violate the Second Amendment. I don’t want to do anything to violate the Second Amendment. To me, the Second Amendment is very important.

This is the kind of response conservatives have been clamoring for since Bush left office. Gingrich kinda managed it. Trump nails it

Trump, like Hillary Clinton, creates his own weather. CNN set out determined not to cover him (much)--but how can they avoid it now?

And the facts here are clear: whatever you think socialist Bernie Sanders says that's bad about the Democrats, Sanders isn't polling in first--he's gaining on Clinton in two states (and even if he wins both, he isn't close to winning the nomination) and his "gains" would be considered "badly losing" in any other context. Trump, on the other hand is neck-and-neck with Jeb Bush. He really is the choice of conservative voters right now. Put another way: The problem isn't the insulting things Trump is saying about Latino voters--the problem is that he's saying them and polling astronomically well.


  1. Vile as the Republican "brand" has become, even they deserve better than that douchenozzle. Here's an opportunity to prove to ourselves that American politics isn't necessarily all about money.

    And stop that snickering!

    -- Ω

    1. :: snicker :: we get the candidates we deserve.

      -The Omnivore

    2. Up to a point, maybe. But you'd have a tough time claiming that anybody deserved Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. Or is "getting the leaders/candidates we deserve" a more recent, or provincial, phenomenon?

      Trump is a buffoon. A candidate of frustrated jerkwads who are fed up with how much they think everything sucks and just want to "burn it all down" in the vain hope that something better will magically arise from the ashes. But you're right - like it or not, he pretty much is the Republican brand now, so cannot truly be said to be "damaging" it.

      -- Ω

    3. The quip wasn't meant to be a deep meditation on universal justice--it was just snickering. No, the real point is that Trump isn't the *disease*--he's the symptom. The GOP monetized and weaponized a kind of stupidity that has served them well ("Keep yor gummit hands off my medicare!") and have goaded their base with the purplest of purple rhetoric.

      Of course they can't deliver things like repealing Obamacare or impeaching Obama--even when the entertainer-leaders of the party are telling their followers that they can (and that Obama is plainly and always breaking the law in broad daylight)--so the base feels betrayed because coming to the conclusion that they were taken for a ride and lied to would be too painful.

      So that creates a space perfectly sized for Trump. Cruz can't fit because he can't run a campaign all by himself. Romney wasn't even rich enough. Chris Christie might be shameless enough but he has a track record. Trump is free to waltz in to the fray, self-support his adventures in politics, and bow to no one. That's the shape of that empty spot that was created and *someone's* gonna fill it.


    4. For my money, nobody satirizes that "purple rhetoric" you mention better than Parker & Stone, especially when the South Park yahoos are hollering "They took our jobs!" - which quickly degenerates into something like "Took our jerbs!".

      It's sad that such tactics work at all, and sadder still that they clearly work really, really well.

      -- Ω