Archive

May 11th, 2016

The Making of an Ignoramus

    Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.

    Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: He could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.

    The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

The Republican establishment's tardy revolt

    Like locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, the Republican establishment is mounting a feeble rebellion against Donald Trump's presidential nomination, which is now nearly certain at the party's July national convention in Cleveland.

    Party giants past and present have announced they will boycott the gathering. The most prominent members of the party establishment -- the two former presidents named George Bush and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush -- have let it be known they won't be there. Nor will the last two defeated GOP nominees, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

    Meanwhile, more significantly, the party's current highest officeholder, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is in line to chair the convention, has sharply declined at this point to endorse Trump. He has said only he is "not ready to do that at this point" although he "hopes to" and "wants to," to help unify the currently split party.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump brings back Buchananism

    Three-times-failed presidential candidate Pat Buchanan has a right to feel vindicated by Donald Trump's success.

    "We were a little bit ahead of our time," the syndicated columnist and colleague of mine on PBS' "The McLaughlin Group" told NPR a day after Trump's last two primary election rivals for the Republican nomination dropped out.

    Buchanan served as an adviser to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan and ran twice for president as a Republican and in 2000 on the Reform Party's ticket.

    Back then, a lot of critics, including me, thought his platform of an "immigration moratorium," "America First" isolationism and not too thinly veiled white nationalism -- including a "Buchanan fence" on the Mexican border -- was goofy, at best.

    Now Donald Trump has ridden these ideas to the door of the GOP nomination.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Truth and Trumpism

    How will the news media handle the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? I suspect I know the answer — and it’s going to be deeply frustrating. But maybe, just maybe, flagging some common journalistic sins in advance can limit the damage. So let’s talk about what can and probably will go wrong in coverage — but doesn’t have to.

    First, and least harmful, will be the urge to make the election seem closer than it is, if only because a close race makes a better story. You can already see this tendency in suggestions that the startling outcome of the fight for the Republican nomination somehow means that polls and other conventional indicators of electoral strength are meaningless.

    The truth, however, is that polls have been pretty good indicators all along. Pundits who dismissed the chances of a Trump nomination did so despite, not because of, the polls, which have been showing a large Trump lead for more than eight months.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Who Wants to Be on Trump’s Ticket?

    There's no reason you couldn’t do the Republican vice-presidential search as a reality show. Donald Trump is good at that stuff. Plus it’s more than two months until the convention, and I believe that many members of his party would welcome a diversion.

    The contest for the second slot is already a lot like “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Everybody has to refer to the candidate as “Mr. Trump” and pretend his boorish exhibitionism is actually a demonstration of sublime leadership.

    Don’t make jokes about nobody wanting to be the winner! There are plenty of contenders. Mike Huckabee made it clear he wouldn’t say no. And look at Newt Gingrich, hopping up and down and waving his hand. Whoops — Chris Christie just shoved Newt out of the spotlight. Trump said he might like a governor, so that should give Christie a boost. And a recent poll showed that as many as 15 percent of New Jersey Republicans think he’d be a good choice.

    Just imagine the reaction at the network:

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Sex and the Singular Pol

    When the histories of this warped campaign are constructed, when a lasting inventory of its every last ignominy is done, Donald Trump’s guarantee that all of his appendages measured up to greatness will be front, center and protuberant, evidence of the election’s vulgar endowment.

    But there’s a more specific reason to dwell on that pants-dropping moment during a jaw-dropping debate. It broke with decades of political history, challenging the belief that one of the greatest threats to a presidential future was a profligate past.

    John F. Kennedy admitted nothing. Bill Clinton denied everything. He had to persuade a leery electorate that his libido was overrated so that he could demonstrate, in the White House, that it wasn’t.

    From Gary Hart through Newt Gingrich, politicians raced to stay a step ahead of sexual scandal.

    Or they were relished for their apparent immunity to it. Four years ago, the GOP chose a nominee who wore special religious undergarments.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Donald Trump or Paul Ryan: Who’s King of the Hill?

    Paul Ryan and Donald Trump sit down at Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill to hash out a couple little things, like who is running the party and who is the actual Republican.

    “Welcome to Washington, Donald,” Ryan says, shaking hands with the presumptuous nominee. “Reince says you’re far more gracious in private than in public and I sure hope that’s true.”

    Trump smirks and pulls out his bottle of industrial-strength sanitizer, squirting a prodigious amount on his hands.

    Trying to thaw the chill, the House speaker displays his best ingratiating Irish undertaker air. “Hey,” he says, “thanks for not calling me Lyin’ Ryan.”

    “I never use the same adjective twice,” Trump replies coolly. “As you know, I do have killer instincts. That’s how I knocked out 16 losers. So let’s try a few names for kicks. Pious Paul? Pompous Paul? Phony Paul? Back-Stabbing, Blindsiding Paul who hung me out to dry to protect his own presidential ambitions for 2020?”

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

    We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

    Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

    OK, that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

    “Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

    I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Make America empathetic again

    The first rule in elections is: Go for the votes you can get. By that measure, Hillary Clinton is right to try to put the old Obama coalition on steroids.

     Donald Trump will expand the Democrats' opportunities among non-white Americans, and produce Clinton landslides among Latinos. They have good reason to fear and despise the man who has demeaned them.

     And watch Republicans for Clinton become a major force in American politics, an alliance of mostly well-off, well-educated voters -- plus women of all classes. The members of the party of Lincoln who support Clinton will see that against Trump, she is the safe and even, by the non-ideological definition of the term, conservative choice.

    But Clinton also has to challenge Trump for at least a share among angry and struggling white working-class voters with real economic grievances. Their votes matter if she wants to keep Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the Democratic column.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump's sacking of the GOP

    The Republican Party this week is like fifth-century Rome must have been after the Visigoths stormed the city's gates. Anarchy and confusion reign, there is the sound of anguished wailing, and political leaders are making an urgent calculation: Resistance or collaboration?

    The suddenness of Donald Trump's final victory over the GOP establishment was shocking. On Monday, Pollyannas were still convincing themselves that Trump could be thwarted at a contested convention. Within 48 hours, he had won the Indiana primary in a landslide and his last two opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, had surrendered. Even Trump couldn't have expected it to happen so fast.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!