Archive

November 18th, 2016

What Donald Trump learned about politics from pro wrestling

    In the 16 months between launching his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and closing it with an ad that recalled the "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," President-elect Donald Trump broke practically every rule of politics and rejected the norms of conventional wisdom at every turn. He insulted women, Gold Star families and war heroes. He mocked the disabled and traded barbs with the pope. He lied consistently about his record and claimed that the whole election was rigged against him. In most years, any one of those actions would disqualify candidates from office and ensure their defeat.

    Trump might not have been playing by the rules of politics, but he won the game. So how did he do it? Those looking to his career as a developer or reality TV host came up short in predicting Trump's survival and eventual victory, because those are only part of the story. The most important lessons Donald Trump ever learned were in a pro wrestling ring.

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To Hillary Clinton: Thank you for your dignity, your perseverance and your service

Dear Secretary Clinton,

    Though everything in your personal history suggests that Tuesday's defeat won't mark the end of your work in American public life, I can imagine that this will be a moment of reflection and recovery for you. And though we have some profound disagreements, on the occasion of this transition, I want to take a moment to thank you for some of the contributions you've made in the past quarter-century as one of the most prominent women in U.S. politics.

    In the two-and-a-half decades that Americans have used you to work out our complex and contradictory ideas about women, work and marriage, I've been moved by your dignity and resilience.

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The Glass Ceiling Holds

    It took Hillary Clinton a while to talk about the first-woman-president idea. She didn’t stress it early in her 2008 campaign. But people kept coming up to her with pictures of their grandmothers who got to vote for the first time in 1920. Others begged her to get the job done so they could see a woman in the White House before they died.

    The dream sank in.

    “Now, I — I know — I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling,” Clinton told her grieving supporters. It was already late Wednesday morning by the time she gave her concession speech, winner of the popular vote but loser all the same. She told all the little girls who were watching — and there probably still were little girls watching, since the excitement had been so grand — “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

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The five stages of Trump Grief

    Election night. The results come in. You tear your hair and rend your garments.

    Wild with rage and pain, you stumble out into the street. Around you, the monuments crumble. Abraham Lincoln's posture on his memorial has changed so that he is visibly holding his head in his hands. FDR's statue has rolled out of its place in his memorial, unseating its bronze Fala. Now it sits on the edge of the Tidal Basin, staring into it with an expression of blank despair. Martin Luther King Jr.'s statue has pointedly turned to face away from the White House. The Washington Monument is limp. The National Museum of African American History is glancing uncomfortably at the Jefferson Memorial. The Women's Museum is in a defensive crouch.

    Everyone around you moves like an automaton. You sit next to each other silently, staring into the middle distance. Cold rain falls. The whole landscape is grey and dark with pathetic fallacy, as though you have been transported to a 19th-century novel. The sales of Crest Whitestrips tanks. Who needs them? You will never smile again.

 

1. Denial

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The Democrats Screwed Up

    We geniuses in the news media spent only the last month telling you how Donald Trump was losing this election. We spent the last year telling you how the Republican Party was unraveling.

    And here we are, with the Democrats in tatters. You might want to think twice about our Oscar and Super Bowl predictions.

    Despite all the discussion of demographic forces that doomed the GOP, it will soon control the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress and two of every three governor’s offices. And that’s not just a function of James Comey, Julian Assange and misogyny. Democrats who believe so are dangerously mistaken.

    Other factors conspired in the party’s debacle. One in particular haunts me. From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.

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Obama Fights Obliteration by Trump

    You know how desperate President Barack Obama is — as he contemplates all his accomplishments going down the drain at the hands of a man he has total contempt for — when he is willing to do something so against his nature.

    He tried to persuade Donald Trump.

    We saw that unicorn glimpsed only fleetingly in the last eight years: the cajoling Barack Obama.

    The president flattered the president-elect by letting Trump rack up the ego arithmetic.

    “This was a meeting that was going to last for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and we were just going to get to know each other,” Trump told reporters afterward, as they sat in front of the Oval Office fireplace. But, he marveled, “The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half.”

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Lies in the Guise of News in the Trump Era

    If you get your news from this newspaper or our rival mainstream news sources, there’s probably a lot you don’t know.

    You may not realize that our Kenyan-born Muslim president was plotting to serve a third term as our illegitimate president, by allowing Hillary Clinton to win and then indicting her; Pope Francis’ endorsement of Donald Trump helped avert the election-rigging.

    You perhaps didn’t know that Clinton is a Satan worshipper at the center of “an international child enslavement and sex ring.” Or that Chelsea Clinton isn’t Bill Clinton’s daughter, but a love child of Hillary’s by another man — or that Bill has his own love child with a black prostitute.

    Oh, the scoops we miss here at The Times!

    None of those items is actually true, of course, but all have been reported by alt-right or fake news websites (the line between them is sometimes blurred). And one takeaway from this astonishing presidential election is that fake news is gaining ground, empowering nuts and undermining our democracy.

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Donald Trump is about to face a rude awakening over Obamacare

    After reiterating his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that he may keep two of the law's most popular provisions. One is straightforward enough - children up to the age of 26 being allowed to stay on their parents' plan. The other - preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions - offers a perfect illustration of why Trump and most of the other Republicans critics of Obamacare don't understand the health insurance market.

    Let's say that in the beautiful new world of "repeal and replace," insurers are required to sell you insurance despite the fact that your kid has a brain tumor. Insurance companies know what to do with that. Their actuaries can calculate that kids with brain tumors typically require (I'm making this number up) about $200,000 a year in medical care. So they'll offer to sell you a policy at an annual premium of $240,000.

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Why this Frenchman plans to resist President Trump - by becoming a U.S. citizen

    It was 20 years ago this fall that I set foot in the United States from Paris. I initially came here to study. One thing led to another, I put deep roots in this country over two decades. My wife is American, and my 8-year-old son was born here.

    Yet, despite all that, I was always reluctant to become a U.S. citizen. It was in part out of a sentimental attachment to France and its storied multi-ethnic soccer team, Les Bleus, and in part because even after 20 years, I still find America's mores and laws somewhat foreign, if not alienating. All this time I told myself that I could pack up and leave at a moment's notice, whenever I was finally fed up with American society's least attractive aspects. Or in the event of an adverse political outcome.

    I confess I entertained such a thought last night upon the unexpected election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

    It was a lie, a fantasy. My life is here. My family is here. My friends are here. I care about them. Whether I like it or not, I belong here.

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Trump's celebrity won him the White House. It could destroy his presidency.

    Even before he honed his message of anger, disaffection and solidarity for the white working class, what powered Donald Trump toward the White House was his celebrity - as a tabloid fixation, billionaire developer, reality-television star, Twitter fiend. He sought fame for its own sake, treating life as a series of brand extensions. A majority of the same American electorate that handed him the presidency believes he is unqualified for the job. Without his constant image-making and bomb-throwing, without his ability to shock and captivate so many audiences on so many platforms, he never could have won the Republican nomination, let alone the White House.

    But now he has, and if he wants to have a chance at an effective presidency, Trump will have to do something that appears contrary to his nature: He will have to cease behaving like a celebrity. Trump must relinquish spectacle, trading it in for the unglamorous business of governing.

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