Archive

October 15th, 2016

Trump did nothing at the debate to halt his campaign's death spiral

    On the debate stage Sunday night, we saw a lifelong public servant with total grasp of the issues and concrete plans to take the nation forward. And we saw a saw a fraudulent boor who knows nothing about anything and brags about groping women. Let's not pretend anymore that we have an actual choice.

    Let's not pretend there is any question about who "won" the debate, because only one candidate -- Hillary Clinton -- actually debated. Donald Trump did nothing but spew dangerous and incoherent nonsense, demonstrating in the process how fortunate we are that his electoral prospects finally seem to be circling the drain.

    "If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation," Trump told Clinton, referring to how she handled emails from her tenure as secretary of state. I believe those have to be the most shockingly un-American words ever uttered at a presidential debate, and they made me sick to my stomach.

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Three revealing Donald Trump moments in that hot mess of a town hall

    The first 30 minutes of the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump failed to respect the dignity of the American people. That Trump would go all "Real Housewives" by bringing four women who have accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual assault (or worse) was beneath the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

    We are so much better than the 90 minutes that were delivered. But there were three revealing moments that I want to highlight now - before the horror of what we just endured sinks in and renders me mute.

    -- Trump suggested that he used the $916 million loss on his federal income taxes to avoid paying federal income taxes.

    "Did you use that multimillion dollar loss to avoid paying federal income taxes?" CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Trump. "Of course I do, and so do all of her donors." Considering he won't release his tax returns, this will have to serve as confirmation of such a stunning fact.

    -- Trump threatened to put Clinton in jail over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

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Ratings problem for GOP's freak show

    The NFL’s ratings are down. Fox Sports commentator Colin Cowherd says he knows why. It’s not about quality of play or sidelined quarterbacks.

    “It’s Donald Trump.” People are tuning out football for that guy.

    True. The nation is transfixed. It can’t take its eyes off the Trump Dumpster fire.

    The thing it, such TV ratings are not what his party wants. No, siree.

    Right now the GOP wants voters to flip to just about any other programming: tribal mating rituals in New Guinea, migratory fruit flies, the soufflé in French history.

    No such luck. All Americans want to talk about is this man’s terrible behavior. Trump’s nomination has been exquisite for cable news, horrific for the Republican Party.

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Pity Pence, but he has a path to redemption

    The big unasked question on the debate stage Sunday night was: "Where's Mike Pence?"

    Since the video of Donald Trump admitting to sexual assault came out on Friday and Republicans ran for the hills, Pence had gone to ground. He bailed on filling in for Trump at the fall picnic of Speaker Paul Ryan (who was "sickened" by the revelations). Pence emerged only to go to church. There was talk of a President Pence. No one would have been surprised if Pence had asked to get off the ticket.

    But Pence came home. Minutes after Trump stopped stalking Hillary Clinton on stage and lowered his fists, Pence tweeted: "Congrats to my running mate on a big debate win! Proud to stand with you as we ."

    Trump has little chance of "making America great again" without Pence by his side. Without Pence, the center of Trump's coalition would not hold. But Trump did nothing to lure Pence back into the fold. To the contrary, he said during the debate that the two hadn't even been in touch.

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October 14th

A vicious presidential debate

    It's not an American habit for a presidential candidate to declare that he would imprison his opponent. Donald Trump, reeling from the release of an 11-year-old video recording his lewd and repulsive comments about women, went there anyway.

    And while he said he was "very embarrassed" by his talk of groping and assault, Trump decided that salvation lay in dredging up old scandals involving his opponent's husband. Of Bill Clinton, he said: "There's never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation that's been so abusive to women." Trump seemed to think that the comparison would somehow make him look better.

    Trump stalked the stage, interrupting Hillary Clinton, repeatedly attacking her for "lying," and assailing the moderators, Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, saying at one point that the debate was three against one. It was the petulant and often boorish performance of a man aware that his campaign was at the edge of extinction.

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Mass surveillance is part of Yahoo's business model

    Yahoo has been getting a lot of attention lately for its failures to protect personal information. What's perhaps more remarkable, though, is how little privacy American internet users demand.

    First came news that hackers stole personal data on more than 500 million Yahoo users. Now the company is dealing with reports that it helped the Justice Department conduct mass surveillance by scanning email traffic for signs of a terrorist organization. One has to wonder: When Verizon finally completes its planned acquisition of Yahoo, will there be any users left to acquire?

    Yet if there's one thing Americans value more than freedom, it's free stuff. Thanks to decades of conditioning, people have this notion that online services -- e-mail, news, porn, search engines -- should be available without charge, like Yahoo. The employees of internet companies are magically compensated in starlight and dreams, so everything they produce should be gratis.

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Let the Republican blame game begin

    It's the kind of question politicians usually ask when a disastrous election is over: Who's to blame? In Donald Trump's case, the time to start answering is now.

    Trump's graphic boasts about groping women, caught on a 2005 videotape that surfaced Friday, set off Republican desertions in bulk. A debate performance Sunday night featuring a threat to prosecute Hillary Clinton and a scornful repudiation of his own running mate can't have given party leaders much comfort.

    Trump's nomination amounted to a repudiation of those leaders by angry Republican primary voters. But there were enablers who made his nomination more certain and lent credibility to a candidate with few qualifications, principles or commitment to the party.

    Based on conversations with a half-dozen important Republican figures who think Trump will drag down their party in November, these are some prime culprits:

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It matters that Cooper was the first out gay man to moderate a debate

    What do you know about Anderson Cooper? Probably three things: He's a longtime CNN journalist. His mother is socialite and sometime author Gloria Vanderbilt. And he's a gay man. No doubt when his obituary is written, some form of this sentence will be included: "In 2016, Anderson Cooper became the first out gay man entrusted with moderating a presidential debate."

    It's a giant step for LGBT acceptance that Cooper presided alongside ABC's Martha Raddatz on Sunday night at the second of the three presidential debates. On the other hand, it's never easy to go first in the age of identity politics, and Cooper's debut was freighted with objections, notably from conservatives.

    When the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Cooper's inclusion in this year's roster of debate moderators, much was made of his sexual orientation. The New York Times remarked on the diversity of the lineup, while specifically noting that Cooper is "an openly gay man." The gay media also proudly took note of the milestone choice, with the Advocate writing: "No LGBT person has ever moderated a presidential or vice presidential debate in the general election."

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In Virginia, expect a GOP scrum for Kaine's Senate seat

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's Sunday night debate performance did exactly what it needed to do: It stopped the bleeding.

    It will not help him win in November. The Electoral College map shows Virginia continuing its march toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. As this column has said from the beginning, no Republican can win the White House without carrying the Old Dominion.

    Worse for Trump, the polling trends show Florida, Ohio and North Carolina moving Clinton's way, too.

    So it's time for a close look at what comes after November, which at this point, looks like Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D, appointing someone to fill the remainder of Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine's Senate term.

    The leading contender is 3rd District Rep. Bobby Scott. It would be a political winner for McAuliffe and Democrats statewide as the party prepares for the 2017 gubernatorial election.

    On the Republican side, the jockeying for a possible -- and now likely -- 2017 Senate race has been underway for months.

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If Donald Trump has done anything, he has snuffed out the Religious Right

    Donald Trump once bragged to radio shock-jock Howard Stern about walking through the dressing rooms of his beauty pageants while contestants were getting dressed. He could do it, he suggested, because he owned the place.

    This year, religious conservatism stands naked and exposed before the world, while Trump smugly surveys what he has come to own.

    Journalist Mark Halperin noted this weekend that virtually all of the "reaffirmation of support" for Trump, following the disclosure of his sexually predatory recorded comments, were from religious conservative leaders. This is a scandal and a disgrace, but it should not be a surprise.

    We know nothing new about Donald Trump. He has told us about his view of women, his view of sexuality, his views of marriage and family for more than 30 years. He has gloried in reality television decadence before reality television was even invented, in his boasts to tabloid reporters. He reaffirmed who he is over and over again, even during this campaign - from misogynistic statements to racist invective to crazed conspiracy theorizing.

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