Archive

October 23rd, 2016

If Hillary Clinton is 'such a nasty woman,' she's also a liberated one

    "Such a nasty woman."

    Donald Trump's complaint, grumbled as Hillary Clinton snuck a dig at his record of taxpaying into a discussion of federal trust funds, sent a collective shudder through watchers. On social media and post-debate panels, it neared the top of the list of discussable moments, following close behind Trump's promise to "keep you in suspense" about whether he'll accept the result of the election.

    But instead of outrage, I felt a short, sharp jolt of joy. If it had been me up on that debate stage, I would have been hard-pressed not to break out a shimmy, which is one on the extraordinarily long list of reasons Clinton has the discipline to be president and I do not. As unpleasant as Trump's comment was, and as much as it perfectly embodies the "I'm rubber, you're glue" strategy of his candidacy, the remark provided a perfect illustration of how constrained the limits of acceptable behavior are for women, and how vast and wide open the preserves of allowable conduct are for men, so frontier-like that Trump could wander around them hunting "bad hombres."

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Women know why Donald Trump's accusers stayed silent for so long

    It's the least surprising October surprise ever: Donald Trump -- who bragged about groping women -- is now facing multiple allegations of groping women.

    Trump's misogyny greatest-hits reel was already as long as your arm, if you had abnormally long arms: calling women "pigs" "slobs," "dogs" and "pieces of ass" (including his own daughter); accusing Fox's Megyn Kelly of having "blood coming out of her wherever"; belittling Heidi Cruz and Carly Fiorina for their looks during the Republican primaries; calling breastfeeding "disgusting"; slut- and-fat-shaming a former Miss Universe; saying of women that "you've got to treat 'em like s-t"; accusing Hillary Clinton -- the first woman to win a major-party presidential nomination - of being insufficiently attractive to satisfy her husband. This is not an exhaustive list.

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Donald Trump's refusal to say he'll accept election results isn't just shocking. It's also a total flip-flop.

    Donald Trump's comment Wednesday night that he will have to wait and see whether to accept the results of the 2016 election was shocking for a presidential candidate.

    It was also a total flip-flop.

    Asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace whether he would accept the election results, Trump said some version of "I will look at it at the time" repeatedly. He added: "I'll keep you in suspense, OK?"

    What many didn't note on Wednesday night, though, is that Trump has actually been asked this question before - at a debate! - and offered a totally different answer.

    Here's the exchange with NBC's Lester Holt from the first debate, which seems like three months ago but was actually just 25 days ago:

    HOLT: Mr. Trump, very quickly, same question. Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters?

    It took prodding, but Trump said he would "absolutely" support Clinton as president. It was unmistakable and firm.

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WikiLeaks Is the default politics of cowards

    The public release, via WikiLeaks, of purloined e-mails and documents related to Hillary Clinton and her campaign has produced starkly different reactions. On the whole, the news media is nonplused.

    In a typically snarky tweet, Washington Post reporter David Weigel mocked the notion that the WikiLeaks dump would alter the dynamics of the election, summing it up with the purposefully mundane revelation that "Clinton strategists debated how to respond to controversies."

    The leaks, which may or may not be part of a Russian effort to undermine Clinton in order to advance her rival, largely expose routine political discussion among staff engaged in the constant, necessary balancing of policy, politics and presentation. It's an equilibrium that any successful campaign must achieve before assuming leadership of a successful government.

    How far should the campaign go in appeasing popular Sen. Elizabeth Warren? How would the media react if Clinton, in discussing her use of e-mails, said she was "bemused" by technology? How should the candidate reposition herself on trade, given the shifting politics?

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WikiHillary for President

    Thank God for WikiLeaks.

    I confess, I was starting to wonder about what the real Hillary Clinton — the one you never get to see behind closed doors — really stood for. But now that, thanks to WikiLeaks, I’ve had a chance to peruse her speeches to Goldman Sachs and other banks, I am more convinced than ever she can be the president America needs today.

    Seriously, those speeches are great! They show someone with a vision, a pragmatic approach to getting things done and a healthy instinct for balancing the need to strengthen our social safety nets with unleashing America’s business class to create the growth required to sustain social programs.

    So thank you, Vladimir Putin, for revealing how Hillary really hopes to govern. I just wish more of that Hillary were campaigning right now and building a mandate for what she really believes.

    WikiHillary? I’m with her.

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Donald Trump is threatening to take our democracy down with him. He'll fail miserably at that, too.

    The two biggest moments of Wednesday night's debate also work neatly in tandem to suggest how the ending to this whole ugly campaign might surprise us all. The first was Donald Trump's repeated refusal to say he will accept the legitimacy of the outcome, which is properly being denounced as an outrageous effort to undermine our democracy.

    The second key moment was Trump's suggestion that Hillary Clinton is "such a nasty woman." This seemingly helpless slide into low-grade pettiness, in response to the most cursory of efforts to needle him over his taxes, hints at another way this could all turn out.

    Trump is trying to go out in a blaze of frightful demagoguery that threatens to take our democracy down with him. Indeed, he appears to be laying the groundwork to question the outcome's legitimacy long after the election is over as a way to keep his followers engaged. But, should things continue as they are, Trump may end up furiously tweeting about the election's "rigged" outcome at 3:00 a.m. as a sidelined, shriveled, increasingly buffoonish figure, a failed demagogue who is beneath the attention even of late-night TV comics.

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Clinton can afford some Trump-like fiscal craziness

    Hillary Clinton often boasts, as she did in Wednesday night's debate, that her policies wouldn't add a penny to the national debt. She says that's because she offsets every new spending proposal and tax break with a budget cut or tax increase.

    Her fiscal rectitude contrasts with Donald Trump's fiscal craziness. He ignores accounting niceties to slash taxes and protect entitlement programs. In doing so, he would add at least $4 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.

    Here's a heretical thought: Clinton could be a little crazier. She could even steal a page from Trump and propose more deficit spending to rev up the economy in her first few years in office, if she wins.

    This somewhat surprising recommendation draws from a new economic model that mimics the effects of tax cuts on behavior. The model, unveiled this week by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School with an assist from the Tax Policy Center, seeks to explain how much individuals and corporations work, save, invest and spend when taxes go up or down.

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When presidential candidates (and their defenders) start throwing around big GDP numbers, ignore them

    Last week I participated in a wide-ranging interview with Mark Halperin sponsored by Bloomberg News on various economic issues in this election cycle. I'd like to focus on the discussion we had about presidents and economic growth rates.

    Our discussion followed one Halperin had with a top Trump economic adviser, Peter Navarro, who claimed Trump's economic agenda would lift the growth rate of real GDP from its current trend of about 2 percent to 3.5 percent. To give you some context, that would constitute a huge jump. At 2 percent, real GDP doubles about every 35 years; at 3.5 percent, that window shrinks to about 20 years.

    It would also constitute as close to an impossibility as one can get in economics. Trump's jump to 3.5 percent is pure snake oil. The best I can say about it is that it's half-a-percent less oily than Jeb Bush's claim that he could get to 4 percent, which led Mike Huckabee to outdo him with a 6 percent claim.

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What Donald Trump is doing to discredit the media is very, very dangerous

    If there's one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on in this election, it's that the media suck.

    Just 1 in 3 people told Gallup they have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of trust in the media to report the news accurately, the lowest that number has been since Gallup began asking the question in 1997. Republicans led the way - going from 41 percent to 14 percent on trusting the media in the past 19 years - but the numbers among independents (30 percent trust media to be fair) and Democrats (51 percent) have dipped as well.

    "You deserve it!" you will say. "Journalism is dead!" you will say. (Trust me: You say these things to me every day!)

    And, there is truth in that. Including the coverage of the war in Iraq to the swing, a miss on Donald Trump's potential as a candidate and yesterday's news that journalists have overwhelmingly donated to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, reporters have not exactly covered themselves in glory. That very much includes me - most recently for missing the Trump train early.

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A lesson for Donald Trump on putting America first

    In the third and last presidential debate on Wednesday night, Donald Trump again refused to say whether he would concede to Hillary Clinton if he was the loser of the Nov. 8 election.

    Americans must now contend with a candidate who casts doubts on the democratic process before the votes have been counted, and who suggests that the election is rigged, without offering any evidence to back up his claim.

    This is unprecedented. By contrast, consider the behavior of past presidential candidates who lost elections but who actually had reason to complain about the outcome, if not contest it. Their example tells us much about the conventions and expectations that, until now, have ensured the stability of the U.S. political system.

    Take, for example, Andrew Jackson. He had genuine grounds for believing that the outcome had been rigged and the democratic process subverted when he first ran for president in 1824. And yet Jackson, a man who typically settled disputes with dueling pistols, nonetheless graciously stepped aside when it became clear that protest would damage the nation's political institutions.

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