Archive

October 12th, 2016

Trump's implosion leaves potential Republican 2020 contenders in a bind

    The release of a hot-mic tape in which Donald Trump is featured saying lewd and sexually suggestive things about women looks to be a catastrophic moment for the presidential nominee, who is already struggling to stay on message in the final month of the campaign.

    Dozens of Republican elected officials - including prominent senators such as John McCain (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) - have disavowed Trump since news of the tape was broken by The Washington Post on Friday afternoon. Strategists for Republicans trying to keep the party's majorities in the House and the Senate are apoplectic about what Trump's seeming collapse means for their chances and what, if anything, can be done to salvage things.

    Lost amid all of that scrambling is what Trump's demise will mean for those Republican candidates who are positioning themselves to run for president in 2020. Although that jockeying has been an almost entirely out-of-sight effort to date, the size and scope of Trump's problems may force these 2020 aspirants to actively grapple with their position vis-a-vis the Republican nominee sooner rather than later.

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October 11th

Donald Goes to the Dogs

    “When a man knows he is to be hanged,” Samuel Johnson once said, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

    Unless, of course, that man is Donald Trump.

    Out of the nine presidential campaigns I’ve covered, I’ve never seen anything as absurd as the motley crew of Trump advisers agonizing over how to delicately, in soothing tones, tiptoe up to the proudly uninformed megalomaniac and broach the topic of more rigorous debate prep. Or, even more hilariously, trick him into practicing for the second contest so he doesn’t repeat his oblivious shame spiral.

    In a country roiling with fears about terrorism, race relations and economic inequality, Trump managed to get fixated on the fact that a former Miss Universe gained a few pounds — and to gnaw on that issue for a week after leaving Hofstra, while mainlining bacon cheeseburgers. And this weekend, Trump was ensnared in another sensational story about the lascivious way he talks about women.

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This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death

    I don't need to tell you about the latest revelation of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's views and behavior toward women. I won't tell you these comments, because they're not appropriate for any ages.

    But I will tell you that the American evangelical movement and Religious Right won't be the same after the 2016 presidential election.

    This week I traveled to Nashville to speak with Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The largest Protestant denomination in the United States has elected him to represent their values in Washington and guide 15 million Southern Baptists in how to bring their faith to bear on public life.

    I asked him what percentage of Southern Baptists he thinks will vote for Trump. He answered 80 percent. Yet Moore has become the most vocal evangelical critic of Trump. What gives?

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The next president deserves a team of rivals

    No one knows what President Barack Obama wants to do when his term expires, but in the unlikely event that he wants a gig in a would-be Clinton administration, some say he need not apply. It's not the election's outcome that is the potential hurdle. The ex- president's poor job prospects are due to a burgeoning effort to reject potential Hillary Clinton appointees based on their previous employers, or on views they've held that deviate from progressive economic orthodoxy.

    The project falls under the umbrella of "personnel is policy" - the notion that whom you hire determines the priorities of the White House. A coalition of progressive organizations, including Daily Kos and Democracy for America, are spearheading this effort with a laudable policy goal: to keep special interests away from the next president's agenda. But the standard they would impose is so unduly restrictive that even Obama would fail the test.

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My 'implicit bias' against black people

    In case you missed the vice presidential debate -- and who didn't? -- the most memorable moment in my view came when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence sounded shocked, shocked, at the very idea that a black police officer could be biased against black people.

    I've got news for you, governor. A lot of black people don't like black people all that much.

    I know. I'm one of them.

    I don't dislike all black people. Most of us are fine, once you get to know us.

    When people tell me they are surprised to hear that I don't like black people, I remind them of how little black people were exposed until recent decades of positive images of themselves in media and elsewhere.

    I think my condition began at age four. My parents broke the news that I could not go to the amusement park near our southern Ohio home because it did not admit "colored people."

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Look for Obama to assume a central campaign role

    As the presidential campaign heads into its final month, President Obama will be on the trail in behalf of his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. But in a real sense he also will be stumping for his own legacy.

    A political cliché holds that presidential campaigns are, or should be, about the future. But Obama's nearly eight years in the White House in a significant way provide a framework for Clinton's aspirations, she having been a principal in carrying out his foreign policy agenda.

    On the domestic side as well, she has been a consistent supporter, having embraced his controversial Affordable Care Act, popularly and often unpopularly called Obamacare, a forerunner of which she was a principal if failed architect.

    In what is repeatedly peddled by the Republicans as "a change election" in which angry voters are demanding a new direction under outsider Donald Trump, the implication is that Obama has been a loser and that a Hillary Clinton presidency would bring more of the same.

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Clinton's turnout machine could prove decisive

    The final days of U.S. elections are typically devoted to huge drives by each side to produce voters on Election Day. That's true this year, but with important caveats: the efforts are far more sophisticated and more than one-third of the electorate, or more than 40 million voters, will have voted by the time the polls open Nov. 8.

    Registration and early voting trends may provide as many clues as polls and messaging. They indicate an advantage for Hillary Clinton.

    This advantage will turn into an avalanche if Trump can't recover from his latest self-induced crisis: an 11 year-old video in which he can be heard boasting of his sexual prowess and making graphic and vulgar remarks about women.

    Early voting is closely tracked by the U.S. Election Project, directed by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist. He estimates that 34 percent of the electorate will vote before Nov. 8, up a little from four years ago.

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A reckoning with Reconstruction

    As President Barack Obama heralded the opening of the long-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, he argued that we must confront all of American history, even the parts that "make us uncomfortable," if we are to "learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect."

    Obama can deliver on the promise of those words by using his authority to create a national monument to Reconstruction in Beaufort County, South Carolina, so that Americans can confront the dramatic victories and bitter defeats of a crucial time in our nation's history.

    For a century and a half, the United States has struggled to commemorate - or even to remember - what happened in the wake of slavery's abolition. During the 20th century, propagandists and white supremacists dismissed Reconstruction as a mistake, while Northern nationalists often forgot a period that did not fit with commonly held narratives of progress. At National Park Service sites, as in popular movies and novels, it proved far easier to talk about the Civil War than to grapple with what came next.

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A good fairy smites Trump

    Donald Trump, the master spinner of fairy tales, has become the victim of a good fairy. An anonymous source has bestowed on The New York Times strong evidence of how he managed for years to turn huge business losses into legal ways to massively evade payment of federal income taxes.

    A Times reporter received three photocopied pages of Trump's signed 1995 tax return declaring losses of $916 million. They provided the basis by which he may have legally escaped paying as much as $50 million a year in taxes for as many as 18 years.

    The Times, doing due diligence, tracked down the tax accountant who prepared Trump's returns that year. He verified the photocopies' authenticity, as the Republican presidential nominee continued refusing to release his full income tax returns.

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The right says Clinton is responsible for her husband. Why isn't Melania Trump?

    Imagine a married man in public life was caught on tape talking about his failed attempt to seduce a married woman. Imagine that man continued by talking about that woman's "big phony tits," how his star power meant that he could just walk up to any woman he wanted and kiss her, and how his go-to move was grabbing women by their genitals. After you got over your rolling wave of nausea, imagine that this man was also on the record as saying that a woman, let's say a rival of his in business, should be held responsible for her own husband's extramarital sexual behavior. You'd be disgusted, right?

    But this is 2016. That man is Donald Trump, and he actually did get filmed saying those things on a bus with then-"Access Hollywood" star Billy Bush in 2005. And given that Trump's go-to move on the campaign trail this season has been to suggest that his rival for the presidency of the United States, Hillary Clinton, is somehow responsible for her husband Bill's repeated betrayals, are we now supposed to ask why Melania Trump didn't do a better job of acting as her husband's keeper?

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