Archive

November 19th, 2016

Reality sets in on Trumpworld

    As the shock of Donald Trump's election settles in, an uneasy electorate faces the reality of a shattered American politics.

    With the executive branch falling to a loose cannon driven by impulse, the nation is headed for a threateningly authoritarian era. Trump exudes the dictatorial odor of a man on a white horse.

    At the same time, who will speak and act in behalf of the unglued Republican and Democratic parties in and out of Congress? In the GOP-controlled Senate, the pliable Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can be counted on to be Trump's instrument. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan will strive to manage his conservative flock emboldened by the new, like-minded president about whom Ryan himself has reservations.

    The Democrats will have a new Senate leader in New York's Chuck Schumer, along with the stolidly liberal Nancy Pelosi of California in the House. Both will have to dig in against an anticipated Trump onslaught against Barack Obama's legislative accomplishments, beginning with undoing Obamacare.

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Of course Bernie Sanders could have beaten Donald Trump

    Presented with only the following two quotes, it's easy to tell which member of the Sanders family is the politician.

    Asked by The Washington Post if he thought he could have beaten Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders was temperate in his reply.

    "I hesitate to be a Monday morning quarterback," he said. "In my heart of hearts, I think there's a good chance I could have defeated Trump, but who knows."

    When his wife Jane was asked a similar question on CNN last week, her answer was more pointed.

    "Do you think your husband would have had a better chance at beating Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton did?" CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked.

    "Absolutely," Jane Sanders replied, "but it doesn't matter now."

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Now it's Democrats who need an 'autopsy'

    Want to get attention in the Big Apple? Try carrying a big Donald Trump campaign sign through Times Square.

    A network news producer and friend of mine happened to do just that on her way home from the Republican president-elect's victory speech.

    The people whom she passed on the street didn't know that she was bringing the sign to give to a friend who collects campaign memorabilia. All they saw was a young African-American woman carrying a Trump sign on the night when many were experiencing the political shock of their lifetime: the unexpected defeat of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton after weeks of leading the polls.

    With that in mind, my friend's good deed sounded about as risky as Bruce Willis' character in "Die Hard with a Vengeance," forced by a terrorist to walk around a Harlem street wearing a sandwich board that says "I Hate (plural of the N-word)."

    Fortunately, my friend received nothing more damaging than angry glares and one woman who angrily shouted something anti-Trump.

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How filibusters might survive in new Senate

    The filibuster in the Senate has survived Barack Obama's presidency. Just barely. It might survive Donald Trump's presidency, too, but there's no guarantee.

    For now, a minority of the Senate can still win by filibuster unless 60 senators vote (for "cloture") to defeat them. A filibuster, in practical terms, doesn't consist of senators making long speeches to shut down other business; all it requires, and all it has required for decades, is for the minority to let the majority know a cloture vote will be needed in order to move forward on something.

    There are exceptions. Since 2013, executive-branch nominations and judicial nominations other than for the Supreme Court cannot be blocked by filibusters.

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Hillary Clinton's historically horrible week

    Losing is one thing. Losing when you are absolutely certain you are going to win is another -- and far, far worse.

    Hillary Clinton lost the presidency on Tuesday, a race she, her campaign and virtually everyone else in the political world expected her to win. After all, she raised more money. And she used that money edge to run more TV ads in swing states and build top-tier organizations in them too. Polling -- nationally and in swing states -- showed Clinton ahead of Donald Trump.

    Then she lost.

    It was a slow-motion collapse for Clinton. Tuesday dawned full of optimism for her campaign as early voting in places like Florida and Nevada suggested that her vaunted organization was paying dividends. Early exit polling passed around the political world in the mid-afternoon suggested her campaign was on track to win a solid -- and potentially large-scale -- victory.

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An unrealistic foreign policy

    President-elect Donald Trump is being called a "realist" in foreign policy. Don't believe it. He may have some crude realist instincts, but that only makes him a terrible messenger for realism. Realists like myself should be very nervous about his election.

    Realism is a sensibility, not a specific guide to what to do in each crisis. And it is a sensibility rooted in a mature sense of the tragic - of all the things that can go wrong in foreign policy, so that caution and a knowledge of history are embedded in the realist mindset. Realism has been with us at least since Thucydides wrote "The Peloponnesian War" in the 5th century B.C., in which he defined human nature as driven by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos) and honor (doxa). Because the realist knows that he must work with such elemental forces rather than against them, he also knows, for example, that order comes before freedom and interests come before values. After all, without order there is no freedom for anybody, and without interests a state has no incentive to project its values.

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November 18th

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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