Building Jerusalem

There’s the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, traveled to what is now England and visited Glastonbury during Jesus’ unknown years – and there’s the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, where Jesus establishes a New Jerusalem. The Christian church in general, and the English Church in particular, often uses Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace – and all of that led to William Blake’s short 1804 poem now called Jerusalem:

And did those feet in ancient time / Walk upon England’s mountains green? / And was the holy Lamb of God / On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine / Shine forth upon our clouded hills? / And was Jerusalem builded here / Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Maybe, or maybe not, but that didn’t matter to Blake:

Bring me my bow of burning gold! / Bring me my arrows of desire! / Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold! / Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight, / Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, / Till we have built Jerusalem / In England’s green and pleasant land.

There you have it. The English are going to build a place of universal love and peace which will be England itself – the New Jerusalem. That’s the great task and Blake’s short poem finally caught on – the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Robert Bridges, republished it in 1916, when the Great War wasn’t going well, and then asked Sir Hubert Parry to put it to music. King George V then said that he preferred “Jerusalem” to “God Save the Queen” and that’s how we know it today. It’s sung every year by the audience at the end of the Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall and across the country where that’s simulcast, and since 2004 it’s been the anthem of the England cricket team. Every politician has used it. The suffragettes used it. It was used in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and “Bring me my Chariot of fire” gave us the title of that heroic and idealistic 1981 film Chariots of Fire – and it was used ironically in the 1962 film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner – the mills were still pretty dark and satanic in that one. Either way, Blake’s “Jerusalem” had become that nation’s unofficial national anthem. Early this year there was one more dust-up about whether it should become the official one. Some said no. What the hell was Blake imagining anyway, a white Christian paradise with a wall around it? Blake was now sounding a bit like Donald Trump.

All of this may seem a minor matter, but Blake has a lot to answer for, because he tapped into a deep vein of heroic and idealistic and inadvertently exclusionary nationalism. Everyone in England, and in the larger Great Britain, and the even larger United Kingdom, knows his words by heart. Sooner or later they would act on them in an unfortunate way, and they just did:

Britain’s startling decision to pull out of the European Union set off a cascade of aftershocks on Friday, costing Prime Minister David Cameron his job, plunging the financial markets into turmoil and leaving the country’s future in doubt.

The decisive win by the “Leave” campaign exposed deep divides: young versus old, urban versus rural, Scotland versus England. The recriminations flew fast, not least at Mr. Cameron, who had made the decision to call the referendum on membership in the bloc to manage a rebellion in his own Conservative Party, only to have it destroy his government and tarnish his legacy.

The result of the so-called Brexit vote presented another stiff challenge to the leaders of the other leading European powers as they confront spreading populist anger. It was seized on by far-right and anti-Brussels parties across Europe, with Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France calling for a “Frexit” referendum and Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands calling for a “Nexit.”

Everyone wants to build their own Jerusalem in their own green and pleasant land, and so things fall apart:

European officials met in Brussels to begin discussing a response and to emphasize their commitment to strengthening and improving the bloc, which will have 27 members after Britain’s departure.

“At stake is the breakup, pure and simple, of the union,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls of France said, adding, “Now is the time to invent another Europe.”

Germany urged calm. “Today marks a turning point for Europe,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “It is a turning point for the European unification process.”

No one was happy with this:

Financial markets swooned as it became apparent that the Leave forces would prevail, with the British pound and global stock prices plummeting in value as the vote tally showed the Remain camp falling further behind.

All the markets crashed, around the world, and may drop day after day from here on out, putting the world in a long deep recession, because things won’t be resolved quickly and cannot be resolved well:

The process of withdrawal is likely to play out slowly, perhaps taking years. It will mean pulling out of the world’s largest trading zone, with 508 million residents, including the 65 million people of Britain, and abandoning a commitment to the free movement of labor, capital, goods and services. It has profound implications for Britain’s legal system, which incorporates a large body of regulations that cover everything from product safety to digital privacy, and for Britain’s economy.

The main ways in which the change will be felt are on trade – Britain will lose automatic access to the European single market – and on immigration, with Britain no longer bound to allow any European Union citizen to live and work in the country. Britain will have to try to negotiate new deals covering those issues.

This is bad, or good, depending on your point of view:

To those in Britain who supported remaining in Europe, the result of Thursday’s in-or-out referendum was a painful rejection, leaving the country exposed to a possible economic downturn and signaling a step away from the multiculturalism that they say has made Britain among Europe’s most vibrant societies.

To backers of leaving, the outcome was vindication of their belief that Britain could pursue an independent course in the world, free of the Brussels bureaucracy and able to control the flow of immigrants into the country.

And there’s this:

The economy aside, the United Kingdom itself now faces a threat to its survival. Scotland voted by 62 percent to 38 percent to remain in the European Union, and the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said Friday that it was “democratically unacceptable” for Scotland to be dragged out of it against its will. Another independence referendum, she said, “is now highly likely.”

Appearing before reporters in front of the flags of Scotland and the European Union, Ms. Sturgeon, who leads the dominant Scottish National Party, said, “It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table.”

The threat is real, but any new vote will not come soon, because it is only two years since the last one, which the Scottish nationalists lost, and the price of oil, on which the Scottish economy largely depends, has dropped.

Northern Ireland, too, voted for Remain, although Protestants and Roman Catholics, as usual, were split. But the prospect of an open border with Ireland now becoming a hard border between the European Union and the United Kingdom will change matters and require checks of passports and goods, putting strain on the Good Friday peace agreement.

That’s the broad outline of things, but there are specifics. There’s Lauren Razavi, a feature writer specializing in business, technology and innovation, with this from Norwich:

Today has been a day of bitterness, resentment and betrayal for British millennials like me. Overnight my generation has lost the right to call ourselves Europeans, as well as the right to live, love and work in the 27 other countries of the European Union. Among the many divisions the referendum has revealed in the U.K., the chasm between generations is becoming the most pronounced. While the Leave campaign achieved a two-point victory in the referendum, 75 percent of voters between 18 and 24 wanted to remain.

This was just one more battle with the old farts:

For all intents and purposes, the referendum result is just the latest in a series of attacks on my generation’s future. First came the financial crisis, caused by poor decision-making on the part of baby boomers across the world. Soon after came austerity measures that disproportionately affected young people in favor of protecting British pensions. Now we are being forced from the European Union – against the wishes of the vast majority of young people – in an attack from a generation that will live to see very little of its consequences.

They just don’t get it:

The last time Britain had a referendum on its EU membership, back in 1973, the parents of my generation weren’t even old enough to vote. Being European has always been a given for us; most people my age had never questioned or doubted the future of UK-EU relations until this referendum campaign began. And why would we? Most of us recognize that we have more in common with young people in Spain or the Netherlands than we do with the older folks who share our British nationality.

There’s a natural divide between generations around the world: There are those of us who grew up with the Internet and those whose lives go largely unaffected by anything digital or global in nature. We’ve grown up believing in a future that transcends national borders because we experience that world in our work, interests and social lives online. Today, the future we imagined was stolen from us.

Over the course of a single night, baby boomers have rejected expert opinion and torn apart my generation’s future. Why? Because a vague notion of making our country “great again,” combined with an infectious hysteria about immigration, was enough to convince them that things have to change. They were so convinced, in fact, that they were happy to vote for Leave without any definition of what “great” looks like, and no road map to actually achieving it.

She’s not happy:

Decades of uncertainty and political chaos have been unleashed by a generation of voters that barely possesses the digital literacy to use a USB stick correctly. As a result, our Parliament will spend years ignoring the tangible problems of ordinary people while they renegotiate long-held treaties that simply don’t need fixing. The vital resources that could deliver opportunity and prosperity for my generation will now be spent grasping for the little negotiating power the UK has left. The hope? That these crumbs of power can be used in a desperate battle for rapid agreement on new trade deals.

Google has reported a dramatic increase in searches for Irish passport applications since the Leave result became clear this morning. If the conversations I’ve had today are anything to go by, the next big decision for baby boomers will be how to pay for their pensions when my generation packs up their bags to abandon the sinking ship that the UK has just become.

And the old farts say fine, just leave. Who needs you anyway? Get off my (green and pleasant) lawn! The words of William Blake echo in their minds, or maybe it’s the words of Donald Trump. The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson reports on how he plays into this:

As Donald Trump stood in front of the Trump Turnberry golf resort, in Scotland, the morning after the vote for Brexit, he was asked to contemplate his own place in the world, and his power over the minds of the British. “Do you think anything you said in the United States influenced voters here in Britain when it comes to leaving the EU?” a reporter asked, as a bagpiper stood watch. “Good question,” Trump replied, squinting from under a white “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. “If I said yes, total influence, you’d all say, ‘That’s terrible, his ego is terrible,’ right? So I will never say that, Tom. I’d like to give you that one, but I can’t say that.” Donald Trump, once again silenced by his own humility, would answer Brexit questions for a good half hour, in the course of which he did allow that he’d heard talk of “a big parallel” to his own campaign: “People want to take their country back,” he said. “They want to take their borders back. They want to take their monetary back. They want to take a lot of things back.” Most of all, perhaps, “they don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country.”

They want to take their monetary back? What? Never mind:

Although Trump would later muse that “people like to see borders,” his only real priority at first, it seemed, was to insist that they see the suites at the Turnberry, which were the most luxurious one could imagine. The sprinkler system was now at “the highest level,” as was the course design itself. “Even people who truly hate me are saying it’s the best they’ve ever seen,” he said. The catalogue of Turnberry treats went on for several minutes, leaving many wondering what they were watching – wasn’t this the Presidential candidate for a major American party? Didn’t he know that a continent was in crisis? Would this finally expose him as unacceptably unserious? In some of his tweets, he seemed not to acknowledge that the sentiment in Scotland was for Remain – did he understand the political structure of the United Kingdom? Given the gravity of the moment, he appeared, at that juncture, absurd, just as Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, and Boris Johnson, the Tory former mayor of London, often do. During the Leave campaign, Johnson played Paul Ryan to Farage’s Trump – the more socially acceptable peddler of destructive ideas. There was a flotilla on the Thames; it was laughable. But they won. After Trump began taking questions, a reporter asked about Prime Minister David Cameron’s criticism of his policies, such as his proposed ban on non-citizen Muslims entering the United States. Cameron had shunned Trump, the reporter suggested. Trump interrupted him.

“Excuse me, where is David Cameron right now?” Trump said. Cameron had been at the front of the campaign for Remain; early that morning, he’d announced that he would be stepping down. “Right now, I don’t think David Cameron wants to meet anybody,” Trump said.

It was vintage Trump, both aggressive and a bit absurd:

Speaking of fears of immigration in Europe, he cited some German friends of his who were members of his Mar-a-Lago Club, in Palm Beach. They were, he said, “very proud Germans, to a level that you wouldn’t believe.” (The British, thinking about extreme German nationalism, probably had no trouble believing.) “They would be bragging about their country, they would be talking about their country as though there was no other place” – and yet, because of all the immigrants they saw coming in, they were thinking of leaving Germany. Trump shook his head in sympathy. He seemed indifferent to the effect all this might have on markets: the Fed didn’t know anything, and neither did foreign-policy experts. Everyone was just going to have to wait to see what happened to the pound, whose crash, he believed, might be “a positive” for Britain: “They’re going to do more business. You know, when the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly.”

But only the right kind of people, it seemed. “You’re going to let people that you want into your country. And people that you don’t want, or people that you don’t think are going to be appropriate for your country or good for your country, you’re not going to have to take,” Trump said.

That sort of thing worries Davidson:

The Brexit results are a strong warning for anyone complacent about Donald Trump. Brexit didn’t happen because people in Europe listened to him; but he is a voice in a call-and-response chorus that is not going to simply dissipate… there are structural economic issues that have left both Leave sympathizers and Trump voters with real grievances, and it will be disastrous if bigoted nationalists are the only ones who engage them. The political institutions are very different: we don’t worry so much here about the labyrinthine regulations put out by Brussels bureaucrats; they don’t quite have SuperPACs. But the word “rigged,” or its local variations, is probably the key one on both sides of the Atlantic. Both Trump and Farage and his allies have made openly racist and ethnic appeals. The European Union is a great idealistic project, and it is a tragedy that it might be torn down now. A lesson for Americans is that fortified idealistic structures can be torn down, by means of some of the same wrecking tools Trump has been willing to deploy, even if those who are considered the serious people, in a country that reminds us of our own, warn against doing so. One pattern seen in the Brexit results was a disconnect between party leaders – in all of the major parties – and their bases. Sneering is not going to save the republic.

So we got this:

“And the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing is your people have taken the country back,” Trump said toward the end of his press conference. “There’s something very, very nice about that. And they voted, and it’s been peaceful.” (This ignored the assassination, last week, of Jo Cox, a pro-Remain MP) “And it was strong and very contentious, and in many respects – I watched last night -it was a little bit ugly. But it’s been an amazing process to watch. It’s been a big move.”

That’s a warning:

That move is one thing that British voters can’t take back, at least in the short run. If Trump wins, our country might have a hard time taking that back, too.

That’s a worry, and Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns dig into the parallels:

Driving the “Brexit” vote were many of the same impulses that have animated American politics in this turbulent election year: anger at distant elites, anxiety about a perceived loss of national sovereignty and, perhaps most of all, resentment toward migrants and refugees.

These are the themes Donald J. Trump harnessed during the Republican presidential primaries to explosive effect, and that he aims to wield to his advantage again in his race against Hillary Clinton.

That’s why Trump said what he said in Scotland, for good reason:

Veteran Republican and Democratic strategists say that Mr. Trump, and to a lesser extent, Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest, represent an American echo of the inward-looking politics that have swept across Europe in recent years.

“There’s a fundamental issue that all developed economies have to confront, which is that globalization and technological changes have meant millions of people have seen their jobs marginalized and wages decline,” said David Axelrod, a former strategist for President Obama and an adviser to Britain’s Labour Party in last year’s general election.

“And so lots of folks want to turn the clock back and make America, or their country, great again.”

Sure, turn back the clock to when Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea were strolling around Glastonbury, or Akron, then get out your bow of burning gold and make it so again. Good luck with that. Still, Trump is in the right place at the right time:

The highly educated, younger voters around London who voted to remain in the European Union, for example, share some commonalities with the American urbanites that were the pillars of Mr. Obama’s coalition. And Mr. Trump has triumphed with the American counterparts of the British “Leave” voters: older whites who lack university degrees and live in less prosperous regions of the English countryside.

The old farts could win here too, but maybe not:

In the United States, there is no recent history of electing nationalist presidents hostile to immigration, and even recent Republican presidents have celebrated new arrivals as integral to American prosperity and identity.

American presidential elections are largely decided by a diverse and upscale electorate, anchored in America’s cities and suburbs. These communities more closely resemble London than Lincolnshire. Minorities made up more than a quarter of the electorate in the last presidential campaign.

And while Britain decided to leave the European Union through a popular vote, the White House race will be determined by the Electoral College, which is tilted toward the Democrats. Some large states with significant nonwhite populations have been out of reach for Republican candidates for much of the last three decades; California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania have voted for every Democratic nominee since 1992. Mr. Obama also won Florida twice and Mrs. Clinton has a lead there now in part because Mr. Trump is unpopular with Hispanics.

Together those six states offer 166 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

And there’s more:

Mr. Trump is at an even greater disadvantage than other recent Republican presidential nominees because of his dismal standing with nonwhite, college-educated and female voters. Unless he can reverse the deeply negative views such voters have of him, he is unlikely to capture the voter-rich communities around Philadelphia, Denver, Miami, and Washington that are crucial to winning the White House.

Joe Trippi, a Democratic political strategist who was a consultant for former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, said he expected the Brexit vote to embolden American conservatives. But their excitement, Mr. Trippi said, would be largely “a false read” of the results.

“There are some very similar things – a polarized electorate, nativism, nationalism, were clearly big factors and Trump exemplifies them here,” Mr. Trippi said.

“But there is a difference in the multiculturalism and diversity of the United States, versus nowhere near the same factors in the UK.”

Despite high levels of concern about immigration and foreign trade, polls show that most Americans have so far recoiled from Mr. Trump’s specific policy proposals, such as deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Another way to put that is that America just isn’t as white as the UK – 62 percent non-Hispanic white to their 87 percent white – and we don’t have enough angry old farts to overcome that. And then add this:

The vote in Britain was a referendum on a European entity that was easy to rally against, while the presidential vote here is increasingly becoming a referendum on a single, polarizing individual.

“Americans will be asked to vote for or against a person: Trump,” said Tony Fratto, a former press secretary for George W. Bush.

“And that’s a higher hurdle. If you want to express yourself with a protest vote, you’ll have to vote for Trump, and he is singularly unattractive and even offensive to a large majority of Americans.”

And there’s that other person:

Mrs. Clinton responded with restraint, issuing a statement offering “respect” for the decision made by a close ally and offering assurances about “America’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship with Britain.”

She’s careful. People like careful. More people like careful than like Trump, even if they don’t like Hillary Clinton all that much. And Josh Marshall adds this:

Put simply, Trumpism and the greater arc of rightist politics in the US in recent years seems to follow this pattern. A declining but still very large fraction of the population which feels that it is losing power, wealth, and something between ethnic familiarity and dominance, to rising segments of the society. To map this on to the specifics of US society this pits a one group that is both older and whiter against another that is generally younger and less white.

Two points are worth recognizing about this deep social and political cleavage. First, this rebellion on the right is based not on strength but on weakness, the loss of power, control, demographic dominance, privilege. Second, in key respects it is an accurate perception of the change overtaking America.

Often you’ll hear febrile talk about the “our culture” being overrun, whites becoming the most ‘oppressed’ minority in the country and various other nonsense. But in relative terms whites are becoming less powerful. This is obvious. It is nothing more than a restatement, from another vantage point, of the erosion of white privilege. It is accentuated by and to a major degree driven by the relative decline of the white population vis a vis Hispanics, Blacks, East Asians, South Asians and various other groups. This is not a fantasy. It is a reality. And a lot of people don’t like it.

That’s the problem:

What makes me dissent from the economic nationalism, distrust of elites, right wing populism viewpoint is that these views are highly concentrated in segment of the population. The young, non-whites and the more elusive category of whites who don’t identify largely in ethnic or racial terms tend to view the future with optimism. This then is the big picture: a period of great transformation in which a declining but very large segment of the population feels it is losing critically important things to which it is entitled and does not want to lose and, in response, is throwing up an escalating range of tactics and obstacles to bring the change to a halt.

But consider the UK data:


18-24: 75% Remain

25-49: 56% Remain

50-64: 44% Remain

65+: 39% Remain

The future electorate of the UK wanted to remain in Europe. That’s what Marshall sees, and if Martin and Burns are right, over here, the future is now. Over there they’re still singing that William Blake song. O clouds, unfold! Bring me my chariot of fire! That chariot of fire is probably a twenty-year-old Morris Minor. And no one is building Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. No one really wants to.

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Not Exactly Great Again

At the moment, stock markets around the world are crashing because Britain just voted to leave the European Union – to rid themselves of their EU overlords in Brussels and make Britain great again, or something. The pound just lost more than ten percent of its value, so far, and in a few years no one’s going to be trading with Britain – they’re opting out of all the current trade agreements with everyone. But at least they won’t be taking in any immigrants from Europe – no foreign workers at all. The idea seems to be that they’ll be fine on their own – isolationism is freedom – but their economy will have collapsed. They’ll hardly be great again. They’ll have to settle for quaint and forgotten.

Many have said this is a Trump thing, and earlier in the month, Ron Brownstein explained our version of this:

The most important word in Donald Trump’s lexicon may be “again.”

The word anchors many of his signature declarations, as when he insists: “If I’m elected president, we will win again.” In a jab at the secularization of American life, he’s promised: “If I’m elected … we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” And of course, the word is the exclamation point on his trademark pledge to “make America great again.”

In the Trump vocabulary, the word “back” ranks closely behind “again.” Trump is forever promising to “bring back” things that have been lost. Manufacturing jobs, steel and coal production, waterboarding of terrorists, “law and order” in the cities – all of these Trump says he will “bring back” to reverse what he portrays as years of American decline.

These phrases capture the mission of restoration underpinning Trump’s campaign. They touch the pervasive sense of loss among many of his supporters – the belief that the changes molding modern America have marginalized them economically, demographically, and culturally. These words allow him to evoke a hazy earlier time when American life worked better for the overwhelmingly white, heavily blue-collar coalition now drawn to him.

But don’t worry about the logic of any of that:

“It’s a visceral feeling of being left behind,” said Daniel Cox, the research director of the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, which studies cultural attitudes. “Economically they are being left behind, but culturally, too, things that seemed to be okay when some of these folks were younger – whether it’s the words you can use or approaches to gender roles – are no longer okay.”

They don’t have a European Union to leave, to make things all better, but Ed Kilgore now points to new polling:

There’s an ongoing debate in the chattering classes about the deepest motives of those who support Donald Trump for president. One theory is that it’s cultural change – epitomized by immigration and the spread of non-Christian religious views – that makes these folks tick. Another is that it’s a product of economic inequality and insecurity. Those who hold the latter view tend to think Trump has some natural appeal to Bernie Sanders voters…

But now there’s the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings with a new survey that adds powerful ammunition to the “It’s the Culture, Stupid!” faction. It covers many issues related to the changing demographics of America and the perceived impact on the culture for good and for ill. And it does not always break out Donald Trump supporters from broader categories like Republicans and white, working-class members. But where it does, it paints a pretty clear picture of a group of people who absolutely hate the changes taking place in this country since the 1950s, and will support almost any measures to turn back the clock.

The picture is this – “77 percent say it bothers them to come into contact with people who speak little or no English” and “81 percent say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.”

Those are the Trump voters. Just as Great Britain was “great” when it stood alone and ruled the world, America was great when everyone spoke English and no one discriminated against white folks, favoring those “colored folks” and leaving the good white man high and dry. That might be 1953 or so, but there may be no going back to either, unless, over here on this side of the pond, the Supreme Court intervenes, even if it’s one justice short and keeps deadlocking. One can always hope.

Hope doesn’t always work out. This was the day that the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action at the University of Texas today but deadlocked on DAPA, President Obama’s executive action on immigration:

The Supreme Court handed President Obama a significant legal defeat on Thursday, refusing to revive his stalled plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them the right to work legally in this country. The court’s liberals and conservatives deadlocked, which leaves in place a lower court’s decision that the president exceeded his powers in issuing the directive.

That’s a loss – affirmative action still screws the good (young) white man – and a win – we can deport many more of those people who speak little or no English. But Kevin Drum says its’ not that simple:

What does this mean? A district court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction against DAPA, which was upheld by the appeals court and now by the Supreme Court. Or, to be more accurate, it wasn’t overturned by the Supreme Court. So it stays in place. But can an appeals court rule for the whole country? What happens if a similar case goes forward in, say, California, and the 9th Circuit rules differently?

We shall have to wait and see. Ruling against a president on immigration is unusual to say the least, so this case suggests either (a) Obama really was out on a limb with DAPA or (b) nobody really cares about precedent or the law anymore. Liberals rule for Obama and conservatives rule against him, and that’s that. I’m not entirely sure which I believe.

The affirmative action case was less ambiguous, as the New York Times’ Adam Liptak reports here:

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin, handing supporters of affirmative action a major victory.

The decision, Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 14-981, concerned an unusual program and contained a warning to other universities that not all affirmative action programs will pass constitutional muster. But the ruling’s basic message was that admissions officials may continue to consider race as one factor among many in ensuring a diverse student body.

It’s not 1953 anymore:

The decision, by a 4-to-3 vote, was unexpected. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the author of the majority opinion, has long been skeptical of race-sensitive programs and had never before voted to uphold an affirmative action plan. He dissented in the last major affirmative action case.

He changed his mind, and the reactions were quick:

“No decision since Brown v. Board of Education has been as important as Fisher will prove to be in the long history of racial inclusion and educational diversity,” said Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, referring to the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision striking down segregated public schools.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, which supports colorblind policies, said the decision, though disappointing, was only a temporary setback.

“The court’s decision leaves plenty of room for future challenges to racial preference policies at other schools,” he said. “The struggle goes on.”

President Obama hailed the decision. “I’m pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the basic notion that diversity is an important value in our society,” he told reporters at the White House. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everybody.”

That meant not living in the past:

Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, said courts must give universities substantial but not total leeway in designing their admissions programs.

“A university is in large part defined by those intangible ‘qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness,'” Justice Kennedy wrote, quoting from a landmark desegregation case. “Considerable deference is owed to a university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”

“But still,” Justice Kennedy added, “it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

Okay, move on, but don’t forget the white folks, or not:

In a lengthy and impassioned dissent delivered from the bench, a sign of deep disagreement, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. denounced the court’s ruling, saying that the university had not demonstrated the need for race-based admissions and that the Texas program benefited advantaged students over impoverished ones.

“This is affirmative action gone berserk,” Justice Alito told his colleagues, adding that what they had done in the case was “simply wrong.”

Someone had to stand up for the poor (impoverished) white folks, but Jeffrey Toobin sees nothing to worry about:

The four-to-three ruling is both surprising and important. (Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case.) Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion, even though he has been consistently skeptical of affirmative action during his long tenure on the Court. In the Court’s last major encounter with affirmative action, Gutter v. Bollinger, in 2003, which dealt with the admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School, Kennedy dissented from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s cautious embrace of diversity as a legitimate factor for universities to consider. O’Connor was so conflicted about her own decision that she included, in effect, an expiration date of twenty-five years for any racial considerations.

Kennedy’s decision today went further than O’Connor’s, and he recognized that the benefits of diversity have no expiration date. As Kennedy wrote, “enrolling a diverse student body promotes cross-racial understanding, helps to break down racial stereotypes, and enables students to better understand persons of different races.”

That will be true indefinitely. In a scathing dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made a convincing case that Kennedy had gone back on his previous views. The appropriate answer to this criticism is: So what? The Justices have often quoted a famous observation by Justice Felix Frankfurter: “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” 

And it was time to do something:

The practical significance of the Court’s decision is difficult to overstate. The Fisher case has been pending for eight years and was argued twice before the Court. Through all this time, the future of affirmative action has been an open and unresolved question. Kennedy has now put the issue to rest for the foreseeable future. This is a great gift to university-admissions officers, who can act with some confidence that they may consider race as one among many factors, but, more importantly, it’s a gift to their institutions. American universities, and the country, will be better off for today’s decision.

That’s because he saw the future:

Kennedy values his place as the swing Justice on the Court, and it’s possible to see in his opinion a recognition of which way the Court is heading. The Justices are divided in much the same way the country is: four Democratic appointees, and four Republican ones. President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia’s death, but the Republicans in the Senate have refused even to hold hearings for him, let alone a vote. This defiance of congressional and constitutional norms is outrageous, and it’s also revealing. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, and his fellow-Republicans see a Presidential election slipping away from their party, and they have made the reasonable calculation that some Democrat – Obama or Hillary Clinton – will fill Scalia’s seat. So the Republicans are postponing a five-to-four Democratic majority on the Supreme Court for as long as they can. But that doesn’t make that majority any less inevitable.

Kennedy must see this, too. The four Democratic appointees have consistently embraced the notion that all institutions are strengthened, not weakened, by diverse membership (as have, for the most part, the American people). That view will surely be in ascendance in any Democrat-dominated Supreme Court. Kennedy could fight that coming wave or try to stay ahead of it. He did the latter… the direction of the Court is clear, and on affirmative action, at least, Kennedy chose to lead the way rather than fight a losing battle from behind.

Think of that as making America “great” but not “great again” – you know, progress.

The other decision was the opposite. The Los Angeles Times David Savage reports on that:

An ideologically deadlocked Supreme Court dealt a severe blow Thursday to President Obama’s immigration reform plan, casting the November election as a referendum on how to deal with the more than 11 million people living in the country illegally.

The 4-4 vote leaves in place a Texas federal judge’s order that has prevented Obama from granting deportation relief and work permits to more than 4 million immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents.

The tie means it will be left to the next president, the next Congress and possibly a nine-member high court to address what is widely seen as a broken immigration system.

It was a punt:

The ruling does not mean that the government will now begin deporting people who might have been eligible for Obama’s program. Speaking at the White House after the ruling, Obama emphasized that parents of U.S. citizens “will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

The immediate practical impact, however, will be that those several million people will continue to be unable to work legally in the U.S. Obama’s program would have provided legal work authority to those who qualified.

It’s limbo thanks to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:

The justices issued a one-line decision in United States vs. Texas saying the judgment of the lower court “is affirmed by an equally divided court.”

The split was almost certainly along the familiar ideological lines, though the justices’ votes were not revealed. During oral arguments in April, the conservative justices, all Republican appointees, had voiced support for the lawsuit by Texas and 25 other Republican-led states, which said Obama’s action was illegal. The four liberal justices, all Democratic appointees, appeared to favor the administration and its claims that the president has broad power under immigration law to set enforcement policies.

And the dispute was this:

In announcing his Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents in 2014, Obama said that deportations should focus on criminals, gang members and people who repeatedly cross the border, but not on immigrant parents of U.S. citizens.

Obama proposed to allow people who fit this category to come forward, undergo a background check and receive a work permit if they qualified. It was similar to a previous program that benefited immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, dubbed “Dreamers.” That program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is unaffected by Thursday’s ruling.

Texas state lawyers said Obama’s second immigration-reform plan went too far. They sued in a federal court in Brownsville.

And the rest is history, and now an issue in the coming election:

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called the court’s deadlock “unacceptable.” It “shows us all just how high the stakes are in this election,” she said. If elected, Clinton promised to go further and seek legislation that offers a “path to citizenship” for immigrants.

She cited the contrast with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has promised to deport all immigrants here illegally and build a wall along the Mexican border.

Trump attacked Clinton for vowing to double down on Obama’s efforts.

“The election, and the Supreme Court appointments that come with it, will decide whether or not we have a border and, hence, a country,” Trump said.

We will decide whether or not we have a border and, hence, a country, and Great Britain will stand alone and be great again of course:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling makes the president’s executive action on immigration null and void,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). “The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws – only Congress is. This is another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who launched the lawsuit against Obama’s plan, said the outcome “rightly denied the president the ability to grant amnesty contrary to immigration laws. Today’s ruling is also a victory for all law-abiding Americans, including the millions of immigrants who came to America following the rule of law.”

That’s one view, but then there’s Walter Dellinger – the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law at Duke and head of the appellate practice at O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, who also leads Harvard Law School’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Clinic. He served as the acting United States Solicitor General for the 1996-1997 term of the Supreme Court, after he was acting Solicitor General and before that an Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton. He may know a thing or two about the law, and he knows this:

I am stunned and disappointed that not a single one of the conservative justices cast a vote to sustain the president’s immigration guidance, or at least to hold more modestly that Texas lacked legal standing to bring the challenge in the first place. The president’s action was not lawless as opponents argued. There are 11.3 million people in the United States who, for one reason or another, are deportable. The largest number that can be deported in any year, under the resources provided by Congress, is somewhere around 400,000. Congress has recognized this and has by statute imposed upon the secretary of Homeland Security the responsibility to establish “national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” The secretary did just that in deferring deportation action against 4.3 million people, largely parents of U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

That authority is so clear that, at the Supreme Court, Texas did not even challenge the authority of the administration to forbear from deporting those covered by the guidance. What was really at stake at the end was the decision to grant work authorization – under regulations tracing back to the administration of Ronald Reagan – to those for whom deportation was deferred. Although Obama’s order was the most expansive use of the work authorization authority, the arguments in favor of the Obama action’s lawfulness put forward by the solicitor general and by Georgetown professor Marty Lederman have never been effectively answered by anyone, in my view.

This doesn’t make sense:

Immigration reform more sweeping than that undertaken by the president was supported by more than 70 senators and would have been supported by the House of Representatives, as well as the president. So why is it not law? Because the House Republican leadership refused to allow legislation supported by a majority of the House to come to a vote.

And now a more legally modest, but enormously important, action taken by a president twice elected by clear voting majorities has been set aside by a small group of unelected judges. This was a case brought before a judge singled out by the challengers because there was no doubt as to his hostility toward current immigration policies. His overreaching nationwide injunction was upheld by two 2–1 panels (with the four judges who sat on the two cases combined splitting 2–2). And now four justices who disagree with four other justices have brought the president’s program down. And because the court lacks a ninth justice, and is evenly divided, we don’t even have the benefit of an opinion explaining this extraordinary result. This decision, or non-decision, represents a signal failure of democracy.

Those things happen, and Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick adds this:

How quickly we have all simply normalized the fact that there are eight justices on the court, and this is the immutable truth, and it will be this way for most of next term, and that everyone – including millions of Americans awaiting definitive answers on crucial questions – is simply watching how the court plans to brazen through that challenge without ever breaking a sweat. What a rout for the forces of obstruction and chaos! …

The new normal is both outrageous and completely uninteresting. This makes me quite grumpy.

But that’s not all:

I do worry that Americans may become used to a court that does almost nothing, and – if things ever return to normal – they may come to resent a court that does anything more.

Forget “Making America Great Again” – it may be hard to get America back to “Sort of Okay at the Moment Again” – if that. But there’s one good thing. At least we aren’t British.

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Somewhat Closer to Normal

It was finally the day for Donald Trump to prove to the Republican Party that he wasn’t bat-shit crazy and he wasn’t going to drag them down to defeat in November. He has no money – well, he has one fortieth of what Hillary Clinton has – and no real campaign staff – seventy folks to her more than nine hundred – and he’d rather not ask the big donors for funds, and they don’t seem to want to pitch in anyway. And he has spent the last five weeks going off on tangents, offending every minority group in sight and not hitting Hillary Clinton when obvious opportunities arise. He’s their nominee and they’ve been forced, again and again, to say whether they agree with this or that odd thing he just said. Do you agree with your nominee that President Obama is likely a secret ISIS supporter and might have planned the Orlando massacre? They hem and haw – and then he starts ripping into each of them for being cowards and wimps – while the nation watches. This couldn’t go on. Something had to give.

That would be Donald Trump. He fired his young thug of a campaign manager, whose idea of managing the campaign had been to let Trump be Trump, which worked well with the riled-up base in the primaries but was clearly not working now, and turned to a few professionals at this sort of thing. He finally sent out a fundraising letter. He may hire more staff, if he can find a way to pay them. A communications director would be nice. And he finally agreed to give a speech about Hillary Clinton, not himself – an argument that would show she was unacceptable as president, and explain exactly why – and it would be scripted, read from a teleprompter. He’d not blurt out odd things that had just occurred to him. He’d stick to the script. He’d stay focused. He’d be forceful and dynamic of course, but he’d be a kind of normal person.

He’s not good at that, and he doesn’t seem to like being normal in any way, but he gave it a go, and the speech was as close to normal as the Republicans are going to get:

Donald J. Trump delivered a blistering attack on Wednesday against Hillary Clinton, calling her unreliable and more concerned with herself than with the American people as he sought to regain his footing after a tumultuous month that imperiled his candidacy.

In a 41-minute speech seeking to build his case against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee by labeling her a “world-class liar,” Mr. Trump moved to soothe concerns among Republicans alarmed by gaping self-inflected wounds after his racial attacks on a federal judge and his self-congratulatory boast after the terrorist shooting in Orlando, Fla. He said Mrs. Clinton would not create jobs, portraying her as a scandal-tarnished former secretary of state who “may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

“The choice in this election is a choice between taking our government back from the special interests, or surrendering our last scrap of independence to their total and complete control,” Mr. Trump said.

Okay, it was a bit over the top. It was end-of-the-world scare stuff, but it was a start:

Since securing the Republican nomination, Mr. Trump has allowed himself to be pummeled by Democrats, doing little to fashion an overarching message or even to frame his view of the race. But on Wednesday, he moved to regain the offensive, making a forceful case that he chose to enter public service because of his concerns for the country, a contrast he tried to draw with Mrs. Clinton.

“She believes she is entitled to the office,” Mr. Trump said. “Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you, the American people. She thinks it’s all about her. I know it’s all about you.”

That would do:

The remarks were welcomed by Mr. Trump’s supporters, who have fretted that he is turning the campaign into a referendum on himself instead of President Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

Carl Paladino, a Trump ally who was in the room for the speech, said that the candidate “likes to speak extemporaneously” but that his more scripted approach on Wednesday was necessary.

“He told everybody why Hillary shouldn’t be there, he gave a factual foundation for those statements,” Mr. Paladino said. “That type of speech has to be scripted.”

That may be true, but one man’s factual foundation is another man’s bullshit:

Mr. Trump sought to portray Mrs. Clinton as responsible for the tumult in the Middle East, but her campaign tried to deprive the speech of attention by announcing that she had received the endorsement of Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to Presidents Gerald R. Ford and George Bush. Mr. Trump explicitly blamed her for the death of United States Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens during the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a diplomatic outpost in Libya.

That wasn’t helpful, but Trump had other ammunition, even if he was firing blanks:

Mr. Trump began his speech with a focused message about jobs and the economy, lamenting a lost era in the United States of bringing change on a grand scale, and the absence of his signature boastfulness added gravitas.

But the address was denounced by Mr. Trump’s critics as a patchwork of cable-news-ready sound bites as opposed to a presentation of new ideas. Mr. Trump did little to lay out specifics of his agenda beyond attacking trade deals and immigration. And his new, more sober approach was undercut by factual inaccuracies and embellishments, as well as flimsy claims – at one point, Mr. Trump suggested that Mrs. Clinton was probably the victim of blackmail from Chinese hackers who gained access to her email account while she was the secretary of state.

Where the hell did that come from? Ah, Trump has his sources:

Mr. Trump quoted extensively from the book “Clinton Cash,” written by a Republican author who was forced to correct several inaccuracies after the book went to press. He said the United States was the “highest taxed country in the world,” which is not true. He said there might be five Supreme Court vacancies for the next president to fill, a number that has not been suggested before.

He wasn’t making stuff up on the spot of course. He was reading previously made-up stuff from the teleprompter, which may or may not be progress, and the rest was a struggle between ego and discipline:

“When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports, or the factories moving overseas to Mexico or to other countries, I know these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “Only by me.”

Mr. Trump did use the speech to sand down the edges of his past remarks about Muslims, acknowledging that some people who follow Islam are “peaceful” while never mentioning his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants.

And then it was back to Hillary:

With the speech, Mr. Trump was trying to amplify Mrs. Clinton’s high negative poll ratings with voters, a majority of whom view her as dishonest, as he seeks to alter the current trajectory of the presidential campaign. He seized on controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation and her tenure at the State Department to accuse her of “theft,” adding, “She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund.”

And then it was back to The Donald:

Mr. Trump, who once lamented in an interview that the turn of the century was the last time America was “great,” provided a hopeful message, suggesting the advent of a second industrial revolution during his presidency. “Massive new factories will come roaring into our country,” he said, “breathing life and hope into our communities.”

That theme, accompanied by his attacks on free trade, is one that Mr. Trump employed to great effect in the nominating fight, and some of his aides believe it could appeal to Sanders supporters in a general election.

While Mr. Sanders has yet to endorse Mrs. Clinton, he balked at the idea that his followers would support Mr. Trump.

“I suspect he ain’t going to get too many of those people,” Mr. Sanders said on C-SPAN when asked about Mr. Trump’s courting of his supporters. “I think the vast majority of the people who voted for me understand that Donald Trump, in a dozen different ways, is literally unfit to be president of the United States.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank highlights that by highlighting the crazy:

For years, the conspiracy-minded have been trying to prove that Hillary Clinton gave “stand-down” orders blocking the military from helping ambassador Chris Stevens and other U.S. personnel in Benghazi the night of the 2012 attacks. But Donald Trump asserts the opposite: Clinton was unconscious.

Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee declared Wednesday in an unfocused jeremiad against his Democratic opponent. “That’s right. When the phone rang, as per the commercial, at three o’clock in the morning, Hillary Clinton was sleeping.”

That’s not right – unless Trump is accusing Clinton of taking an afternoon nap. Stevens and the others were attacked in the late afternoon, Washington time. Clinton, who was in Washington and closely involved in the response, issued a public statement about the attacks at 10 p.m. and wrote an email to her daughter about the matter an hour later – well before Trump’s imaginary 3 a.m. wake-up call.

That wasn’t all:

Trump quoted a “Secret Service agent posted outside the Oval Office” challenging Clinton’s character; the “agent” in question was a low-level official who wasn’t posted inside the White House.

Trump claimed Clinton’s email “server was easily hacked by foreign governments. … Sure they have it.” No evidence of successful hacking has been found.

Trump said “we are, by the way, the highest taxed nation in the world.” The United States is nowhere near the top.

He said “we could rebuild every inner city in America” with “the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees.” The amount she would spend would be a sliver of just one large city’s budget.

He said Clinton “accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei.” He neglected to mention that the U.S. government, not Clinton, kept the gift.

He said the trade deficit “soared 40 percent” under Clinton; it actually rose less than half of that.

He said he was “among the earliest to criticize the rush to war” in Iraq; in September, 2002, he supported the Iraq invasion.

He alleged that Clinton’s State Department refused “all” security requests from U.S. diplomats in Libya; actually, a number were approved.

Trump’s volume of disinformation is so heavy that even the nimblest fact-checker can’t keep pace. And that’s no accident: In Trump’s dystopia, things are so bad – so utterly and desperately awful – that no allegation, no matter how sinister, seems implausible to his followers.

This was not normal:

In Trump’s dystopia, Clinton is “the biggest promoter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” and the fact that she has expressly opposed the deal just means “she’s pretending.” In Trump’s dystopia, Clinton “illegally stashed” her emails “to cover up her corrupt feelings,” and government investigators don’t “want to find them.”

All those worried Republicans expected “normal” but got talk of Hillary Clinton’s hidden “corrupt feelings” – whatever that means.

As for precise documented fact-checking, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte has all the details prefaced by this:

Donald Trump’s long-awaited speech Wednesday supposedly detailing the dirt he has on Hillary Clinton turned out to be exactly what critics expected: A diatribe of right-wing paranoia seemingly cribbed off all-caps email forwards sent to you by your grandfather. Much of it assumed an audience that already has spent years poring over anti-Clinton urban legends and that gets almost all its news from the Drudge Report.

It is also a fact-checking nightmare, a garbage truck of lies, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. It’s as if Trump is trying to overwhelm the fact-checkers with so many lies they simply give up.

They didn’t give up – the Marcotte item is one of hundreds. Trump can’t revoke the press credentials of every news organization in America if they all do this basic fact-checking. They get it. They’re ganging up on him, or conversely, finally just doing their job.

That might not be enough, as Slate’s Michelle Goldberg notes here:

Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning speech about Hillary Clinton’s record is probably the most unnervingly effective one he has ever given. In a momentary display of discipline, he read from a teleprompter with virtually no ad-libbing, avoiding digs at Bill Clinton’s infidelity or conspiracy theories about Vince Foster’s suicide. Standing in a low-ceilinged conference room bedecked with square chandeliers in the Trump SoHo, a lawsuit-plagued hotel and condo development, Trump spoke for 40 minutes without saying anything overtly sexist. Instead, he aimed straight at Clinton’s most-serious weaknesses, describing her as a venal tool of the establishment.

That’s the sting:

The point is not that this is true – as political analyst David Gergen said on CNN, the speech was slanderous. But the lies in the speech, many taken from Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash, were not obviously self-refuting. At one point, Trump said, citing Schweizer, “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.” This has been debunked many times over, including by

To explain why it’s not true, though, you have to go into details about Clinton’s role on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which approved the sale of a Canadian-based energy company with American mining stakes to Russia’s nuclear energy agency. It’s a very different sort of lie than the one Trump told at a meeting of evangelicals on Tuesday when he said there’s “nothing out there” about Hillary Clinton’s religion – in fact, her Methodism is extremely well-known even to her political enemies.

When the truth is complicated, Trump wins:

Like all skillful demagoguery, Trump’s speech on Wednesday interwove truth and falsehood into a plausible-seeming picture meant to reinforce listeners’ underlying beliefs. In May, Morning Consult polled people with an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton about why they didn’t like her. Fifty-eight percent said she was too liberal, while 22 percent said she was too conservative. But 82 percent of Hillary-averse voters said she was corrupt, and 88 percent said she was untrustworthy. These are the beliefs that unite her foes across the political spectrum. It’s why Trump, with his devious talent for derisive nicknames, was smart to dub her “Crooked Hillary.”

And there’s this:

Some of the examples Trump chose to reinforce this caricature are true. Describing Clinton as “a world-class liar,” he said, “Just look at her pathetic email and server statements, or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack but the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers, a total self-serving lie. Brian Williams’ career was destroyed for saying far less.” One could quibble about whose exaggerations have been greater, but Clinton’s Bosnia tale really was mostly made up, and it will likely haunt her throughout the campaign.

Perhaps so, but the rest isn’t much:

At the close of her Wednesday rally in North Carolina, Hillary Clinton directly responded to remarks that Donald Trump made hours earlier in a speech focused on attacking her qualifications.

“I know Donald hates it when anyone points out how hollow his sales pitch really is,” she said. “I guess my speech yesterday must have gotten under his skin, because right away he lashed out on Twitter with outlandish lies and conspiracy theories and he did the same in his speech today. Now, think about it. He’s going after me personally because he has no answers on the substance.”

She easily shifted the topic, and she did have this in her pocket:

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under Republican presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Wednesday.

“Secretary Clinton shares my belief that America must remain the world’s indispensable leader,” Scowcroft said in a statement, touting her experience as secretary of state. “She understands that our leadership and engagement beyond our borders makes the world, and therefore the United States, more secure and prosperous. She appreciates that it is essential to maintain our strong military advantage, but that force must only be used as a last resort.”

Clinton, Scowcroft stated, “brings deep expertise in international affairs, and a sophisticated understanding of the world,” qualities he described as “essential for the Commander-in-Chief.”

“Her longstanding relationships with a wide array of world leaders, and their sense of her as a strong and reliable counterpart, make her uniquely prepared for the highest office in the land,” he added.

Scowcroft’s endorsement comes after his fellow foreign-policy realist Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush, told POLITICO last week that he would support Clinton over Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee.

They were not obsessed with her deeply hidden secret “corrupt feelings” – she can do the job and Trump cannot. He’s not normal, although Josh Marshall offers this:

Once you got past the febrile Hillary bashing, the most notable thing about the speech was how relatively normal it was.

He hit on some basic themes of economic nationalism, a less interventionist foreign policy. He even had a good turn of phrase skewering Hillary’s “I’m with her” slogans and shifting it to ‘I’m with you.’ All good politicians find ways to turn the natural personality cult of high level politics back to a focus on the individual voter. Trump’s not a natural electoral politician. He’s a natural rabble rouser. But this was an effective turn of phrase. He also followed up with the claim at least that last night’s email fundraising appeal brought in an impressive two million dollars.

So he did come close to something like normal:

Now is this an incredibly low bar? Yes, of course it is. I’m setting aside numerous lies, totally unsubstantiated claims, many of which might well amount to slander, even by the almost impossible standards which apply to public officials. Trump’s ability to lie without even the slightest pretense of covering his tracks or caring is unprecedented in modern presidential politics. But it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Trump did come closer to normal, but for a reason:

The answer is pretty obvious: Trump was using a TelePrompTer, which is to say it wasn’t him talking. In fact, pretty much all of Trumps TelePrompTer speeches have been this way. They’re kind of plodding. They’re clearly not him. But they’re also not crazy, which given who we’re talking about is not nothing. As I’ve argued, this is Trump’s singular liability in this campaign. People think he’s too erratic, crazy, belligerent, unhinged – pick your adjective – to be president. Relatedly, there are whole classes of citizens who think they’re at best second-class citizens in his eyes – women, Hispanics, blacks, basically anybody who’s not a white man.

Personally, I think Trump has likely done himself too much damage to be able to overcome these impressions, which let’s be clear, are entirely accurate impressions. Trump is a mercurial and emotional unstable racist and misogynist who is also a pathological liar.

That means nothing much changed with this speech:

Nicole Wallace, a former Bush White House Communications official said that the speech seemed pretty normal – maybe even good – but that wasn’t the point. Because you have to wait 24 hours to have any idea how a Trump speech went. Why? Because once Trump is cut loose from the TelePrompTer ball and chain, he’ll inevitably go on Hannity or O’Reilly and say something totally insane.

The struggle between ego and discipline will continue:

For me there are basic rules of thumb: Trump has very little money and Trump will always be Trump. I have no doubt he’ll be back to being Trump very soon. But there’s a family around him who may not care terribly about the presidency but cares a lot about their inheritance. There’s a massive GOP party infrastructure that at least wants to make this a competitive race. What I’ll be watching is how successful both those groups are in keeping Trump from being Trump in public as much as possible for the next several months. I doubt they’ll be able to do it. Remember, Trump will always be Trump. I also think too much damage has been done for it to be enough if they were able to. But that’s what I’m going to be watching.

America will be watching. This may be the first presidential election year where everyone is waiting to see whether one of the two major candidates is actually bat-shit crazy.

On the other hand, they could be watching this:

Rank-and-file Democrats on Wednesday laid siege to the House chamber for a daylong sit-in demanding votes to tighten the nation’s gun control laws, but House Republicans forced a late-night confrontation as Speaker Paul D. Ryan banged his gavel in an effort to resume regular legislative business.

It was a remarkable scene of pandemonium on the House floor. Democrats sought to shout down Mr. Ryan, chanting, “No bill! No break!” as they reiterated their demand for a vote on the gun measures before a weeklong recess for the July 4th holiday.

Democrats held up signs with the names of shooting victims. Some Republicans shouted in outrage, while Democrats began singing “We Shall Overcome,” altering the lyrics at times to sing, “We shall pass a bill some day.”

At one point, aides and colleagues appeared to physically restrain Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska, from approaching the chanting Democrats.

Democrats pressed against the front of the podium, waving their signs in front of Mr. Ryan. While he succeeded in reclaiming control over the chamber, at least for the purposes of a single vote, there was little doubt that the minority Democrats were the dominant force of the evening.

As Mr. Ryan exited the speaker’s chair, the Democrats shouted, “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

People are shouting that at Republicans a lot these days. Now it’s more than Donald Trump, who this day only edged closer to being somewhat normal, and didn’t quite get there. Expect more shouting.

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The Rationale Evaporates

Donald Trump will never release his tax returns. Maybe there were years when he paid no taxes at all, but for a real estate developer that wouldn’t be unusual. Some years you book big losses to make big bucks the next year – there are development costs before there are profits or any income at all. That can be explained, so something else might be going on – maybe Trump isn’t a billionaire after all. Proof of that would ruin everything. Trump would be just another angry old white man shouting at the scruffy kids to get off his lawn. Some believe that’s what’s going on here, but no one will ever know. Trump will never release his tax returns. Assume that he’s a billionaire, or don’t. Argue about that if you wish, but no one can prove anything, one way or the other. The argument is pointless. Had Elvis lived, would he have recorded an album with Taylor Swift? Argue about that.

But there is information out there. There’s the required monthly report to the Federal Election Commission on each campaign’s finances – what was spent on what, what came in, and net cash on hand at the end of the month. This is required by law and you can’t lie – you could go to jail for lying. Federal election laws were enacted to keep our elections clean – bribes and payoffs cannot be hidden. All money must be accounted for, and here’s where the Trump folks got hammered, as the Washington Post explains:

As top Republicans expressed astonishment and alarm over Donald Trump’s paltry campaign fundraising totals, the presumptive nominee blamed party leaders Tuesday and threatened to rely on his personal fortune instead of helping the GOP seek the cash it needs.

New campaign finance reports showing that Trump had less than $1.3 million in the bank heading into June ignited fears that the party will not be able to afford the kind of national field effort that the entire Republican ticket depends on.

Well, shit, but Trump pushed back:

The real estate mogul responded by going on the offensive, saying GOP fundraisers have failed to rally around his campaign.

“I’m having more difficulty, frankly, with some of the people in the party,” Trump said on NBC’s Today, adding, “They don’t want to come on.”

“If it gets to a point,” he said, “what I’ll do is just do what I did in the primaries,” when he lent his presidential campaign more than $43 million.

Note that that was a loan. His presidential campaign now owes him that forty-three million, to be paid back at a later date. He’s not going to be on the hook for any of this, but that’s not much help now:

The billionaire developer increased his line of credit to the campaign by an additional $2.2 million last month – the smallest amount he has shelled out this year – but Trump said in a statement Tuesday that “if need be, there could be unlimited cash on hand as I would put up my own money.”

It’s unclear how quickly he could access the hundreds of millions needed to finance a national campaign. In May, Trump suggested that to do so, he would have to “sell a couple of buildings.”

But there’s a problem with that:

If he did tap his wealth to finance his bid, it would effectively amount to abandonment of the Republican National Committee and the rest of the GOP ticket, which relies on the presidential nominee to help fund a national field organization for the fall elections.

He actually would be running as a third-party candidate, and no one is happy with any of this:

Top Republicans said Trump squandered the month of May by neglecting to capitalize on clinching the nomination to build and activate a grass-roots fundraising base.

There is also growing scrutiny of his heavy use of Trump-owned companies as vendors. Of the $63 million his campaign spent through May, more than $6 million – close to 10 percent – went to pay Trump properties or reimburse Trump and his family for expenses, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. That includes $4.6 million paid to his private jet company, TAG Air, and $423,000 that went just last month to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

So he essentially pays himself ten percent of whatever comes in, but, on the other hand, he’s not paying himself an actual salary – he’s just taking care of family and the businesses he owns, but there is this:

Meanwhile, expected Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been stockpiling cash. She raised more than $28 million in May and started June with $42 million in the bank. The former secretary of state has held a string of high-dollar fundraisers in the past several weeks, including three hosted by wealthy donors in New York on Monday night.

Cue the Republican despair:

Trump is “now looking into the abyss,” said Ed Rollins, the top strategist for Great America PAC, a pro-Trump super PAC. “He can either start writing checks and selling some buildings and golf courses or get on the phones and talk to donors. Big donors just don’t want to give money unless they have the opportunity to talk to the candidate, hear what your positions are. There’s just been a failure from start to finish on the fundraising side.”

Lisa Spies, a veteran GOP fundraising consultant, said she has been amazed at the lack of outreach from Trump.

“No donors that I deal with – and I deal with national Jewish and women donors – none of them has gotten a phone call. None. Not one,” Spies said. “To raise money, you have to ask for money. It’s that simple. Whether you ask for it by mail, whether you do phone calls, whether you do events, whether you have one-on-one meetings, you have to ask.”

Among those who had yet to receive a call was Fred Malek, the well-connected finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

“Many leading donors are waiting to see him take a more inclusive, tolerant and substantive approach to campaigning,” Malek said. “Even if they all came around with great enthusiasm, there’s no way in this short time frame that’s available he can build the kind of organization that will be competitive financially. There’s no way he can do it. Hillary Clinton’s been at this for several decades.”

One prominent Washington fundraiser who has played major roles on past Republican presidential campaigns said he has not heard of Trump reaching out to any of his peers.

“I have not been asked, and I don’t know anybody in town who has been asked,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to talk candidly. “There is absolutely no discernible presence in D.C. raising money on his behalf. And I’m guessing this is not unique to D.C. They are so [expletive] far behind the curve on so many things that are Campaign Organization 101, I find it inexplicable.”

There’s much more of this, but also this:

Trump on Tuesday sent what he touted as his first fundraising email. (It wasn’t: A joint fundraising committee he has with the RNC sent an email solicitation in his name on June 8.)

“I’m going to help make it the most successful introductory fundraising email in modern political history by personally matching every dollar that comes in WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS, up to $2 million!” Trump wrote in Tuesday’s missive.

Yeah, that’s an infomercial thing – order now and you get a second Sham-Wow free – and Paul Waldman points to the real problem here:

Let’s remember what the entire basis of the Trump candidacy is. Trump argues that he can fix America’s problems and make us great again. Why him? Because he’s rich, that’s why. That spectacular, tremendous, mind-boggling wealth is supposed to be proof of Trump’s innate brilliance, his superhuman negotiating skills, his unearthly management expertise. He might not be able to tell you the difference between Medicare and Medicaid or between the deficit and the debt, but he gets things done. If you doubt, just look at the size of his plane.

And now, piece by piece, that image is crumbling.

This is a core failure:

Trump spent decades working to build a brand that would be synonymous with success (which just happens to be the name of his cologne), and that’s what his supporters so often cite as one of the main reasons they’re attracted to him: He made all that money, he’s such a terrific businessman, so surely he can clean up Washington and do a great job on the economy. But now that he has come under more scrutiny than he ever faced before, the picture of Trump as a high-class magnate is being replaced with a different picture, one of a grifter always dancing one step ahead of bankruptcy court and concocting one failed scheme after another to separate people from their money. …

With his lack of experience in politics, people might not have expected Trump to devise the best voter contact strategy or delegate management operation. But if nothing else, at least he should have been able to assemble and oversee a well-run organization and raise a lot of money. Instead, he’s failing at exactly the things he’s supposed to be so good at.

Waldman also sees no easy recovery from this:

Think about how you’d feel if you were a big Republican donor considering whether to donate to Trump. You probably didn’t want him to be the party’s nominee in the first place. His campaign looks like a disaster. And yet he’s constantly saying he doesn’t need anyone’s money. So why would you break out your checkbook?

And then add this:

Trump is still counting on the media to save him. He doesn’t need as much money as a traditional candidate would, he believes, because of his unmatched ability to seize the attention of the media, leaving the Trump name on the lips of every TV watcher, radio listener and newspaper reader.

The problem with that strategy is that these days, media coverage of Trump consists largely of 1) him saying appalling things that turn off key segments of the electorate; 2) people criticizing him, even members of his own party; and 3) reports on more alarming stories from his past. And if you think we’ve seen the last of those, think again. At some point, there will be a reason for reporters to take a new look at things like the Trump Network (his vitamin-selling pyramid scheme), and it won’t be pretty. 

This was the kiss of death:

This may be just a period of bad news Trump will get past, and then regain his footing. But when the entire rationale for your campaign rests on your ability to obtain and manage money, stories like the ones we’re now seeing about Trump are likely to stick in people’s minds.

Josh Marshall notes how Trump decided to fight back:

It must be terrifying for any Republicans who were hoping that the firing of Corey Lewandowski presaged the debut of a new saner Trump. Faced with a Clinton campaign that has over $40 million in cash on hand and his own campaign that’s barely solvent with just over $1 million, Trump tells [MSNBC’s] Norah O’Donnell that the money Clinton has raised is “blood money.”

You can see the video here (there doesn’t seem to be an embeddable version). “Every time she’s raising money she’s making deals,” says Trump, before saying that he doesn’t want to spend his time raising money. “For all of the money she’s raising, that’s blood money.”

It’s classic Trump form – up the ante, go hyperbolic – but it looks more desperate when he’s losing and being abandoned by allies right and left.

Marshall is not impressed:

Trump seems to be groping his way back to his earlier “I’m self-funding, no one owns me” line. Only he’s not self-funding because he doesn’t have any money. He isn’t raising other people’s money because he’s either too proud or too lazy to ask real rich people for money. So his answer is a kind of penniless primal scream about “blood money.”

That’s the wrong thing to do:

What Trump needs, though it is uncertain how he’d manage it, is to rebrand, build a cocoon and reemerge, as a sane, emotionally balanced Republican who could leverage public uncertainty about Hillary Clinton and harness the inherent strengths of the party which hasn’t held the presidency in eight years. He desperately needs a public-perception-reset on the temperament front. But his impulse, which always rules him, is to channel every white guy over 50 who has spent twenty years gnashing his teeth for the opportunity to call Hillary a c#%t and developed hypertension for lack of an opportunity to say it to her face.

I can only imagine what this bodes for his big Hillary speech tomorrow.

Marshall explains that speech:

Trump has coyly announced a “speech regarding the election” tomorrow in New York. On Twitter he says it will be about “the failed policies and bad judgment of Crooked Hillary Clinton.” This was the speech that was preempted by the ‘I’m awesome; we’re all gonna die’ speech he gave the day after the massacre in Orlando. It will presumably be a massive anti-Hillary oppo-dump presented in the form of a speech.

Hillary murdered Vince Foster. Hillary said let our ambassador in Libya and those three others die in Benghazi. Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky! And so on and so forth, but Marshall sees a problem with all that:

Trump’s biggest liability at this point is the public’s congealing perception that Trump is an emotionally unstable, erratic liar who may voice certain genuine popular grievances but is just not a safe person to make president. That means that Trump’s biggest priority is to show that he’s normal, sane, balanced – someone remotely suitable to be president.

That’s a tough bill if you’re also trying to dramatically shake up the race or make news.

Even if Trump isn’t nuts and gives a polished, telepromptered speech, arguing his plans for a better America and the shortcomings of his opponent, that would probably go over like a lead balloon. Are you going to be certain to tune in to the next Hillary speech? No, because she’s normal. You have a sense of roughly what she’ll say. She’s not a train wreck that is impossible not to watch. Trump is. Unless he gets a lobotomy and gives a stolid and routine speech you might expect from someone demonstrating a temperament for the job.

That won’t happen. He cannot be boring. Why would anyone want to be boring? No one would vote for anyone who is boring, but that’s a trap:

To put it simply, the kind of drama and over-the-top style he needs, to grab attention and pivot the direction of the race, is in fact his greatest liability and what he most needs to change. That’s all of his own doing, the product of a year of impulsive acting out, playing to the emotions of the most aggrieved segments of the electorate. But there it is. He’s in a box.

It was obviously time to change the game, so that’s what he did:

Donald Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives who came to New York City on Tuesday with a somewhat skeptical but willing attitude toward a man who has divided their group with comments on women, immigrants and Islam. In his comments, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said he would end the decades-old ban on tax-exempt groups’ – including churches – politicking, called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and promised to appoint antiabortion Supreme Court justices.

“I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity – and other religions – is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it,” Trump said. A ban was put in place by President Lyndon Johnson on tax-exempt groups making explicit political endorsements. Religious leaders in America today, Trump said, “are petrified.”

As president, he said, he’d work on things including: “freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts. You talk about religious liberty and religious freedom, you don’t have any religious freedom if you think about it,” he told the group, which broke in many times with applause.

Throughout the talk Trump emphasized that America was hurting due to what he described as Christianity’s slide to become “weaker, weaker, weaker.” He said he’d get department store employees to say “Merry Christmas” and would fight restrictions on public employees, such as public school coaches, from being allowed to lead sectarian prayer on the field.

That was his sales pitch – make America Christian again – no anti-discrimination laws apply to Christians no matter what the Constitution says – and he was talking to the right people:

The audience included leaders and founders of many segments of the Christian Right, the evangelical movement that began in the 1970s under people including the late Jerry Falwell. Among those present and involved in the program Tuesday were Focus on the Family founder James Dobson (who is no longer with that group), former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and evangelist Franklin Graham (son of evangelical icon Billy Graham).

But nothing is that simple:

While polls show that the majority of evangelicals – who make up about a fifth of the country – are favorable toward Trump, his campaign has bitterly divided Christian conservatives in general. Those who oppose him do so strongly, and later Tuesday, a separate group of conservatives – including leading evangelicals – were meeting to strategize about a possible third candidate. Some leading Christian conservatives used the meeting to speak out against Trump and his comments about immigrants, women, Muslims and others.

“This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right,” Michael Farris, a national homeschooling pioneer and longtime figure of the Christian Right, wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday. He noted that he was present at the first gathering of the Moral Majority in 1980: “The premise of the meeting in 1980 was that only candidates that reflected a biblical worldview and good character would gain our support. … Today, a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng. … This is a day of mourning.”

Catholic conservative Robert George, former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a Princeton professor, declined to attend the meeting, saying that while he may think even lower of Hillary Clinton, he fears Trump will “in the end, bring disgrace upon those individuals and organizations who publicly embrace him. For those of us who believe in limited government, the rule of law, flourishing institutions of civil society and traditional Judeo-Christian moral principles, and who believe that our leaders must be persons of integrity and good character, this election is presenting a horrible choice. May God help us.”

Also Tuesday, Clinton picked up the endorsement of Deborah Fikes, well-known for her years as a leader with the National Association of Evangelicals and the World Evangelical Alliance.

Trump can’t catch a break, but he has his new committee:

At the end of the event, the campaign announced an “evangelical executive board,” which included 21 names: 20 men and one woman, former congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Others on the list included Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University and Reed.

None of them have any use for gay people, by the way. Trump’s outreach to the LGBT community – he’ll protect them from Muslims – just ended. And there was this:

Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s faith on Tuesday, claiming there’s “nothing out there” about the former secretary of state’s religious beliefs, according to a video captured by a conservative minister.

The video, taken by E.W. Jackson, a minister and former Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, appeared to show part of Trump’s private meeting with evangelical leaders in New York City. Trump went on the attack during the conversation, saying there’s no information out there about Clinton’s faith.

“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no – there’s nothing out there,” Trump says in the video. “There’s like nothing out there.”

That’s not quite true, but Trump was implying a bit more here:

Clinton has brought up several times on the campaign trail that she is a Methodist. But Trump seemed to imply during that whatever Clinton believes would be influenced by President Barack Obama’s faith. Trump, a notorious leader of the “birther” movement who pressured Obama to release his birth certificate in the run-up to the 2012 election, long implied that the President was secretly a Muslim.

“It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up,” he says in the video. “With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

No, she’s a Methodist – the quiet and unassuming and somewhat boring Christians – you know, a Methodist, like George W. Bush – unless she’s a secret Muslim. Methodists can be like that, or something. Trump just says things. The Republicans will just have to live with that.

Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio:

Hillary Clinton pounded away on Tuesday at Donald J. Trump’s business record and economic proposals, seeking to turn his claims of astounding financial success and genius against him and predicting a recession and global panic if he is elected president.

In a stern but earnest-sounding 45-minute speech at an education center garage here, Mrs. Clinton took care to intermingle the policy proclamations of Mr. Trump and his professed image as a business success of the highest order.

“Donald Trump has said he’s qualified to be president because of his business record,” Mrs. Clinton said. “A few days ago he said – and I quote – ‘I’m going to do for the country what I did for my business.’ So let’s take a look.”

Though she leveled predictable blows against various Trump-branded products, noting that many items – Trump ties, Trump steaks, Trump furniture – were made outside the United States, Mrs. Clinton’s most pointed refrains sought to depict Mr. Trump, her presumptive Republican opponent, as an enemy to the very people he had claimed to champion in the primary.

She checked off the stumbles of his casino business in Atlantic City; disparaged his companies’ bankruptcies (Mr. Trump’s many books about business “all seem to end at Chapter 11,” she joked); and insisted that his “one move” in business and politics was to make “over-the-top promises” and then let people down.

Mrs. Clinton invoked her father, who owned a small drapery business in Chicago, as she described Mr. Trump’s history of failing to pay painters, waiters, plumbers and other contractors who had completed work for him.

“My late father was a small-businessman,” she said. “If his customers had done what Trump did, my dad would never have made it. So I take this personally.”

She added, “This is not normal behavior.”

There’s much more, and this:

Mr. Trump, posting repeatedly on Twitter to counter Mrs. Clinton, said he planned to make his own “big speech” Wednesday to discuss her “failed policies and bad judgment.”

Yeah, we know, but add this:

On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Clinton’s team released a video, Bad Businessman, featuring clips of figures including Mitt Romney and Senators Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren insulting assorted Trump-branded ventures.

“What ever happened to Trump Airlines?” Mr. Romney asks in one excerpt, taken from a speech he made in March that struck a similar tone to Mrs. Clinton’s.

The campaign introduced a website,, detailing Mr. Trump’s checkered history in Atlantic City, his father’s role in bolstering his fortunes and his constellation of enterprises.

By early evening, Mr. Trump’s team had responded with its own site,, which was not immediately functional but would be in coming days, according to the campaign.

Trump’s new hard-hitting hit-back website wasn’t functional yet? Perhaps there were no funds to hire content-developers. There were no funds generally. Trump really is failing at exactly the things he’s supposed to be so good at. What is the rationale for his presidency again?

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The Woman in the Shadows

Summer began with another day of Trump news. Not only had he had a bad three weeks of blurting out offensive nonsense, ignoring easy opportunities to hammer Hillary Clinton a bit, resulting in the worst polls numbers anyone had ever seen for any presidential candidate in history, that led to a bit of what seemed like panic. The headline was this – Donald Trump Parts Ways With Corey Lewandowski, His Campaign Manager – and Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine had the inside story – After Months of Loyalty, Trump Finally Decided to Fire His Campaign Manager After a Bad Answer at a Meeting – who was mad at whom, and why, as if it mattered. The wheels were coming off.

Jamelle Bouie at Slate offered this – There Is No Donald Trump Campaign – detailed reporting on how they never even had much of a staff or really much of a plan. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo said that the real news was that Trump is broke – in spite of what he has claimed, he doesn’t have the liquid assets to fund even a tiny part of anything like a normal campaign, and he refuses to ask donors for money, because that would be to admit he doesn’t have much in the way of liquid assets – it was all a lie.

It was chaos, but one could make some sort of lemonade from these sour lemons:

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that Donald Trump firing campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky was a pivot in the right direction, and the type of “professionalization” will make Trump competitive against Hillary Clinton.

“There was a lot of loyalty but I think you get to the point where you say, look, we’ve got the presidency of the United States on the line. I think this pivot, this seriousness that you’re seeing right now, I think everyone should look at this and say ‘This is good.'”

Priebus also said that Paul Manafort, who will assume Lewandowski’s duties, is a “pro.”

Reince Priebus expects seriousness from Donald Trump, suddenly, starting now. We’ll see a whole new Donald Trump. What does Jakes Barnes say to Lady Brett Ashley at the end of The Sun Also Rises as absolutely everything has finally fallen apart? Isn’t it pretty to think so? Reince Priebus should re-read that novel of the famous Lost Generation – that’s what he’s looking at now.

Fred Hiatt probably has it right. It could be that Trump really doesn’t want to be president:

Last hope for the Republicans: Declare Donald Trump the winner at the convention in Cleveland next month, and then persuade him to go home.

This admittedly would be a delicate maneuver. Nothing like it has happened before. It could work, though, if, as many have believed all along, Trump does not really want to be president.

He wants to be elected, sure, but does he want to serve? He wants to be respected as the champion, but does he want the prize? If this were a beauty pageant, Trump would want the crown and the adoration but not the mandatory year of appearances at charity events and visits to the troops.

Just face the facts:

He seems to have no interest in doing the things that most candidates, and up until now all presidents, have had to do. Listen to advisers, for example. Have advisers. Read policy papers. Read anything but his own reviews.

Certainly there seems to be nothing that he particularly believes in as he campaigns for the White House. This is a man who admires Hillary Clinton one year, and considers her crooked the next; swears fealty to the National Rifle Association one month, and challenges its dogma the next; wants to punish women who have abortions one hour, and pardons them the next.

He believes in Trump. But is it fair or logical to force him to attend four years of NATO summit meetings just to have his faith in himself vindicated?

There’s an obvious solution to all this:

Anyone who has watched the candidate at a rally understands that what this campaign has really brought Trump is what he craves most: an audience. Finally, after years of feeling that his wisdom and humor were not receiving their due, Trump has people listening to him hour after hour, day after day, millions upon millions.

The GOP would have to crown Trump not just the winner, but also the Greatest Winner in the Land. The Winner in Chief! The Champion to End All Champions!

And then it would have to find some way to guarantee him an audience for the next four years. Partly that might just involve showing him the ratings for the president’s Saturday morning radio address. Partly it might require giving him his own radio or television show. In fact, Rupert Murdoch might have to give him a television network.

It would require, in other words, some sacrifices all around. It would not be easy to pull off. But it seems worth a try. Looked at from the point of view of Trump, the party and the nation, it would be a win-win-win.

That’s clever, and what Hiatt says of Trump rings true, and this cannot happen – the Republicans cannot make him an offer he can’t refuse and send him packing. They have no one else waiting in the wings. And it’s also maddening, because this was another day of the nation talking about Donald Trump, not the alternative the Democrats are offering, the woman in the shadows, Hillary Clinton.

Remember her? Trump calls her Crooked Hillary, but the speech he was to give, where he would explain, in amazing detail, exactly why he calls her that never happened. It got preempted by events in Florida, the massacre in Orlando. He and Hillary had to address that, and they did, and Slate’s Fred Kaplan saw this:

The Republican, Donald Trump, proved himself an empty suit with a loud mouth, a set of dangerously shallow ideas, and an ego enormous enough to mistake them for wisdom. Hillary Clinton delivered a very different sort of speech. She was measured and thoughtful, unifying in places and aggressive in others, scrupulous about getting the analysis and the action right. You might call it a “presidential” address.

Kaplan did see a president here:

The widespread wisdom is that Clinton is a hawk. A recent headline in the New York Times Magazine blared, “How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk,” as if the question of whether she is one had long ago been settled. But there are many species of hawks. What kind is she? Compared with her predecessor and her rival, will Hillary’s brand of hawkishness make us safer or less secure – raise or reduce the odds of plunging us into war?

And are these the right questions, or in any case the only ones, to ask? During one of her first briefings on China as secretary of state, Clinton asked, to the surprise of everyone in the room, highly detailed questions about several dam projects that Beijing had begun – referring to them by name – and wanted to know how neighboring India was reacting to them. “She understood that water resources were a national-security issue in the region,” the briefer recalls.

It was a small moment, but it reveals something important about how Clinton sees the world, beyond the hawk-dove binary. It suggests that, in much the same way she sees domestic policy as a series of interlocking problems, Clinton takes a more expansive view than most hawks (or doves) of what “national security” entails.

She actually thinks of these things, although she may be a bit trigger-happy:

In the high-level debates over war and peace in Obama’s first term, when she served as secretary of state, Clinton almost always aligned herself with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his generals. She supported their case for sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan (Obama reluctantly approved 30,000 and then only with a pullout-date attached). She advocated keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq (Obama decided to bring them all home, in part because an agreement signed by George W. Bush required a total withdrawal). She sided with Gen. David Petraeus’ plan to arm “moderate” rebels in Syria (Obama rejected the idea, concluding it would have little effect on Bashar al-Assad’s regime or much else).

The only issue on which Clinton parted ways with the Pentagon was Libya, and in that case, she was more hawkish: she favored armed intervention to help resistance fighters who wound up toppling Muammar Qaddafi, while Gates and the top brass opposed getting involved. 

But then there’s this:

She launched the “reset” with Russia (which accomplished a great deal, in nuclear arms-reduction and counterterrorism policies, until Vladimir Putin resumed control of the Kremlin). She was a champion of international women’s rights and children’s welfare, seeing these causes as vital for development, diplomacy, and global stability. She grasped the gravity of climate change earlier than most senior officials.

Even in her support for sending arms to Syrian rebels, one of her more conventionally hawkish positions, she opposed still more aggressive proposals to deploy tens of thousands of U.S. troops as an occupying force. And while she called for a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians, she linked the proposal to consultations with Russia, in order to minimize the risks of escalating conflict. (By contrast, some Republican presidential candidates who supported a no-fly zone salivated at the prospect of shooting down a Russian combat plane.) Similarly, on Libya, she called for armed intervention by a coalition, not by the United States alone.

So we get a bit of ambiguity:

It’s hard to predict how Hillary Clinton will act or make decisions when she’s the one who’s alone in the Oval Office. The calculations of a senator, or the arguments of a cabinet officer, are different from the deliberations of a commander-in-chief. Still, judging from the long record of her votes and recommendations, it’s fair to say that she is more hawkish than Obama – but less hawkish than, say, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, the neo-cons who surrounded President Bush, or nearly all the Republicans who ran for president this year, including Trump. Her stance lies somewhere in between the poles, though, in her case, that’s not the same as saying she’s middle-of-the-road.

“She’s not very shy about using military power,” says Kurt Campbell, her former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, now chairman and CEO of the Asia Group. “Some Democrats talk about using the military as a last resort. That’s not a natural way for her to think.” To Clinton, military force is but one of several tools of national power, and her mode of thinking, he says, involves “welding or integrating all of them together.”

That means this:

A hallmark of President Obama’s thinking, dating back at least to his 2009 Nobel address, has been an acknowledgment of the limits of American power, especially in the post-Cold War era of global fragmentation. By contrast, Campbell says of Clinton, “The idea of ‘limits of American power’ – that’s not in her. She was not humble about American power. She was always about leadership, took it as a given and a guiding star.”

Another former State Department official who worked with Clinton says, “She is inclined to take action – not necessarily military action, but she believes American inaction can leave a power vacuum, which could make us less safe in the long run.”

This is a key distinction between Obama and Clinton. Obama’s recognition of the limits of power, and his reluctance to act just for the sake of acting, has kept the nation from doing (as he put it) “stupid shit.” But this trait has also sometimes made him appear ambivalent, an apt pose for a scholar-statesman but riskily indecisive for a president. Clinton’s confidence in American power may make her look more resolute as president – but it may also lead the nation more determinedly into war.

All that is hypothetical, but Kaplan saw how it became real in her response to Orlando:

In her speech in Cleveland on June 13, the day after the Orlando shootings, Clinton first noted that not all the facts were yet known about the shooter, Omar Mateen (was he inspired by ISIS or a troubled, violent homophobe who used jihadist social media as an excuse to vent his self-hatred?) and she invoked the fundamental unity and tolerance of American society. Then she laid out her plan for defeating ISIS. It involved “ramping up the air campaign” in Syria and Iraq, “accelerating support” for Arab and Kurdish soldiers on the ground, pressing ahead with the diplomatic efforts to settle sectarian political divisions, and “pushing our partners in the region to do even more,” not least pressuring the Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis to stop funding extremist organizations. At home, she called for an “intelligence surge,” upping the budgets of intelligence and law enforcement agencies, improving their coordination on a local and federal level, working with Silicon Valley to track and analyze jihadist recruiters on social media networks, and working with responsible leaders in Muslim neighborhoods (rather than alienating them by suggesting – as Trump did, in his speech on the same day – that all American Muslims are somehow complicit in the actions of extremists).

Some of these proposals are new, especially the “intelligence surge,” and seem tailored to the evolving domestic threats. …

As for the military and diplomatic aspects of her plan, these are things Obama has been doing for some time. (I asked some of Clinton’s advisers to clarify what she meant by “ramping up the air campaign” and “accelerating support” for ground forces – where, by how much, to what end? – but responses were vague.) The fact is, nobody quite knows how to deal with an organization like ISIS in a region like the modern Middle East, where the jihadists’ most natural and most powerful enemies are unable to fight together because they fear and loathe one another more than they fear and loathe ISIS.

She and Obama seem to agree on that, that this is complicated, even if that other guy doesn’t think so:

Their common ground is highlighted by their common, stark contrast with Donald Trump. The “rules-based order” that Clinton and Obama both cherish holds no interest for Trump; nor does he seem to know anything about its history, its institutions, or its value to American security.

Trump has said that, as president, he would torture suspected terrorists and murder their families, reflecting an indifference or hostility to international law. His idea for beating ISIS is to “bomb the shit out of them” (not realizing, or perhaps caring, that ISIS fighters live among innocent civilians, whose killing by U.S. air power would rouse their friends and relatives into alliance with the jihadists), to ban all Muslims from entering our borders (unaware that this would energize jihadist propaganda), and – in his post-Orlando speech – to throw Muslim American citizens in jail if they don’t report their suspicious neighbors. Trump dismisses NATO as “obsolete” and says, with a shrug, that he’d abandon allies in Europe and Asia if they didn’t pony up more money for their defenses, even if our withdrawal would prompt them to develop their own nuclear arsenals. Yet he also believes that, all on his own, he can negotiate “great deals” – of what sort, he’s never specified – with Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. …

Trump is neither hawk nor dove, but rather some vague mutant hybrid – part isolationist, part international hoodlum – at once a byproduct and aggravator of the era’s teeming resentment, rage, and incipient global anarchy.

The woman that no one is talking about is none of that:

Clinton is less a hawk or a dove than a traditionalist, and a cautious one at that. Amid the exuberance of the Arab Spring and the street protests in Cairo, she advised against cutting off Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, fearing that his successors might be worse. Had she remained secretary of state in Obama’s second term, she probably wouldn’t have stretched out the ill-fated Israeli-Palestinian talks for as long as John Kerry did; yet she might also not have stuck so long with the Iran nuclear talks, which resulted in a remarkable deal that she now fully supports. On the occasions when she called for the use of force, she usually did so in the context of an alliance or coalition, and for the purpose of upholding a regional order rather than toppling one.

She is not Donald Trump, but then she did vote for the war in Iraq:

She has a genuinely strategic mind. Just as she sees the linkages between development and stability, water resources and national security, she understands that diplomatic pursuits require leverage and that leverage often entails a display (with an implied threat) of force. But Iraq stands as a case in point where strategic thinking of this sort can overcomplicate matters. Even aside from the errors in her assumptions (that Iraq had a WMD program and that Bush was really interested in using the Senate vote as a lever for diplomacy), she downplayed – perhaps evaded – the flip side of her calculations: What if Bush had tried to persuade Saddam to readmit the inspectors and Saddam still refused? Would that have been reason enough to invade? Given its risks and America’s competing priorities in the region, was war the wise course? Her vote – and her long delay in expressing regret for the vote – suggests that she thought it was. As president, would she exert leverage against some other nations, in an attempt to prod their leaders to accept her demands or alter their behavior -and take the slippery slide to war if they don’t?

Maybe not:

For instance, when it came to drone strikes, the Obama administration’s preferred instrument of military power, she was sometimes more cautious than the president, less prone to favor an attack. As a matter of protocol, when the CIA proposes secret drone strikes in a foreign country, the State Department is given a chance to weigh in. On the occasions when the U.S. ambassador in a country (usually Pakistan) advised that a strike’s location, timing or target would have politically disruptive consequences, Clinton opposed the attack. When David Petraeus was CIA director, he ceded to Clinton’s judgment in those cases and called the strike off. …

Finally, there’s the case of Obama’s most dramatic decision: the very high-level debate over whether to order the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. It was a question racked with dilemmas and uncertainties; the intelligence agencies were divided over whether Bin Laden was really even there. Clinton filled a legal pad, listing the many pros and cons of acting or not acting. She came down in favor of the raid, but just barely. Her position wasn’t that of an impetuous, adventurous hawk; it was precisely the same position as Obama’s.

The president and his former secretary of state are also speaking in harmony, if not unison, in the wake of Orlando. Notwithstanding her tendency to do more, faster, stronger, the approach she’s prescribed is very similar to his. It’s an approach based on analyzing the facts, understanding the vital role of allies (at home and abroad), and grasping the motives of terrorist groups, what makes their recruitment drives appealing, and what responses from the West might intensify or slacken their appeal.

So there is a choice here:

The difference between Clinton and Trump is the same as the difference between Obama and Trump: It’s the difference between someone who has a sophisticated knowledge of international relations (granting that this doesn’t always lead to the most successful policies) and someone who has no knowledge whatsoever.

Why are we talking about Trump firing his angry thug of a campaign manager? We could be talking about what the Associated Press’ Jon Gambrell notes here:

In the wake of the Orlando killings this week, Hillary Clinton had harsh words for America’s Gulf allies, criticizing them for funding institutions that radicalize young Muslims.

“It is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations,” the presumptive Democratic Party nominee told an Ohio crowd. “And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path toward extremism.”

These were not the kind of incendiary political comments common for her Republican rival Donald Trump – no proposed bans, no generalizations, no stereotypes. But they did provide a window into how a President Clinton might approach the combustible, complex Middle East: polite but harsh truth-telling, with specifics, delivered as if among friends.

That sort of thing matters:

Tellingly, the comments were received without protest from most regional leaders who consider the messenger as much as the message. However, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in Washington on Friday that his government has tight control over charitable giving and has designated entities and individuals suspected of terror finance. He also said that it’s unfair to point a finger at Saudi Arabia if a mosque that it funded years ago begins advocating intolerance and violence.

From her time as first lady to her globe-hopping travel as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, Clinton has formed first-name relationships in the region.

That helps in a region largely dominated by the decades-long reigns. Such continuity can offer comfort and even open minds to criticism.

“She’s very personal, unlike Obama,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University. “They value the strategic relationship, but they value more the personal approach.”

Offer comfort and even open minds to criticism. She might be pretty good at this “president” thing, even better than Obama. And Donald Trump just fired his thug of a campaign manager. Why are we even talking about Donald Trump? There is this woman in the shadows.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another American Sunday

Perhaps one shouldn’t watch the Sunday morning political talk shows, but Meet the Press and Face the Nation have been around for many decades, and now there are many others – and how else are you going to find which way the nation is heading? Such shows book the current movers and shakers, and those who will soon lead us, and those that will do anything to stop them. This is the closest thing we have to an agora – the public square in ancient Greece where the people hashed things out in detailed debate. There’s no way to do that on Twitter. Want to know what’s coming next? This is where you’re likely to discover that.

Sometimes it isn’t pleasant:

Donald J. Trump on Sunday renewed his call for the United States to consider profiling as a preventive tactic against terrorism in the aftermath of the mass shooting last week in Orlando, Fla.

“I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense,” Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Trump issued a similar call in December after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., which left 14 people dead and more than 20 injured.

Yeah, his idea, which is also presumably the idea of the angry Republican base and a few independent voters, is to round up and isolate anyone of a certain religion, and watch them, but this is nothing new:

Profiling has been an occasional theme of the Trump campaign. In addition to his most recent comments, Mr. Trump has discussed increased surveillance of Muslims and mosques, and has said that he would consider registering Muslims in a special database or requiring that they carry cards that identify them as Muslim.

He hasn’t suggested badges for easy identification, like the little yellow Star-of-David patches Hitler had Jews wear in Holland and the Netherlands long ago, but it kind of is the same sort of thing. And some people love that sort of thing, although not Jews back then or American Muslims now, or this woman:

Loretta Lynch, the US attorney general, declined to directly respond to Trump’s remarks. But following him as a guest on the show, she noted: “We look into everything – we look into everyone’s community.” Coordination with those communities, Muslim or any other, is a critical component to all federal terror investigations, she added.

Work with them to help catch the bad guys – they really can help, and as Americans, want to – or badge and isolate and watch every single one of them very carefully – any one of them could be a terrorist – you never know. Which will it be? Donald Trump has made this another debate it seems we must have.

Fine, but some people don’t like the debates this man has suggested:

Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, legendary journalist Carl Bernstein ripped into presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling him America’s first major party “neofascist.”

The former Washington Post reporter who was part of the team that uncovered the Watergate scandal in the 70s offered a very harsh assessment of Trump, saying “very little truth that comes out of his mouth.”

Trump has “shown himself throughout this campaign to be a pathological liar,” Bernstein stated. “There’s very little truth that comes out of his mouth, so let’s start there.”

“Really, this is about a candidate for president of the United States who does not believe in a free press,” he exclaimed. “He keeps talking about changing libel laws and suing the press and has instituted many, many lawsuits throughout his career. The underlying story here is who is Donald Trump? And I will say, and have said, that we are seeing the nominee of a major political party for the first time in our history, who is a neofascist, a particular kind of neofascist – a strong man who doesn’t believe in democratic institutions.”

Carl Bernstein is big on having a functioning free press, but he could have as easily been talking about the isolate-and-watch-the-Muslims thing. Trump doesn’t seem big on democratic institutions in general, but he has his fans – that’s America for you.

The odd thing is that this was the same Sunday morning he lost one of his biggest fans. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, who knows him personally and just likes the guy, had finally had enough:

He won’t pivot. So I have to.

Having seen Donald Trump as a braggadocious but benign celebrity in New York for decades, I did not regard him as the apotheosis of evil. He seemed more like a toon, a cocky huckster swanning around Gotham with a statuesque woman on his arm and skyscrapers stamped with his brand. I certainly never would have predicted that the Trump name would be uttered in the same breath as Hitler, Mussolini and scary menace, even on such pop culture staples as “The Bachelorette.”

She hadn’t thought he was all that bad:

Trump jumped into the race with an eruption of bigotry, ranting about Mexican rapists and a Muslim ban. But privately, he assured people that these were merely opening bids in the negotiation; that he was really the same pragmatic New Yorker he had always been; that he would be a flexible, wheeling-and-dealing president, not a crazy nihilist like Ted Cruz or a mean racist like George Wallace. He yearned to be compared to Ronald Reagan, a former TV star who overcame a reputation for bellicosity and racial dog whistles to become the most beloved Republican president of modern times.

Trump was applying his business cunning, Twitter snarkiness and bendy relationship with the truth to his new role as a Republican pol. The opposition was unappetizing: Cruz, a creepy, calculating ideologue; Marco Rubio, a hungry lightweight jettisoning his old positions and mentor; Chris Christie, a vindictive bully; Jeb Bush, a past-his-sell-by-date scion.

When Trump pulled back the curtain on how Washington Republicans had been stringing their voters along for years with bold promises, like repealing Obamacare, that they knew had no chance, it was a rare opportunity to see them called out. And when Trump was blunt about how cheaply you could buy and sell politicians in both parties, it made this town squirm.

She loved it. She likes to call Obama “Bambi” – only strong break-the-rules alpha males seem to appeal to her – but now she knows a Trump scam when she sees one:

Before his campaign became infused with racial grievance, victimhood and violence, Trump told me, “I have fun with life and I understand life and I want to make life better for people.” If he had those better angels, he didn’t listen to them. Seduced by the roar of the angry crowd, Trump kept dishing out racially offensive comments about “my African-American,” a black man he spotted at a California rally; the “Mexican” judge on the Trump University case; and the “Afghan” who committed the atrocities in Orlando. Mitt Romney is right that Trump’s rhetoric causes “trickle-down racism” and misogyny. The Washington Post had a front-page story on Friday about the vulgarities freely directed at Hillary Clinton by men and women at Trump rallies.

Trump told me he could act like the toniest member of high society when he wanted, and he would as soon as he dispatched his GOP rivals. He said his narcissism would not hinder him as he morphed into a leader. But he can’t stop lashing out and doesn’t get why that turns people against him.

That’s the flaw here:

Everything is filtered through his ego. He reacted to Orlando not as a tragedy so much as a chance to brag about “the congrats” he got for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

He’s history to her:

Trump shocked himself by shooting to the top of the Republican heap. It was like watching a bank robber sneak into a bank, only to find all the doors unlocked. But like Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin, Trump refused to study up on policy. So he has been unable to marry his often canny political instincts with some actual knowledge.

He has made some fair points. A lot of our allies do take advantage of us. Our trade deals have left swaths of America devastated. And it was a positive move to propose a meeting with the NRA on gun control for people on the terrorist watch list. But his fair points are getting outnumbered by egregious statements and nutty insinuations, like suggesting that President Obama is tolerant of ISIS attacks, an echo of the kooky birther campaign that he led, suggesting that Obama wasn’t qualified to be president.

Now Trump’s own behavior is casting serious doubt on whether he’s qualified to be president.

No one expected Dowd to abandon Trump, but she just did. If he had those better angels, he certainly didn’t listen to them:

Donald Trump argued again that the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., could have been less deadly had people in the gay nightclub been able to shoot back.

At a rally in The Woodlands, Texas, Friday night, Trump theatrically said he wished the shooter, Omar Mateen, would have been taken down by an armed Pulse clubgoer.

“If we had people with the bullets going in the opposite direction – right smack between the eyes of this maniac,” Trump said, pointing in a gun gesture to his forehead. “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle, and this son of a bitch comes out and starts shooting, and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes boom, boom, you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks. That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight.”

Hey, who doesn’t want to see a man having his brains blown out, right in front of your eyes? You don’t? What’s wrong with you? That may be another debate that Trump is now opening, although by Sunday morning, he had shifted that topic a bit:

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is reaffirming his stance on potentially restricting individuals on the terror watch list from being able to purchase firearms, a week after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

“We have to make sure that people that are terrorists or have even an inclination toward terrorism cannot buy weapons, guns,” Trump told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl in an interview to air Sunday on “This Week.”

Asked by Karl if his position is that those on the no-fly or terror watch list should not be able to purchase a gun, Trump responded, “I’d like to see that, and I’d like to say it. And it’s simpler. It’s just simpler.”

In a tweet Wednesday, Trump announced he would meet with the NRA to discuss banning those on the terror watch list or no fly list from buying guns.

They haven’t met yet, probably because they told him he hadn’t thought this through:

Trump says he understands the NRA wants to protect the Second Amendment, and that creating a gun ban for those on the no-fly list may deny those individuals their Second Amendment rights without due process.

“Now, but what they say, and I understand that also, is the Second Amendment, they’re depriving them of those rights. And that it could be that people are on there that shouldn’t be on, you know, etc. etc.,” Trump said.

“I’ll talk to them,” Trump added. “I understand exactly what they’re saying. You know, a lot of people are on the list that that really maybe shouldn’t be on the list and you know their rights are being taken away so I understand that.”

What did we learn Sunday morning? He’s making this up as he goes, and Sunday morning the NRA got on his case about that other thing:

The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist and political strategist on Sunday pointed to radical Islamic terrorism in the wake of the massacre at an Orlando, Fla. nightclub, saying there is a “serious problem in this country.”

“What happened in Orlando was heartbreaking. Our prayers go out to those families, everybody impacted,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We have a serious problem in this country, a catastrophic situation. It has nothing to do with firearms. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment or even gun control and it has everything to do with radical Islamic terrorists.”

Yeah, yeah, but Trump did screw up:

Cox said the Pulse nightclub’s gun-free-zone policy didn’t prevent Omar Mateen from “mowing down innocent people.”

Cox, however, said he does not want people drinking at a nightclub armed to the teeth.

“What Donald Trump has said is what the American people know is commonsense, that if somebody had been there to stop this faster, fewer people would have died. That’s not controversial, that’s commonsense,” he said.

“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms. That defies commonsense. It also defies the law. It’s not what we’re talking about here,” he added.

They really were ganging up on him on this:

Efforts by Democrats to introduce new gun control legislation amount to little more than a smoke screen intended to shift attention away from failed policy to combat terrorism, National Rifle Association Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre said Sunday.

“What happened this past week is the president, the whole gun ban movement said look over here, divert your attention, take your eyes off the problem,” LaPierre told John Dickerson on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“They don’t want to face the embarrassment of their failure in this terrorist area, and they want to cover their butts and not talk about it.”

LaPierre pointed to a measure introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would notify law enforcement should a suspected terrorist attempt to buy a weapon as an acceptable compromise, but noted concerns voiced by FBI Director James Comey that stopping a terrorist from purchasing a weapon could actually alert that terrorist that he or she is under investigation.

Yeah, yeah, but Trump did screw up:

Trying to fight terrorism with gun control legislation is like “trying to stop a freight train with a piece of Kleenex,” LaPierre said, arguing that terrorists in California and Paris used firearms to kills dozens of people in places with strict gun laws. He called for armed security in vulnerable targets like malls, churches and schools but stopped short of suggesting that people in bars and nightclubs, like the one where 49 people were shot in Orlando, should be carrying guns.

“I don’t think we should have firearms where people are drinking,” he told Dickerson.

Later, the NRA attempted to clarify LaPierre’s remarks in a post to Twitter. It’s fine to carry a gun in a restaurant or bar that serves alcohol, the NRA wrote on LaPierre’s behalf, but not if you plan to drink.

Digby (Heather Parton) senses something odd is going on here:

I didn’t think the NRA believed guns were inappropriate anywhere. In fact, LaPierre’s the one who popularized the fatuous bumper sticker, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I didn’t think it mattered whether the bad guys and the good guys are boozing.

In the past the NRA has helped with legislation in various states to allow guns in bars. I don’t know if they have decided not to do it anymore. But it’s the wording that makes me think something may have changed. In the past, they have simply said that if you carry a gun into a bar you should not drink alcohol. In that statement, LaPierre said he didn’t think there should be firearms where people are drinking. That’s not the same thing.

It’s hard to believe we’re even talking about this. Carrying guns in bars is completely daft, needless to say. And LaPierre may have just been speaking off the cuff and the NRA’s position hasn’t really changed. But he’s usually pretty careful with his words so it’s at least possible. It’s not much but maybe the pressure is starting to make them budge a little bit.

It was an odd Sunday morning in America, but the Washington Post’s E. J. Dionne does suspect that something is changing:

The contradictions of the gun lobby’s worldview are not new, but it has taken a terrorist hate crime at an Orlando nightclub to force even the most slavish congressional followers of the National Rifle Association to rethink whether they can continue to resist every effort, however modest, to prevent violence.

This really shouldn’t be as hard as they have made it:

Those of us who have long favored what we typically call “common-sense gun laws” – including background checks, an assault weapons ban and restrictions on the ability of terrorism suspects and the mentally unstable to buy guns – have always seen the absolutists’ position as nonsensical. This is why we consider our ideas “common-sense.” Judging by most of the polls, a majority of the country agrees with us.

The truth is we already accept the need to subject the right to bear arms to reasonable restrictions. Otherwise, we would repeal laws regulating the ownership of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. (Imagine the bumper sticker: “If RPGs are outlawed, only outlaws will have RPGs.”)

Those on our side of this debate cannot understand how earlier horrors, particularly the mass murder of children at Sandy Hook, did not change the hearts and minds of our opponents. Surely something is terribly wrong with laws that make such mass killings routine in the United States in a way they are nowhere else in the democratic world. But even very moderate legislation was defeated.

But then there was the special case of the Florida massacre:

What makes Orlando different is the clash the attack revealed between two powerful impulses of contemporary conservatism: the reflexive hostility to gun restrictions and the incessant assertion that we must do what it takes to protect the United States from terrorism. If you believe the second, you really can’t believe the first. This has always been true, but the murder of 49 people by a terrorist made the incongruity so stark that Donald Trump was moved to suggest he would talk to the NRA about ways to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.

One can be skeptical about whether Trump will go beyond the NRA’s ineffectual solutions to the problem. But Trump’s verbal shift was a telltale sign of an intellectual system that is crumbling.

The signs of that are there now:

The demoralization of one side in a debate is often accompanied by new energy on the other. This is why the Senate filibuster last week to force votes on gun restrictions led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was so important.

There was power to Murphy’s witness itself, coming as it did from a politician whose constituents include the families who suffered grievously at Sandy Hook. And his rejection of business as usual showed that the long accumulation of massacres has broken the patience of those demanding action. It was a signal that advocates of sane gun laws have moved off the defensive.

Since the NRA-inspired backlash against the gun laws passed in the 1990s, Democrats have been paralyzed by the fear that taking a strong stand on guns would be electorally hazardous. The rallying to Murphy and also Hillary Clinton’s aggressive use of the gun issue in her presidential campaign suggest that the toll taken by mass shootings is changing this political calculus.

After Orlando, it’s the gun-sanity rejectionists who are feeling the pressure.

So, perhaps, this calls for moderate hope:

It takes time for new political realities to take hold. The gun lobby still has many obedient followers in Congress. The Republican Party is still dominated by those who will do whatever the NRA tells them to do. Nonetheless, even the most fervently held dogma is not immune to reality and logic. The collapse of the opposition to reasonable steps toward making us a safer country may not happen all at once. But it is in sight.

That is why people watch or at least follow those Sunday morning political talk shows. Are any new political realities taking hold? Are reality and logic now in vogue? Is an inherently contradictory intellectual system finally crumbling? Will Donald Trump’s hair explode?

There’s always hope. There’s always another Sunday.

Posted in Donald Trump, NRA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Those Missing Strawberries

The second highest-grossing movie in America in 1954 was The Caine Mutiny – Humphrey Bogart as the unstable and periodically paranoid Captain Phillip Francis Queeg, brought in by the Navy to restore discipline on the Caine, a minesweeper in our Pacific war with Japan. The previous captain had been too loose and goofy.

Queeg was supposed to fix that but it turned out he was incredibly thin-skinned and saw conspiracies everywhere. When a crate of fresh strawberries go missing from the officers’ mess, Queeg is convinced that some sailor has made a duplicate key to the food locker and orders the crew strip-searched to find it. That’s the final straw. Queeg wasn’t that good at the actual Navy stuff anyway – so the officers, led by Fred MacMurray as Lieutenant Tom Keefer, relieve him of his command under Article 184 of Navy Regulations – mental incapacity.

The rest of the film is their court martial. Everyone gets cold feet and now says Queeg was fine, trying to pin this all on poor Fred MacMurray and save their skins – but then Queeg falls apart on the witness stand, blithering about those missing strawberries. Humphrey Bogart gets to chew the scenery, as they say – he wants that Oscar – and no one is convicted of mutiny. Case closed.

The guy was nuts after all – but the mutineers end up hating each other’s guts. This is no way to run a Navy and there is such a thing as loyalty – unless loyalty in this case was cowardice. Who’s to say? The mad captain was finally gone, but the mutual recriminations and distrust among the officers who made that happen would never go away. Fade to black.

It did fade to black – this movie is pretty much forgotten now. It was workmanlike but no more. The actors hit their marks and did what was required of them – but someone may reinsert this dated and depressingly obvious movie in rotation on basic cable now, because it’s playing out in our politics. The Republican Party is the Caine and Donald Trump is Captain Queeg – the new captain with a gruff way of doing things, who will slap people around and make things right again, but incredibly thin-skinned and a guy who sees conspiracies everywhere. All that’s missing are the strawberries.

As the Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports, they do have their mutiny:

Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer’s party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

The moves come amid declining poll numbers for Trump and growing concern among Republicans that he is squandering his chance to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several controversies – including his racial attacks on a federal judge, his renewed call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and his support for changing the nation’s gun laws – have raised fears among Republicans that Trump is not really a conservative and is too reckless to run a successful race.

Invoke Article 184 of Navy Regulations – mental incapacity – because more and more of the ship’s officers now see that:

Given the strife, a growing group of anti-Trump delegates is convinced that enough like-minded Republicans will band together in the next month to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want at the convention, regardless of who won state caucuses or primaries.

The new push is being run by people who can actually make changes to party rules, rather than by pundits and media figures that have been pining for a Trump alternative.

And have Paul Ryan play the Fred MacMurray part:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who is slated to chair the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland, said in remarks released Friday that House Republicans should follow their consciences on whether to support Trump.

“The last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience,” Ryan said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air Sunday.

Ryan has endorsed Trump. But his use of the word “conscience” could prove helpful to delegates organizing the anti-Trump campaign because they are seeking to pass a “conscience clause” that would unbind delegates and allow them to vote for anyone.

Captain Queeg will have none of this:

In a statement Friday, Trump dismissed the plots against him.

“I won almost 14 million votes, which is by far more votes than any candidate in the history of the Republican primaries,” he said. “I have tremendous support and get the biggest crowds by far and any such move would not only be totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying.”

That may be so, and this may be a close-run thing:

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer responded in a statement, saying: “Donald Trump bested 16 highly qualified candidates and received more primary votes than any candidate in Republican Party history. All of the discussion about the RNC Rules Committee acting to undermine the presumptive nominee is silly. There is no organized effort, strategy or leader of this so-called movement. It is nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets.”

Delegates involved in the effort disagree, but their plans face steep difficulties and would require rapid coordination among the thousands headed to Cleveland next month. Previous attempts to field a Trump opponent or to use convention rules to stop him have quickly fizzled, but the new fight revives the possibility of a contested convention.

Okay, the odds are long, but the ship’s officers are mutinying:

Other top Republicans, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), said this week that they will not back Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he’s not ready to support Trump. And Richard Armitage, a deputy secretary of state in George W. Bush’s administration who is close with other members of the party’s national security establishment, announced that he plans to vote for Clinton if Trump is nominated.

Some of Trump’s top surrogates, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), have struggled to explain Trump’s policy positions and defend his statements and proposals in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando.

“This isn’t going to go away,” warned Cecil Stinemetz, a delegate from Iowa participating in the new campaign. “Trump or others might say that these are just little groups who won’t do anything and it’ll fizz out – that’s not going to happen. Trump just continues to embarrass himself and his party, and this is not going to let up.”

Invoke Article 184, as the ship’s first officer has just walked away:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has made clear he doesn’t agree with a proposal put forward by Donald Trump – whom Ryan has endorsed – to ban Muslim immigration into the United States, but in an interview with the Huffington Post Thursday, Ryan floated taking a President Trump to court if he tried to implement such a ban or some of his other controversial proposals unilaterally.

“I would sue any president that exceeds his or her powers,” Ryan said in a back-and-forth about Trump’s claims that he could implement a Muslim ban or build a Mexican border wall without congressional approval.

The Republican-controlled House would sue a sitting Republican president? That is what Ryan said, and he also said this:

In the interview, Ryan said his endorsement of real estate mogul did not give Trump “a blank check,” and that he was still trying to achieve “real unity” between the presumptive nominee and his caucus.

He doesn’t sound hopeful, but he’s been warned – Sean Hannity Threatens Paul Ryan: “It’s Time to Get a New Speaker” If You Won’t Support Trump – and you don’t mess with Fox News.

That was a threat, but this is spreading:

The co-chair for Donald Trump’s U.S. House Leadership Committee played defense on Thursday, insisting he was “not a surrogate” and shouldn’t have to answer for everything the real estate tycoon says.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was one of the first congressmen to endorse Trump and was tasked by the campaign with ginning up support for the presumptive GOP nominee on Capitol Hill. Yet he distanced himself from the candidate on Thursday when confronted with a group of reporters on his way off the House floor.

“I am not a surrogate,” Hunter told The Hill later that afternoon, explaining why he refused to answer their questions about Trump. “I am a congressman. I can’t speak for anybody else but me.”

“Everybody’s asking me to explain all these things that he said,” Hunter continued. “Some of these things, I don’t know what Donald Trump is thinking. … I don’t know where Donald Trump is coming from.”

This is a change:

After Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was criticized for grabbing a reporter’s arm in March, Hunter’s chief of staff said the incident had “no influence” on Hunter’s support for the candidate. More recently, he defended Trump’s attacks on the “Mexican heritage” of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, affirming Trump’s false claim that Curiel was a member of a pro-Mexican civil rights group.

Though Hunter claims that he doesn’t know what Trump is thinking, he is among the group of supporters now receiving daily talking points from the campaign, according to a May New York Times Magazine story.

Still, Hunter told The Hill that there were some Trump comments that were simply “unexplainable” and he felt no obligation to try to parse them. One example, Hunter said, was the “stuff about U.S. military taking money.”

“I don’t know what he meant by that,” he added.

Trump this week claimed that American troops in Iraq embezzled millions of dollars, though his spokeswoman Hope Hicks later said he was referring to Iraqi soldiers.

Of course he never mentioned Iraqi soldiers at all – but Hope Hicks seemed to be saying that everyone knew what he meant, and those who merely and maliciously relied on what he actually said were trying to slander him or something. There are new rules all the time.

There’s also new worry:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been quietly having conversations with state party leaders to discuss the latest push by convention delegates to nominate anyone other than Donald Trump.

Priebus has spoken with GOP party chairmen in multiple states in recent days in part to get a better sense of how large the anti-Trump faction is among their convention delegations, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

While Priebus has made clear in these conversations that he is not spearheading the latest push for a coup, his involvement sends a signal that the RNC is taking this effort to dump Trump seriously even as other movements have fizzled.

One source said Priebus’ ultimate goal is unclear. But some anti-Trump forces are hoping to garner enough support to press the convention’s rules committee to alter the rules governing the convention and open a path for a different candidate.

Reince Priebus wants to know how widely this mutiny has spread. He’s got a mess on his hands, and Josh Marshall explains why:

It’s not just that Trump isn’t doing well. He’s barely running a campaign at all.

He’s spent the last six weeks in an erratic barrage of self-inflicted wounds and petulant attacks on people who he needs to be critical allies. Any other candidate would be spending this time fleshing out a campaign team – usually bringing in the best operatives from the defeated primary challengers – developing campaign themes focused on the Democrats’ nominee, raising and stockpiling money. These may not be exciting tasks but they are the critical work of standing up a national campaign, which is one part flash mob, one part Fortune 500 Corporation. It’s a big, big thing that takes a lot of managerial work to set up.

Others might do it well or poorly. But Trump isn’t doing any of it. There’s a Politico story out today about how the RNC gave him the names of twenty big GOP donors to call. He got bored or frustrated and stopped after calling three. And this comes after deciding that he actually doesn’t need to raise a billion dollars.

Perhaps he should be relieved of command:

Almost every day since he clinched the nomination almost six weeks ago has been a surreal tour through Trump’s damaged psyche – the insecurities, silly feuds, the mix of self-serving lies and attacks on people he’s supposed to be courting or justifying a supposed refusal to do things he finds himself actually unable to do (raise a billion dollars). More than anything he’s attacking almost everyone but the person he’s running against – and that, not terribly effectively. The major themes of his campaign appear to be racist “Mexican” judges, his ability to predict terror attacks and the inevitable destruction of the American republic.

He hasn’t yet demanded to know what happened to those strawberries from the officers’ mess but he’s getting there:

Trump issues daily attacks on GOP insiders as corrupt pansies; they attack him as an unstable racist. You almost feel sorry for the Dems: where’s their angle in on the 2016 campaign? The daily particulars are so mesmerizing that you have to step back to see that Trump isn’t even running a campaign.

In a second item, Marshall explains that Trump doesn’t even know how to run a national campaign:

Donald Trump is uniquely reliant on strong poll numbers. Every candidate is dependent on good poll numbers for morale, fundraising and more. But Trump’s platform isn’t abolishing Obamacare or lowering taxes or kicking-more-ass in the Middle East. His platform is “winning.” So if he’s clearly not winning, it’s uniquely debilitating. But there’s another way to understand this phenomenon, a broader framework for understanding Trump’s current rough patch. It is the inherent turbulence faced by a bullshit-based candidate making first contact with an at least loosely reality-based world.

It’s that bubble thing again:

In the Trump bubble, crowd sizes at his rallies are the most effective barometer of public opinion. They mean he’ll win. Polls are dumb, especially when they show he’s losing. He opposed the Iraq War before there was even an Iraq. Public opinion is defined by the mix of white nationalists and white sad sacks who populate his Twitter feed. As I have noted, this is all the mindset of the high pressure sale, a spun-up reality that exists with little necessary connection to anything outside the bubble of the sale. It’s not counter-reality, just indifferent to reality.

But Trump now needs to operate with and collaborate with people who will face real electorates in November. They know a modern presidential campaign requires $1 billion dollars of funding. They still know it does after Trump insists it only requires $50 million. No one outside the Trump fact bubble believes that. 

That’s not going to work any longer:

Trump supporters exist entirely within the Trump fact bubble. They were more than sufficient to win the Republican primaries. They either believe his claims or are indifferent to their accuracy. The Trump world is based on a self-contained, self-sustaining bullshit feedback loop. Trump isn’t racist. He’s actually the least racist person in America. Hispanics aren’t offended by his racist tirades against Judge Curiel. He’s going to do great with Hispanics! Didn’t you see the new Hispanics for Trump Facebook page? He’ll put California in play and it won’t even be that hard.

Trump can say he’s going to get historically high numbers of African-American votes, but the worried Republican officials he’s talking to know that’s nonsense after he says it just as much as they did before he said it.

Trump’s problem is that the general election puts him in contact with voters outside the Trump bubble and just as important necessary allies (all Republican office holders) who rely on voters outside the Trump fact bubble. Not that many maybe, but enough of them.

To put it more concretely, the general election puts a bullshit-based candidacy in direct contact with the reality-based world.

There’s also proof of that in this Associated Press story:

Trump is largely outsourcing what’s typically called a campaign’s ground game, which includes the labor-intensive jobs of identifying and contacting potential supporters. Ed Brookover, recently tapped to serve as the Trump’s liaison to the RNC, says the campaign is making progress on adding its own staff in key states.

The campaign estimates it currently has about 30 paid staff on the ground across the country.

“There are some holes,” Brookover said. “There are fewer holes than there were.”

There are fifty states. They have thirty paid staff, maybe – they’re not quite sure – and Marshall adds this:

It is difficult to overstate just how many crazy notions are embedded in this package. No presidential campaign can really outsource its field operation to the party. That just means that the party has to build a whole additional field staff in addition to the one it’s already building (set aside not being able to control its strategy, quality of work etc.) That’s not possible, or at least not possible to do well. The way this works in the modern campaign is that the presidential campaign has its field operation, the party has an additional field operation and they are coordinated together and in some ways integrated together in the fall for maximal impact.

The party necessarily has more focus on all the other races besides the presidential. The presidential campaign mainly focuses on itself. But they work together (in the bounds of certain restrictions on coordination). And at the end of the day, every solid Republican voter who gets brought to the polls helps everyone up and down the ticket. Down ticket races are heavily, heavily dependent on these two massive field operations; they get pulled along with the wave of turnout these and other campaign committees coordinate.

Trump seems to have decided he’s just not going to have one. Maybe he’ll decide that’s ridiculous and he wants to build one after all. But you can’t just build a campaign operation overnight. And Trump is way, way behind.

Maybe he isn’t running a campaign at all, but he’s running something:

Trump campaign advisers have said previously that, in a departure from custom, Trump could make an address to the delegates each night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month. (Typically, party leaders give major speeches each evening leading up to the big moment. Prime convention speaking slots are often given to up-and-comers in the party as a way to highlight potential future leaders. These are usually weeklong celebrations culminating with an acceptance speech by the newly crowned nominee.)

Under consideration: Trump speaking to the convention via satellite from off-site locations in battleground states. Under one proposal, each night of the convention would open with a short film focused on a “problem” facing the nation – failing schools, opioid addiction, border security or government waste. People featured in the film would be introduced, followed by a 45-minute speech from Trump focused on a “solution” to the problem being presented.

He won’t show up at the convention at all. They’ll see him on the big screen, or it may be this:

At a rally in Dallas this week, Trump said he is considering having what he described as a “winner’s night,” highlighting celebrity endorsers like controversial and hot-tempered former college basketball coach Bobby Knight; former pro football player Herschel Walker; Dana White of the UFC mixed martial arts company; boxing promoter Don King; former college basketball coach Digger Phelps; and others.

“We’re thinking about doing something that’s different,” Trump said, “rather than listening to politicians talk – ‘Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much,’ and everyone’s falling asleep …”

It worked in Indiana, Trump contended.

“Hey, by the way, excuse me!” Trump said. “We went to a place called Indiana and Bobby Knight endorsed me. Boy did that happen! Right? So many of the great people. We have such unbelievable endorsements … winners, they’re winners! There aren’t many winners. But you take these winners, and we’re gonna have them speak.”

Trump said he hadn’t yet asked those supporters to speak but added that he expects his “winners’ night” would be “the best-attended night of the whole deal.”

The ratings will be boffo. There will be none of that stupid talk about principles and goals and policies to reach those goals. The head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise, the martial arts promotion company, will talk about winning – unless Trump goes on a rant about someone stealing his strawberries. Who would dare mutiny?

That remains to be seen.

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