Trump’s Lost Weekend

Even those out here in Los Angeles knew it was quite a weekend. On Saturday night, the Chicago Cubs blew out the Los Angeles Dodgers and are going to the World Series for the first time since 1945 – a long time ago, two years before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in professional baseball. That’s a long wait and no one out here resents that. The Brooklyn Dodgers finally integrated baseball – our Dodgers, before they moved out here of course – and now the Cubs deserve to make a little history. We’ll root for them. Everyone will.

Saturday morning was the problem, and the issue was also history. A Republican candidate who is supported by David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, and all the white nationalist “lost cause” groups in the South, who has insulted just about every minority there is, and women, and the disabled, and whose campaign is run by Steve Bannon, the former head of the white-nationalist and often anti-Semitic Breitbart News conspiracy site, probably shouldn’t give his big do-or-die policy speech – to sum up, finally, why he should be president – at Gettysburg, invoking Lincoln.

Yes, Lincoln was the first Republican, but that was shortly after the party was first invented, to oppose slavery and to oppose the whole notion of states’ rights superseding federal law. That was then. This is now. Now the party is pretty damned white and always argues that the states should be able to do whatever they want, because the federal government is kind of useless. That’s not what Lincoln argued at Gettysburg, but Donald Trump, somewhat an avatar of the Old South, decided to speak at Gettysburg anyway. Someone should have reminded him that Gettysburg is where the South lost the war. That’s where the tide turned.

That’s okay. The speech wasn’t about any of that, although the tide turned. This didn’t go well for Trump, as Ben Jacobs reports here:

Speaking on Saturday near the site where Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address in 1863, Trump did not speak as the 16th president did in his second inaugural: “with malice toward none, with charity for all”.

Instead the Republican nominee proclaimed to an invitation-only crowd: “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign, total fabrication. The events never happened. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Trump added: “It was probably the [Democratic National Committee] and the Clinton campaign that put forward these liars with these fabricated stories.”

“We’ll find out at a later date through litigation,” he said, “and I look so forward to it.”

What did Lincoln say? The world will little note nor long remember what we say here? Trump is going to sue these lying bitches and ruin them – that’s what people will long remember from Trump’s Gettysburg Address. At least that’s what the press covered, although there was more:

At Gettysburg, the Republican presidential candidate also railed against the media, singling out the corporate owners of NBC, CNN and the Washington Post, all outlets he has complained about during his campaign, for special scrutiny under a Trump administration.

Of Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal, he said: “It concentrates too much power in one massive entity that tries to tell voters what to think and what to do.”

Trump pledged that his administration would veto the reported acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T, as a matter of policy. Time Warner is the corporate owner of CNN, which carried the Gettysburg speech live.

Trump’s words came after he voiced familiar criticism of the press, because “at my rallies they never show the massive crowd size”.

Everyone is out to get him. It’s not fair. It makes him so angry. And all Americans should be angry that everyone is picking on him. It seems that Donald Trump is not Abraham Lincoln, but this was not what was supposed to happen. This was supposed to be the big policy speech where he laid out what he would do in his first one hundred days as president:

In a Friday night conference call with reporters, the Trump campaign billed the speech as its version of the Contract with America that was pushed by House Republicans in 1994 as a concrete list of their pledges if elected…

On Saturday, Trump reiterated pledges to cut taxes, repeal Obamacare and spur energy production by removing environmental regulations. He also added details to proposals such as those concerning childcare, which he and his daughter Ivanka announced in September and a recent pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to impose term limits.

Trump also promised to “cancel billions in payments to UN climate change programs” and to suspend immigration from regions “where vetting cannot safely occur”.

On his signature proposal to build a wall on the US border with Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, Trump offered a subtle change in tone. Although he has long insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall “100%” – and said at Gettysburg “they’ll be happy to pay for it” – he suggested Mexico would now “reimburse” the US for the cost of constructing the barrier.

That’s it? Yep, that was it, the same old stuff, hidden in deep clouds of personal grievance:

Christina Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign, responded to the speech in a statement: “Trump’s major new policy was to promise political and legal retribution against the women who have accused him of groping them.”

“Like Trump’s campaign, this speech gave us a troubling view as to what a Trump State of the Union [address] would sound like: rambling, unfocused, full of conspiracy theories and attacks on the media, and lacking in any real answers for American families.”

That made for an odd Saturday morning, and then there was Saturday night after the Cubs game. Aaron Blake reports on that:

A week after drawing an unhappy response from Donald Trump for its portrayal of him in its spoof of the second presidential debate, “Saturday Night Live” didn’t back down on the third one.

Featuring the debate again in its cold open – this time with Tom Hanks playing moderator Chris Wallace – Alec Baldwin’s Trump was as brutish and offensive as ever.

At one point, Trump forgets the name of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and calls him “Señor Guacamole,” his wife “Taquito,” and his kids “Chips” and “Salsa.”

He offers the world’s most meandering and nonsensical answer to a question about the Iraqi city of Mosul. There’s even a subtle jab at Trump’s strange comment that he would date daughter Ivanka if she weren’t his daughter.

The sketch had some fun with the audience laughter that was clearly heard when Trump said that nobody respects women more than he does. It zooms out to outer space to show the whole planet laughing at the comment.

The full clip is at the link. It was devastating, and that was just the opening of the show. The Chicago Cubs won big and made history on that day. Donald Trump tried to make history on that day, and everything went wrong, but Sunday morning was worse:

Hillary Clinton has vaulted to a double-digit advantage in the inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll, boosted by broad disapproval of Donald Trump on two controversial issues: His treatment of women and his reluctance to endorse the election’s legitimacy.

Likely voters by a vast 69-24 percent disapprove of Trump’s response to questions about his treatment of women. After a series of allegations of past sexual misconduct, the poll finds that some women who’d initially given him the benefit of the doubt have since moved away.

Fifty-nine percent of likely voters, moreover, reject Trump’s suggestion that the election is rigged in Clinton’s favor, and more, 65 percent, disapprove of his refusal to say whether he’d accept a Clinton victory as legitimate. Most strongly disapprove – a relatively rare result.

All told, Clinton leads Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in the national survey, her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls.

This too was devastating, as were the details:

The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October…

Clinton leads Trump by 20 percentage points among women, 55-35 percent. She’s gained 12 points (and Trump’s lost 16) from mid-October among non-college-educated white women, some of whom initially seemed to rally to Trump after disclosure of the videotape.

Clinton has doubled her lead to 32 points, 62-30 percent, among college-educated white women, a group that’s particularly critical of his response to questions about his sexual conduct. (Seventy-six percent disapprove, 67 percent strongly.)

That said, Clinton’s also ahead numerically (albeit not significantly) among men, 44-41 percent, a first in ABC News and ABC/Post polling.

Trump is just +4 among whites overall, 47-43 percent, a group Mitt Romney won by 20 points in 2012. Broad success among whites is critical for any Republican candidate; nonwhites, a reliably Democratic group, favor Clinton by 54 points, 68-14 percent.

But wait, there’s more:

Even with the gender gap in candidate support, the results show damage to Trump across groups on the issue of his sexual conduct. While 71 percent of women disapprove of his handling of questions about his treatment of women, so do 67 percent of men. And 57 percent overall disapprove “strongly” – 60 percent of women, but also 52 percent of men. By partisan group, 41 percent of Republican likely voters disapprove of Trump on this question, a heavy loss in one’s own party. That grows to 70 percent of independents and nearly all Democrats, 92 percent.

Someone is making history here, as Josh Marshall notes:

It is only one poll, as they say. But this ABC poll may be a big deal. See this not as something that is happening, but a sign of a possible trend which, if backed up by other polls over the next two weeks, could be the story of the 2016 election.

The devil is, as they say, in the details:

Clearly a significant part of the move from a 4 to 8 percentage point lead for Clinton is a significant number of Republican voters dropping out of the likely voter pool. They appear to be concentrated among non-Trump Republicans who came around to Trump after he won the nomination. Where this matters is not so much in the presidential race – where a Clinton victory seems increasingly likely – but down-ballot in Senate and House races. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drop off in likelihood to vote which is so rapid and so soon before an election. To be fair, this isn’t really a number I’m even used to looking for, but you don’t usually have sharp drop-offs like that before an election. People on both sides tend to get more pumped up, more driven to partisan affiliation. Usually you are looking at who’s getting their voters more activated.

Yesterday I mentioned the mix of reasons why I think Democrats may over-perform expectations in the Senate. If something like what this poll says is happening bears out, I think that gets you close to what might be a genuine wave election. Again, one poll, a very weird cycle. I’d take nothing for granted. But it’s a hint of a perfect storm type scenario.

One does think of that disaster movie The Perfect Storm – but The Lost Weekend will do too, from 1945, the same year the Cubs last went to the World Series. One has that big wave. The other has Ray Milland as the drunk who loses it all. Jane Wyman, the first wife of Ronald Reagan, plays his long-suffering wife. That fits.

That fits because Trump’s biggest problem may be those long-suffering Republican women, as Slate’s Michelle Goldberg explains here:

If current polling is correct, women are poised to reject the Republican ticket en masse. A recent CBS News survey of battleground states found that Hillary Clinton was leading among women by 15 points. Seventy-three percent of female voters say Trump doesn’t respect women. As FiveThirtyEight reported, female Republican politicians have unendorsed Trump at twice the rate of men; as of Oct. 11, while women accusing Trump of sexual assault and misconduct continued to come forward, 42 percent of Republican women in Congress and serving as governors had unendorsed Trump, compared to just 17 percent of men. If Trump loses, it will be because women have deemed him intolerable.

That’s cold hard data, but there are the women themselves:

“I am a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said on Oct. 8. Ayotte’s move was partly a matter of political survival; her Democratic opponent, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, has run ads tying Ayotte to Trump, and there’s evidence that they’re working. A recent WMUR Granite State poll shows that men favor Ayotte by 7 points, but women back Hassan by 23 points. Besides giving Hillary Clinton the White House, women’s revulsion to Trump could tip the Senate to Democrats.

There’s something going on here:

We don’t yet know what the massive gender gap across the 2016 electoral landscape means for the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Some Trump-averse Republican women surely see the candidate as an anomaly, and will return to the GOP fold if Republicans nominate a normal candidate in the next election. But it’s easy to find Republican women who feel that the party they’ve been loyal to has been disloyal to them, and who say they won’t easily forget it.

“It won’t be just Trump that drives me from this party. I’m disgusted with the male leaders of the Republican party,” Texas right-wing activist Brittany Pounders wrote on Oct. 18. “They may not be sexual predators; they may not be sexist or misogynist – but they are clearly okay with others in our party who are.”

On Oct. 21, Nancy French, a conservative who has co-authored books with Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin, wrote in the Washington Post about her own childhood history of sexual assault; her essay implied that the GOP itself has become a sort of sleazy predator in the age of Trump. “My party – which should’ve been a place of a certain set of values – now shelters an abuser,” she writes. “I’m thinking of this when the GOP presses against me and asks me to close my eyes just one more time.”

The metaphor is rape, of course, but there are still conflicting feelings:

Trump is unique in his ability to repel the most conservative of women as well as the most liberal. Liberals sneered at Paul Ryan when, in response to Trump’s now-infamous Access Hollywood tape, he said, “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified.” In response, Anne-Marie Slaughter, who worked in the State Department under Hillary Clinton, tweeted, “No. Women are to be treated as equals. Full stop. #nopedestals.”

But some socially conservative women like pedestals. For them, the deal implicit in an embrace of traditional gender norms is that instead of equality, they get protection. Trump offers neither. “We hear them talking a lot about being our defenders and protectors,” Julie Roys, a conservative Christian writer and radio host in Illinois, says of the Trump-supporting men in her movement. “Well, okay, when someone insults us so blatantly, why are you defending him instead of defending us?”

For Roys, the sense of abandonment is intensely personal. Speaking of old-guard leaders like Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed, and James Dobson, she says, “It’s hard for me to say anything against some of these men because I love them. Some of them are friends of mine.” But that just makes her sense of disappointment deeper. “I’m somebody who has defended the religious right for years and years,” she says. “For a lot of us, we don’t see a lot of misogyny per se in the religious right, because that wasn’t our fathers, that wasn’t our pastors – that wasn’t a lot of the men we came in contact with. But is it there? Probably.”

And yes, there’s more:

This sense of disillusionment isn’t limited to religious conservatives. It’s also acute among young, more socially moderate Republican women, and is likely to shape their political identity for years to come. On the night of the last presidential debate, about 30 mostly millennial Republicans gathered at Hawthorne, a Washington, D.C. restaurant and bar, for the Republican Women for Hillary debate watch party. Among them was Camden Stuebe, 26, a former assistant to the CFO at the Republican National Committee. Last year, Stuebe traveled to one of Hillary Clinton’s early rallies in New York to help Republicans campaign against her. She says she still has a “Stop Hillary” t-shirt in her bedroom, alongside all her new pro-Hillary buttons.

“To switch from actively anti-Hillary to supporting Hillary Clinton has been an interesting 360 and an interesting experiment in what it means to split from a party,” says Stuebe, who describes herself as a small-government libertarian. She’s still grappling with what her relationship to the GOP might be in the future. Does she feel betrayed by the men in her party who support Trump? “Absolutely. I think it’s embarrassing not only to the Republican Party but to the electoral system in America that we were unable to mount a candidate equally qualified to be president as Hillary is.”

And there’s this:

Toward the end of the debate, as Trump droned on about foreign policy, another woman at the Hawthorne party, Sara McAlpin, turned to me and asked, “Doesn’t this just hurt your soul?” When the debate ended, she looked at Clinton on screen and said, “She literally has the smile on her face of every woman that’s been talked over by a man who has no idea what he’s doing.”

Impressed as she was by Clinton, McAlpin, who’s 28, wasn’t completely sure she was voting for her; she’d toyed with writing in the name of anti-Trump Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse. Still, casting a protest vote is only an option for her because she lives in solid blue D.C. “You have to make sure that Donald Trump is not president,” she says. “If that means Hillary is president, that’s fine.”

This, then, is what Donald Trump has done:

Culturally, McAlpin seems about as Republican as they come. “I learned to shoot when I was 7,” she tells me proudly. She’d been in a sorority at Florida Southern College; in D.C., where she moved for graduate school, she’d interned for Republican congressmen and worked for a right-leaning digital strategy firm. But three months ago, in despair over the direction of the Trump-era GOP, McAlpin went to work for a flower-delivery startup. “I’m so tired of politics, and I felt totally abandoned by my party,” she says.

McAlpin hates the way most Republicans fell in lockstep behind Trump after he cinched the nomination, and was especially heartbroken to see Paul Ryan, puppy-eyed icon to her generation of beltway conservatives, support him. “I was so disappointed, because I had fangirled over Paul Ryan, obviously,” she says. “And it was just disheartening to see the leaders of the party fall so quickly.”

She isn’t sure if she can ever be an enthusiastic Republican again. “As Evan McMullin recently said, there isn’t that much of a future for the Republican party,” she says, citing the former CIA agent who is making an independent bid for the presidency. “There needs to be a new party. This is a dumpster fire, and I don’t how to recover from this. I don’t know how anyone will recover from this.”

Goldberg sees a lot of this and sees what it means:

Whether Democrats are able to press their advantage depends in part on how long Republican women stay demoralized. Women aren’t just crucial voters, after all; they’re also often the conservative movement’s foot soldiers. “There is no doubt that women are among the Tea Party’s most active movers and shakers at all levels,” the political scientist Melissa Deckman wrote in her recent book Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right. We’ll soon find out if these women are willing to keep working to elect Republicans.

We may have already found that out. This was Trump’s lost weekend. Jane Wyman walked out on him. It’s time to watch some baseball.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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