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The Reverse Grift

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In some cases — Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain most obviously in the last cycle — no-hope presidential candidates are essentially running a grift, trying to build their personal brands and sell books or get themselves Fox News sinecures or whatever. Some are ideological true believers trying to draw attention to issues — your Ron Pauls and Bernie Sanderses. I guess maybe Pataki’s generally inexplicable campaign falls into this category — he wants to make the case for old-fashioned northeastern Republicanism to the three or four people left in the party who remain receptive to the message. Then you have the candidacies where the reason and/or scam is less obvious. Your Lincoln Chafees, your Bobby Jindals — there’s no money in this deal, they don’t have any message that isn’t being communicated by someone else, they not only have no chance of winning but no chance of even getting any significant attention.

But Donald Trump is really innovating here, in that he seems to be actually conning himself: his vanity campaign is costing him bucketloads of money. Now, one could argue that the attention he’s getting is gratifying enough that it’s worth all the money. Only 1)for reasons I’ve never understood Donald Trump seems to have a large media platform for every dumb thing he says, and gesturing at running for president every four years was more than sufficient to maintain it, and 2)his campaign is actually costing him access to some mainstream media outlets he would presumably like access too once he stops pretending to run for president. If he wants a Republican to become president — admittedly, I have no idea if he cares — his saying-the-quiet-parts-loud routine isn’t helping. Maybe he’s decided that after a lifetime of grifting it was time to grift himself.

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  • Kalil

    Well, given that he’s now the Official Front-runner, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to stick him in the no-hope category.

    • MattT

      Well, given that he’s now the Official Front-runner, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to stick him in the no-hope category.

      I do. Remember Michelle Bachmann winning the Iowa straw poll, or Hermain Cain or Newt Gingrich out in front? A bunch of the party didn’t like the real front runner and was willing to rally around whichever stunt candidate was getting the most attention at the moment. This time isn’t going to be any different. In a few weeks the attention will shift and someone else who obviously isn’t going to be president will lead the polls for a little while.

      • Kalil

        At no point did Bachmann actually lead in the polls.
        And at no point was Romney as low as 13%.
        In July 2011, Romney was at 25%, with Perry in second at 11%.
        This election looks nothing like 2012.
        See: RCP 2012 primary polling.

        • joe from Lowell

          Neat: you can hold and drag from the left of the chart to July 5, 2011 to reset the display.

    • NonyNony

      Those polls are meaningless specifically in the case of Trump because they’re only showing the “approval” numbers. We need to see the “disapproval” numbers. Nobody is talking about this because a) political journalists don’t understand polls or statistics or b) political journalists need this to be a horse race and Trump makes for an entertaining horse race.

      Trump’s net favorability rating among Republicans remains negative – it’s worse among the general population (net favorability being the people who say they approve of the candidate minus the people who disapprove of the candidate). Now given how primary elections work there’s a chance that he could win the GOP primary – but he’s not going to be President with a negative favorability rating. And he’s not doing anything to make that net favorability rating better – he’s preaching to his choir, not expanding his outreach.

      For other candidates this isn’t an issue – even with ones who have very negative net favorability ratings (hello Chris Christie) because they lack name recognition, so there’s a whole group of people who have never heard of them for them to make up that gap. Trump’s gap ain’t gonna move – unless it becomes more negative.

      • Roger Ailes

        Hump’s disapproval numbers are widely reported.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/06/17/why-no-one-should-take-donald-trump-seriously-in-1-very-simple-chart/

        The reason the unfavorability numbers are not talked about more often is that voters are required to vote for the candidate of their choice, not against the one they hate most. In the early states, the most hated candidate can also be the first choice of enough voters to win. When the occupancy of the clown car is whittled down to the lower single digits, Dump will be last because most voters’ first choice will be gone and they’ll have to settle on second or third choices who will not be Chump.

    • Alex.S

      That site is using a bit of predictive trendline polling. Jeb Bush is still the current frontrunner and Trump has not had the sole lead in any poll.

      Trump is just given a bit of a boost when they make their calculation because he jumped from 1-2 percent to 11-12 percent in a few polls.

      Having said that — Trump is currently a top-tier Republican candidate and will easily make it to the first debate next month on August 6th. I have no idea who actually wants to vote for him, but it appears that 10% of the Republican primary voters are happy with the concept.

      • ThrottleJockey

        And why shouldn’t they be happy with the concept? He’s saying what they’re thinking. That’s what you want in a candidate.

        I was horrified Friday when a (22 years old!) white guy (who likes to date Latina women) said to me that Trump hadn’t said nothing bad about Mexicans!! These assholes are raised like this from birth!

        • Aimai

          People can compartementalize anything. They believe very strongly that they are the model, the median, the exemplar and also that they themselves are good people. So naturally if you think you are good, and you date Latinas, and you also harbor racist feelings and sterotypes about some other subset of Latinos, you think that what Trump said is not a problem. Just like you he seems to be attracted to beautiful Latina women and just like you he is threatened and angered by a tide of imaginary criminals. What is not to like? The two things (dating Latinas and disliking imaginary Latino rapists) are not at all in conflict.

          • Ann Outhouse

            See also, Michelle Malkin.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Is she married/dating a Latino man?

              • The Dark Avenger

                She’s married to a white guy and apparently he draws disability instead of earning his living as a good Conservative husband would.

                Now it is fair to say that in the Philippines, the cultural expectations of a husband are slightly different, indeed, he may be able to make a meal without giving the children food poisoning, which is lowest level of difficulty for a husband in that tradition. I dunno.

                • Konstantine

                  Mongoloid women breeding with Caucasian men is the great moral and ethical question of the Twenty-First Century. Racial amalgamation, especially between Mongolians and Europeans, is a genetic jihad, the Mongoloids are attempting to steal and appropriate Western genes to enhance themselves for their ever-eternal goal of world conquest through their women’s vaginas.

                • witlesschum

                  That’s a disturbingly accurate parody.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  goddamn it, Konstantine, stop giving it all away!

                  And, for the record, Ms. Malkin is more accurately descended from Malay heritage than Mongoloid.

        • brad

          Not to go all Godwin on myself, but wanting to… copulate with the female half of races, or religions, you’re bigoted against seems to me to be quite the longstanding tradition.
          The assholes can be free of that pesky need to (pretend to) worry about consent or what’s “proper” with those lusty beasts.

          • Warren Terra

            Oh, for heaven’s sake. Yes, I’ve also seen some disgusting and somewhat dehumanizing (or at least infantilizing) behavior along the racist lines you describe, but I’ve also seen people who date, and who seem to have a type, and that type isn’t necessarily the same as their own ethnic group / cultural background – all without the racist nonsense. Other than saying they’re an idiot blind to or comfortable with Trump’s racism, ThrottleJockey really didn’t say which category their acquaintance falls into.

            • brad

              I’m talking about those types with a “fetish” for a certain race, or who only seem to date those they consider to be “the help”. TJ’s friend’s combo of a type who he’s bigoted against seems to fit that mix.
              I, myself, have only had one relationship in my life with a woman whose parents were both raised in the US, for whatever reason. 4 different continents represented in that, and I’m sure as hell not looking for that in potential mates. There’s a difference between a type and seeking out a certain race.

              • ThrottleJockey

                I don’t really know which category he falls into. He’s just barely an ‘acquaintance’: I only know him and the women he dates from the gym.

                Brad brings up some interesting (and very complex and very nuanced issues). I’ve always been leery of ‘white girls who like black guys’ because I’ve felt like that was a reductive, fetishistic, ultimately racist attraction…Experience has taught me that that’s not necessarily true, however. My gf, who’s a Filipino national, is only attracted to black guys–which, prior to meeting me, was quite hard on a girl born and raised in the Filipino countryside!

                And while I hate hearing from women, “Oh, I think black men are so sexy”, I’ve learned that a LOT of women like hearing from me, “I Iem>LOOOVE women of Ethnic Group X.” I’ve heard this from Asian women, black women, white women, Latino women. Most seem to eat it up. One of my best friends, a Asian woman, even complains about men who have Asian fetishes but is quite susceptible to men who say, “Asian women are really hot.” So, to call it ‘complex’ is maybe an understatement.

                • The Dark Avenger

                  One of the rules of cross-cultural sex is that the women are always hot. I remember reading the account of an American(White) actress who was able to speak Chinese fluently and used it making Skinamax-type movies on the Maninland.

                  She was doing bedroom scene and she overhead one Chinese guy tell his friend nearby, “See what I mean? Those white women are tigresses once you get them in bed!”

          • burritoboy

            It’s pretty common for people to romanticize the particular group they’re sexually attracted to and use that as a platform to attack the other sex (but still of that ethnic group) for mistreating the group you’re attracted to. White guy likes Latina girls, but he’s still racist, so he depicts himself as the savior of the Latina girls from the evil Latino men who treat them wrong. White men like Asian women, and think they’re saving them from the nerdy and unmanly Asian men. White girls want to save black men from the hoodrat skanky black women. Happens all the damn time.

      • Rick_B

        10% of the Republican primary voters were consistently ready to vote for Ron Paul, also. He never significantly rose above that. The same is probably true for Trump, although Trump’s better name recognition might kick him up 3 or 4 points.

        Trump is a narcissist displaying his grandiosity. TV was made for him. When the serious election gets started, he is going to be a roadblock to Jeb! and possibly Scott Walker, but that’s about it.

        • Warren Terra

          Ron Paul had some actual, distinctive, strongly held policy ideas; indeed, he had these in place of conventional charisma. When Ron Paul is the only Republican against the disaster in Iraq and the overreaches of the USA PATRIOT act, it’s hardly surprising he’d reap a hard core of support. Trump’s only distinctive feature in the Republican primary is the enthusiasm with which he says a moderately more unhinged version of what the rest of them are saying; he doesn’t have the unique selling point of standing apart from the rest of the herd on a vitally important policy issue, let alone one as unpopular as the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

          • ThrottleJockey

            What about the fact that he comes from the business community, not the public sector? Other than Fiorina and Carson none of the others can say that.

            • Warren Terra

              Doesn’t count to my mind. Sure, it’s a distinctive biographical feature, and as such could in theory influence voters’ decisions (in this case, especially stupid voters), but it’s not the same as being the only person in the field to take a particular stance on an important and divisive issue.

        • Matt McIrvin

          To me it seems that the current Republican candidate with the persistent, low-number fan club like that is Ben Carson. The cultural conservative true believers love him, more than they do Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum.

          As with Obama, being black probably loses Carson more supporters than it gains him through “I’m not racist, I support a black guy” identification, and he won’t get the nomination, but I think he’ll hang on longer than some of these other contenders.

    • cpinva

      “Well, given that he’s now the Official Front-runner, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to stick him in the no-hope category.”

      yes, it is. unless by “hope” you mean the 10 or 15 people who didn’t get the memo, and actually vote for him, as a write-in candidate. he’s the flavor of the week, next week it’ll be chocolate fudge.

      • Warren Terra

        It’s the Republicans. The flavor of the week next week will not be chocolate fudge. It will be marshmallow, or banana cream, or vanilla. Maybe, at a pinch, vanilla chocolate chip. But not chocolate fudge.

  • Ann Outhouse

    (1) No amount of attention is enough for the Donald, and it is especially irritating when dusky-hued candidates such as Jindal and Carson get more attention than he does.

    (2) The Donald really is running for President, in his own mind. I think you underestimate the man’s megalomania and overestimate his cunning.

    (3) Spending bucketloads of money is part of The Donald’s self-image. He needs to show off how rich he is. He could, for example, fly around in a Gulfstream V like every other billionaire, but he has to have a 757 instead, because it’s bigger and costs more. He’s the guy who pays $20,000 for a bottle of wine because it costs $20,000 and he can show it to his guests and say, “This bottle costs $20,000.” Although in The Donald’s case, he’ll probably claim it cost $50,000.

    • patrick II

      Agreed. Especially with #2. He thinks tough business negotiating is the answer to all questions, and he thinks of himself as an amazing business negotiator (and just in case if it doesn’t work out, declare bankruptcy).
      The grift is/was the fallback position, but he is as serious about winning as a non-serious candidate can be.

    • Aimai

      Cordelia Chase in The Harvest:

      “! I just am not the type to settle. Y’know? It’s like when I go shopping. I have to have the most expensive thing. Not because it’s expensive, but because it costs more.”

    • Lost Left Coaster

      My God I would love to be Trump’s wine dealer. “This normally costs $20,000, but because I like you, Donald, I’ll let you have it for an even $50,000.”

      • Scott Lemieux

        I remember an article about Robert Parker in which he said that there were plenty of collectors of super-expensive wine who if you poured them some Gallo Hearty Burgandy and told them it was Cheval Blanc would have absolutely no idea.

        • Ann Outhouse

          That’s also a given with art collectors.

          A friend of mine who actually knew what he was doing was collecting works from a minor but up-and-coming SF-bay-area artist. He spotted a small but exceptional work by this artist in the home of a woman who was hosting some party or another. He got talking to the owner of the gallery who handled this artist’s work about whether the owner might be willing to sell it, and the conversation went something like this:

          Gallery Owner: Do you still have the [lesser-regarded work by same artist]?

          Tom: Yea, I do.

          GO: Bring it in. I’ll trade her for it.

          Tom: But it can’t be worth anywhere near as much.

          GO: No, but it’s bigger.

          Tom got his painting.

        • Halloween Jack

          I’ve read about gazillionaires who will buy whatever Parker recommends as the best wine by the case, and then will let it sit in their cellars well past the point of its peak drinkability, because they’re Jack and Coke drinkers who only buy wine because that’s what rich people are supposed to do.

    • efgoldman

      Although in The Donald’s case, he’ll probably claim it cost $50,000.

      And the wine inside tastes like the decent 12-dollar Australian you can buy anywhere, AND neither the Donald nor the opossum on his head can tell the difference.

      • Ann Outhouse

        A former coworker of mine who has a degree in oenology insists that the best quality-value tradeoff is to be found at Costco.

    • John F

      I remember an article a few years ago the Donald, discussing his golf course developments, and as an aside the writer mentioned that EVERYONE interviewed (who had golfed with the Donald at one time or another) either volunteered that Trump cheated at golf, or admitted that Trump did when asked, one guy (also a billionaire) said he took it as kind of a joke, Trump’s cheating and mulligan taking was so brazen IT HAD to be a joke… so no one would call Trump on it they’d just humor him (except one guy said he was in a foursome with Trump once, and someone objected to Trump shaving a stroke off one hole… and that was it, 6th hole or something, long discussion ensued, Trump denied it, accused the other guy of lying and stalked off… never finished the course.

      When asked about allegations of cheating at golf, Trump denied it all, said he wouldn’t even take a mulligan when others in his groups would, and claimed that a disgruntled former associate of his was spreading rumors.. then demanded that the author tell him who had said that about Trump – when the author said, “everyone” Trump ended the interview.

  • sleepyirv

    At certain point, if you say “I can be President” long enough you’re liable to start believing it.

    • ThrottleJockey

      If it worked for Reagan, why not?

      • wjts

        Prior to his election, Reagan had actual political experience as a two-term governor of California.

        • weirdnoise

          Reagan’s biggest strength was as a public speaker, the result of his acting experience and training as a corporate spokesperson. Trump has no such ability; he says whatever toxic thought enters his head, not what his henchmen advise or what “the American People” wants to hear. There’s a segment of the population that’s attracted to people like Trump, to someone who’s insanely self-confident and narcissistic. But I don’t ever see that group growing beyond a certain size. And I just don’t see Trump ever aping the God-talk that attracted the right-wing Christians to Reagan.

          • Malaclypse

            There’s a segment of the population that’s attracted to people like Trump, to someone who’s insanely self-confident and narcissistic. But I don’t ever see that group growing beyond a certain size.

            Everybody should, at least once in their lives, attend an event put on by their local chamber of commerce, just so that they would never make the mistake in the second sentence I just quoted.

          • NonyNony

            I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trump hit 27% of the vote.

            Also to be clear – if Trump somehow actually became the GOP nominee I would be surprised if he didn’t manage 46% of the popular vote. I’m pretty sure that’s the floor for Republican presidential voters in this country – no matter how awful the candidate is or how terrible their GOP predecessor was, they can be assured of roughly 46% of the population preferring to vote for them over the Democrat.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I do think that happened to Newt last time.

      • sleepyirv

        And really, Donald Trump is just the Newt Gingrich of megalomaniacal real estate hustlers. (And Newt Gingrich is just the Donald Trump of megalomanical third-rate academics.)

      • joe from Lowell

        It was like Sarah Palin in reverse: a grift turned into a real candidacy.

        • efgoldman

          a grift turned into a real candidacy.

          Not in his fondest dreams, or ours.

    • efgoldman

      At certain point, if you say “I can be President” long enough you’re liable to start believing it.

      Only if you click your heels together three times.

  • Murc

    Is it that crazy that Trump is actually running for President?

    Because that’s the simplest explanation, is it not? Why does it have to be more complicated than “he thinks he would make a good President and also thinks he can win.”

    Really, that seems like it applies to Pataki or Chafee as well.

    Not everything is a grift or an act of cold-blooded political calculation, Scott. No-hopers and clowns often run for political office as part of a genuine desire to win and belief that they can. It might be wrong, certainly, but there it is.

    • joe from Lowell

      If he was seriously running for President, would he be acting like this?

      I dunno, maybe. He’s Donald Trump, so maybe he would.

      • ThrottleJockey

        If he was seriously running for President, would he be acting like this?

        Acting like what? Like Charlie Sheen said its about W-I-N-N-I-N-G and this bravura performance has vaulted him from #9 to #1` in the polls. That ain’t nothing. Sure he’s a clown, but Republicans like those. They voted for Reagan. Twice.

        • joe from Lowell

          They haven’t actually vaulted him into the lead in any polls. He’s attracted 12% while earning himself the disapproval of over half the party. He’s set himself an extremely low ceiling with these remarks.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Nate Silver’s 538 does tend to agree with you.

            On the other hand, in a field as highly crowded as this one, I’m not sure your “ceiling” counts as much. Everyone faces a low ceiling because there are so many candidates. Its about getting as close to a plurality as you can, no?

            • joe from Lowell

              Sure, but you have to figure the field will winnow a lot. There won’t be 20 active candidacies after New Hampshire.

            • erick

              In a 16 person race what matters is the disapproval numbers, every time another candidate drops their supports go somewhere, so if you estimate them being split amongst the other candidates inversely to their various disapproval ratings you can see how Trump has no real path, unless the virtually impossible happens and it stays a 16 way race all the way through

              • Warren Terra

                This is true, but it’s only relevant once the also-rans start dropping out. There’s every reason to think most of them – even the obvious no-hopers – will stay in until after the Iowa Caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, or even South Carolina, in which case Trump’s low ceiling doesn’t come into play until after another six months of his nonsense.

          • dmsilev

            In a 16 (and counting)-way race, 12% is actually pretty good.

            Of course, if he does present a glimmer of being a real threat, the serious candidates in the race will start unleashing attack ads on him. A …target-rich environment. And he’s not exactly thin-skinned either.

            Fun times, fun times.

            • brad

              And, to me, that there is his campaign model, if there’s actually anyone intelligent in his employ.
              The aggrieved victim, being attacked by the establishment for uncomfortable truths. Basic Nixon.

              If I’m a Repub, what really would scare me is the idea of a young Rove/Atwater/Ailes type deciding Trump will pay him best and give him the best chance to show off how much he can do.
              But I’m not a Repub, so here’s hoping.

            • Malaclypse

              Of course, if he does present a glimmer of being a real threat, the serious candidates in the race will start unleashing attack ads on him. A …target-rich environment. And he’s not exactly thin-skinned either.

              And given their backgrounds, and Trump’s ego, we can expect Trump to massively retaliate in kind.

              Fun times, fun times.

              We can certainly hope.

            • ColBatGuano

              Yeah, I want Trump to last as long as possible. His insane rantings, while pleasing to the R primary voter’s id, will force the other candidates to either denounce him, thus alienating some percentage, or go along with him, thus alienating huge swaths of normal folk. Win-win as far as I can tell.

        • catclub

          If he was serious he would be hiring campaign staff in other states. Is He? He would be making sure he has enough signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Is He? I have no idea.

          • NonyNony

            He could be serious about running and still be incompetent about setting up a campaign. He’s a terrible businessman who has constantly failed upwards his whole life. He also doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would hire a campaign advisor to tell him what to do (Good Grod – could you imagine trying to tell Trump what to do?)

          • Warren Terra

            e would be making sure he has enough signatures to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Is He? I have no idea.

            This is a real issue, but on the other hand I think it’s often easier to get on the primary ballot than it is to get on the general election ballot without the nomination of an established party that did well in the last election.

            • Scott Lemieux

              This is a real issue, but on the other hand I think it’s often easier to get on the primary ballot than it is to get on the general election ballot

              Except Santorum was actually running and Newt was at least pseudo-running and they couldn’t do it. And those guys have actually been elected to statewide office before, the former statewide.

              • Warren Terra

                If I remember correctly, wasn’t that in one state (Virginia?), which turns out to have really extreme ballot-access laws that basically require candidates to pay signature-gatherers to canvass rural counties?

                In any case, it’s an issue a “serious” candidate who is getting minimally competent advice can solve with money. Gingrich and Santorum were both unlikely to get minimally competent advice and were both unlikely to have the money. Trump does have the money, and there’s a chance that by some miracle he’ll hire someone remotely competent.

        • cpinva

          “Like Charlie Sheen said its about W-I-N-N-I-N-G and this bravura performance has vaulted him from #9 to #1` in the polls. That ain’t nothing.”

          yes, it is nothing. it’s July 5th, 2015, a year and a half before the actual election. if I announced that my cat was running for the GOP nomination, he’d get on a poll somewhere. he’s got his own actual fur, something the Donald can’t say, and he’s better looking too.

          so yeah, talk to me in august 2016, and we’ll see how the Donald’s hairpiece is doing then.

      • Ann Outhouse

        The Donald is so used to having the people around him hang on every word he says and nod their approval that he has never developed the sort of filters you need to be a successful politician, especially at the national level.

        So yes. He would be acting like this.

    • royko

      I think the simplest (and correct) explanation is that he’s actually running AND that he’s a bloviating moron.

      Reading any more into his motives requires more thought than Trump has given them. He’s a birther for God’s sake!

      • KmCO

        I agree; it’s not an either/or thing. Trump believes that he is entitled to the presidency, and that belief is most sincere. That his knowledge of domestic and foreign policy seems about on par with that of an average eight-year-old makes him such an obvious joke. That he’s a colossal dick who is too proud to apologize or recant and too stupid to know when to shut up makes him a buffoon.

        • Ann Outhouse

          It’s not that he’s too proud to apologize or whatever … it’s that he’s sure he’s right.

          • KmCO

            I’m not convinced that he thinks he’s right as a matter of principle, but that he’s Donald Trump! and therefore anything he says on any topic is, by necessity, right.

      • cpinva

        we already knew he’s a bloviating moron, I remain unconvinced that he’s actually running, other than for the purpose of jacking up his “brand”. whatever he’s spending, he’s getting ten times the ROI, on publicity from it.

        • Richard Gadsden

          There is an upper limit on income from pure publicity, and while that would seem generous to us, it’s not that much by the Trump’s standards.

          The leader in monetizing fame is probably Kim Kardashian, who makes $50m a year according to Forbes.

          Trump is nothing like that famous and is never going to be – and he makes a lot more than $50m a year anyway.

          It’s not the money.

    • efgoldman

      Because that’s the simplest explanation, is it not? Why does it have to be more complicated than “he thinks he would make a good President and also thinks he can win.”

      Well, he’s no Harold Stassen!

      • wjts

        He’s not even Pat Paulsen.

        • efgoldman

          Or Pat “Gestapo” Buchanan

  • russiannavyblog

    The Donald is performing a valuable function by saying out loud what other candidates usually are content to dog whistle. There wont be any excuse for reporters to fail to understand just what your average Republican voter wants after Trump wins the most delegates in the primary, but the convention delegates nominate someone else because the other billionaires in the race are horrified at the thought of a Trump presidency that can’t be counted on to do their bidding in a quiet, professional manner.

    • ThrottleJockey

      THIS.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Trump wins the most delegates in the primary

      Um, yeah, this is Not Happening. His chances of winning a single state are 0%.

      • Warren Terra

        Famously in 2008 the Republican contests were mostly winner-take-all and the Democratic contests mostly weren’t. But I thought that after 2008, inspired by the energy and the organizing potential of the hotly contested 2008 Democratic nomination contest, the Republicans went to a proportional delegate apportionment system in subsequent contests?

        Mind you, my memory could be way off, and I think most of these proportional systems require the candidate to get a plurality in a congressional district (which Trump won’t). But he might get some delegates?

        • Scott Lemieux

          Sure, he could get some delegates. There’s no fucking way he’s getting the most delegates in a single primary, let alone the greatest total number.

          • Warren Terra

            Oh, sure. But, once he has some delegates he might really go crazy …

          • wjts

            Trump may not get the most delegates, but you can be sure that any delegates he does get will be the biggest, most exclusive, most luxurious delegates of all time.

            • russiannavyblog

              Trump may not get the most delegates, but you can be sure that any delegates he does get will be the biggest, most exclusive, most luxurious delegates of all time.

              ^^this

              • efgoldman

                but you can be sure that any delegates he does get will be the biggest, most exclusive, most luxurious delegates of all time.

                Or at least the most overpriced.

            • cpinva

              you forgot most expensive.

        • Sly

          But I thought that after 2008, inspired by the energy and the organizing potential of the hotly contested 2008 Democratic nomination contest, the Republicans went to a proportional delegate apportionment system in subsequent contests?

          States that hold contests between March 1st and March 14th will proportionally award delegates. That’s 17 states (plus Puerto Rico), half of which are in the South.

          I think this oddity of a schedule was created with the intent of continuing to be egregiously generous (stupidly, moronically, dumb-as-dogshit generous) to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, while trying to reassure late contest states that they’ll still matter. But states holding contests during that two week period are being screwed over.

      • efgoldman

        this is Not Happening. His chances of winning a single state are 0%.

        Yeah. The Donald and his opossum are really good comic relief, but anybody in either party (including this blog) who really gets their undies in a bunch about it, also needs to look under the bed and make sure Huckleberry isn’t hiding there with an ISIS mask on.

        • Ann Outhouse

          Primaries and caucuses are GOTV, and Trump has no ground organization as far as anyone can tell. The survey polls are meaningless if you can’t bus your supporters to the real polls.

      • KmCO

        The fact that he poses so little threat is why I find him so endlessly entertaining, his vile racist comments notwithstanding. The man is fascinating in that he is a walking case study in acute narcissistic personality disorder, and he is entertaining in that he poses no threat to actually becoming an elected official and his maturity level is so abysmally low that he constantly and comically steps on rakes without realizing it. The joke is on him, and like always with such types he will be the last to know it.

        • efgoldman

          The joke is on him, and like always with such types he will be the last to know it.

          And he will never, ever, ever admit it, not even to himself.

  • wjts

    “While Univision claims its decision came solely in response to comments by Mr. Trump during a June 16, 2015 campaign speech announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, the decision [not to broadcast the Miss USA pageant] was, in reality, a politically motivated attempt to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”

    Wow.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Little did I know that Univision had the heavy task of upholding the First Amendment…here I thought it was the courts.

      • joe from Lowell

        Reconquista!

    • Scott Lemieux

      They’ve been violating my 1st Amendment rights by not paying us $5 million a year for a Game of Thrones podcast simulcast for years.

      • cpinva

        I think you should sue! or maybe, just ask them nicely, whichever works.

  • fledermaus

    It’s almost like the Trump “brand” is a Dunning-Kruger test. Are you so incompetent that you can’t recognize puffball marketing BS from real business investment and production.

    In any event he is the one candidate that would make me tune in for the debates, just because he is such a bafoon. It will be a YOOUGE performance.

    • wjts

      In any event he is the one candidate that would make me tune in for the debates, just because he is such a bafoon. It will be a YOOUGE performance.

      I saw a clip (probably on The Daily Show) of Trump proclaiming that nobody was “bigger or better at the military” than he was.

      • fledermaus

        See! The guy’s a goldmine!

      • He can pay Carly Simon to update her song: Nobody does it bigger or better…

        • Ahuitzotl

          you passed up You’re so vain?????

          • I’m subtle that way.

          • Richard Gadsden

            He already thought that was about him.

      • joe from Lowell

        Yes, that actually happened. Bill O’Reilly interview:

        “I would hit them (ISIS) so hard,” he continued. “I would find you a proper general, I would find the Patton or MacArthur I would hit them so hard your head would spin.”

        “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

        • wjts

          I would find you a proper general…

          …via a reality television show or, failing that, some sort of pageant.

          • Ann Outhouse

            Because there’s an undiscovered Patton stocking shelves in a Best Buy out there somewhere, and it just needs the Right Guy to find him.

            • Warren Terra

              I think I’ve seen that movie a few times.

              These nitwits haven’t just confused first-person-shooter video games with actual combat, they’ve confused them with American foreign policy and global strategy.

              • wjts

                Trump 2016: We Must Construct Additional Pylons!

              • Matt McIrvin

                We will cheese their boss by pulling out the LAN cable, just like we did with Crota, Son of Oryx!

          • For my military knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

          • cpinva

            I’m thinking a huge RISK! game.

        • dmsilev

          Taking both halves of that statement at face value, presumably Trump sees his modern-day MacArthur every time he looks in the mirror.

          One has to admit, they do share a certain talent for self-promotion.

          • Warren Terra

            He may see a modern-day Douglas MacArthur, but a modern-day Charlie McCarthy would be closer to the truth. Though with less convincing hair.

        • Warren Terra

          It’s revealing about the modern conservative / neoconservative mindset that they’d be receptive to this line, which amounts to the belief that greater feats of armchair heroics will suffice to defeat all of our enemies, that all we need is unflinching resolve far from the actual sharp end.

          Of course, if this gets attempted the people paying for the fantasy will be our troops and a heck of a lot of civilian bystanders.

          PS that last line “no-one bigger or better at the military than I am” is a real doozy.

          • Ahuitzotl

            which amounts to the belief that greater feats of armchair heroics will suffice to defeat all of our enemies, that all we need is unflinching resolve far from the actual sharp end.

            This seems to be the position of the conservatives throughout history – look at early 20th century british papers from the right (or actually the whole of the 19th century really).

  • I think there are a decent chunk of candidacies based solely around boosting the candidate’s ego, or at least fueled by the egos of candidates who don’t employ anyone who can talk sense to them.

    You know it’s a sure bet that Trump doesn’t employ anyone but yes-men. Anyone who tells him anything contrary to what he wants to believe is going to get screamed at about what a financial genius he is, then thrown out on his ear. Trump says he’s ready to be president? Everyone employed by him nods, agrees with his plans, tells him the First Amendment means he can sue TV networks, and hides a ream of printer paper in their briefcase before they go home.

    Jindal — and the rest of the GOP — get their news and opinions from the Fox News echo chamber. All they know is that the Republican Party is unstoppable this year, everyone agrees with their ideas, everyone hates black people and Hispanics, and the unskewed polls will see them to victory for sure this time…

    • cpinva

      yep, this time Lucy will hold that football!

  • LosGatosCA

    there’s a difference between a grifting campaign (your examples + Trump in the past) and a vanity campaign (Meg Whitman, Fiorina, Forbes, etc.)

    It seems that Trump is taking the proceeds from past grifting campaigns to run a vanity campaign (for now). It remains to be seen how far he’ll go with the vanity project before he quits or loses the general – which is entirely possible if he has Meg Whitman level of commitment.

  • joe from Lowell

    I’m not sure you can analyze Trump and his motives in terms of a rational actor.

    Less like Putin, more like Kim.

    • DocAmazing

      Less like Kim, more like Jim Jones, goes my worry.

      • He’s not as organized or focussed as Jones.

        • Aimai

          And not as charitable.

        • cpinva

          If we’re lucky, he’s got a bucket of that Kool-Aid hidden in a closet somewhere.

          • joe from Lowell

            Flavr-Aid, as the Kool-Aid company never tires of pointing out.

            True story: when I was five, I brought in the Time magazine with the cover photo of the dead at Jonestown for Show and Tell, and proceeded to tell the rest of the kindergarten class what happened. I think that was the first “Is everything ok at home?” phone call my parents got.

      • Warren Terra

        Say what you will about Jones – and he was a mass-murderer, there’s plenty to say – before the cult turned really weird and before Guyana there was a record of hard work and engagement with actual social issues that sufficed to fool a lot of people, and that Trump can’t match.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Il Jong or Kardashian? I’m not sure which you mean.

      • joe from Lowell

        She’s really more of a model than an actor.

        • Warren Terra

          I’ve never seen the shows even in passing, but doesn’t she have dozens or hundreds of hours of screen time on various reality shows? I mean, I know they’re only semi-scripted, and maybe she’s not convincing even portraying her own life, but surely that’s acting, even if it’s bad acting?

          • joe from Lowell

            I gotta disagree; reality stars are closer to models.

            Someone needs to look into this. What are the chances we could make some NEH money happen, Warren?

  • Alex.S

    I’m going to go with “surrounded by yes-men” as the reason for his campaign be pure nonsense. No one is going to tell Trump he needs to have policies or plans. Or that he should occasionally think about what he is saying.

    As for why he is running, his brand has been hit recently with losing hosting duties on the Apprentice. Maybe he figured he needed the spotlight.

    As for why he is staying in the race, I believe he has the ego to celebrate that he is beating serious candidates. The competition last time was a bunch of out of work politicians and Representatives. Now he’s beating nearby Governors and Senators. He does not need to win or place… but he’ll be happy to be better than Chris Christie.

    • cpinva

      “but he’ll be happy to be better than Chris Christie.”

      that’s kind of a low bar.

  • Warren Terra

    I haven’t re-read it (and won’t bother), but the Feb 2014 Buzzfeed longform piece “36 hours on the campaign trail with Donald Trump” is worth reading once. You get the sense that, yes, he maybe really is that delusional, and moreover is surrounded by parasites who feed his delusions and feed off of his being delusional.

    I don’t see any links there, but I remember that after the piece came out Trump’s minions went ballistic, and Trump smeared the author, with help from Breitbart and its ilk (eg)

    • Ann Outhouse

      Just look at that desk. It says it all.

      • Never mind the desk: he’s got a headshot portrait of himself.

        • Warren Terra

          That really is the perfect touch, isn’t it?

    • sharonT

      I just read the first two paragraphs of that Buzzfeed story and now I’m firmly in the “he really thinks he can successfully run for and win the presidency,” camp. Last week, I thought he was just working with his fellow cosmetic surgery victims from Palm Beach to winnow the Republican field in favor of a more 1% approved candidate. But, nope. This is for real. Huckabee, that’s pure grift.

      The Donald sees himself and the 3rd-4th Mrs. Trump in the White House.

      • I would pay good money – in the high teens of cents – for President Trump to live in the White House with two of his wives.

        • Ahuitzotl

          The ultimate reality show, til he auctions off the nuclear football in a ‘real good deal’

  • thebewilderness

    I think that for a lot of them the combination of ego, anything can happen faith, and 15% off the top for friends and family members, is incentive enough.

    The Donald is suffering from that media inflated sense of self importance that so often prompts sociopaths to shoot themselves in the foot.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Lest we forget, Trump was involved in the 2000 Reform Party fiasco.:

    “It’s not so much the Reform Party, it’s really the fact that I’d want to make that if I ran and spent a lot of money I could actually win, I could beat that Democrat-Republican apparatus.”

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Guys like Trump have so much money that they think they can buy anything they want with it. Now he thinks he can buy the presidency. From the outside it looks like a vanity campaign, but every little thing Trump does is vanity. I think he is dead serious about being president and sees lost television deals and such as small fry next to that.

    Also, just wanted to say how big of a fan I am about all the little, unflagged Simpsons references you work into almost every single post…

    • KmCO

      He believes he is owed the title of president because he is the biggest, bestest, strongest, smartest, richest, and most irresistibly good-looking man in the entire world.

  • brad

    The Donald is a more extreme version of Cruz, to me. Saying both should be taken seriously as candidates isn’t to give them any credit at all, but to say there is no floor to the depravities I think the Repub primary voters will endorse.
    It’s also why I think Walker will win it, in the end. He’s the most functional combo of money and madness in the field.

    • Warren Terra

      There’s also Rubio. Similarly bland (by Republican standards), less track record of crazy policies and misgovernment. Fewer aides under indictment.

      • Scott Lemieux

        If they’re minimally competent, I think it comes down to those two.

      • brad

        But those are all pluses, to the primary voters. Rubio’s history of attempting to be sane about amnesty and immigration will hang him in the end, I think. Walker will just keep turning all the investigations and charges into persecution and a crown of thorns.

    • efgoldman

      The Donald is a more extreme version of Cruz, to me.

      Tailgunner, as vile as he is (and there’s no bottom to his vileness) is at least a real politician, elected twice statewide in a large, if untypical, state. Trump and his opossum is just a circus act, except the circus is more entertaining.

      • As far as I can tell, he’s still in his first Senate term, the only elected position he’s held. He was previously Solicitor General, but that’s apparently an appointed position.

        • efgoldman

          the only elected position he’s held.

          Wasn’t he AG in TX?

          • Then he’ll lose to Trump, who believes in AU everywhere.

          • Ahuitzotl

            No, Solicitor General, appointed by Greg Abbott when he was AG

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Cruz

            • efgoldman

              That’s what I get for posting in a rush to get to the kitchen while the pizza was hot, instead of looking it up.

  • patrick II

    It would not surprise me that some part of the reason the donald is running is because of the abject humiliation he suffered at the white house correspondent’s dinner back in 2011, where he could do nothing but sit there and steam as President Obama mocked him mercilessly. The donald is going to show that communist, community organizing, illegal immigrant negro how well a white “genius” billionaire can run a country.

    • catclub

      Of course, he chose not to run in 2012 against said community organizer.
      He should be asked why.

      • KmCO

        “Because I didn’t want to, Greta.”

  • Joshua

    I can only hope that Trump forces the loser candidates (Jindal, Christie, etc.) to start getting more extreme and saying more racist stupid shit in order to get some of what Trump is cooking up. Anything that makes the GOP, its candidates, and its base look more crazy before the general will help.

  • tsam

    I don’t think this has a thing to do with grift. I think he’s a narcissist to a degree that nearly exceeds the definition of the word. This is a guy who masturbates to images of people bowing down before him. He’s a self flattering egomaniac who has convinced himself he can run with professional politicians and that anyone on the planet likes him for anything other than his dad’s money. He’s just delusional.

    • KmCO

      I agree with the delusional analysis. The sense of grandeur this man has about himself is staggering to the point that it literally defies parody–there is no way someone could satirize Trump or portray him in a less flattering light than the way he portrays himself. He knows virtually nothing about the political process, the military, or the law. He has always been a profoundly inept businessman. Everything about him screams “I am a joke,” and it’s obvious to (almost) everyone except him.*

      *Conceding that there is a segment of the population that will worship a freshly-laid dog turd if it has tons of money.

      • there is a segment of the population that will worship a freshly-laid dog turd if it has tons of money

        I’m not even sure it’s money. Robin Williams doing fake Shakespeare*: “Alas, that we live in such times as these, when Gucci can but put three stripes on a turd, and yet sell it.”

        I think that Immortan Joe could get 5 percent of the electorate to vote for him. Our country votes for terrible people on a regular basis.

        *On the Dick Cavett Show. Unless I hallucinated the whole thing.

        • Ahuitzotl

          Engineers get the best drugs

        • patrick II

          You didn’t hallucinate. I remember that show because Williams just knocked my sox off — extemporaneously doing iambic pentameter, rhyming, parodying shakespeare’s Hamlet, doing a riff on the three mile island (in the news at the time), doing jokes, and all simultaneously. I had never seen anything like it.

        • The Dark Avenger

          Cavett had a show on CNBC before it became all financial, all the time in the early 90s.

      • tsam

        There’s also a segment of the population–mostly men, that hear a guy say all Mexicans are rapists and think “FUCK YEAH, THIS GUY SAYS WHATS ON MY HIS MIND! ME LIKE HIM!” They’re an unfortunate side effect of of being raised by the same sort of butthole–the kind of people who think being an insufferable shit is being honest.

        • KmCO

          Yep. In other words, equating being an insufferable asshole with being “brave” to be “telling it like it is.”

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