Home / General / How Trump Is Keeping It Close

How Trump Is Keeping It Close


Donald Trump’s economic plan is a joke. Since he’s a Republican, the centerpiece is a massive upper-class tax cut:

The centerpiece of Trump’s economic plan, as with any Republican economic plan since 1980, is a gigantic, regressive, debt-financed tax cut. The latest version of Trump’s tax cut is less gigantic and regressive than the previous one, using caps on deductions to recoup some of its hemorrhaged revenue. According to Trump, the new plan would reduce tax revenue by $4.4 trillion over a decade, but Trump promises the actual revenue loss would amount to far less due to the alleged dynamic effects of tax-cutting. Anybody who recalls Republicans’ warnings that the 1993 Clinton tax hike would fail to increase revenue, or that the Bush tax cuts would cause a boom, or that letting those tax cuts expire in 2013 would slow down the recovery, or that tax cuts in Kansas and Louisiana would increase growth might have skepticism that the supply-side fairy dust will finally work its magic.

Trump has amusingly framed his economic plan as a bid to restore 4 percent economic growth. This is amusing because he has stolen this goal from his former nemesis Jeb Bush, who in turn swiped it from his brother George W., whose post-presidential policy center made 4 percent growth through gigantic tax-cutting its main Big Idea. (Bush’s tax cuts did not produce 4 percent annual growth, but characteristically declined to let this failure shake their confidence in the theory behind the policy.) In his speech announcing his policy, Trump relied upon the magic of growth to fill in the gaping arithmetic holes in his proposals.

He also opposes not only environmental regulation but the FDA. And what isn’t policy for people who thought George W. Bush was too egalitarian and fiscally responsible is just incoherent:

On health care, Trump has probably the least coherent views of any question. He has repeated the requisite insistence that Obamacare is a disaster and must be repealed. Today he endorsed a Medicaid expansion on the grounds that “We have no choice, we’re not going to let people die in the streets.” This is unusual for many reasons. One is that the Medicaid expansion is a major feature of the Obama health-care law he insists he will repeal. After the Supreme Court altered the law to let states abstain from the Medicaid expansion, most Republican-led states did exactly that, at the urging of conservative activists. (Many Americans have died from lack of medical care as a result.) Is Trump repudiating this policy? His current health-care policy continues to advocate for a full repeal of Obamacare and a block grant of all Medicaid funding.

Since I happen to be staying in a hotel, I can tell you how the USA Today covered this:


His plan is not an “massive tax cut for the wealthy” but “created 15 million jobs.” That’s what you call in the tank.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton responded to Donald Trump’s howling lies “stretching the truth” about Clinton not having a child care plan. Right next to the Trump story is a story about that. The headline: “Clinton returns to campaign after days of sickness.” Hey, they’re getting the horserace they want!

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  • Rob in CT

    And Vox interviewed GG about his relentless anti-Clinton slant and it was predictably infuriating (though I appreciated him admitting that his staff is a bunch of BernieBros still mad about the primary).

    • medrawt

      I could only manage part of the interview before getting frustrated, but my impression (which I wouldn’t have predicted) was that Greenwald ultimately has the same attitude about his role re: his readership as most media people, which means an under-awareness that he’s not out there contextualizing what his readers know, he’s creating what his readers know.

      • Rob in CT

        GG’s answer to the proportionality question was the one that made me see red.

      • I could only manage part of the interview before getting frustrated

        I got frustrated about…here:

        Things get way more polarized than they typically are. And way more tribalistic. Everything gets interpreted through this lens of, ‘Which side are you helping, and which side are you on?’” says Greenwald

        Ritualistic use of the T word? Check! Ignoring actual dynamics, check! Pretending outcomes don’t matter, check!

        And then:

        Even when there’s an election, there’s things going on in the world that the US government is doing that affect huge numbers of people. So it’s really important to critique the leaders of either party — or the views of the candidate toward those ongoing policies — without feeling like you have to suppress those criticisms because expressing them might help or hurt one party or the other.

        Uhhhhh….so how does critiquing Clinton, who currently holds no office, affect “things that the US government is doing” *right now*.

        So dumb.

        And then he goes for the ticking time bomb critique of whether press “balance” helps trump. Gah.

        And let’s end with his sucky media analysis:

        And I just reject pretty vehemently the premise of the question, which is that paying attention to Hillary Clinton’s most significant question marks somehow undercuts the journalistic attention that has been paid to all of Trump’s question marks.

        I can pretty much point to every single aspect of Donald Trump’s personal, political, and financial life — it’s been dissected by great length and with great skill by the investigative reporting teams of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and Washington Post.

        Sigh. Dude. When the question “Is the coverage proportionate to the significance” pointing out that there exists coverage “of every aspect” doesn’t answer that. At all.

        • Rob in CT

          He totally dodged that question. By “rejecting the premise.” Because he’s cool like that.

          • Yes. Shoddy.

          • Harkov311

            And I’m betting he doesn’t even do us the favor of explaining why the premise of the question is wrong.

          • cpinva

            “He totally dodged that question. By “rejecting the premise.” Because he’s cool like that.”

            no, because he’s a lawyer like that. giving what he himself, if HRC responded in like manner, would call a “non-answer answer”. it has words, put in a row. words that are a part of the English language, words that by themselves have meaning. however, strung together, in your basic sentence structure format, mean nothing at all.

            and that’s one thing Mr. Greenwald does well, when pinned to the wall regarding his own piss poor reportage, he obfuscates. while normal people are attempting to translate his obfuscation into normal people talk, he’s over somewhere else, obfuscating some more.

            we got a great, first hand example of his obfuscating abilities right here, on this here site, not two weeks ago. he came in, made a blathering attempt to defend himself, and went into obfuscation auto-pilot in short order. I still want to know if he has a team of volunteers to move those goalposts for him. I suspect I will never get an answer, from him anyway.

            I’m not sure which came first, the obfuscating/lying Donald Trump, or the obfuscating GG. who learned from who? but, they are both of a kind. one clue though, Trump is older than Greenwald.

    • Morbo

      Is he still on about it being McCarthyite to point out principled non-interventionist Trump’s links to Russia?

      • Grumpy

        Is it still “red-baiting” if the country in question is not communist but rather is a purely kleptocratic petrostate dictatorship? Asking for a friend.

        • LeeEsq

          According to many people, the answer is yes. This might be a tacit admission about the real nature of the USSR.

          • Or wishful thinking that a particular worldview from before 1989 is still effective.

            eta combined with naïveté about what it means to say someone has close ties with the KGB

            • LeeEsq

              That’s a plausible explanation.

          • CP

            I was just going to say that. “Purely kleptocratic petrostate dictatorship” is pretty much the Soviet Union in a nutshell.

        • Harkov311

          Greenwald has what Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly calls the Carly Simon Syndrome: the belief that all foreign policy is about the US. Therefore, anything Russia does is just a response to us. Because apparently no nations have their own policies, they just react to terrible, awful America.

        • cpinva

          “Is it still “red-baiting” if the country in question is not communist but rather is a purely kleptocratic petrostate dictatorship?”

          oddly enough, with the exception of the oil, today’s Russia is almost exactly the same as Czarist Russia. well, ok, they don’t have the really fancy uniforms, but still…………………

          • so-in-so

            Don’t we have to see if Vlad Putin passes the Presidency to an heir first?

            If it becomes hereditary, then yes, there was a short interregnum between changing Czarist dynasties.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            they don’t have the really fancy uniforms

            So that’s why Putin is always appearing shirtless – it’s his protest against the lack of fancy uniforms!

            Now that Gadaffi guy, he had him some swell uniforms.

    • Joe_JP

      maybe someone should interview Zachary Quinto as Glenn Greenwald; I saw Quinto on Colbert, and he came off as appropriately dickish.

      • Brett

        That is the just perfect casting.

      • cpinva

        I’m not familiar with Mr. Quinto. is he actually as much of a dick as GG, or just superlative acting?

    • Slothrop2

      No. He’s keeping it close because his opponent is just horrible.

      If he wins, Trump should thank everyone who supported HRC through the primaries. And he should also thank the Farleys of the world who didn’t even bother to vote.

      • Rob in CT

        Hi there, Stillwell Angel.

      • sibusisodan

        He’s keeping it close because his opponent is just horrible.

        Hillary isn’t destroying Trump, therefore she’s terrible, is a non-sequitur at this point. Given the electorate, no-one else would destroy Trump. Not even if the Dems could somehow draft 1982 Ronald Reagan.

        • Slothrop2

          Yes. It’s not as if speeches to Wall Street criminals, worshiping at the feet of Henry Kissinger, finding herself on the wrong side of every war, and generally lying about stuff you don’t even have to lie about, have had no influence in shaping the rise of all things Trump.

          Oh well. I’m sure we can incrementalism ourselves out of eight years of Trump.

          • Yes. It’s not as if speeches to Wall Street criminals, worshiping at the feet of Henry Kissinger, finding herself on the wrong side of every war, and generally lying about stuff you don’t even have to lie about, have had no influence in shaping the rise of all things Trump.

            Yes, none of those have anything to do with the rise of Trump. None of them. And it’s obvious that none of them did.

            Trump didn’t get into the primaries or win primaries because of *anything* Hillary Clinton did, much less this litany.

            ETA: Most of those things have nothing to do with her current polling position at all as well. They are just things you don’t like. If you are going have at her at least mention things that are reasonably widely known and current like the email server and Clinton foundation. Sheesh.

            • howard

              you’re not actually hoping to show slothrop the error of his ways, are you? trump’s wall is more likely to acknowledge wrongness than slothrop.

              • you’re not actually hoping to show slothrop the error of his ways, are you?


                But then I reply to Dilan’s evergreen ridiculousnesses. :)

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              To be fair, you could blame Hillary for losing the 2008 primary. If there’s no black president, Trump can’t become king of the birthers, and therefore he probably wouldn’t be the GOP nominee now.

              Check and mate.

          • The Dark God of Time

            Your logical implication is that Trump is better because he lies about stuff he has to lie about, like his initial position on the Iraq War.

            Do you have a newsletter I could subscribe to?

        • cpinva

          “Not even if the Dems could somehow draft 1982 Ronald Reagan.”

          on the other hand, if they could get the dead, rotting, stinking corpse of zombie Ronald Reagan, they might have something going there. maybe with lazer beams coming out of his eyes.

      • Karen24

        Her primary opponent couldn’t even start a PAC without half his employees immediately resigning. Clinton has a competent and professional campaign going now. She got sick, like, y’know, people do except apparently women who are helpless weaklings when we give in to illness but heartless bitches when we workt through it.

        • cpinva

          “She got sick, like, y’know, people do except apparently women who are helpless weaklings when we give in to illness but heartless bitches when we workt through it.”

          the fascination with polar opposite descriptions of their opponents, by today’s republicans, is intriguing. their complete lack of self-awareness enables this, I think. giving us hobnailed bootstomper/fey weakling Obama, and now wicked witch of the west/weak lady parts HRC (btw, pneumonia doesn’t differentiate between parts, male or female). she’ll blow up the world in a bitchy moment, then hit the fainting couch for a spell.

          the whole republican party is really a dream petri dish for the field of psychiatry. I expect many a PhD to come out of this election season.

    • ochospantalones

      The thing that gets me with Greenwald and his crew are their complete non-reaction to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case. Usually, if the FBI Director made a public speech excoriating someone who is not being charged with any crime and then released the investigative file to the public the Greenwalds of the world would be going nuts. Can you imagine the reaction if Snowden were to actually be pardoned, and then Comey does the same thing to him? But since they hate Hillary more than anything it’s been dead silence.

      • Excellent point.

        Greenwald is never reflective enough to notice that he’s just in a different tank, but more deeply than most.

        • ochospantalones

          Yeah, he loves to decry “tribalism”, but who is more tribalistic than Glenn Greenwald?

        • tsam

          Right–this is a pretty common failure in critical thinking. It’s not necessarily about being in a tank so much, IMO, but people like Greenwald, Berniebros, and other sufferers of ethical dissonance frame every thought around the idea that anyone who identifies him/herself as Democrat or Republican automatically meets a certain set of criteria, which obviously HAS to be the worst example possible. It makes objective analysis pretty tough when you assign your target a bunch of shit that is likely less than factual or has nothing to do with the current issue.

      • The thing that gets me with Greenwald and his crew are their complete non-reaction to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case.

        I am very pleased—and perhaps slothrop can join me here!—that Senator Professor Warren has publicly called on Comey to follow his own new precedent and tell the public about the FBI’s investigations in the banksters.

        • kped

          I loved that. She is doing two things here:

          1) Noting that the FBI really went beyond what they usually do in Clintons case, and

          2) Saying, OK, if that’s how you play, let’s see these other reports.

          She’s fantastic.

          • The Lorax

            That Comey presser was a total hit job. Which is what the banksters deserve.

        • ochospantalones

          Yeah, that was a brilliant move. If that’s how the game is played now there are plenty of other investigative files and reports we would love to see.

          • howard

            That is great, I hadn’t seen that.

            • The Dark God of Time

              “Never go in against an Okie when meanness is on the line.”

        • cpinva

          I had not heard about her doing this, but good on her. in fact, I’d go farther, I want to see all the records of all the republican “investigations” of Obama/members of his administration/HRC, since Jan. 20, 2009. I bet there’s all kinds of goodies in those. specifically, I want to see the financial records of all those “investigations”, to find out how much this do-nothing republican congress has cost the American Public, in brazen efforts to find something, anything, they could use to: a. impeach Obama (preferably on Jan. 21, 2009).,
          b. destroy HRC’s expected candidacy in 2016.

          the major problem the republican party has had, in all these “investigations”, is that the dipshits the republicans elected to congress are too fucking inept to run a competent investigation, comically so. I guess, in a way, the Tea Party/republicans/conservatives have actually done the Democratic Party a favor here. had they elected reasonably intelligent people to congress, they might have found something, no matter how minor, to bludgeon the D’s with.

          so thanks Glenn Beck.

    • kped

      My blood pressure is already rising and I’m at the freaking preamble to the interview…

      fter a handful of mainstream news outlets devoted huge amounts of time and resources to covering the foundation, a slew of liberal writers reacted in disgust. To them, the barrage of negative press about Clinton and the foundation wasn’t just misleading — it was actively dangerous, wrongly implying that Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest were remotely as worthy of our attention as Donald Trump’s endless parade of horribles. (The New York Times’s Paul Krugman articulated this perspective in a widely shared column titled “Hillary Clinton Gets Gored.”)

      No! Fucking hell that is wrong. People aren’t getting on the media for looking into the CLinton Foundation because Trump is worse. They (Krugman included) are getting after the media because they are writing these stories as if something happened when nothing did. They are going after the media for investigating, finding nothing wrong, writing that over 2000 words, and even though the investigation shows no wrongdoing saying “questions are raised”. No. Questions were raised, you answered them. Why are you pretending otherwise???

      God this is frustrating! And I’m not even at the hacks interview yet!

      • petesh

        2000 words? Pfui! That’s throat-clearing for GG.

        • Ben Murphy


          Nero Wolfe fan?

  • Crusty

    To borrow a phrase from Trump himself, is it possible that our newspapers and other media are being run by stupid people, very stupid, stupid people?

    For chrissakes, adding jobs is not the issue. It is how you add the jobs. To hear the media tell it, the race is between someone who is for economic growth and someone who is against it.

    The follow up questions are very simple- I’m going to create 15 million new jobs. How are you going to do that?

    Perhaps they’re not stupid, but rather the smear of the media as liberal, begun long ago, has worked spectacularly. Fearful of being accused of being a liberal, every reporter and news organization adopts a who am I to say position. Of course, adding jobs is not a policy, but a policy goal, but who am I to say his proposal is incomplete, who am I to say its nonsense, we report, you decide.

    • NewishLawyer

      I don’t think it is that they are stupid or that the fear being smeared with the liberal word.

      Talking about the media is useless because the media is vast. USA Today is a rather dumbed down newspaper and IIRC the owners are right-wing.

      What I really think it is for most media is that they want to be seen as cynical world-weary operators. They also adopt a mischief streak that likes to say “wouldn’t it be interesting if Trump were President?”

      For some reason, this desire to be seen as world-weary cynical insiders makes it easy for them to fall for a con.


      Savviness! Deep down, that’s what reporters want to believe in and actually do believe in — their own savviness and the savviness of certain others (including master operators like Karl Rove.) In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.

      Donald Trump is the savvy one in this view. HRC is the nerdy honors student running for Student Body President

      • howard

        I agree with that: I characterize the median political journalist as smug but shallow, naive people who are convinced they are sophisticated.

        • NewishLawyer

          I should point out that another commentator on LGM linked to this essay earlier this week.

          The media wants to be clever and they want to talk about people pulling off impossible things. HRC beating Trump by winning all of Obama’s 2012 states is boring.

          Trump somehow getting a victory (probably a victory a la Le Page) is interesting. It lets them write books and articles like “How Trump pulled it off” which are novel.

          Meanwhile the world will burn but hey…..

          • Heron

            Yeah. While simultaneously ignoring the fact that, by only providing negative coverage of Clinton, they in fact created the shift in the polls in the first place. It’s So Wonderful to see talking heads, on MSNBC and everywhere else, speculating on why the polls have changed when, for the last two weeks, they’ve done nothing but report on how terrible Clinton is through distorted reporting while ignoring Trump’s outrages.

      • CP

        Yep. I think this is the best article I’ve read yet on the subject of the Villagers’ worldview.

      • Phil Perspective

        Talking about the media is useless because the media is vast. USA Today is a rather dumbed down newspaper and IIRC the owners are right-wing.

        What I really think it is for most media is that they want to be seen as cynical world-weary operators.

        Doesn’t Gannett, or some other large company, own them now? Anyway, the founder of USA Today(Al Neuharth) was a right-wing crank. Big Media is owned by big corporations. They care about profits above all else. I can’t believe that has to be repeated every time. It holds true for Buzzfeed and Vox as well. So they’re interested in eyeballs. It appears that they’ve come to the conclusion that more Trump leads to more eyeballs and profits. I know I’m not watching any of that shit. Are people watching it for the car crash aspect? I don’t know.

      • cpinva

        “They also adopt a mischief streak that likes to say “wouldn’t it be interesting if Trump were President?”

        wouldn’t it be interesting if you were to hurl yourself off the top of the Grand Canyon? you’d be doing the country a favor, if you did.

        this is all a part of the “both sides do it, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties.” nonsense I’ve heard since the 70’s. any reporter, unable to tell the differences between the parties, should, instead, be flipping burgers at the nearest McDonald’s.

        is this what they’re being taught, in “Journalism” classes in college? there are always two sides to every story, even when there aren’t? you must give equal time to all participants, even when it’s clear that one or more of the participants are batshit crazy? even batshit crazies deserve representation?

        if this is indeed the case, then it’s well past time to shut down all those classes, because they are helping to destroy the country. they do this by promoting the fallacy that everyone’s story has equal value and legitimacy. no, they don’t. it’s the same fallacy that gave us “there are no stupid questions.” well yes, yes there are, and usually asked by stupid people.

        this also explains the slow, but inexorable, demise of hard-copy newspapers. they’ve adopted this “everyone and thing is equal.” strategy, in an (ultimately failed) effort to remain relevant and, more importantly, sustain circulation and ad revenues. it isn’t really working, because thinking people recognize it for what it is, and stop subscribing/buying the papers, and there aren’t enough really stupid people subscribing/buying to make up for that loss.

        ok, rant over.

    • MAJeff

      I don’t know if they’re stupid, but they’re incompetent.

      They’re political reporters, not policy reporters. They neither know nor care about the actual impact of policies, they only care about the arguments over them.

      • NeonTrotsky

        Even that seems generous. When was the last time there was actually a policy argument in this election cycle?

        • MAJeff

          Objectivity in their world is reporting what both sides say. That’s all they know how to do. It doesn’t matter whether the argument is about policy, but that there is an argument taking place.

          • cpinva

            “Objectivity in their world is reporting what both sides say.”

            any halfway competent stenographer can do that, why do we need reporters again?

        • Phil Perspective

          When was the last time there was actually a policy argument in this election cycle?

          The Democratic debates?

      • LeeEsq

        Most people don’t want policy reporting or analysis either. They want simple answers to complicated questions. So the press gives them what they want.

    • SP

      Are there even 25 million potential additional workers? U6 works out to something like 16 million people. Also Trump wants to deport/not allow employment for 11 million. So you need labor force participation to increase enough to bring in something like 10-15 million people (after accounting for population growth.) Maybe he’s secretly signaling that he plans to repeal child labor laws and wreck Social Security so that old people have to keep working until they die.

      • sergius

        I think this was Douglas Holtz-Eakin’s point in the interview I heard this morning on NPR’s Marketplace (I mentioned it below). It was hard to tell, though, because he and the host were not contextualizing the labor market very well. So the point should have been that Trump is basically making up numbers, but they treated it all rather seriously and just downgraded the rosy estimates. #Journalamism

      • (((Hogan)))

        He didn’t say they were full-time jobs.

        • ColBatGuano

          Or paying ones.

      • JKTH

        25 million additional jobs would be result in a record employment-to-population ratio. That’s not happening with today’s demographics.

        It’s sort of like how the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the Ryan budget had unemployment reaching 2.5% or something like that. When you actually do the math on these claims, they’re absurd.

        • cpinva

          “When you actually do the math on these claims, they’re absurd.”

          similar to the Republican’s constant claims that reducing marginal tax rates on the filthy rich and their corporations, will magically result in a booming economy, which will (also magically) make up for the lost tax revenues. even though they’ve been proven wrong historically, facts have never stopped them from continuing to make this claim.

        • Mrgrumpy

          More evidence of the special relationship Republicans have with math – Heritage did an analysis of Bush’s tax cut plan in 2001:

  • sergius

    I listened to NPR’s Marketplace after dropping the kid off at school this morning. They had on Douglas Holtz-Eakin to talk about Trump’s economic plan. Holtz-Eakin is a conservative economist, but even he had to admit that the tax cuts would still leave a several trillion dollar hole, the economy would not reach 4% growth, and that there was no possibility of 25 million new jobs (he thought there could be 10-15 million if things go well). And Holtz-Eakin was being extremely optimistic about the whole thing.

    And then when they listed their sponsors a few minutes later they included Koch Industries.

    • howard

      In other words, holtz eakin claimed that if things went really well, the economy might produce fewer jobs than it did after Clinton’s tax hikes and after Obama’s tax hikes.


    • BiloSagdiyev

      Heard that last night and was happy to see that a master hack like Eakin couldn’t contort his babble to Trump’s alleged plan. That’s new for Douggie.

    • JR in WV

      Marketplace has no relationship to NPR at all. Some FM stations that play NPR news ALSO play Marketplace, but that doesn’t create a relationship between them.

      No more than listening to Marketplace would create a relationship between you and the Koch boys. Now, contributing to and supporting Marketplace does create a relationship between Marketplace and the Koch boys, on the third hand.

  • howard

    Btw, I think he’s keeping it close by keeping his mouth closed: since he can’t possibly keep that up (birtherism!), I have hopes that the gap reopens.

    • Alex.S

      Today’s big press conference campaign event* held at the new Trump hotel on Trump’s birtherism is going to be an “interesting” test on the media.

      The campaign statement from late last night was really bad and easily disproven — https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/15/the-trump-campaign-acknowledges-the-truth-of-obamas-birthplace-layering-it-with-a-number-of-falsehoods/

      If he repeats it, it will be really difficult for the media to say he pivoted or whatever. Trump has recent birther statements from at least 2014 (I think I saw a few tweets or interviews from 2015 or 2016). But there’s a chance that media outlets will say “Trump accuses Clinton of being a birther” with a straight face.

      * It was a press conference. Might not be any longer. As you know, camppaigns can just cancel press conferences without anyone in the media criticizing them.

      • Boots Day

        Trump dishonestly claims the president was born in Africa, but hey, some people asked the Clinton Foundation for a favor, so both sides do it.

        • You liberals and your fascistic linguistic prescriptivism. What he means is perfectly clear.

      • rea

        And of course the headline I see in our local media about the Trump birtherism story is, naturally, “Clinton Slams Trump with Harsh Language”. (Oh, no–she called him a bigot!)

      • mnuba

        He admitted Obama was born in America, but lied a bunch about when birtherism started, when it ended, and took credit for ending it while blaming Hillary for the whole thing. Basically a repeat of last nights’ campaign statement padded by an extended ad for his own hotel (put on for free by the major news networks, natch).

        This will assuredly be reported as “Clinton, Trump blame each other for ‘birther’ controversy”.

        • petesh

          Trump blew it with the infomercial. Even hard-bitten cynical scribes noticed that they’d been had.

          • howard

            i’m not usually this good at predictions but i just knew as soon as i saw that trump was holding a birther event that he wouldn’t be able to not blow it, hence my 10:07, which has already been fully confirmed!

          • cpinva

            “Even hard-bitten cynical scribes noticed that they’d been had.”

            hard-bitten, but stupid. if they were really all that observant, they’d have noticed they’ve been had from the get go. what Donald Trump is running, isn’t a political campaign, and never has been. it’s the “Donald Trump Road Show”, whose sole purpose is to grift the rubes that make up the Republican base, and squeeze as much free publicity, for Trump and the Trump brand, as is possible, from a fawning/greedy/stupid media.

            Trump’s activities have never been about actually trying to get elected. what they have always been about is free publicity, and burnishing the Trump brand throughout the world, and doing so without spending much in the process. he never expected to win the Republican nomination, the primaries simply gave him access to millions and millions of dollars in free publicity, provided by the MSM and the virtual community.

            when he won the nomination, it should have been clear that he wasn’t serious, because he didn’t even have the outline of a legitimate political campaign in place, and he only just barely has one now. that those standing in for him (surrogates) all seem to be on different pages (from Mr. Trump, and each other), is simply the most obvious clue that no coherent campaign apparatus is in place, because he really has no expectation of winning, and he doesn’t even care how well he does.

            in summary, the whole “Donald Trump For President” “campaign” has actually been nothing more than a grift (by a master grifter), gone YUUUUGGGEEEELLLLYYYY big time. that it took a rather small time event, for the paparazzi to finally get it, is more a reflection on their lack of intelligence, than it is on Trump’s grift.

  • NewishLawyer


    This article contributes to the on-going debate on anti-democratic attitudes in the United States, Japan, Chile, and Indonesia. It is part of a larger SAIS project on authoritarianism and democracy in twelve countries, using data from four different rounds of the World Values Survey (1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010). Our conclusion is that democracies remain fragile for political reasons, not because of social class or culture clash, but because democracies contain within themselves substantial population blocs which are either ambivalent about democracy or opposed to it, and these groups, under particular circumstances and with the right leadership can be mobilized to weaken or destroy democracy. Mass attitudes about the legitimacy of the democratic political structure are a reality that transcends cultural, economic and class distinctions, and these well-established political beliefs form a potentially explosive element that may be difficult for public policy to defuse.


    • CrunchyFrog

      Yes. 35% of American voters would enthusiastically vote Trump President-for-Life.

      But I suspect the big difference between “journalists” today and journalists 40 years ago is that today so many of them are from that same group. Back then the vast majority of them understood in depth arguments for basic democratic features like freedom of speech/press, separation of church/state, civilian control of the military, and voting rights.

      Today I suspect that most TV “journalists” would as quickly abandon those requirements of democracy as they already have abandoned any concern about the 4th amendment, institutional torture, or the need for the press to be a watchdog over the military. As long as they’re in the inner party all is well.

  • Joe_JP

    “both sides do it” vs. reality, legal edition:

    As Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf has written:

    Trump so often finds himself a defendant because of his standard business modus operandi: He stiffs contractors, lenders, and others whom he owes money, hoping that they will not have the wherewithal to sue. … the 1,300 lawsuits against him may substantially understate his contempt for his legal obligations.

    Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, really hasn’t broken the law.

    So, yes, he’s not big on regulations.

    • NewishLawyer

      Lithwick covered this at Slate:


      Given Trump’s broad and demonstrable contempt for the rule of law, people who take the breaking of laws seriously are less than charmed by the whole “I’m too cool to be constrained by your stinking regulatory state” bluster. For anyone who still believes that this is a government of laws, not men, the man who persistently signals that the laws are a hassle has proven pretty terrifying. As the Hoover Institution’s Richard A. Epstein put it in the New York Times, when it comes to the rule of law, “Trump doesn’t even think there’s an issue to worry about. He just simply says, whatever I want to do, I will do.” And as UC–Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky has written, “Donald Trump’s views on the law and the legal system are truly frightening.” And Dorf contends that, given Trump’s stated admiration for one authoritarian dictator after another, “should Trump become president, no one would be safe from his toxic mix of bullying through law and acting above the law. He would replace rule of law with what Chinese scholars call rule by law.”

      • Joe_JP

        Yes, that’s my link too.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        And people here sneer at my suggestion that Trump’s governing philosophy (to the extent he has one) is more in line with sultanism than fascism….

  • NewishLawyer
    • LeeEsq

      Newsweek/the Daily Beast recently pointed out that Trump’s foreign ties go against United States security interests.

  • CP

    I maintain that the reason it’s this close is something I guessed several months ago when #NeverTrump was still going strong; that all the NeverTrumpists were full of shit, and that while they might need to let off steam after getting destroyed in the primaries, they would obediently line up behind Trump by the time the election actually happened.

    Now that’s happened (I’m sure media coverage helped, but they only needed thin rationalizations anyway), and the race has been revealed as what it was always going to be: a standard Democrat vs. Republican race. There will be no mass defections from the GOP. Except for maybe towards Gary Johnson, but polls say he’s drawing as much from our side, so it evens out.

    • howard

      Well, after all, the never trumpers couldn’t allow the she-devil to win.

    • NewishLawyer

      I don’t think the #NeverTrumpers are lining up. I think their powerlessness in the Republican Party was revealed.

    • Joe_JP

      Not how sure how strong #NeverTrump ever was. Telling for me was when Trump clearly was going to win the nomination (after Indiana). But, there still were many races left to have a strong protest vote. Instead, Cruz & Kasich simply dropped out and any opposition seemed token. So, Republicans had from May to adapt. Kasich didn’t endorse Trump but unless he supports Gary Johnson or something, it’s a default win for Trump if hurting him some is a key swing state.

      • CP

        Well, a month or so ago Trump was clearly behind in the polls and now they’re close. To me, a chunk of the electorate that was pissed off at Trump for winning the nomination but has come around because, as Howard says, you just can’t vote for the she-devil, explains this nicely.

  • Mike Furlan

    No, I think this history is why he is “keeping it close:”

    “The [Democratic] party consciously sold out the working class for corporate money. Bill Clinton, who argued that labor had nowhere else to go, in 1994 passed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which betrayed the working class. He went on to destroy welfare and in 1999 ripped down the firewalls between commercial and investment banks to turn the banking system over to speculators. Barack Obama, who raised more than $600 million to run for president, most of it from corporations, has served corporate interests as assiduously as his party. He has continued the looting of the U.S. Treasury by corporations, refused to help the millions of Americans who have lost their homes because of bank repossessions or foreclosures, and has failed to address the misery of our permanent class of unemployed.”


    • howard

      No, this is what is called “nuts.’

    • tsam

      No, that’s not why he’s in the race. What you’re looking at is hyperbolic rhetoric used to justify hating Hillary Clinton.

      Trump is in the race because the media is so graciously cutting him millions of miles of slack and dressing up his nutbag rantings as policy proposals.

      Nice try, tho.

    • Rob in CT

      Sure, sure, this isn’t about a massive white freakout over demographic and social change. It’s really about ethics in gaming journalism Americans yearning for socialism.

      • CP

        I don’t know what the hell it is with a certain segment of the left that remains determined to believe that the silent majority of people are just confused socialists, that voting for the Trumps of the world is just a cry for help, and that if only we ran a real socialist they’d all abandon the far right, the Republican establishment, and the Corporate Whore Democrats to rally around him.

        • glasnost

          There’s a difference- admittedly subtle, but work on it – between “americans are secretly yearning for socialism” and “shitty economic results leads to explosive growth in support for nihilism, authoritarianism, and socio-cultural scapegoating”

          Hilary Clinton was a bad candidate and is bad at being a poltician. She’s an easy target and yes, Gilbrand or Biden would have been a lot better. I depart from the Sanders boosters – by the time the election happens, it may be too late. I don’t know if Sanders would have been better, and don’t care. This is much bigger than Sanders vs. HRC.

          It’s entirely possible that we’re screwed by the inadequacy of policies enacted between 1995 and today at solving our economic decline, no matter what.

          It drives me crazy when people that this close election is being driven by racism with no relevance for economic outcomes, and yes of course there’s plenty of racism in america and yes it affects political choices. But racists have been voting republican since Richard Nixon. It makes no sense that racism is determining the margin of republican vote share between 2004 and 2016 – there’s no sane reason why americans have become *more* racist in the last decade.

          More to the point, outsider politics, crazy people, authoritarianism and nationalism + immigrant paranoia is growing everywhere across the western world, all at once. What’s also happening everywhere is a massive economic slump. And yet liberal blogs are all like “There’s no connection here RACISM HAPPENS BECAUSE RACISM”.

          America was pretty goddamn racist in the late 1990’s, huh? But it was a good time for incumbents, a good time for democrats, who were still the party of relative racial and social equality, vs. the other guys. What changed? It’s the fucking economic decline, kids.

          Mike Furlan is right. Social science makes the economic decline –> racism & authoritarianism salience connection quite clear.

          • Rob in CT

            More to the point, outsider politics, crazy people, authoritarianism and nationalism + immigrant paranoia is growing everywhere across the western world, all at once. What’s also happening everywhere is a massive economic slump. And yet liberal blogs are all like “There’s no connection here RACISM HAPPENS BECAUSE RACISM”.

            This is a fair point. There is a pattern here. The racism (and other bigotry – it’s not just race, it’s also gender and sexuality) is real, and pre-existing. It’s more vociferous now for reasons that certainly include economic weakness/massive inequality. That’s definitely part of the picture.

            But so is the whole “white folks can see the demographic tipping point coming” which isn’t about the economy. In the 90s people may have been just as bigoted (moreso, most likely), but with a roaring economy *and* with straight/white/Christian being a secure majority for quite some time yet, there wasn’t this level of freakout (though there certainly was some!). Now the economy took a big hit *and* the demographic shift is 20 years further on. Oh, yeah, and we have had a black President for 7 years now.

            ETA: I will quibble with “racists have been voting GOP since Nixon” because it’s really not that simple. Pew data will show you that there are a lot of white Dems who, though at least somewhat bigoted, remain Dems. More bigoted whites have voted GOP, but by no means are there zero votes to be lost if bigoted whites have an especially impressive freakout because reasons.

            • mnuba

              Oh, yeah, and we have had a black President for 7 years now.

              To which the Republican party responded by nominating, for President, a guy who entered politics by lying a bunch, racistly, about how our first black President wasn’t from America at all but literally from Africa.

          • CP

            More to the point, outsider politics, crazy people, authoritarianism and nationalism + immigrant paranoia is growing everywhere across the western world, all at once. What’s also happening everywhere is a massive economic slump. And yet liberal blogs are all like “There’s no connection here RACISM HAPPENS BECAUSE RACISM”.

            I’ve been watching the Front National rise in France my whole life, and it was doing it before that as well. It was founded decades ago, it grew during the seventies and eighties when the economy wasn’t good, it grew during the nineties and early 2000s when the economy was good, it grew in the late 2000s and 2010s when the economy was bad again. The phenomenon thrives on economic resentment, but if that’s not available, they’ll find other things to keep growing. The good economy of the nineties and 2000s didn’t do a thing to stop it. And it’s not the only European party that that’s true of.

            Similar things could be said about the ever-increasing rightward drift of the Republican Party and its increasing obsession with identity politics at the expense of everything else over the course of the last half-century.

            America was pretty goddamn racist in the late 1990’s, huh? But it was a good time for incumbents, a good time for democrats, who were still the party of relative racial and social equality, vs. the other guys. What changed? It’s the fucking economic decline, kids.

            The 1990s witnessed an explosion in militia movement activity, the continued rise of the religious right, the creation of Fox News and other hate radio outlets that helped mainstream such beliefs, a Republican takeover of Congress that put the final nail in the coffin of the Democratic coalition that had mostly controlled it since the 1950s, and the creation of the scorched-earth, obstruction-uber-alles, party-first model of politics that the teabaggers continue to perform today (culminating in a farcical impeachment attempt).

            Yes, there was lots of racism in the 1990s. As you can tell from all the above trends, it was making itself heard quite clearly, Bill Clinton’s good economy be damned.

        • Rob in CT

          Left-wing authoritarians exist. They are relatively few in number and have zero power, unlike RW authoritarians, but they exist. That’s where Great Leader worship comes from (and of course, such things exist on a spectrum). That’s how you get fantasies about electing Jill Stein(!!) or, frankly, any real outsider and then *magic happens* and things change radically. Because you elected someone POTUS. Once. Boom, take that, capitalism!!

          • Murc

            Left-wing authoritarians exist. They are relatively few in number and have zero power, unlike RW authoritarians, but they exist.

            This is true.

            I spend a fair bit of time in forums that have pretty far-left people in them. A lot of them are like… more forceful versions of DrDick, there’s a lot of talk about alternate economic and social systems. Most of those people would be quite at home here should they ever chose to come by.

            But there’s also a small number of people who are genuine old-school Lenin and Stalin style “fuck Enlightenment values, they’re a tool of bourgeoisie oppression” types. Guys who think think freedom of speech is a really bad idea, that espousing conservative ideas should be a kind of crime against society and punished with prison time, radical feminists who when they say “men are scum” really do mean “all men, everywhere, and they should be treated like subhuman children with a legal regime to enforce this.”

            These people are tiny in number, but they’re around. Thankfully we don’t have to pay much attention to them, because they’re without influence.

            • LeeEsq

              God help us from the mad, bad utopians. I suspect much of non-liberal America would confuse everybody on LGM with the authoritarian leftists above. Thid includes myself and I’m probably on the right side of the LGM political spectrum. One bad part of a two party system is that it collapses the political spectrum. This means that left covers everything from market liberals like myself to Dr. Dick to your mad, bad utopians.

              • The Dark God of Time

                We can see the result of one mad, bad attempt at Utopia in Kansas and Louisiana, but the press wouldn’t cover that because the majority of residents are good people*

                *Not including liberals, atheists, homosexuals, brown and black people, and Jews who don’t know their place.

                • LeeEsq

                  I was also think of the entire history of attempts to implement theocracy, fascism, and Communism.

                • The Dark God of Time

                  There are Christians who call themselves Dominionists, and they want to implement a theocracy in America ASAP.

                  The possibility of some sort of Leftie dictatorship of the proletariat arising in this country is exactly equal to the number of Bos domesticus who have successfully travelled between this planet and its’ largest natural satellite.

                • LeeEsq

                  All the more frustrating to American leftists.

                • The Dark God of Time

                  Only to those not in the Vanguard, Tovarich.

        • FlipYrWhig

          I don’t know what the hell it is with a certain segment of the left that remains determined to believe that the silent majority of people are just confused socialists

          Because the alternative is admitting that there aren’t many socialists in America, which, if you’re a socialist, is kind of dispiriting, although paradoxically it’s also kind of inspiring, because you can feel like you’re special.

          • Harkov311

            The only thing more infuriating is when socialists act all hurt and betrayed when liberals turn out to not be socialist, even though the liberals never even implied they were socialist.

            • LeeEsq

              To be fair to the socialists, it’s kind of hard to determine what self-identified liberals believe about economics at this point. On this site we have a wide range of opinions from lightly to heavy regulated market economics to very leftist anti-capitalist opinion.

              • CP

                That’s fair enough.

                I think it’s accurate to say that a solid majority of liberals agree that the American economy should be at least somewhat to the left of where it is now. Taxes should be more progressive, the safety net should be more comprehensive, regulation of big business should be stronger, workers should be better protected and empowered.

                Exactly what “more” means is where the lines get blurrier. We want universal health care, but not all of us want single-payer. We want affordable education, but not all of us want to make it completely free all the way through to the PHD level. And so on, and so forth.

                On top of that, while we might have a vague general consensus on issues like the above, there are still economic issues on which there’s a lot less unity. Like free trade, or immigration.

                Also, words like “socialism” and “liberalism” have been around for so long, applied to so many different parties, and spawned so many different sub-movements, that I’m not even sure what they mean anymore. I don’t think I could tell you whether I’m a “liberal” or a “socialist” – or at least it would take a lot of thinking. I think it’s fair to say that the Democratic Party lives somewhere in the gray area between classical liberalism and old-school socialism, trying to juggle the former’s concern with individual rights and the latter’s concern for the good of the community. Which pretty well describes me, as well – it’s why I identify with that party, more strongly than I do with any abstract ideology. I think that describes a lot of other Democratic voters, too.

                • LeeEsq

                  The Democratic Party never adopted on pure anti-capitalist plank at any time in its history while other socialist or labor parties really did believe that the state could replace the market and civil servants business people during the early and mid-20th century. During the Cold War, these anti-market platforms began disappearing. The Democratic Party was always on the more liberal than socialist side in economic debates.

                • CP

                  True, but then socialist parties all over the West have all been noticeably to the “right” of the purist socialist position for decades. Some of them may or may not pay lip service to the idea of replacing capitalism, but in practice, pretty much all the mainstream socialist parties in the West have settled down with a reformed capitalism. Which they might still want to reform some more, but let’s face it, even in Scandinavia the socialist parties are never going to lead the workers in seizing the means of production and no one really expects them to. Hence, again, what does “socialism” even mean nowadays? Sure the Democrats aren’t pure anti-capitalists, but these days neither are most “socialists.”

                • LeeEsq

                  Yeah, I noted this above. Socialist parties began treating on the entire public ownership of the means of production by the 1950s or 1960s at latest. The Labour Party of the United Kingdom was actually one of the last holdouts but there were big policy fights in Labour since Atlee about this issue.

                • CP

                  Right, I realized afterwards that we weren’t in disagreement there.

                  But… my point is, what’s the difference between a capitalist with a social conscience and a socialist who’s resigned himself to reforming capitalism instead of removing it? Very little, at this point. They both live in roughly the same gray area, as I said, between old school liberalism and old school socialism. Whether they came to it from one side or the other doesn’t seem to make much practical difference.

          • LeeEsq

            Nearly every political ideology and especially the more extreme ones rests on the idea that everybody secretly agrees with them with the exception of your most nefarious opponents. It’s kind of hard to admit that other people considered the same data or evidence you did and came to an entirely different conclusion and they think your conclusion is actively dangerous. Especially if you think you know the way to make heaven a place on earth.

          • guthrie

            The corrollary is that there aren’t many market capitalists in America either. Most people don’t know and couldn’t tell you if htey were a capitalist or not. And many who might identify as capitalists do everything they can to get rid of the market which might get in the way of them making lots of profit.

            • so-in-so

              many who might identify as capitalists do everything they can to get rid of the market which might get in the way of them making lots of profit.

              Heh, “free market” when the other guy has the monopoly.

            • LeeEsq

              You find the greatest support for both the pure free market and pure socialism in academia. You don’t find it among business people, politicians, civil servants, and the general public.

              • The Dark God of Time

                Most of those people in the latter group are told what to think by their peers and their education and think it without any reflection. It really doesn’t mean a whole lot, to be honest.

    • Murc

      This is nuts.

      The Democrats were bad on economic issues in the 90s and Barack Obama gave the finance industry an enormous pass (both salient criticisms) and because of that… people are voting for the guy who is much, much, MUCH worse than the Democrats on economic issues?

      No. You are wrong.

      • tsam

        The Democrats were bad on economic issues in the 90s and Barack Obama gave the finance industry an enormous pass (both salient criticisms) and because of that… people are voting for the guy who is much, much, MUCH worse than the Democrats on economic issues?

        It’s logic Murc. LOOK IT UP

        • Murc

          The most charitable read I can put on it is “there are a number of culturally conservative white people who would vote Democratic if it were much more economically populist than the Republicans, but since it isn’t, they’re gonna vote on the culture war instead.”

          And even that’s wrong, but it’s… less risible?

          • tsam

            I was being a smartass, man. Making fun of the 2 + 2 = Chicken formulation of the OP’s statement.

            • Murc

              Oh, I’m aware, yes.

              Stupid words and their lack of tone and inflection.

      • glasnost

        The Democrats were bad on economic issues in the 90s and Barack Obama gave the finance industry an enormous pass (both salient criticisms) and because of that… people are voting for the guy who is much, much, MUCH worse than the Democrats on economic issues?

        You think this doesn’t make sense, but you’re massively wrong about how people think. It’s very simple: Everything is worse –> I hate the person in charge. It’s very simple. Voters aren’t analysis teams. To a significant degree, they don’t know how government works, who wants to enact what policies, or what policies will or will not help them, much less the economy. Hell, even experts are not well-informed about all of this stuff at once.

        When you run on a record that voters perceive as a failure, an awful lot of them will vote for literal serial killers. They just want to punish you, end of discussion.

        • Rob in CT

          “FUCK YOU!” is on the ballot this year. Polling around 41%.

          I agree with you about voters and policy analysis (which sucks, but it’s reality).

          • tsam

            I can’t in good conscience vote for a liar like FUCK YOU. Even though DEEZ NUTZ is polling low, I’m hoping for matching federal funds to help with the coming revolution.

        • Murc

          I’m not sure I’m prepared to accept all this as true, because if I did, the only logical response is “democratic governance is not appropriate and we should look into forms of technocratic authoritarianism.”

          And I’m just not at that point.

          Also too:

          You think this doesn’t make sense, but you’re massively wrong about how people think. It’s very simple: Everything is worse –> I hate the person in charge.

          Even accepting this is true, which makes a sort of sense, things AREN’T worse. Things are much better now than they were in 2008, across the board. So shouldn’t Democrats be getting credit for that?

          • Harkov311

            I feel like this point isn’t made often enough. Economically, things are better now than they were eight years ago, at least when you look at the whole country.

            And the places where things got worse are generally the same places where things have been getting worse since the 70s. It’s not like southern West Virginia was some sort of shining beacon of prosperity until Obama showed up.

            • so-in-so

              Sure, but admitting that places the onus for change on the locals. I’m sure they’d rather think this was “done to them” than that they live somewhere that depended on a dying industry that and will not get better barring changes (they don’t want to make either).

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            Obama has had positive net approval ratings for about 6 months now. So he’s getting some credit for it. So it doesn’t really make sense, given that, to say that Hillary is being rejected because Democrats in general are being rejected. It can’t be that they think the Democrats have a record of failure, because they approve of Obama’s record, it would seem.

            Instead you have to argue that people hate the Clintons for the 90s and their record of failure. But that was when the economy was doing quite well. So this makes no sense given the premises laid out: if the average voter has no ability to analyze policy and connect it to economics, then it follows that they’re not making a real analysis of 90s economic policies and connecting it to the current situation. And at any rate, if you’re calling out NAFTA specifically, then with Obama’s support for the TPP, the voters ought to be rejecting him too. But they’re not. Given the premise of your argument, it’s more likely that the talk about free trade is just an excuse given for why they oppose her but the real reason is something else. And I don’t think the average Trump supporter will bring up NAFTA early in the list of reasons they’re supporting Trump anyway.

            Of course, in places like coal country, it is partly a “fuck you” because the economy there is bad. But those places aren’t representative of the country as a whole.

            The other problem with this theory, of course, is that it purports to be a grand theory of voter behavior, but has basically no ability to explain the behavior of non-white voters.

          • glasnost

            Even accepting this is true, which makes a sort of sense, things AREN’T worse. Things are much better now than they were in 2008, across the board. So shouldn’t Democrats be getting credit for that?

            In theory, but here’s the problems:

            1) people’s feelings don’t use measuring points as convenient as the beginning and end of presidential administrations. the financial crisis – and the entire prior decade to that – sent a lot of people into permanent instability, and they haven’t all recovered.

            Instead of thinking about law trials, think about a human being that plunges into depression after they get fired. Maybe they start by getting really angry at the company/person who fired them. But six months later, if they haven’t recovered, their anger begins to be directed at whoever is closest to them / who they notice the most, even if that person isn’t what caused the onset of depression.

            2) Related is something called the “Dead Cat Bounce” that Paul Krugman talks a lot about – things have gotten better – in a national statistic sense – over the past 8 years – from a horrible starting point, but they haven’t gotten so much better as to erase the experience. Income is like back to where it was in 2007. So the last 8 years = net flat, but with a horrible plunge in the middle.

            Related – most of the years between 2008 and now were experience = shit years. The improvement has been back-loaded. So the cumulative experience is: things sucked. When comcast screws up for several weeks and then fixes the problem in week 4, you don’t feel overly grateful. Expectations. What stands out is the traumatic lapse, not that things got better.

            3) What I can best give you is the Russian experience after the collapse of the USSR. What I observe from the data is that the resentment created by economic decline can have a long time lag. You can say “hey, Yeltsin did great! Things were already going to shit when he took office in 1991, were as bad as they ever got by 93, and 1999 was *better* than 93! But relative to 1975, they were still shit, and most of the year space between was awful. The resentment – the racism, nationalism, and xenophobia – took a long time to really find a focus point. There was a long time lag. That stuff didn’t explode the year following econ collapse, in a nice neat correlation. But the correlation, the interrelationship is obvious in the big picture.

            And it repeats everywhere. It’s not a coincidence that what’s happening in Europe is within a 10-year afterhalo of an econ collapse. It’s stupid to think that it is. The relative Euro governments didn’t all get tanked nice and neat in the following year, or never at all. They didn’t neccessarily get spared if they took over 3 years after the beginning and showed middling improvement. The damage is fucking done, and damage takes unpredictable, irrational, and lingering forms of manifestation.

        • FlipYrWhig

          Except everything is not worse and they still hate the person in charge, because they are hateful, awful, irredeemable, deplorable people who can’t be fixed.

        • Drexciya

          You think this doesn’t make sense, but you’re massively wrong about how people think. It’s very simple: Everything is worse –> I hate the person in charge. It’s very simple. Voters aren’t analysis teams. To a significant degree, they don’t know how government works, who wants to enact what policies, or what policies will or will not help them, much less the economy. Hell, even experts are not well-informed about all of this stuff at once.

          When you run on a record that voters perceive as a failure, an awful lot of them will vote for literal serial killers. They just want to punish you, end of discussion.

          glasnost is a case study in political analysis that only works if you assume that white people are the only voters. If they’re not making that assumption, then I’m exceedingly curious about how economics can be such an overriding determining factor when, despite being similarly (and in some cases more affected by poor economic choices), non-white people are, almost unanimously not making similar political choices.

          If Trump is only a choice for a subset of white people who you, quite questionably, ascribe totalizing poverty and economic suffering to, then racism remains the most sensible explanation—not least because economics has little to do with Trump’s distinguishing appeal, or his emphasis. To the extent that it does, he’s rhetorically suggesting a government and an economic arrangement that, like the days of yore, only served white people while presenting the rest of us as non-citizens, undeserving of either government representation or attention. This is a racist appeal, centered on the one question a white nationalist supporting electorate has put before us: who should government serve? Their answer, directed entirely toward brown and black undesirables has been “not. you.” It makes no sense to dismiss how central racism is to this calculation, or to apply economic rationales to that racism that are shared by demographics who have not organized around similar political ends. They are making this decision because they are white, against those of us who are not.

          • so-in-so

            What else would “Make America Great – AGAIN” mean? What changed that made it less great, that Trump could change back?

            It’s the culmination of the “calling someone racist is worse than racism” position the right has been pushing for years now.

          • Murc

            If they’re not making that assumption, then I’m exceedingly curious about how economics can be such an overriding determining factor when, despite being similarly (and in some cases more affected by poor economic choices), non-white people are, almost unanimously not making similar political choices.

            To be perhaps overly fair, non-white people don’t really have political choices in general elections. I mean, in a formal sense they do; nothing stops non-whites from voting for Republicans, and some do. In fact, there are some non-white demographics that are somewhat Republican-friendly; there’s a strong conservative streak among Filipinos and Vietnamese-Americans went for Romney by five points in 2012.

            But for the most part, if you’re non-white and automatically preclude voting for a political party that embodies the part of the nation that views you as subhuman scum… well, that leaves you with one (1) political choice, doesn’t it?

            • so-in-so

              This is true since the parties re-sorted themselves. In the past, non-white voters in some areas had choices, although most non-white Southern voters stuck to the (pre-Southern Strategy) GOP instead of the racist Dixiecrats, while I suspect the voting was more even in the Northeast with old-school economic conservative GOP and gradually liberalizing Democratic politicians.

          • glasnost

            So, my economic theory of political results is wrong because non-Caucasians aren’t voting for Donald Trump? Sure. Also, John McCain got 40% of the vote in 2008. And no doubt, if Donald Trump literally reduced us to the GDP of Bangladesh, he’d still get 20% of the vote in re-election, no doubt white.

            Yes, this is a point about “why isn’t Hilary Clinton hitting known African American Barack Obama’s 54% popular vote ceiling”. Yes, the difference is white people. Yes, economics is not the only motive voting force in America. I doubt you’d believe or stipulate that Donald Trump’s campaign is actually turning non-racist white people into racist white people. Right? After all, white supremacy is the defining feature of American life and always has been, right? So he’s getting the same amount of racism votes that other Republicans got in prior years – he’s just rubbing it in more.

            So, the net level of racism among American caucasians never changes (nor could it ever change, right?), but the net vote share of white people for the Democratic party changes without the Democratic party becoming any more racism-friendly, that I’ve noticed, in the past 8 years.

            So something else has to be happening. Or are you saying that, back in 2008 and 2012, white Americans couldn’t figure out which political party was going to be better for the interests of white supremacy? Really? Total mystery, huh? Why even bother to vote?

            I’m not the one here claiming that the influence that I’m particularly interested in is the only concievable influence on the US electorate. That’s you. Kind of a feature of your arguments, anything that exists that falls beyond the scope of your obsession must not actually exist.

      • Shirley0401

        A lot of Trump’s supporters might not be as sophisticated or informed as many of the people posting here. I work with a fair number of them, and like many of them. I wonder how many LGM readers can say the same.
        What I (also not as sophisticated or informed as many of the people posting here) have observed over the past couple decades is that many voters decide for whom to vote based not on a careful analysis of proposed policies, but on who 1) offers to shake things up, , 2) confirms their biases, and 3) makes them feel paid attention to. All of which Trump seems to be doing a better job accomplishing (albeit in an offensive and/or disingenuous manner) right now than Clinton.
        This is a strange year. And there are a lot of people who’ve been emboldened to parade their racism and xenophobia by the license Trump seems to provide. And yes, the media seems to be working very hard to keep things close (and people tuning in).
        Personal strengths/weaknesses of Clinton aside, if the Democratic party had spent the past 16 years as a vocal and active friend of the American worker, putting things like higher wages front-and-center (rather than often having to be prodded to support movements originating from outside the party when it becomes apparent poor people actually *would* prefer to make more money, rather than being shamed for having insufficient skills or not working hard enough), I personally don’t think Trump would have had the opportunity he’s had to promote himself as the only candidate who “gets it.”
        Clinton talks about the economy like the New Democrat she is. It’s all about modernization, globalization, competitiveness, innovation, &c.
        Trump says “They want to take your jobs. I’m going to make sure they don’t succeed. (Details to come after you elect me.)” When people are scared and vulnerable, even not-racist and not-deplorable people, I think they’re more likely to fall for this kind of thing.
        And also, yeah, a lot of people just don’t like Clinton, which doesn’t help. (Hell, I don’t like Clinton. At all. And I’m someone who’s planning to vote for her.)

    • If this is true, labor should have abandoned the Ds for a left party in 1988 or thereabouts when it became obvious the Ds, to win, at least thought they had to turn toward “neoliberal” candidates (which then meant people like Gary Hart). This would have led to R rule, but at least the Ds would have rejected the increased consensus among technocratic types that Great Society style economics were bad for the country. Instead, we got D politicians being elected who (along with liberal intellectuals, in the press and in academia) thought the country had to move a little to the right, economically, because things had gone too far to the left (some thought this was because people as a whole weren’t ready for this, others because it had been scientifically proven).

      And then, what, I don’t know, some kind of underpants bonanza, and all the smart people turning to Marxism, I guess.

      • tsam

        Underpants bonanza? GO ON….

      • CP

        The thing that goes unsaid in all this “the Democrats abandoned the working class” crap is that large segments of the (white) working class started to abandon the Democrats all the way back in the late sixties, decades before NAFTA and welfare reform and the DLC and the Third Way.

        • But also that the road to Mt. Pelerin starts back there too and I think is wider and more heavily traveled than was obvious at the time. John Rawls tied himself in knots, running up to 1974, to prove that some welfare policies might, possibly, be justified, sometimes, a little, if you take the feelings of the people taxed very much into account, and realize just how unusual and generally undesirable even that amount of coercion is (okay, a slight exaggeration), and he’s considered an ultraliberal promoter of the welfare state.

          In 1984 it was not obvious that the agreement letting the New Deal and welfare state stand out of some kind of liberal noblesse oblige was going to collapse. Even the DLC was not responsible for that.

        • Jackov

          The pattern of white income polarization (the upper third of income votes Republican 15 points higher than the lower third) is consistent with Stonecash’s finding* that “less-affluent whites have not moved away from the Democratic Party and that class divisions have not declined in American politics. *Less affluent whites now give higher levels of support to the Democrats (and lower levels to the Republicans) than in the 1950s and 1960s. Bartels

          Democratic presidential vote share has declined by almost 20 percentage points among southern whites without college degrees. Among non-southern whites without college degrees it has declined by one percentage point. That’s it. Fourteen elections, 52 years, one percentage point Among whites without a college degree, income has become a stronger predictor of the vote over time. But actually it’s those with less income, not more income, who are more likely to support Democratic presidential candidates.

        • Harkov311

          Exactly. Outside of labor unions, most working class whites (especially in the south and rural areas) made it pretty clear in 1968 and after that they were much more concerned with white cultural dominance than with their class.

          But then all these people swoop in to their defense saying things like “well they’re alienated,” to which all I can say is that it’s interesting that this alienation expressed itself in a racist policy of deportation and exclusion and not in cries for socialism, and it’s interesting that this alienation is mostly non-union workers in rural and exurban areas, and they’re all white. They don’t want socialism, they want the system to be biased in their favor again, hence the Trump slogan.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      As analysis it’s nuts. But it rhymes very nicely with the Brexit vote, the rise of the far right in continental Europe, and so forth. We have a fundamentally broken economic system and the mainstream, electoral left seems not to be responding to these problems. A certain percentage of voters who might have traditionally voted for center-left parties seem to be saying “fuck it” and cast their ballots for people who in one way or another promise to burn the whole thing down. And around the global North, the far right is much more willing to make such promises than the left. I think that’s the appeal, such as it is, of Gary Johnson to some people who like to tell themselves they’re progressive. The interesting twist in this country is that while in the Brexit vote, e.g., the old led the charge to the right (and Trump’s core support skews old), the key constituency abandoning Clinton are the young, many of whom feel a profound sense of helplessness and cannot be appealed to by promising them more of the same.

      • howard

        But the brexit vote wasn’t for burn it down: it was for the lie that leaving the EU would free up an enormous sum of money for the NHS.

        And about English xenophobia.

        • But the brexit vote wasn’t for burn it down

          Actually a significantly component was for burning it (the EU) down. Farage was pretty upfront about that.

          • howard

            the number one claim of the brexit campaign was that leaving would free resources for the nhs: it was the first thing they walked back after the result.

            sure, there were lots of factors, but i don’t think that the brexit vote is a useful parallel for systemic anger in the united states.

            • the number one claim of the brexit campaign was that leaving would free resources for the nhs:

              It was one of them. Not the number one. There were a number of top line ones.

              it was the first thing they walked back after the result.

              There were so many things walked back the first week. ;)

              sure, there were lots of factors, but i don’t think that the brexit vote is a useful parallel for systemic anger in the united states.

              Well, my main point is that there was a substantive burn it down component. Both directly of the EU but also that people were mad at the status quo and voted brexit not for brexit but as a vote against the status quo.

              • Thinking about it, immigration almost certainly was number 1. By a wide margin.

                • howard

                  Hence my initial reference to English xenophobia.

              • guthrie

                I think the brexit vote is a useful parallel, since we have sytemic anger here in the UK as well, it’s just that being British we don’t riot in the streets much.

        • If the Brexit vote had come up before the refugee crisis, when everyone was still talking about Greece, say, the public discussion would have been very different, in a number of ways.

          • Murc

            Not necessarily more accurate, though.

            I might be nuts, but I simultaneously hold the opinion that Greece should have gotten out years ago and that Britain getting out is insane.

            • Rob in CT

              No, you are not nuts. Greece was on the Euro. Britain is not, and this is a key difference.

              • Yep.

                Plus, technically what you should want is for the UK to stay in the EU and Greece to leave the Euro. It’s unclear whether then can just leave the Euro, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

                Leaving the EU is likely to be pretty bad for Greece.

                • Murc

                  Plus, technically what you should want is for the UK to stay in the EU and Greece to leave the Euro.

                  Yes. Absolutely. I should have been more clear. Also in that vein; while I’m of the opinion Greece should have gotten out in like 2010-2012, I’m not at all sure, one way or the other, if getting out NOW would be a good idea.

                  It’s unclear whether then can just leave the Euro, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

                  The question is, if they bail on the Euro, could they be kicked out? Or economically retaliated against in a way that’s de facto the same as kicking them out, by say, suspending their privileges?

                  Leaving the EU is likely to be pretty bad for Greece.

                  Oh, absolutely. Hell, even just leaving the Euro would be pretty bad. Like, super bad.

                  I was for it as a policy because it seemed less bad than what the EU was offering them, which was “if you trash your public institutions and sell off all your best stuff, maybe, in three decades, you can claw your way out from under this debt load. Until then expect unemployment at around 35%. But we damn well expect your payments on time, you lazy sumbitches.”

                  Faced with that, it seems like “fuck it, we out, we repudiate all our debt and re-establish the drachma, things will be terribad but not as terribad as door number one” was a viable path.

                • howard

                  I believe things would have gotten worse in the short run had Greece left the euro, but better now.

                  Leaving now I’m not so sure.

                • Ronan

                  I don’t really see a plausible situation where Greece outside the euro is better today. You’re going to have no better (possibly worse) economic dysfunction in the short term, resulting political dysfunction, no European institutions to take the (well deserved) blame, domestic political strife, people second guessing the decision to leave, no plan to transition to the drachma, still have obligations to your creditors, no ability to borrow on capital markets.. there’s no good hypothetical outside it that I can see.

                • Murc

                  still have obligations to your creditors

                  The whole point of bailing would be that it would give them the ability to tell their creditors to go fuck themselves, Argentina style.

                  You’re correct if that isn’t actually possible, then bailing would not have been a good choice, but why wouldn’t it be? What’re the Germans gonna do, invade Greece on behalf of their banks?

                • Ronan

                  Argentina didnt just tell their creditors to ‘go fuck themselves.’ They offered haircuts which were accepted by the majority of their creditors initially, and then after a number of years of increasing unemployment and economic collapse their economy was helped by a commodity boom (which wouldnt apply to Greece)
                  Then they got pulled through the courts by the holdouts for fifteen years (until this year, where they got relatively small reductions on their remaining debts) and afaik were unable to borrow on capital markets for most, if not all, of that time.




      • rea

        that’s the appeal, such as it is, of Gary Johnson to some people who like to tell themselves they’re progressive

        Well, hell–Johnson’s economic policies will crash the economy, but everyone knows that dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope. George Crumb for Secretary of the Treasury!

        • ajay

          I think you mean Gilbert Shelton. (Did you mean Robert Crumb? George Crumb is apparently an avant-garde composer who invented cellos that sound like seagulls.)

          • rea

            Robert Crumb. There is a reason I have trouble remembering these things . . .

            • The Dark God of Time

              OTOT, George would be great for NASA.

              And he was right, it’s from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, which weren’t done by Crumb.

      • Murc

        We have a fundamentally broken economic system and the mainstream, electoral left seems not to be responding to these problems.

        I think it is a bit more complicated than that.

        There isn’t a lot of stomach for real reform among the electorate as a whole. People want jobs and fat pensions and health care, yeah, that all polls well, but the second you start talking specifics or especially when you start talking about how to pay for it, support craters. The Democratic Party doesn’t respond to those problems in a vigorous way because often, when they try out vigorous responses they don’t get a countervailing vigorously positive response.

        Now, the Republicans have the same problem, in that much of their platform isn’t actually popular. But the Republicans have sort of a key advantage; they don’t care. They’re willing to lie their way into office and then get on with the looting. Even if the in-coalition support for massive reform existed, Democrats are… less than willing to do things like “run on a platform with a veneer of sensible moderation, then enact socialism once they’re in power.” People who are that dishonest become… Republicans.

        This system is moderately unstable to begin with, and it becomes more unstable the more fractured the electorate becomes. The political dysfunction we see is a reflection of deep divisions within the electorate, not the cause of it. Nobody gets anything done because they legitimately can’t muster the support to do so, not because they don’t give a shit.

        the key constituency abandoning Clinton are the young, many of whom feel a profound sense of helplessness and cannot be appealed to by promising them more of the same.

        This seems to be true, but the problem there is that appealing to this demographic would lose you support elsewhere. How do you square that circle? Especially when this demographic seems to have no coherent policy preference? I mean… if you were for Sanders, but if you can’t have Sanders you’re for Trump or Johnson, my reaction isn’t “gosh, this person has a sense of helplessness.” It’s “this person is an idiot and doesn’t know what they want beyond someone to send a tingle down their leg.”

        And I don’t respect that desire. I may occasionally advocate pandering to it but I don’t respect it.

        • ColBatGuano

          the second you start talking specifics or especially when you start talking about how to pay for it, support craters.

          Right. Raising taxes or eliminating tax cuts is a losing electoral stance in this country. I mean, Brownback managed to get re-elected regardless of the terrible outcome of his policies.

      • Jackov

        Clinton is currently off three points from Obama’s 2012 spread among the under 30s. Her +20 with that group is far superior to her small negative spread with the 45-64 and 65+ groups. If any abandoning took place it was between 2008 and 2012 when Obama dropped
        11 points among young voters.

  • junker

    Today, the press was extremely late to his NH event because their plane was delayed. It’s important to keep in mind that the Trump campaign is in charge of press pool travel. So, the delay was caused by his campaign. In spite (or perhaps because) of this, he spent a good chunk of the event insulting the press for being delayed to his event, a delay his campaign caused!

    What I can’t fathom is how the media can treat him with kid gloves and try to do BOTH SIDES when he openly mocks them and threatens to destroy their line of work if he becomes President. I know they’re pissy about Clinton but Jesus Christ at least she doesn’t publicly mock and shame them after screwing them over.

    • Murc

      Today, the press was extremely late to his NH event because their plane was delayed. It’s important to keep in mind that the Trump campaign is in charge of press pool travel.

      … why?

      What self-respecting media outlet would put the travel arrangements, or anything really, of their reporters in the hands of Trump?

      Oh. “Self-respecting.” Right.

      Although it is weird they haven’t turned against him more for that sort of treatment. Journalists are super thin-skinned, you’d think being jerked around would generate a response.

      • junker

        On the Clinton campaign Clinton is now traveling with the press – so the pool of reporters assigned to her now share her plane so that wherever she goes, they go.

        I imagine that Trump finds it distasteful to have reporters on the plane with him so his campaign is using a separate plane to transport them around. As you say, you would think they would be think-skinned enough that this would upset them. Hilary “I hate the press” Clinton is extending them the courtesy of sharing travel but Trump isn’t.

        One explanation: supposedly some of the reporters wanted to boycott as a response but the higher-ups at their outlets refused to allow that.

        • CrunchyFrog

          I find this interesting because it’s the opposite of the Bush/Gore narrative. Then Gore was supposedly aloof to the press while Bush went back and chatted them up all of the time. That was offered as an explanation for why they demonized Gore and declared Bush saint.

          Turns out that was bullshit. The real reason is that the management of the media was systematically replaced – as proposed by Heritage – over a 12 year period starting in the mid-1980s with Republicans, and they in turn promoted those who agreed with their views to positions of reporting, editing, and (critically) headline writing.

  • NewishLawyer

    The Upshot’s view of the election is interesting. Go down to the section where they show how various polls are covering the states:


    Trump rose in a lot of state polls but many of those are irrelevant. Who cares if Trump’s chances of winning Washington are 8 percent instead of 3 percent and his chances of winning South Carolina are 89 percent.

    His biggest gains are in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Iowa. But these are still largely tossups. Ohio is the only one that went solidly red in most polls/aggregates.

    HRC can devote a lot of energy and probably flip a few of these states.

    • postmodulator

      Ohio is the only one that went solidly red in most polls/aggregates.

      I’m half-convinced the shitty Strickland campaign is dragging HRC’s polling down with it. Three months of unanswered attack ads.

      • NewishLawyer

        Maybe. Ohio seems like the most purple of purple states but also one with a significant Republican history. I think changing demographics are also hurting the Democratic Party in Ohio a bit with some party abandonment among union members for Trump.

        Still, I think a strong and concerted effort can turn the state around but it will be close.

        • CrunchyFrog

          White union members have to be breaking very strongly for Trump. Yeah, they’re like PATCO cheering on Reagan, but he’s gonna stick it to the blahs and wet****s so it’s all good, right?

      • Portman’s seat was widely speculated to be one of the most vulnerable in the case of a Trump nomination, so the conservative PACs and 501(c) groups have been pouring money into his campaign. He has, and has spent, three times as much money as Strickland. And pretty much all of the attack ads, at bottom, boil down to “he happened to be our governor when the biggest financial crisis in 75 years occurred.”

  • Crusty

    It must be close because approximately half the country likes Trump. That may or may not (likely) make them deplorable and/or stupid.

    • Joe_JP

      approximately half the country likes Trump

      With poll numbers for Trump in the 40s (a range) & this includes those who don’t much like the guy but don’t like Clinton or will vote party not person, this sounds iffy to me.

      • Crusty

        1) I count will vote for Trump but don’t much like the guy as liking Trump.

        2) in the 40’s? Isn’t close to half?

        • Joe_JP

          #2 might work [putting aside if 42% or whatever is realy “approximately half”] if you go with #1 (where those who “don’t much like” is counted as “like”)

          “like” for me is actually liking Trump as compared to some phrasing about who they might vote for. It’s not necessary to like a person to vote for them. And, if simply voting for a person is the same as “like,” the word is being used in a special way that might deserve an asterisk.

          • Crusty

            How about like him for president out of the current crop of candidates?

  • Steve

    And on the tombstone of the republic, an epitaph:
    “Both sides do it, said the NY Times staff.”

    • LeeEsq


  • King Goat

    The media has largely been unfair to Clinton, but it was entirely predictable. Anyone who hasn’t realized the media doesn’t care for the Clintons, and hasn’t cared for them in a long while, hasn’t been paying attention. It’s just another reason, along with her age, her unfavorables, etc., that have made her run a campaign where she’s basically tied with this monstrous clown. But everyone involved should have known this was a potential result of her being the nominee. It’s unfair, of course, but so’s much of life.
    Edited: most of what’s hurting Clinton is grossly unfai, except for some boneheaded things she did herself like her choice of Kaine rather than someone to heal the primary rift and excite the base

    • Mickey Kaus

      How YOU doin’?

    • Steve

      If she hadn’t run, I suppose Biden would have run and would have been the most likely nominee though maybe some others folks would have come out of the woodwork as well (maybe even Kaine). How do you think Biden v. Trump is going over on Earth-2?

      • NonyNony

        About the same. He was the Senator from MBNA before he became the VP and so the Real True Lefitsts would hate him too.

        • Steve

          He occupies approximately the same policy space as Clinton though he is male. I basically agree with you but want to see what King Goat thinks.

          • postmodulator

            Biden’s got a 50% favorable rating right now, but who knows if he’d be doing as well if he’d just gone through a contested primary complete with Sandernistas calling him “the Senator from MBNA” and disrupting his convention.

            On a personal note, I’m not enormously bothered by the MBNA thing, as I consider that just a part of the reality we’re in, but Biden at 73 is getting to be on the outside of where I’m comfortable with, presidential-age-wise.

      • About as well as Sanders vs. Trump.

      • King Goat

        Biden? Maybe better. I’d rather have seen someone like Gillibrand.

        • NonyNony

          You honestly think that Gillibrand would be doing better with the press than Clinton is?


          • King Goat

            Yes, like infants they like new faces.

      • “Over on Earth-2”? The one we are in is not Earth-1 but Earth-666.

        • King Goat

          So we’re in the Marvel and not the DCU

      • bender

        Biden? Why not revive Hubert Humphrey and run him?

    • howard

      repeat after me: veeps are basically irrelevant to the presidential vote.

      • King Goat

        I think Trump’s pick helped him, don’t you?

        • FlipYrWhig

          No. No one knows who he is or cares.

          • King Goat

            Trump needed to heal his own intra-party rifts, and especially with the ‘mainstream’ GOP donors. He also needed to add some ‘mainstream’ to his candidacy. Choosing Pence, a rather boring, sitting governor helped him there.

            • (((Hogan)))

              No he didn’t. They were always coming back to him. And if Pence is adding “mainstream” to the campaign, it’s in homeopathic doses.

              • King Goat

                I think at the least it sped this process up for him.

                • (((Hogan)))

                  By what, a week? Ten days?

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          It didn’t hurt him. It didn’t help much either. Trump had slim pickings from “normal” Republicans, and he got stuck with a mediocrity as a result.

          But yes, it was better than if he had chosen Christie, Gingrich, Giuliani, Palin or some other idiot/toadie.

          But saying he avoided shooting himself in the foot is not exactly the same as “helping himself.” Pence is not helping him win anything except possibly making Indiana less competitive (and it wasn’t going to be competitive except in a blowout) and even then if the GOP doesn’t win the governor’s race or the senate race there (both real possibilities), I would feel a bit iffy attributing their presidential win to Pence.

          Meanwhile, Clinton is running about 4 pts ahead of her national polls in VA, which matched the national vote dead-on in 2012 (it had no partisan lean in 2012). Some of this is demographic change and Trump’s lack of appeal to the college educated. But in July, she was barely running ahead of the national polls in VA. Given that VA is and was more competitive than Indiana, I’d say the Kaine pick was much more helpful.

    • sibusisodan

      It’s just another reason, along with her age, her unfavorables, etc., that have made her run a campaign where she’s basically tied with this monstrous clown.

      …what would a campaign which didn’t ‘basically tie’ with Trump look like? How would it differ?

      You seem to assume that there’s a large swathe of voters just waiting for the right campaign to vote D, but absent that, will vote R. That’s…implausible.

      • I think this is the first election in a couple of decades where that wasn’t the assumption: the quest for the elusive swing voter, the delusion that most “independents” (who were invariably demographically homogeneous taken over the years) were actually get table by either side. And good riddance.

      • CrunchyFrog

        It’s not her campaign – that’s been disciplined and well organized.

        It’s her. Her supporters don’t want to hear it – and no, I’m not a BernieBot and I’m voting for Clinton and I’m talking anyone who’ll listen into voting for Clinton – but she’s a really unappealing candidate.

        I’ve heard all of the objections to this. “She had great numbers as Secretary of State”. Sure, so did virtually all SoSs. Secretarys of State do basically nothing of impact to 99% of the population – all of their work is with other countries. Even Alex Haig was popular until his freak out at the assassination attempt. “She was a popular Senator”. First, Senators and Governors get nowhere near the scrutiny of Presidents, and Senators in particular don’t implement actual policies – they mostly just talk about them. Second, many people who are popular as Senators or Governors DIE on the national stage. Colorado’s popular Governor Hickenlooper comes across poorly on TV – he’s popular because things are going well in the state, but he’d be an awful national candidate.

        The problem is that Clinton is loathed by a large part of populace, and even among those who give her a positive approval that approval is often lukewarm. Her charisma appeal is even worse than Bush and Gore. Her husband, who has all of the same baggage and then some, has a higher popularity rating and if he was up against Trump would be doing much better. And yes, some of that is sexist, but some of it is HRC. Give Jennifer Granholm the same record as HRC and birthright citizenship and put her in HRC’s spot and Trump would be down in the polls by double digits. It’s absolutely not fair, but it’s reality.

        In a way we’re fortunate that is is Trump. Idiots like Rubio or Jeb! would be running away with it by now. Even Cruz might be in the lead. Yes, we political junkies know all of their weaknesses and problems with their policies, but the low info voters don’t, and the media is proving they won’t tell them.

        And don’t think I’m saying we should have picked Sanders. Sanders was never a viable national candidate. I’m saying that the Democratic powers shouldn’t have parted the waters and cleared all of the obstacles to assure that Clinton would be the foreordained choice.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          Hillary’s not charismatic, but Jeb! is charismatic enough to be running away with it? If we’re being generous, Jeb! is Hillary’s equal in the charisma department.

          Ted Cruz almost has negative charisma. It’s less clear to me how it works out because he’s wilier than Jeb! Marco Rubio, I will grant you comes off a lot more likable (not to me, because I could always tell he was just spewing rote platitudes all the time and was an empty suit, something that was exposed at that NH debate).

          In all these cases, however, the focus of the campaign would be very different. They might even be talking about policy! And Hillary’s policy is definitely better. And it’s probably worth pointing out that Clinton’s polls versus them were fairly similar to her polls versus Trump, and she led all of them in hypothetical polls in 2015, and was ahead or narrowly behind during the primaries*. It might have even affected Sanders’s calculations (seeing Trump as a weaker opponent I would guess made him more willing to go hard against her even after it was clear he couldn’t win).

          These hypotheticals have a lot of variables, but the evidence from before the nominations were settled was that Trump was noticeably weaker than the other Republicans, but that Clinton was narrowly favored in most matchups. She definitely has a charisma-deficit, but Bush and Cruz winning or running away with it I don’t see as a given. I grant you that Rubio and Kasich would likely be doing a few points better, but running away? Maybe, maybe not. The whole trajectory of the campaign would be different.

          *Kasich opened up a larger lead late in the primaries, but he was just “that normal Republican I don’t know anything about” vs. Hillary who got plenty of attacks from both sides during the primaries.

          • Davis X. Machina

            It’s genetic. Charisma is carried on the Y chromosome.

          • CrunchyFrog

            It’s not all about Charisma. Jeb has no charisma but also no clear negatives. Bill Clinton has a lot of negatives but charisma to counter-balance. Ditto Trump (sad to say – obviously a lot of people like blowhard liars).

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              Isn’t his last name being Bush a negative? There’s a reason he went with Jeb! and not Bush!

              • CrunchyFrog

                Not so much any more amongst the low info voters. Ditto Clinton – although the situations were night and day different in that Clinton exited with high approval ratings and they generally stayed high, while Bush exited with abyssmal ratings and they’ve creeped up slowly since as a combination of dimming memories of how bad he was combined with a well-funded image rehabilitation campaign.

                (By the way, exiting with bad ratings and having them go up afterwards is a Republican trait, and has been true of every Republican since they started exit ratings. I’ll offer that Eisenhower might be an exception – Gallup might have asked an approval-of-ex-Presidents question annually back then for all I know – but then Eisenhower was wholly different in that he led from the middle and the Democrats would have happily nominated him if he’d given them the chance.)

        • sibusisodan

          Where I think we differ is in your hypotheticals. I simply do not think that a non term limited WJC or alternative female pol would be doing much better. I don’t know what the reasoning is that justifies that.

          From a different direction: Mitt Romney. Lots of weaknesses as a candidate. Little charisma. Not much stardust. Still got 47% of the vote.

          If the kind of candidate quality your talking about doesn’t have much of a negative effect when absent, it needs more showing its positive effect when present.

    • FlipYrWhig

      The base is middle-aged women and people of color of all ages, who are excited by Hillary Clinton. The base is not the Sanders contingent, as evinced by the fact that the Sanders contingent lost.

      • King Goat

        Have you been reading about Hillary’s numbers with Hispanics? Concerned at all?

        “The base is not the Sanders contingent”

        But they’re *part* the base. Middle aged women and people of color, check, agreed, but white activists leftists are a significant part to. Their were picks that would have appealed to all three groups, as it were Kaine didn’t even appeal to people of color and white activist leftists. He was the pick of an approach exuding the cautiousness born from overconfidence, the ‘we got this locked up, just don’t rock the boat and upset the middle.’ But that’s a rather running mistake with Clinton (see the Iraq vote, the 08 campaign, etc).

      • Davis X. Machina

        Lose, or have the nomination stolen by a corrupt party?

        Conceding ‘lose’ would be as big a concession as any Trump offered up today.

    • ColBatGuano

      boneheaded things she did herself like her choice of Kaine rather than someone to heal the primary rift and excite the base

      Nice hot take.

    • BartletForGallifrey

      1. There is no one she could have picked who would have gotten the now-supporting-Jill people on board. Including Jill herself.
      2. That’s not who the Democratic base is.


    • Shirley0401

      I think you’re being charitable in referring to the choice of Kaine as “boneheaded.” Her VP pick was her big chance to show the base she’d heard them and was going to represent them. She’s a “progressive who gets things done,” right? Has anyone – ever – referred to Tim Kaine as a progressive?
      I don’t know how much the average voter cares about VP picks, but I knew more than a couple people who lean progressive, have been very active in volunteering for Dems in the past, got super-excited about Sanders, had accepted Clinton w/progressive platform, and seemed to be utterly disheartened when she tapped “pro-fracking, pro-life, pro-corporate, anti-union” Kaine as VP. If she wanted to convince Sanders supporters she heard them, she did a piss-poor job of doing it.
      Most of them will vote for her, but I don’t see any of them doing much to convince others to do the same. They’re simply too disheartened, and don’t want to be proved liars when she signs TPP (or something similar but with a different acronym) within her first 90 days.

      • Shirley0401

        And re: base being middle-aged women and people of color: they’re part of the base. So are the 40% of people (some of them, believe it or not, those very same middle-aged women and people of color!) who voted for Sanders. I think of the Guardian article from early in the primary where a female voter said she agreed with Sanders about more, but voted for Clinton because everyone knew she was going to win and it was important to focus on unity, or something to that effect. Point being: there’s overlap, and the Kaine choice pissed off a good chunk of the people Clinton is theoretically trying to convince she’s a “progressive who gets things done.”
        Besides that, I don’t know a single middle-aged woman or person of color who was chomping at the bit for Kaine. I can think of a dozen national-level politicians who would probably be just as acceptable (i.e. mostly unknown) to those groups as Kaine, but who wouldn’t have felt like spit in the face of Sanders supporters.
        My point isn’t that it’s Clinton’s job to do everything just like Sanders would, because otherwise his hair-trigger Bots will vote for Stein. Most of them will vote for her. But thanks in large part to the Kaine choice, their enthusiasm level is near nil.

  • Shorter Trump: “Just look at Kansas. It worked so well for them I want to expand it to the rest of the country.”

    • Steve

      The best case scenario is that he just lets Ryan-types pass their Randroid bills and suggest their randroid judges and bureaucrats.

      More like he mixes a fundamentalist Pence-approved Justice or two, with randroid tax and welfare plans, scary-ass law and order and immigration bills, and alt-right judges and bureaucrats. He sets off new trade wars and regional arms races…RWNJ increase hate attacks on minorities…at all levels GOP candidates start running open white nationalist campaigns for office. And I am sure there will be a few major diplomatic and military incidents…

  • Brett

    Trump’s keeping it “close”* because most of the conservatives who will vote for him simply don’t hear about his scandals, except through conservative media – and they all think the “liberal media” is biased against him anyways. Just turn on Fox News.

    * Not close at all – he’s still going to decisively lose in November at the current rate.

    • Crusty

      It depends what decisively lose means. If the popular vote is 50.1 to 49.9 in favor of Hillary in all fifty states, is that decisive?

  • NewishLawyer

    Some recognition that journalists are failing:


    Though saying politicians instead of Trump is trying to have it both ways!

  • xq

    OK, that’s USA Today. Let’s take a broader view. Typed “Trump Economic Plan” in google news. Here’s the first 10 hits:

    CNBC: “Trump scales back tax cuts in new economic plan.” Mentions that plan will benefit “wealthiest taxpayers” in first paragraph.

    Wall Street Journal: “Donald Trump Promises Tax Cuts, Offset by Robust Growth”. Subheadline: “Skeptics in both parties question whether policies will deliver predicted GDP and employment gains.” A fairly negative article given the source.

    TIME: “Donald Trump’s Economic Plan Is Magical Thinking”

    Fox Business: “Economists say Trump’s economic plan is an impossible blend.” A negative article in a RW source.

    Reuters Blogs: “Trump’s economic plan built on typical hyperbole”

    LA Times: “Donald Trump revises his economic plan but leaves many questions unanswered”

    Chicago Tribune: “Economists: Trump’s economic plans depend on unlikely growth”

    (an article from Breitbart, who cares)

    NPR: “Trump Confident He Can Speed Economic Growth To Rate Not Seen In Years”

    Grist: “Trump’s economic plan: Free your miners and the jobs will follow”

    The overall coverage of Trump’s economic plan, while far from perfect, is much more negative than suggested by that one article from USA Today. I think progressives tend to overstate the extent to which media coverage helps Trump because we pick out individual bad articles and pass them around. The overall tone of coverage is much less in Trump’s favor than suggested by the worst examples of the media’s bad tendencies.

    • Nick056

      Thank you for doing some work on this question.

      Again, I’m a dissenter here, but the tone of the media coverage overall, while it has significant issues with proportionality, is not some pliant Trump love fest or uncritical stenography of all his claims.

    • NewishLawyer

      Of course this leads to a depressing conclusion that Trump is somehow media-proof in the same way Adam Sandler or Zac Snyder movies movies are often critic proof.

      • xq

        I don’t think it’s specific to Trump. There’s just not much room for the media to influence elections. The vast majority of voters are committed partisans and aren’t changing their minds. Of the remainder, most are low-information voters who don’t consume much news. The theory that Clinton is losing votes because the NYT says Trump “stretched the truth” rather than “lied” never made much sense.

    • Ronan

      Only scrolling up now, This kind of answers my no. (1) question below. (Athough in general What effect does media coverage have on presidential elections? I’d imagine, like the campaigns candidates run, the assumption would be it evens out?)

      • xq

        It seems like a difficult question to assess empirically.

        The consensus at LGM appears to be that 1) the media is biased against Clinton, either because they actually want Trump to win or because their instinct towards false balance 2) this bias has a strong effect on people’s vote preference 3) the media bias effect got stronger around late August and this explains the polling drop Clinton has experienced since her peak.

        I think 1 is true but greatly overstated and 2 and 3 are basically wrong. There is not good empirical evidence on any of these questions, as far as I know. But convention bounces are a well-established phenomenon, and they do not tend to last, so it seems to me that we have a decent alternative explanation for 3. And I think there are also good reasons to doubt 2, as I said in my response to NewishLawyer.

        • The shifts in her favourability and trustworthiness numbers at least set up a scenario where news coverage is affecting those polls. You can then think that those numbers drive either differential response or actual narrowing.

          Of cours, favourability often tracks voting intention, which would be a confounding explanation. The fact that Clinton and Trump remain underwater mit suggest that this relation is weaker than usual.

          And of course, saying that convention bounces are a thing doesn’t mean that the mechanisms aren’t eg things like media coverage. We don’t know the mechanism behind convention bounces so we know know, for example, if the press covered Trump with the ongoing negativity of the Khan affair and largely buried the email leaks that the bump wouldn’t have been sustained. (It was unusually long, after all.)

          None of this is to dispute your point that being over confident about the effect of stupid media coverage is a mistake. And you can be outraged by it without thinking it’s casually significant.

        • sibusisodan

          I think point 2 can easily be made stronger by taking a longer time frame. Sure, peoples’ voting preferences don’t shift strongly over one headline, or a month of headlines.

          But after marinating for years in similar headlines, surrounded by what ‘everyone knows’? Absolutely. That’s how change happens, after all.

          And in that situation, a months worth of the right kind of coverage could plausibly have a larger effect than normal: reactivating and strengthening older and almost unconscious biases.

          I think something like that would change your 2) into ‘the media has a strong effect on people’s conception/framework of politics, which feeds into their vote preferences’

  • “The headline: “Clinton returns to campaign after days of sickness.”” Any child of the Internet generation must find the old dead tree convention that reporters are not responsible for the headlines above their stories quite weird. I’m a blogger like Scott, and it would never occur to us or our readers that we don’t write the headlines. Publishers don’t change the titles of novels without asking first.

    It must go back to the days of hot metal, when getting the spacing right was technically difficult and required editors to be in constant contact with typesetters. In the digital age, it’s absurd. If the layout people want a shorter headline, they can just ask the author of the piece. Or reporters could submit short and long alternatives with the pieces.

    A research question. Are headlines more biased than the underlying stories? Scott’s example suggests that they are. So the bias may not be by journalists in general, but specifically by editors.

    • postmodulator

      After the 2000 debacle, Ted Rall found a newspaper story — I forget where, but it wasn’t, like, the Wichita Farm Journal or anything — where the headline said that Bush had won the recount in Florida and the article said that he hadn’t.

      I don’t know what that is, but “bias” doesn’t even seem like a strong enough word.

  • LuigiDaMan

    This actually more like How the Media is Keeping it Close (or, as they prefer: A Horse Race!).

  • kped

    Ah, and as if on cue, Matt Taibi with a new column…”Stop whining about false balance”.

    God, these “left” (and again, I use that so fucking loosly for guys like Taibi, Greenwald and FdB), are such hacks. Taibi at least is occasionally entertaining (but a bit too frat boy for me. Liked him more when I was younger and the dick jokes seemed fresh). Read it or not, but seriously, what a hack.

    (and just to be clear, my complaint with his new RS piece is he, like Glenn, completely doesn’t understand the criticism of the CF reporting. At all. They just make it seem like people are mad that any investigations into Clinton are going on, and that’s just not true.)

    The essence of that debate is whether or not it’s appropriate to write negative things about Hillary Clinton when there’s a possibility that Donald Trump might become president. Or, rather, we may say negative things about Clinton, but only if we always drape reporting in plenty of context about the worse-ness of Trump, or something.

    No it isn’t you fucking hack.

    • CrunchyFrog

      Sigh. The media defenders are willfully misstating the complaint. We don’t mind that they report about Clinton’s issues. We mind that they write 86x the words about Clinton’s foundation as they do about Trump’s. Or that they spent 250x as much time on Clinton’s emails as they do about Trump’s 1300+ lawsuits from small businesses he screwed.

      And we mind that – since few people read the articles or watch the full story but a LOT of people see the headlines and the chyrons – the soundbite summaries combine to give the impressions that contradict the news stories – and always in Trump’s favor.

      • kped

        It’s not even the amount of words. If there is a story there, report it. It’s when they use all those words to say…nothing. All the words do is obscure the fact that there is no “there” there. Over 2000 words on the North Korea diplomatic passport story…where:

        a) It seems entirely reasonable to give passports to people on a mission to free American hostages in a hostile country
        b) They were aides to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and didn’t “buy” access
        c) Despite A) and B)…they didn’t even get the passports!

        Writing over 2000 words on that, and throwing in “raises questions” ever few hundred words is what actually raises questions. They bury the story in words to obscure there was no wrong doing, and the layperson walks away thinking “gosh…can’t figure out what, but they sure done something wrong, those wily Clintons!”

        This “story” at best merits 250 words, noting that no evidence of pay for play exists, and in fact in this case, it’s disproved, even when there was a legitimate national interest in helping these people.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Donald Trump’s economic plan is a joke.

    It doesn’t matter for the press if it’s a joke.
    It doesn’t matter to Trump if it’s a joke.

    Trump is the very candidate the Village has been waiting for its entire life. It will collectively carry him over the finish line if that’s what it takes.

    All Very Serious People know that politics is show biz for ugly people, they know that no one important takes it seriously, not the politicians, not the political press, not the top 0.1%, or anybody else who really matters.

    Everyone knows all those policy proposals, and plans, and white papers and Powerpoints are just a smokescreen for petty venality and petty vanity.

    Except for statesmen, who are pursing vanity, and venality on an epic scale.

    Vain and venal people believe everyone else is vain and venal. To believe in the existence of any other sort is a category error.

    William Goldman’s first rule of Hollywood is “Nobody knows anything”.
    The first rule of political journalism is “Nobody believes anything.”
    (I mean, you don’t actually believe in anything. I don’t believe in anything. And nobody else we see every day believes in anything..)

    If you take politics, and even worse, policy seriously, it’s the kiss of death professionally.

    If you take it seriously, for a lifetime, you too could wind up the Queen of All Dorks, i.e. Mrs Clinton.

    Trump manifestly doesn’t politics, policy seriously. Vanity and venality on an epic scale is his biography. He makes his belief that it’s all a shuck and a scam manifest a hundred times a day.

    And this world view is perfectly congruent with that of the political press. He is what they would be, and if he were working for AP, he’d cover the race the same way.

    The Church of the Savvy does not permit apostasy.

  • Ronan

    I’ve two questions.
    (1) The implication(afaict)of the OP is that positive (dishonest) media coverage for trump is keeping the race close? Is this true, empirically ?
    (2) Is trump winning still very unlikely, or are people getting worried ?

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      There was a poll showing that voters, at a rate of about 2-to-1, believed that Clinton’s actions as Sec of State relating to the Clinton Foundation were corrupt.

      Despite the fact that when you read the articles, the conclusion was that Clinton did not do the favors she was asked to do. She didn’t give out special passports, she didn’t meet with that Lebanese-Nigerian guy, she didn’t help Bono stream music from the space station or whatever it was. Despite that they say they might have gotten meetings, but they did not really give any examples of meetings that should’ve been troublesome. She met with Melinda Gates? Ok, Gates has met with the president, and it’s not Obama’s foundation. She met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain? Ok, so our top diplomat met with a top official from a country hosting a major US naval base.

      Oh, but she did change seating arrangements at a dinner for one guy. Truly, the new Teapot Dome.

      When you read the articles, there’s nothing there. But if you read just the headlines, it sounds pretty corrupt. Either the media is failing in educating the public about what happened with the Clinton Foundation, or their shitty coverage is responsible for that perception in the first place. Either that, or you have to assume that people erroneously thinking her charity is a corrupt slush fund has no effect on who people are voting for.

      • Ronan

        But as xq notes, (1) most voters are partisans anyway (2)the majority of the rest don’t pay meaningful attention to this stuff. So what effect does it have on voting ?
        I’d add that (afaik) most people consume media that supports their political preferences, so the papers are (1) most likely reflecting their preferences, so (2) act as ideological reinforcements rather than change people’s choices.
        I don’t see how the media is anything but trivial in this. Might change people on the margins, but doesn’t have a huge effect.
        (If you want to argue that in a world with different norms on media consumption and voting behaviour that the electorate would make better choices, that might be true, but is a different argument)

  • (((Hogan)))

    Can we just pin an open thread for all the “Clinton’s poll numbers are falling, and I will explain this by listing all the ways in which she has displeased me” comments?

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      She didn’t endorse Condorcet voting and the shortest split line redistricting algorithm!

  • sibusisodan

    So, I’m reading the Guardian’s latest on the US race, and as usual the satirical novel portions of the US are LARPing continues to be far fetched:

    – Trump holds a press conference at which no question were permitted.
    – he holds a rally against a backdrop of a poster depicting French revolutionaries: ‘Les Deplorables’. They’re embracing this? But without actually using French, of course.
    – he suggests certain people in the US should give up their guns (Clinton’s Secret Service detail…just to see what happens)

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