Monday, March 07, 2016

Political update for March, 2015


I went into my archives (yes, thanks to Google, I have archives) and looked at what I had previously written about Trump with respect to the 2012 election. I found my post-mortem right after the election where I wrote why I thought Romney lost, which I won't quote extensively, but one of my five main reasons was the impact of people like Trump, who I referred to as a "political disaster," especially his crazy birtherism. But, I see that almost a year and a half before that election I had written about Trump in some detail and thought it be interesting to look back on it (after, of course, fixing my grammatical errors):

"Trump schmump

"After wasting everyone’s time for a month or so on the birther issue, he loses and claims victory. If you know Donald Trump, no big surprise.

I don’t know when I first became aware of The Donald (not a bad nickname), but it was probably in the 1980s. He was a business man mostly in real estate development. He liked to put his name on buildings, which were ostentatious but beautiful, and I've gone in “Trump” buildings just to see them. When I became a lawyer I learned from some others who had represented him that he was ridiculously demanding and quick to fire them. Obviously, I don't know his reasons and they may be valid.

I have also read that he or his companies have gone bankrupt more than once, and been close to it other times, but I don’t care about the details. He had a rather public divorce, which mostly served to make his wife’s attorney well known, although he didn’t accomplish anything for her that I could see (they had a pre-nup, which was abided by).

In the past few years, he has also became a reality tv show star (which is one notch below serial killer). And, occasionally, he says he is thinking about running for president. No one took him too seriously until this year when he jumped on a fairly discredited idea that President Obama was born out of the country and was therefore not qualified under the constitution to be president.

Trump kept saying that he thought the president actually was born in America but that he needed to show his birth certificate to end the dispute. But, he’d also throw in his remarks that if he wasn’t born in the country it was one of the all time great scams (and, of course, it would have been, were it true). He also said he had investigators looking into it who were amazed at what they were finding (were they going to break into the two safes in the Hawaiian government’s office which housed the certificates?) He says he can call them back now that it is over (please, laugh along with me). Do you think they hadn’t heard the news themselves? Honestly, I don’t believe these people even exist. If they did exist, they were either completely incompetent or were taking him for his money. Neither scenario is too flattering to him.

He had no serious answer to the fact that a short form birth certificate had been produced, showing that a Hawaii State official had seen the birth certificate and verified its existence, and, even more persuasive, two local Hawaiian newspapers at the time of the president's birth printed notices about it. Even Sean Hannity said he thought the president was born in America. Now, if you have ever listened to Sean Hannity, you know that if he acknowledges that President Obama is right about anything, it must be true beyond any possible doubt.

Sure, even Chris Matthews, whose credibility when it comes to President Obama is as weak as anyone's on the right - just the mirror image - has asked publicly why President Obama didn’t just show the original long form birth certificate. The opposite rule applies with him as the one for Hannity - if he is critical in anyway of the president, you have to give it some credence. And, I had the same thought as him too. Why not just show it? Pride? Or, as occasional commenter Don suggested, because there was something embarrassing on it. But, wondering about the president's motivations didn't mean this still wasn't a ridiculous issue. I would say it was only less ridiculous than the popular belief on the right that he is a Muslim.

And, of course, by coming out with the original certificate, the president trumped Trump, which probably would have embarrassed someone without Trump's ego and sense of importance. Of course it didn’t stop The Donald from declaring victory in a most pompous way. “I’m very proud of myself,” he said. Why is he proud? – because he “forced” the president to do this. This is the single most embarrassing thing he has said since a week or so ago when he was going around saying how smart he was.

Which leads me to this. I don’t like to climb all over (living) politicians personally (not that The Donald is really a politician yet), call names or assassinate their characters, unless they are really heinous, and that is rare. So, I feel kind of guilty about this. But Donald Trump has always been a bit of a blowhard, someone who shoots his mouth off about how great he is, changes his mind frequently, and says whatever he feels like at the time regardless of consistency. That actually doesn’t make him a bad person, but not someone you want in your face for 4-8 years. That might seem rough, but I’m being gentle because a lot of people would say he was a major blowhard, with few equals. In fact, as arrogant as many on the hard right claim President Obama is (I'd say about average for a president), apparently a good deal of them want to elect someone who makes him look like a Jimmy Stewart character.

But, Mr. Trump not only made himself look foolish, he has made the tea parties and conservatives look foolish by bringing this all up again (to their initial great joy). I support the tea parties’ efforts to get the government to reduce spending, but I can't follow them in their questioning of the president's religion and place of birth. Even with the certificate's production, some of them are still questioning it on legal grounds. In truth, it is a decision the court has never made. Being a natural born citizen might or might not have been something that had a definitive meaning to a founder (like, as some argue, being born in America of two American citizens), but, now, it will be very difficult or probably impossible to determine what they meant over two hundred and twenty years ago. That doesn't mean the Supreme Court, or maybe a lower court won't try to define it anyway.

As for The Donald's presidential aspirations, if you consider his flip flops on issues, and that some of his previously uttered opinions were decidedly liberal - Mr. Trump is Governor Romney on steroids. If he runs, these will all be flung in his face by Romney supporters. But, I don't think the people supporting him realize what they are doing if they nominate him."

I can't say I've changed my mind at all.  I still think he is a political disaster, that he embarrasses his own party, that he is not as smart as he thinks, that he is Romney on steroids and that he is one of the reasons Romney lost. 

But, Trump is no idiot either. He saw something that either others didn't or had too much dignity or sense of shame to act upon. That the truth no longer matters. Neither Obama nor Romney worried about it too much. No one seemed to care much except their adversaries, who cancelled each other out, and some in the media. What matters is your "brand" or how you market yourself. Image, not reality, is the key. And branding is something Trump, a worldwide household name, does very well.

I'm not saying that truth shouldn't be important. But, unless and until there is a legitimate third party party with a shot at winning the White House, that will continue to be the case. Trump also knows that when you are getting shot at for your mistakes, toughing it out works better than admission of fault so long as you have a sufficient base that doesn't care.

Like almost everyone, there are a few aspects of Trump that I like. That's the usual anti-PC stuff, his supposed devotion to destroying ISIS and annoyance at the handcuffs put on our troops. But, this is dwarfed by my disgust at his arrogance, his pettiness and tendency to insult anyone who disagrees with him, his fecklessness as to policy, his just plain making up stuff, his cult of personality (and a bad personality at that), his obvious insecurities, his lack of knowledge of the economy and foreign policy, etc.

What is this nonsense anyway that good businessmen know about the economy? I know some people who have been very successful in business but couldn't even tell you what a trade deficit was or the difference between macro and micro economies. 

Trump's seeming mission to destroy the Republican Party by division has gotten so hysterical that I'm starting to engage in fantasies of him calling Hillary Clinton at 3 a.m. after his KKK gaffe and saying - "Did I do good, or what? Don't forget me when you are safely ensconced in the White House."

It has also gotten to the point where I'm starting to not sneer at comparisons to Hitler in the 1930s. It's not that I believe he is a racist, because I really don't. In fact, it makes me mad when people play that up because race baiting is one of the political tactics that infuriates me most. Nor do I think he is totalitarian. But he has built a cult of personality that is starting to seem like Fuhrerism - allegiance not to party but a particular leader. His statements at the last Republican debate that military leaders will do what he tells them even if illegal, was disturbing and reminiscent of Hitler. So is his addiction to the Big Lie. And so are his threats to get even when he is president.

A few weeks ago, I thought that Trump was going to sweep, because his opposition was so poor. But, obviously, the Republican Party, or some of them, has woken up to the impending disaster, win or lose. Ironically, Rubio, who realized, or more likely was advised, that someone had to get down in the gutter with Trump, has been diminished along with him and Cruz has been ascendant. But, the Republicans are missing their best bet.

The Case for Kasich

The Republicans only have had two candidates who were going to beat Clinton. One, is possibly Trump, if his party can get behind him. I think Trump might nuke her, inviting Monica Lewinsky to debates and asking her to admit that her husband abused women. Because, no other candidate is going to do things like that. But, it is possible that he might finally outrage enough people that it would overcome the excitement he engenders. But, the other option is staggering along in the Republican race. That's John Kasich.

I am hoping Kasich is Dave Wottle, the 1972 Olympic 800 meter track champion (still one of the greatest achievements in sport's history in my view -, following a plan and pacing himself like Wottle did with four perfectly paced quarters of his race. I doubt it, because no one predicted Trump's rise and the effect he would have on everyone.

I will never understand how any Republican or independent/moderate can think anyone but Kasich is suitable. He has more experience than anyone in the field. He may be the most professionally qualified candidate since G. H. W. Bush to run. Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Al Gore, nor John Kerry, nor John McCain, all very experienced, have the breadth of experience that Kasich does. He's been a governor, he's been a legislator. He has worked at the federal level, he's worked at the state level. He knows budgeting, he knows the military, he knows domestic problems. Unlike Rubio, Cruz and Trump who talk about being heirs to Reagan, he actually knew and worked with Reagan (not that I think that means much myself, but many people do). He is temperamentally suited to be president. He is devoted to his principles, but respects the rule of law and knows how to compromise.

On top of that, polls show he is far more likely to beat Clinton than anyone else. Why is this not critically important to Republicans?

After Ohio we will know if he has a shot. At this point, unless someone self-destructs, this almost has to go to a convention. Of course, most predictions I've made this maddening campaign season have been wrong. I'm not alone either, but if Kasich wins, I can brag that I predicted it way back in 2015, and at the end of the day, that's what is really most important.

I will also say that he is not the greatest campaigner, but it is obvious. Many of his jokes fall flat and his banter with people in the crowd seems to be more likely to aggravate than charm them. But, sometimes people need to grow into the roll. He's gotten better already.


Although Sanders made his run, it looks like she has it close to locked up, although a convention is possible with the Democrats too, if less likely. The big question is whether she gets indicted, or to a lesser extent, staff members close to her do. 

I don't see it happening so long as she is going to win the nomination. If there is a grand jury though, and it is not disbanded or delayed, and they come back with what is called a true bill on which she is named, then I'm wrong, of course. I just know that there are few things easier for government to manipulate than grand juries. 

I'm not even saying she should be indicted. We don't know all the facts and we don't even really know the applicable law yet. It's always more complicated than they say, and I won't make up my mind on it until I can look up the law myself (you can't count on pundits or the media) and know the established and likely facts. You can't legitimately say that just because Petraeus was charged and convicted that she should be. You can't say that because Rice and Powell had a few classified emails on their own email accounts (although a tiny fraction of her own), that she is or is not guilty of anything. 

Of course, Bryan Pagliano, the State Department staffer who set up the server, thought it important enough to ask for immunity.  Frankly, that may not mean anything except due caution. When you get involved with partisan politicians they will do whatever they think necessary to "get" the other side, even hurt innocent people - even prosecuting them. If nothing else, they try the perjury game. And when the FBI is involved, it doesn't even have to be a material lie. Any mistake they can spin as purposeful will do to prosecute you or twist your arm.

You never know, but I am giving odds of 5-1 against her being indicted and 4-1 against any  major staffer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome.

About Me

My photo
I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .