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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trump vs. Hillary, two editorials

Yesterday Michael Walsh wrote an editorial in the NY Post, How Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton.

Walsh pointed out that Trump has thus far confounded all of the experts who said he could never win the nomination. And it's these same "experts" who are saying he will never beat Clinton, especially given the polls. Walsh pointed out that recently, Trump has been outperforming his polls by anywhere from 6 to 12 percent, meaning that people will lie to pollsters.

Also, Hillary has never faced anyone as pugnacious as Trump in a debate, and, as per Walsh:

Trump won’t hesitate to hammer her, and everything from Monica Lewinsky and Bubba’s “bimbo eruptions” to Whitewater, to Benghazi will be on the table. He’ll also saddle her with the miserable Obama economy — seven straight years of anemic growth below 3 percent, the coal industry collapsing, a record number of able-bodied men and women out of the workforce.

Walsh concludes by saying that Trump has momentum on his side. 

It was a fine article, but with the exception of the paragraph quoted above, it was really less about how Trump could beat Hillary than about why he could beat her. 

In another article today, Donald the Dove, Hillary the Hawk, Maureen Dowd actually provides a blueprint for how Trump could beat Hillary. The relevant excerpts:

On some foreign policy issues, the roles are reversed for the candidates and their parties. It’s Hillary the Hawk against Donald the Quasi-Dove….

The prime example of commander-in-chief judgment Trump offers is the fact that, like Obama, he thought the invasion of Iraq was a stupid idea.

He can sound belligerent, of course, saying that he would bomb the expletive-deleted out of ISIS and that he would think up new and imaginative ways to torture terrorists and kill their families.

But he says that in most cases he would rather do the art of the deal than shock and awe.

“Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct,” he said in his maiden foreign policy speech in Washington last week, adding, “A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength….”

Hillary never expected to meet this mix of dove, hawk and isolationist. She thought she would face Marco Rubio, a more traditional conservative who would out-hawk her. Instead, she’s meeting Trump, who is “a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” as Axelrod put it. Like a free-swinging asymmetric boxer, Trump can keep Hillary off balance by punching from both the left and the right.

You can actually envision a foreign policy debate between Trump and Clinton that sounds oddly like the one Obama and Clinton had in 2008, with Trump playing Obama, preening about his good judgment on Iraq, wanting an end to nation-building and thinking he could have a reset with Russia.

That's an interesting concept, Trump being able to attack Hillary from both the left and right.

When he does criticize her record, she'll undoubtedly do that shrieking cackle that's meant to discredit whatever's just been said. But it will just come across shrill, and forced.

Trump's not known for an ability to roll with the punches himself; but he is known for punching back, twice as hard. How will Hillary react?

These debates are going to be fun.

It was good of Dowd to provide Trump this tactical playbook.


Anonymous said...

This election is going to be decided by white, working class voters. They are going to break for Trump in a yuuuge ... excuse me, huge way.

Hillary Clinton played at "I love coal miners! West Virginia is my favorite state!" back in 2008. It worked somewhat against Obama who couldn't realy believably pull off the same schtick.

Now, eight years later, those coal miners from West Virginia have seen what Hillary Clinton has become: a woman who gives $500,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs and trades favors with foreign potentates in exchange for access to political influence in the U.S.

For the past six months, they have also been able to compare her -- unfavorably -- with Bernie Sanders, a man who, for all his flaws and political and economic naivite, is a true defender of the working man. (He is incredibly wrong-headed in my view; but I don't doubt his bona fides.) Post-Sanders, a good portion of those working class people are going to look at Trump and look at Hillary, and they are going to recognize intuitively who is on their side. It ain't gonna be good for her.

I don't care how much money Trump has, how gold-plated his apartment is, how many pictures of him wearing black tie are out on the Internet: he is fundamentally a prole. In his speech, in his outlook, in his tastes and -- most importantly -- in his loyalties, he is of a type with the working man. And THEY KNOW IT, they recognize it.*

My prediction: general election landslide for Trump. On the tailwinds of white working class support.

*For those who doubt Trump's working class personality, read The Art of the Deal. Contrary to the whole "Trump is a rich kid who didn't make it himself" canard, his father was a relatively modestly successful low-end real estate developer in Brooklyn who didn't give Donald anything, except a good work ethic. He (Trump senior) had a brutal work ethic, got his hands dirty on all the detail work, and he passed that ethic on to his son. Trump (junior) was not some remote fat cat financier; he got into the action in ALL details of local real estate development: dealing with contractors, dealing with city agencies, dealing with regulators, etc. His day-to-day was working class in a surprisingly deep way. After forty years in the weeds of NYC real estate, don't you think you could find some working class guys who hate Donald Trump? Funny how you can't; they love him, and they're going to vote him in.

John Craig said...

Samuel --
I sure hope you're right in your prediction. And I agree with you completely in your analysis of Trump's loyalties, and who he is at heart. I also agree with your analysis of Sanders. I've heard white nationalists (!) say that Sanders has more integrity than anyone else in the Senate. He'd be a disaster as President for the reasons you mention (though he wouldn't be able to do too much damage with a Republican Congress); but he's honest, which makes him look awfully good when he stands next to Hillary.

I agree that the white working class will vote for Trump this year; but they've been breaking Republican for a long time, ever since Reagan (remember "Reagan Democrats?"). And every year the demographics of this country tilt increasingly toward the Democrats.

Trump's Louis XIV tastes are actually those of a middle class striver, not a typical upper class guy. (Read Paul Fussell's "Class.") Trump is almost sort of cute that way. And yes, his policies would be better for the middle class than any President's within memory. But I'm not sure I buy Trump's bit about how he didn't inherit anything from his father. I remember reading somewhere that his father was worth 40 million back in the late 70's. That was an incredible amount of money back then; who inherited it?

Anyway, thanks for the cogent analysis; I'll be keeping my fingers crossed, hoping your prediction comes true.

Anonymous said...

I just love how things are going regarding this election cycle. Me thinks, God might be in support of Trump, having his back.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
I don't see it in religious terms, but it does seem as if Trump has generated higher enthusiasm levels.

Anonymous said...


I agree about Trump's "high class" tastes, in fact I mentioned "gold-plated apartment" because, in this day and age, no one but someone extremely crass would do that. Even in an older day, the old money in America was generally understated.

Regarding the inheritence, I see on Wikipedia that Trump's father died in 1999, by which time Donald was already very wealthy. Tump's father did give him $1 million dollars early on in connection with his (Donald's) first independent deal. And if you read the story (granting that it is told by Donald Trump), you can see from the circumstances of the deal, that it may as well have been $1 instead of $1 million dollars. Fred Trump's business was entirely in the outer boroughs and also other local states, such as near Philadelphia. When Donald did his first deal, he did it in Manhattan where he (and his father) were total unknowns, and he did it on his own, not under the umbrella of his father's company. And, much like his later deals, the first deal was an incredibily delicate and complex arrangement: the bank is agreeing to give you the loan because they think you already secured the land and have the govt permits; the govt is agreeing to give you the permits because they think you already have the financing and the land; the seller is signing because he thinks you already have the permits and the financing; etc etc. And you somehow get everyone in the room (or adjacent rooms) to sign at the same time, none the wiser that NOTHING was in place until EVERYTHING was in place. Trump is an absolute master at this type of thing, and the $1 million really made no difference in that context. Also, I don't mean to imply Trump was lying to different parties; he manages to juggle everything without lying. It is actually amazing how similar his style has remained throughout: you could describe his presidential run in just the terms I mentioned above.

Trump's father comes off as a very impressive person: amazing work ethic, amazing family life, great father, and Donald gives him all the credit he deserves. But he also clearly sees the differences between his father and himself: Fred Trump was not a risk taker, he was a guy who plugged away and built things up slowly and surely. Donald Trump, while he also inherited the amazing work ethic and eye to detail of his father, is fundamentally a risk taker and a big thinker. Anyway, my impression is that, while Trump's father was an amazing man, his son is an outstanding figure and the greater man. Don't get me wrong: there are many things about Trump I don't love, but I will acknowledge his strengths. And being a "daddy's boy" who inherited his wealth is not a charge I would ever level against him. (I know you weren't, but many in the press and public life are).

Regarding Sanders, he is honest about everything except one thing: he is not honest with himself. If he were honest with himself, he would know that he has no business being President. He is an idea man, and even that is being generous: he mainly acts (and thinks) emotionally. A five year old girl who runs a lemonade stand has more executive experience than he does. Sanders and Trump connect with people on a similar level: trade, economics, and fairness to the working class. But Trump has the positions of a man who knows how business and the real world actually work. Sanders would be less emotionally driven and have more realistic views if he had more real world experience.

John Craig said...

Samuel --
Okay, fair enough. If Trump were already wealthy by the time his father died, then the inheritance was relatively meaningless. I do think he's a bit of a con man, and the negotiations you just described are further evidence. I've never thought that he meant it when he said he was willing to spend a billion of his own money on the campaign. I suspect that as November approaches, he'll be relying on other sources of money to fund his campaign. And I say this as a Trump supporter.

I like Sanders' integrity, and agree with you that his appeal is based on the fact that e's actually for the middle class, unlike most politicians. But yes, he doesn't understand economics or the way the business world works. And I also think there's a lot about his past (like his trips to Havana and Moscow, one of which was on his honeymoon) that paint a picture of a guy who's more extreme than most realize.

Steven said...

"This election is going to be decided by white, working class voters"

I just read an article that is anti-Trump but the following passage was so good and relevant to the above that I'll reproduce it here:

The deeper, long-term reasons for today’s rage are not hard to find, although many of us elites have shamefully found ourselves able to ignore them. The jobs available to the working class no longer contain the kind of craftsmanship or satisfaction or meaning that can take the sting out of their low and stagnant wages. The once-familiar avenues for socialization — the church, the union hall, the VFW — have become less vibrant and social isolation more common. Global economic forces have pummeled blue-collar workers more relentlessly than almost any other segment of society, forcing them to compete against hundreds of millions of equally skilled workers throughout the planet. No one asked them in the 1990s if this was the future they wanted. And the impact has been more brutal than many economists predicted. No wonder suicide and mortality rates among the white working poor are spiking dramatically.

This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working ­class as an afterthought. And so late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate.


Steven said...

For the white working class, having had their morals roundly mocked, their religion deemed primitive, and their economic prospects decimated, now find their very gender and race, indeed the very way they talk about reality, described as a kind of problem for the nation to overcome. This is just one aspect of what Trump has masterfully signaled as “political correctness” run amok, or what might be better described as the newly rigid progressive passion for racial and sexual equality of outcome, rather than the liberal aspiration to mere equality of opportunity.

Much of the newly energized left has come to see the white working class not as allies but primarily as bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes, thereby condemning those often at the near-bottom rung of the economy to the bottom rung of the culture as well. A struggling white man in the heartland is now told to “check his privilege” by students at Ivy League colleges. Even if you agree that the privilege exists, it’s hard not to empathize with the object of this disdain. These working-class communities, already alienated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dismissals of “white straight men” as the ultimate source of all our woes. They smell the condescension and the broad generalizations about them — all of which would be repellent if directed at racial minorities — and see themselves, in Hoffer’s words, “disinherited and injured by an unjust order of things.”

And so they wait, and they steam, and they lash out. This was part of the emotional force of the tea party: not just the advancement of racial minorities, gays, and women but the simultaneous demonization of the white working-class world, its culture and way of life. Obama never intended this, but he became a symbol to many of this cultural marginalization. The Black Lives Matter left stoked the fires still further; so did the gay left, for whom the word magnanimity seems unknown, even in the wake of stunning successes. And as the tea party swept through Washington in 2010, as its representatives repeatedly held the government budget hostage, threatened the very credit of the U.S., and refused to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, the American political and media Establishment mostly chose to interpret such behavior as something other than unprecedented. But Trump saw what others didn’t, just as Hoffer noted: “The frustrated individual and the true believer make better prognosticators than those who have reason to want the preservation of the status quo.”

The writer's description of Plato's concept of late stage democracy and the emergence of tyranny also seems very astute.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Thank you for all that. Great description of why the white working class should be angry. Reading that would make me more predisposed to listen to his arguments against Trump, though I've already made up my mind on that score.

Steven said...

I have the same concerns as the writer about Trump. If he is elected president and it turns out okay or well, I'll just have even more respect for you. But if you're feeling open minded at some point, have a read- the article is really good.

I know his presentation of Plato is no doubt very selective but its still amazing how much Plato could capture the present nature of American society and the person of Trump 2400 years ago. Even the decline of filial respect in late stage democracy ;-)

John Craig said...

Steven --
If Trump just cuts down on illegal immigration, I'll consider him a success. If he's elected, I'm sure his administration will have the usual number of mistakes and maybe even scandals; but the long term destiny of this country lies in its demographics.

The ancient wise men understood human nature, which doesn't change.

Ha, as far as filial respect, I can only judge from my situation, which would indicate that society has pretty much run off the rails already.