I spent part of yesterday watching yet another Republican-led House of Representatives investigation into “Hillary Clinton’s emails,” and believe me, you know that old saying about “more boring than watching paint dry”?
Yup, that’s how nothing this circus was.
Repubs know they’re digging a dry well, just as the holes they dug on Benghazi and everything else anti-Hillary have been dry. There’s no there there, because nearly everybody understands exactly what it was that Hillary did, which was simply to do what most of us do: she had two different email accounts, one for State Department business and more for her personal stuff, and she occasionally sent or received emails on one account that more properly should have been sent or received via the other.
Ooohh, terrible! A crime against humanity, rendering Hillary Rodham Clinton clearly unfit to be President.
Well, that’s ridiculous. This entire ordeal has been stressful and embarrassing to her; the tension it’s put her under probably contributed to her current mild bout of pneumonia. But a reason not to vote for her? Only in the minds of people who wouldn’t vote for her under any circumstance, and would vote for the Republican candidate if his name were Elmer Fudd instead of Donald Trump.
So desperate are these Republicans to find anything against Hillary that at yesterday’s hearing one of them, Jason Chaffetz, from Utah, chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, handed a subpoena to the FBI’s assistant director during the hearing, demanding “the full [Clinton email] file with no redactions of personal identifiable information.”
This was a virtually unprecedented act—two, actually: to subpoena a sworn witness in the middle of a Congressional investigation, and demanding moreover every email, on any topic whatsoever—her health, private conversations with her husband, to her daughter, to foreign leaders, to President Obama, whatever.
Keep in mind, this is the same Jason Chaffetz who was not content with the fact that the F.B.I. already found nothing lawfully wrong with what Clinton did—“she did not lie or break the law,” FBI director Comey testified. So the top investigative body of the United States of America stated conclusively that Hillary Clinton is innocent of the charges to which Republicans have subjected her, but Chaffetz and his Republican cronies will not rest until they find something, anything to use against her. “The FBI has concluded their portion,” Chaffetz conceded, but “the FBI…has not looked at other things that she did potentially…”.
“That she did potentially…” Think about this statement. Imagine you’ve been indicted and tried for some major criminal offense. After a lengthy hearing, the F.B.I—the frigging Federal Bureau of Investigation—finds you innocent of every charge your prosecutor could dream up. Just when you think you’re a free woman, you hear the damned prosecutor stand up and demand to the Judge that this hearing is not over. Why not? Because you have done something wrong “potentially.”
In an alternate universe, perhaps. But wait, there’s more. Let’s say that, in your trial, it was shown clearly and conclusively that you did nothing wrong—you broke no existing law. But what if what you did should have been against the law, at least in the eyes of your prosecutor? Then that prosecutor continues to hound the Court, to demand that you, the alleged perp, be found guilty anyway, even though you’re innocent of all charges, because…well, because your prosecutor doesn’t like you.
Sound Orwellian? It is—unless your name is Jason Chaffetz. Even though Hillary broke no law, “the law probably needs to be updated or they’re not properly applying the law, and that’s why we need to explore this,” he told Fox News (where else?), and continued to insist, like a delirious mental patient, “She broke the law.”
Okay, so according to the FBI she broke no laws. Chaffetz is unable to cite any law on the books that she did break. But, in his fevered mind, he wants reality changed so that she did break a law. This is how biased, how intemperate and, quite frankly, how insane this Republican party has gotten due to its hatred of Hillary Clinton. She broke no law…Repubs wish she had broken a law so they could nail her…and because they run the Congress, they will never, ever let her off the hook, but will continue to harass her, forever if need be, because…well, because they can.
This is the definition of a witch hunt. And this Chaffetz–the Utah Mormon who has been been called “a grandstanding charlatan,” who led the attack against Planned Parenthood, who oversees the Secret Service through his committee chairmanship yet never revealed that he had applied to the Service and been rejected until this was outed and he was forced to, explaining, “I haven’t looked at that in more than a decade. It’s not something that’s entered my mind…seriously, this was like 10 minutes, 12 years ago,” as if that were an adequate explanation for not telling the truth about something so important—this Chaffetz, who boasts on his website of his “core conservative principles of accountability,” is the perfect witch hunter to lead it.
“Strength” has long been a staple of the Republican tool kit. Republicans claim to be the “strong” political party, while deriding Democrats as weak, especially in the area of foreign policy.
Does this claim bear up under scrutiny? And what does it mean?
This assertion of “strength” is a mainstay of Trump’s campaign. As the National Review observed, “Trump’s strong-man act” stands in sharp opposition to “Obama’s weakness.” Of course, there are no convincing definitions of “strong” or “weak” on the Trump campaign’s part, just their assertion.
Republicans always have seized on the notion of “strength” to convince voters to like them. The GOP found its muscular voice in the late 1800s, as America’s gilded age slipped into the twentieth century and, under Republican presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. seized/won/absorbed/stole [choose your verb] foreign territories as far-flung as Cuba, Hawaii, the Panama Canal Zone and the Philippines. Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick” was both the symbol and expression of Republican strength.
The GOP’s allegation that the Democratic Party lacked strength became increasingly hard to maintain after Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat Germany, Italy and Japan in World War II, and Democratic President John F. Kennedy squared off successfully against Soviet Russia at the height of the Cold War. (Earlier, JFK’s “bear any burden” Inaugural Address was strongly militant and anti-Communist.) Even Lyndon Johnson, forced from office due to an incoherent Vietnam policy, could never have been described as “weak.” Thus, in the 1960s and 1970s, Republicans were forced to shelve the “weakness” falsehood against Democrats, until resurrecting it during the 1980 presidential campaign, when Reagan portrayed himself (or was portrayed by his managers) as a tough, manly cowboy, riding horses and clearing brush on his ranch, who would stand up to the Russians. Reagan consistently portrayed Carter as hapless, accusing him of having “weak…policies,” a charge reiterated with increasing intemperance ever since by Republicans who know that calling Democrats “weak” polls well. And for the last 30 years, Republicans have pointed to the collapse of the old Soviet Union as proof of Reagan’s (and Republican) “strength.” Never mind that the collapse was due to forty years of resistance to the U.S.S.R. by all American presidents, Republican and Democrat. Moreover, the collapse would not have happened had it not been for “the great number of radical reforms that Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev had implemented during his six years as the leader of the USSR”, reforms Reagan had nothing to do with. Reagan just happened to be presiding at the moment the Iron Curtain came down.
Still, that Soviet melt-down gave Republicans decades of bragging rights—rights that now are being reasserted, with the militant appeal of Trump.
Let’s look at the evidence. Was Bill Clinton a “weak” president? He thrust America into no foreign wars, although the warmongers wanted him to send ground troops to Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. Resisting that advice, Clinton instead successfully got all warring parties to agree to a cease-fire through the Dayton Agreement, which achieved peace (more or less) in the Balkans through diplomacy. Clinton accomplished all this without America invading the Balkans, a war that would have resulted in who knows how many more U.S. troop casualties.
Barack Obama clearly has preferred negotiation to invasion when it comes to countries like Iran, China, North Korea, Libya, Syria and even Afghanistan and Iraq. Things are not perfect in any of those lands, nor should anyone ever expect them to be; but the nuclear deal with Iran shows that the U.S. can achieve its aims through “jaw-jaw, not war-war” (i.e., diplomacy, as Winston Churchill, a hero to Republicans, once picturesquely phrased it).
We have now a Democrat, Hillary Clinton, running for president who has always been said to be tougher and more aggressive in her foreign policy approach that Barack Obama. Hillary has had to put on her tough-girl boots in order to succeed as a politician because otherwise she would have opened herself to predictable GOP charges of weakness. The public already perceives Hillary as strong (some liberals think she’s too prone towards overseas adventurism), so Trump surrogates have been unable to portray Hillary as “weak.”
How then do Republicans bring the “strength” thing into their campaign? Well, if they can’t fulminate against Hillary, then fulminate against Obama, as Mike Pence did last week, when he alarmingly claimed that Vladmir Putin “has been a stronger leader” in Russia “than Barack Obama has been in this country.”
Pence no doubt was instructed to strike that theme by the devious Kellyanne Conway, but really, Trump’s love affair with the Russian dictator gets odder by the minute. Putin presides over an increasingly one-party, repressive state; Obama presides over a democracy; of course Putin is “stronger” when it comes to clamping down on social media, arresting his domestic critics, and invading territories on its border, like Crimea. Is that the kind of “strength” Pence and Trump wish an American president to display? What exactly would a “strong” President Trump to do overseas? What countries would he invade with ground troops? What countries would he bomb? How, exactly, does a President Trump plan to “destroy ISIS”? President Obama has promised the same thing; so has Hillary Clinton; so have most European leaders, and so for that matter has Vladimir Putin.
There is no reality to Trump’s claim that he will be tougher on ISIS than Hillary Clinton, but then, everyone knows that he’ll end up doing the same things as Obama. Yet “strength, strength” will continue to be chanted endlessly by Trump and his surrogates. There doesn’t have to be any plan associated with vague promises to “defeat ISIS.” All that Trump needs is to have angry, ignorant voters believe that “strength” will do it. I am reminded of another Republican elected on a promise to be “strong” and end an unpopular war: Richard Nixon. He rode into office with a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War. Yet it took him another five years to withdraw our troops (in a deal he made with North Vietnam), and almost as many U.S. service members died in Vietnam after Nixon took office as died under Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.
We know now Nixon had no plan to end the war. He lied when he said he did, and gullible Americans believed him. You would think Americans would be that much wiser when Trump makes similarly hollow promises to “defeat ISIS.” But Republicans, unfortunately, don’t seem to be in a particularly wise mood these days. Their talk of “strength” is the babble of beery drunks at the bar who, let’s face it, have no frigging idea what they’re talking about.
I never reviewed Beekeeper Cellars’s Zinfandels when I was at Wine Enthusiast because they didn’t send me samples! But last year, they sent me a mini-vertical of their Madrone Spring Vineyard Zinfandel (2010-2013) and what a treat that was! Two 94s and two 95s. And now they’ve sent me a pair of 2014s.
95 Beekeeper 2014 Secret Stones Zinfandel (Rockpile): $65. This is a big Zin, but of course, it’s Rockpile, a warm-to-hot, rocky mountain AVA in the aridly inland northwest of Dry Creek Valley, where the grapes get super-ripe and concentrated under the sere summer sun. That concentration seems to have been even greater in this drought year. “Secret Stones” is the old Madrone Spring Vineyard; the owners changed the name to avoid confusion with other wineries and vineyards that have the word “Madrone.” Whatever, this wonderful Zin is easily on a par with the 2013 Madrone Spring. It is dark, aromatic and immensely complex, with a Hulkian mouthfeel. The aroma is explosive in blackcurrants, blackberries, ripe purple plums, blueberry preserves, and black licorice, sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings, freshly-crushed black pepper and a squeeze of anisette. There’s a welcome, tart bite of green at the end to remind you of the plant kingdom. Does that sound good? It is. The flavors sink into the mouth and last for a long time into a spicy, dry finish. Rockpile’s famous tannins are powerful, but smooth and silky. I would drink this wine now; on the second night after opening, the alcohol was showing through, not a good sign for aging. The details: about 30% new French oak, alcohol 14.9%, and very good acidity for balance. A fun, heady, elegant Zin that surely is at the top of its class. What would I drink it with? Braised short ribs, but any beef or bird with the smoke of barbecue will be fine.
95 Beekeeper 2014 Montecillo Vineyard Zinfandel (Sonoma County): $??. The Sonoma County appellation apparently is because the vineyard is just outside both Moon Mountain and Sonoma Valley AVAs. But it’s in that neighborhood, so you get the idea, and is moreover a mountain vineyard, at 1,500 feet. My first thought, on tasting the wine, was, “It’s claret-like!” So it was nice that the tech notes say the vineyard was planted in the 1980s by Kenwood for Cabernet Sauvignon. It has the weight and texture of a fine high-elevation Cab, yet with Zin’s flavors: briary, brambly wild blackberries, dried thyme, black pepper, black licorice, sweet cured tobacco, a bitter hit of espresso. The details: 15 months in French oak, alcohol 14.4%, and only 242 cases produced. They didn’t give the price, unfortunately. My friend Charlie Olken, at Connoisseur’s Guide, and his team gave it 96 points. I wouldn’t go quite that high, but it is a gorgeously rich, succulent Sonoma Zinfandel. It’s quite different in style from the Secret Stones, but is no less beautiful, and deserves the same score.
Everybody knows the Zika virus is a menace. Last month the Centers for Disease Control issued “an unprecedented travel warning” to pregnant women, and repeated that warning on Monday, adding that women in susceptible groups “should get tested for the virus.”
Considering the seriousness, President Obama and Senate Democrats urged Congress, one month ago, to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding, a reasonable enough request, given Zika’s epidemic status in Brazil, where in addition to brain encephalopathy, other viral infections connected to the disease, including hearing loss in infants, are being reported.
Reasonable enough, also, given that the World Health Organization says that “More than two billion people are at risk of developing the Zika virus.”
Yet to date, “Congress failed to move forward a… funding package to help the country address the outbreak of Zika,” reported ABC News yesterday.
Why the inaction? Because Republicans are trying to festoon a Zika-appropriation bill with their other pet projects, including “t[aking] aim at Planned Parenthood funding, end[ing] pesticide regulation, and…allow[ing] the Confederate Flag to be flown at military cemeteries.”
Historic metaphor time [stay with me here]:
Back in the 1940s, when F.D.R. was trying to persuade Americans to approve Lend-Lease to help Great Britain in her war against Hitler, the President resorted to a homely analogy. Britain needed ships and other materials now, he said, and could not wait for endless political machinations to wend their way through Congress. His analogy was to a house catching fire. “Let me give you an illustration,” he began. “Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don’t say to him before that operation, ‘Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.’ What is the transaction that goes on? I don’t want $15–I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. All right. If it goes through the fire all right, intact, without any damage to it, he gives it back to me and thanks me very much for the use of it. But suppose it gets smashed up–holes in it–during the fire; we don’t have to have too much formality about it, but I say to him, ‘I was glad to lend you that hose; I see I can’t use it any more, it’s all smashed up.’ He says, ‘How many feet of it were there?’ I tell him, ‘There were 150 feet of it.’ He says, ‘All right, I will replace it.’ Now, if I get a nice garden hose back, I am in pretty good shape.”
F.D.R.’s point was that, when the crisis is upon you, you act to end it immediately; you don’t haggle over ridiculous details. Yet that is precisely what these Congressional Republicans are doing.
We have an outbreak of a deadly disease on our shores, and the Republicans are tying it to defunding Planned Parenthood—a fight they cannot otherwise win. Really? Zika is sickening if not killing babies in Florida, and Republicans prefer instead to make fighting Zika dependent on allowing the Confederate flag to fly. Really?
What the hell is going on?
What’s going on, friends, is what’s known as a “poison pill.” Republicans know that Zika funding is badly needed, and is being demanded by the public. So they attach unrealistic and highly partisan stipulations to Obama’s proposed funding legislation, in the hope that the President won’t dare to veto it—which, by the way, he has threatened to do.
Let’s just focus in on one of the more absurd poison pills, the Confederate flag thing. Who’s in back of the preposterous proposal to let the Stars and Bars fly high? One of its prime backers is New Jersey Republican Congressman Scott Garrett. He may not be from the Deep South, but “he has more in common with rural Alabamans than the people of northern New Jersey.” This is the same Rep. Garrett who said “he opposes same-sex marriage as a man of faith” and who added that he would not support the National Republican Congressional Committee—his own party’s organizational arm—“because it actively recruited gay candidates and supported homosexuals in primaries.”
Garrett is a Bible-thumper who home-schooled his children because, he said, he and his wife could find “no high school offering a Christian education.” He was an early Trump endorser whose Twitter feed is a shopping-list of rightwing craziness: Keeping Gitmo open to “stop terrorists from having the chance to attack America,” warning against “tyrannical government bureaucracies” and “Washington elites,” and attacking Hillary Clinton every chance he gets. (Incidentally, is Garrett himself a Washington elite? He’s been a Congressman for 13 years. Sounds pretty insidery to me.)
This is your modern Republican party, folks, your extremist religious Trump supporters who can’t wait to appoint the next few Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and Obamacare, and see if they can get the Court to make gay marriage once again illegal.
And what about the Zika virus? Ask Rep. Garrett why he’s holding Zika funding hostage to his pet rightwing obsessions. If he loves babies so much, why is he letting them die? While you’re at it, ask every Republican you meet the same questions. We have a crisis now. It’s time to lend our neighbor, who is ourself, the fire hose to put out the fire.
Throughout history, white males have taken their superiority—over women, over men of color, over other men they look down on—for granted.
To understand the precedence of white men, in the West at least, we need to look at the book that has most shaped Western thinking: the Bible. That the people of the Old and New Testaments lived in a patriarchy is unquestioned. Women were chattel, or nearly so. Tribal chieftains, like Abraham, exercised total control over their flocks. God was conceived as male. When Christianity imposed a religious order on society, it, too, kept intact a white male power structure. From the Pope on down to pastors, a military-like hierarchy kept men in control, and everybody else out.
No wonder white men have gotten used to being Tops. It’s always been that way. You might even say, if you buy into this kind of stuff, that some law of the universe—maybe even God–made it that way. Men are smarter, more able to make decisive, intelligent decisions—the kind upon which individual survival as well as the survival of the tribe depends. “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” the hapless Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, wondered, listing a J’accuse! of offenses against females:
Women are irrational, that’s all there is to that!
Their heads are full of cotton, hay, and rags!
They’re nothing but exasperating, irritating,
vacillating, calculating, agitating,
Maddening and infuriating hags!
If Henry Higgins felt that way about women, how must he have felt about colored people?
After all, men built the British Empire! Men settled the Colonies (America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand), felling forests, eliminating indigenous people and making great nations! White men were the scientists, the artisans, the philosophers, the explorers, the hunters who put food on the table, who defended the tribe against its enemies, who always knew the right thing to do, because Nature endowed them—not women, not colored people—with reason, logic and insight.
We come now to an America (and a Western world) that seems to be losing all the old values. White people no longer are a majority in California, and in a few decades will no longer be a majority in America.
To the white guy who resents the intrusion of inferior “others” into his life, onto his block, and beside whom he must work, the pop-up of Blacks, Latinos, Asians and gays (the white guys who ran the world were straight), this is terribly confusing and problematic.
It’s not hard to feel empathy with white guys losing power; I am a white guy. They feel their world slipping away. All sorts of thoughts and emotions dash through their heads: resentment, fear, envy, anger, incredulity, frustration. They think there must be a reason for things spiraling out of control—perhaps a conspiracy. These feelings are natural. Many men feel these things, but not all give into them. Many choose to correct their internal balance, to better themselves through interior spiritual work, to sort these feelings out. They strive to be “better people” through rising above their own negativity. This kind of white man has variously been called a liberal, a metrosexual, an urban identifier, part of a culture that sees itself in the vanguard of creating a new, fairer and more open and responsible political and social order.
Unfortunately, there’s another kind of white male—the kind that loves Donald Trump. These are men who, instead of struggling against their own negative emotions, give in to them. They sacrifice their humanity and compassion to the gods of anger and fear. For most of the twentieth century, and especially after World War II, outright expressions of hatred—towards minorities, towards women—were concealed in polite society, because to make them public would be embarrassing, and invite the censure of friends and family. But the right wing in America has invented a so-called “war on political correctness,” the meaning of which is this: These people now give each other permission to hate. Hatred of “the other” used to be cause for shame. Now it is a cause célebre, and is the igniting factor behind the Trump phenomenon.
This, by the way, is why the same white men who have a bit of a homoerotic thing about Trump loathe Hillary Clinton. She’s not their idea of “the right kind of woman”: complacent, quiet, with a passive disposition. Hell, they had her number back when Bill was running in the Democratic primaries in 1992, when she said that, rather than having had a superb career as an attorney, “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas.” Since that’s exactly the kind of woman these men wanted (and, later, they loved Laura Bush), they immediately pegged Hillary as an urban, strong, pants-suited bitch, an “irritating hag” with a mind of her own. And they’ve been hating on her ever since, locked as they are into a regressive emotional state.
Trump is himself both a victim of this negativity, and its enabler-in-chief. As a [very] successful and famous straight white male himself, his overt expressions of hatred and anger (and in particular his venomous smearing of Hillary) cause other white men to think along these lines: “Hey, if he can feel that way—and say it, and get away with it—then there’s nothing wrong with me! I can feel that way and say it, too, and there are millions of others who feel the same way.” Strength in numbers gives these men the courage to indulge in their resentments.
And there are a lot of them. The latest CNN poll shows men preferring Trump over Hillary Clinton by a whopping 54% to 32%. This is considerably larger than womens’ preference for Hillary over Trump (53% to 38%). This poll should make us worry; Trump leads Clinton among all likely voters by 2%. While these numbers will certainly change in coming weeks, they testify to a troubling trend: white men are showing no sign of giving up their anger in favor of more positive, sensible solutions to problems, such as the kinds Hillary offers. These men are indulging in magical thinking: Let’s elect somebody who’s as angry as we are, and hope that anger, alone, will be the answer to all America’s problems.
It won’t be, you know. It never has been. Hitler tried it, and we know what happened to his country. But these 53% of angry white men don’t care. They’ll vote their emotions, and as for the consequences, screw it. They’d rather have an America fueled by anger than one in which mature politicians make careful decisions. They—the angry white guys—may well get what they wish for.
It is a staple of American politics for candidates to be vague about certain of their positions. Republicans and Democrats alike have thrown up obscuring smokescreens around issues that make them uncomfortable since the founding of the Republic.
For example, in late 19th century post-Reconstruction America, one of the burning issues was Civil Service reform. For decades Presidents had rewarded their supporters by giving them, and their friends, plush political appointments to high office—for example, as local Postmasters. This ensured party loyalty, but it smacked of corruption, offending good-government types who wanted such appointments to be based on merit. A long succession of Republican Presidents, starting with Grant and going right up to McKinley, avoided making decisions. The Republican Party liked the patronage system; Democrats wanted reform, and it was popular with the people, but Dems were never strong enough to push it through. So every time the issue of Civil Service reform came up, Republicans dodged it with talk that sounded meaningful, but was actually devoid of substance.
Democrats could play the same game. One of the most famous examples of the 20th century was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s artful dodging of the issue of becoming involved in World War II. He personally thought the U.S. should fight on the side of our allies, Britain and France, against the menace Hitler and Mussolini clearly posed. But so ardent was isolationist feeling in this country that F.D.R. had to be vague about his future intentions. For example, in a Boston speech, in 1940, he said something that was misleading, at best: “To you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
He knew it was not a true statement, knew that war for American boys was inevitable. The word “foreign” was his hedge. If America were attacked—and Roosevelt was sure it eventually would be—then any ensuing war would not be “foreign” but defensive. And that’s exactly how things played out after the December, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
So we should never be surprised when a politician hedges or backtracks or “flip-flops,” to use the current jargon. However, there are minor hedges and major hedges, and a politician who backtracks on the major promise of his political rise, the one that secured him the presidential nomination, is one whose honesty and intellectual ability ought to be subject to the closest scrutiny.
Which brings us to today’s topic, which is, of course, Donald Trump’s bizarre meandering around the topic of deporting undocumented immigrants. His fundamental promise, on announcing for office, was that he would deport the estimated 11 million Mexicans living here more or less illegally. Nearly a year ago, for instance, he told Americans he would build “a deportation force” the same way he built “an unbelievable company worth billions and billions of dollars.”
Most thinking people understood from the beginning that Trump was lying. Nobody expected him to create some kind of uniformed Internal Security Deportation Squad, which would knock on doors in the middle of the night, seize parents from their screaming children, pack them up into black vans and dump them at gunpoint on the Mexican border. Nobody, that is, except his credulous and largely uneducated supporters, who piled all their resentments in life on the backs of farm workers, hotel maids, gardeners and kitchen line cooks.
Trump ran toward the extreme in the primaries and now is making a mad dash back towards the center, in order to win the general by appealing to less-crazy voters. Still, he can now be seen jettisoning his central campaign promise: as yesterday’s Washington Post reports, “Trump won’t say definitively whether he backs mass deportation.”
Well, naturally he won’t say it “definitively” because he knows he can’t mass-deport people. He knows it will never happen, just as he has known from the beginning. Truth, such as it is, has never mattered to the Trump campaign.
WashPo’s reporter described Trump’s problem accurately: “On the one hand, [Trump supporters] say no amnesty, no legalization, and everyone out. On the other, they don’t have the nerve to say they are going to kick out grandmothers and little children, college students and hard-working adults who have been here most of their lives.” The end result is a chaotic mishmash of meaninglessness.
It would be one thing for Trump to equivocate on less emotional issues, such as how he would renegotiate trade deals. The devil is in the details on things like that: he could get away with obfuscation. But for him to back away from the central guarantee he made to his supporters is really unprecedented in modern Presidential elections. It is as if Obama, running on a promise of expanding healthcare for all Americans, were suddenly, on the eve of the election, to announce that maybe that’s not such a good idea after all.
Trump’s image managers, such as the P.R. spin artist Kellyanne Conway, will try to avoid having to answer hard questions, but I figure a relentless Press will force her to address her candidate’s inconsistencies. “How can he back-pedal on deportation?” reporters will ask her. Here’s how she’ll answer: First, she’ll tell them they’ll have to ask the candidate himself, since she doesn’t write policy (LOL). When they insist, she’ll explain that, actually, the retreat on deportation is a sign of Trump’s growing political sophistication. “His position on this issue, as on many issues, is constantly evolving,” she’ll aver, adding, for good measure, “just as you’d want him to. We want our candidates for public office to continue to learn as situations change, don’t we?” And then she’ll stick it to Hillary Clinton. “Unlike Secretary Clinton, whose secret emails about Benghazi show that some people never change their basic dishonesty and untrustworthiness.”
And that’s the way to take an embarrassing situation, turn it around with reverse spin, and hope American voters are dumb enough to buy it.
Following his successful outreach to Black voters over the past two weeks,
Donald Trump is planning similar approaches to other minority groups in order to win them over, according to documents obtained by the Huffington Post.
The documents, prepared by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, reflect the campaign’s belief that Trump can appeal to skeptical voters in minority groups, who have been reluctant to support him, through carefully-orchestrated outreach appeals.
Trump will spend two weeks each from now until the election working with individual minority group, according to the documents, which were given by an individual associated with the higher echelons of the Trump campaign. The new strategy is dubbed 24U, as in “Two [Weeks] For You.”
After his Black outreach program ends this week, which featured the candidate attending services at Black churches and eating soul food, Trump’s will target the LGBT community, where his standing has been low. Other minority communities targeted include Mexicans, the disabled, and low-energy voters.
Here are details from the documents:
The LGBT community: Conway, the campaign manager, argued that “queers” constitute a potentially powerful voting block for Trump. The documents reveal in-house squabbling over whether LGBT people should be treated as one community (and thus get two full weeks of attention), or whether they are four separate communities. Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, who has dated transsexuals, argued for a single community; Conway argued for four communities, and apparently won. Under the scheme, Lesbians will get Trump’s attention for 5 days, gay men for 5 days, bisexuals for 3 days, and transgendered people for 1 day.
Conway will be reaching out to her fellow Lesbians to set up events in cities such as San Francisco and New York.
Trump’s wife, Melania, will play a “pivotal role” in reaching out to the bisexual community, where she was well-known in the early 2000s, according to the documents.
Meanwhile, the nation’s most famous transgendered Republican, Caitlin Jenner, will spearhead efforts in the Tranny community.
The ambassador for gay men has not yet been selected, but one possibility is Scott Baio, the papers said.
Trump also has been working with former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani on how to increase his popularity with drag queens.
Disabled people constitute another 24U target group. Following Trump’s mocking of disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint disorder, the campaign has planned two weeks of outreach to “cripples,” according to the leaked documents.
Trump will participate in a Paralympic wheelchair basketball session scheduled for October at New York’s Riker’s Island. A suggestion by campaign co-manager Paul Manafort, in which Trump would live in a cardboard box for several days in Times Square in order to appeal to homeless people, was eventually rejected. “Homeless people don’t vote,” a campaign insider told the Huffington Post.
Low-energy voters were turned off by Trump’s mocking of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush during the primaries.
According to the documents, there are approximately 50 million low-energy voters in the U.S., making them a key target group. The campaign’s strategy is for Trump to triple the amount of Xanax he normally takes on a daily basis, in order to make him appear somnolent. “Low-energy voters will love it when they see Mr. Trump nodding off during speeches,” said one campaign insider, who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
Trump’s outreach to Mexican-Americans will be centered around his love of their culture. The plan calls for him to drive a taco truck. The leaked documents show that he wanted to use the Pink Floyd song, Another Brick in the Wall, as his Mexican outreach song, but the band would not allow it. Instead, the Trump theme song will be La Cucaracha.