Misunderestimating Donald Trump 5/27/16

I feel like Donald Trump has a good chance of winning the Whitehouse for two major reasons: his populism (a novel campaign strategy in this day and age), and the Democrats’ and the left’s lack of understanding as to what his appeal actually is (arguably, this is why his Republican opponents in the primaries lost, as well).

From the Plum Line this morning:

Donald Trump just made an extremely important promise. It’s one of his worst yet.

Believe it or not, Donald Trump has now made a very important policy statement. Introducing what he billed as an “energy plan,” Trump promised to “cancel the Paris Climate Plan.” Unlike so much of what comes from Trump on policy, this is a genuinely clarifying moment, with potentially enormous long-term implications.

Of course, Greg Sargent thinks this is an awful idea, one that dooms any hope Donald had of being president, if in no small part because it means Bernie and Hillary will totally definitely team up to stop Trump now, and that’s all it will take: Bernie and Hillary teaming up. The part where cancelling the Paris Climate Accords actually appeals to a lot of people, and increasing domestic energy production appeals to even more . . . that doesn’t seem to enter into it.

I think that’s just wrong. And the more the Democrats allow themselves to be painted as (or paint themselves as) the side where “it’s sad domestic energy production is losing all those jobs, but, eh, what can you do?” versus Trump’s promise of increasing domestic energy sector jobs and production (never mind the specifics, it’s magic!), the more I think they are mistaking what makes the difference between victory and defeat in November.

I also think it’s interesting that, for Greg Sargent, the significant thing about Trump’s “energy plan” (so-called) is how it will impact the Hillary/Sanders dustup. That’s the take away. Not that Trump’s own dismissal of climate change as an apocalyptic inevitability might actual appeal to Independents or swing-voters, not to mention his promise of supporting domestic energy production.

I don’t think Anthropogenic Climate Change is a big winner for the Democrats. Independents and Republicans can be peeled away by lots of things, such as talk of jobs (green energy jobs!) or ending of perpetual military engagement or promises of financial benefits to the middle class, but I think the prioritization of Climate Change as the Most Important Thing Ever is not the political talisman many seem to think it is. And Donald saying he’s going to pull America out of the Paris Climate Accords (pretty much just posturing bullhockey anyway, good for politicians to preen over and little else) is not going to send shockwaves and fear and disgust through the American electorate.

And it’s just one way they seem to be misunderestimating The Donald.

40 Responses

  1. I have always said that Americans are happy to use a cute aluminum water bottle from Urban Outfitters or slap a “Love Your Mother” bumper sticker on the back of the SUV to save the planet, but that is about as far as it goes. The idea of rationing, or jacking up the price of electricity or gas will be unpopular…

    FWIW, I also wonder how popular their latest cause celebre about drag queens is going to be either. They are staking a lot of political capital on that.

    Oh, and frist.. For once.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hard to FRIST when your the primary poster!

      I think they are way too early on transgender bathrooms (meant to continue to redefine gender and race (oh, race is coming, lefties who think it’s not will find themselves surprised in the not-too-distant future) as fluid things. Choices, where you are what you are because that’s how you feel. Can easily backfire against them in southern and midwestern states they consider to be in play . . . because they overestimate the vast majority’s concern over the tragedy of bathroom discrimination.

      In this vein, cynics like me have to view the sudden rash of rednecks following masculine-looking women into WOMEN’S BATHROOMS and accosting them because THEY DRESS AND CUT THEIR HAIR LIKE LESBIANS with deep suspicion. Seems very convenient–it’s like pundits on the left worried that laws forcing people to use the bathroom of their birth sex would lead to harassment of women by conservatives and evidence-free stories suddenly abound!

      How conveeeeenient.


  2. First comment when I went to read the comments on the above-mentioned article:

    Trump is ignorant and unprincipled in all respects but three – he is Racist, he is a Misogynist, and he is a Xenophobe. These prejudices are his North Star and all who follow him welcome his Points of Light and assume everything else will be Great Again when White Male Supremacy is restored. Everything else is negotiable, everything else is posture and politics, and the People get it.

    While I understand independents may be turned-off by Trump’s vulgarity, and many Republicans and conservatives may be concerned about his history of liberal-leaning positions and tendency to waffle, and they all may be concerned about his tendency to exaggerate and prevaricate while seeming to do everything off the cuff . . .

    Is a single Independent, Swing-Voter, Never-Voter, Libertarian or Republican going to be remotely moved (except maybe to hold their nose and vote for Trump) by this ongoing drumbeat of the left in blog comments and social media? Trying to not be too biased by my own positions, but I just doubt these are very compelling arguments outside of a narrow base. And I think they underline where the left (or Democrats) misshow they can sabotage their own political ambitions simply by spending too much time patting themselves on the back too energetically.


    • Well, there is that, and also leftist ideas are over-represented in social media. If you post a meme poking fun at their transgender thing, they will try and get you fired. So their ideas may seem wildly popular, if only because people who disagree are self-censoring.


  3. More evidence that critics and the left don’t understand The Donald’s appeal or how to fight it, or what kind of critiques would work best against him. Instead, I think Donald’s poll number movement is half attributable to him and half attributed to his critics being wrong-headed in their critiques.


    Freshness of the Battle of the Bathrooms probably doesn’t hurt, either.


  4. Another quote from mentioned article:

    Trump is toast, and I believe he’s really too arrogant to notice. What’s really funny is that every real GOP pol knows Trump is going down in flames massively, and I fully believe now that he will surely take the House down with him. Paul Ryan is the most nervous man in Washington because he has sense enough to know that his tenure as Speaker is about to end, and he’s trying his best to figure out a way to not get the blame for a Trump loss, yet keep sufficient distance for a viable 2020 run. There are no workable solutions for him because Trump’s flame will consume all parts of the party, and there will be no escaping it. It will be the stuff of legend to watch them all trying to escape the burning house come November, but as vindictive as Trump is he’s going to make sure all the doors and windows are locked when the flames are set, and anyone trying to escape over the course of the summer as his poll numbers begin to plummet will face his full wrath…just ask Governor Martinez…

    Pay no attention to the consistent narrowing of the gap between Trump and Clinton to where Trump has actually surpassed Clinton (within the margin of error). Over the summer, everyone will remember they agree with me and so Trump will go down in flames.

    Yeah, maybe Trump will go down in flames, but I’m not predisposed to think so right now.


  5. I always thought the election was Clinton’s to lose and it appears that she’s going to give her best effort to do so.

    Trump has surpassed all expectations and I’d say that the “momentum” is clearly with him. I never thought that Trump would have the nomination all wrapped up with minimal opposition heading into the convention while Clinton is still dealing with Sanders in June.

    The Atlantic has had some good pieces on this. I think Trump voters are still under polling too based on things like this regarding how peer groups would react:


    And Trump hasn’t even taken all the low hanging fruit like this sort of attack:

    “The current problems at the TSA are a perfect example. When Americans are standing in lines at our nation’s airports and fuming about incompetence in government, they don’t want to hear excuses about a lack of government resources. Who do you think is more likely to shake things up with the bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security and actually get the TSA working, President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump? It’s no contest.

    If Trump were to show up at an American airport and face those waiting in a long security line, he would probably be welcomed and he would instantly be recognized as someone who would make changes. If Clinton were to show up, I think she would be greeted as an agent of the status quo, and the crowd reaction would be, to put it mildly, more subdued. Not one person who is outraged and disgusted while standing in a security line and missing their flight could care less about Trump’s taxes or how he may or may not have treated a girlfriend decades ago. They want somebody who can make basic government functions work. Let’s face it, the people who rolled out the Obamacare website are the same people who can’t figure out how to match the number of TSA security screeners with airport traffic.

    Honestly, do you think the White House has spent more time in the past 90 days managing its school bathroom mandate for transgender students or trying figuring out how to make TSA security lines work with adequate efficiency this travel season? The answer is obvious.”



    • “Trump has surpassed all expectations and I’d say that the “momentum” is clearly with him. I never thought that Trump would have the nomination all wrapped up with minimal opposition heading into the convention while Clinton is still dealing with Sanders in June.”

      It didn’t feel like either thing would likely happen, but after Sanders got some momentum it seemed more likely. Once Trump began to advance I really began to suspect that the RNC, despite what they were saying, would eventually capitulate. Admittedly, it takes Trump’s poll number to pull that capitulation off, but the gap between Trump and Clinton has narrowed to a statistical zero, and none of them can possibly believe that, irrespective of what would be good for the GOP, that turning on Trump now, being seen to fracture the party and potentially hand the election to Clinton, could possibly be good for their future careers. Thus Marco Rubio has grudging got on the Trump train and tweeted about how the protestors at Trump rallies are stooges.

      I like what Ace of Spades had to see about the #NeverTrump right wingers bitching about Rubio’s change of heart:

      You know, it’s very easy to Remain True to Your Twitter-Announced Principles when you have zero responsibility and zero obligation and zero impact on the actual world.


    • The Atlantic article is very good, BTW. I think this gets right back to what we’ve been saying regarding turning on your closest allies and calling them racists and racists because they disagree with you on some things:

      For me personally, it’s resistance against what San Francisco has been, and what I see the country becoming, in the form of ultra-PC culture. That’s where it’s almost impossible to have polite or constructive political discussion. Disagreement gets you labeled fascist, racist, bigoted, etc. It can provoke a reaction so intense that you’re suddenly an unperson to an acquaintance or friend. There is no saying “Hey, I disagree with you,” it’s just instant shunning. Say things online, and they’ll try to find out who you are and potentially even get you fired for it. Being anti-PC is not about saying “I want you to agree with me on these issues.” It’s about saying, “Hey, I want to have a discussion and not get shouted down because I don’t agree with what is considered to be politically correct.”

      The problem being these folks, and many of the politicians, get a very unrealistic impression of what a problem it is. In the larger country, 24% of folks identify as liberal while 38% identify as conservative and 34% identify as moderate, but within their clans and cliques and social circles, the number of people who identify as liberal are probably anywhere from 70% to 99%. They may have a boss they dislike who is vociferously conservative, and that’s the only conservative they know, so they approach the world as if their personal version of liberalism is a 70% to 100% majority. And all conservatives are stupid jerks, because their boss is.

      The United States has problems, but as serious as some of them are, this country is among the most prosperous, free places to live not just in the world today, but in all human history. Why risk that by electing an unknown quantity with no policy knowledge or foreign affairs experience—all but inviting stress tests by other countries—when the consequences could be catastrophic, and the alternative, for all her flaws, is a known quantity who will govern much as her husband did in the 1990s? Trump poses enormous unknown risks; Clinton poses none.

      I think this only makes intuitive sense to dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. One could argue Dubya was a known quantity, certainly by 2004. That didn’t make any of them more likely to vote for him. Nothing gives you the power of prediction, so you don’t really know much better how Hillary Clinton will govern than Donald J. Trump. Lots of assumptions on the pro-Hillary side.Clinton poses no risks? That seems very optimistic.

      Killing terrorist family members has been something I’ve wondered about for a long time. While the idea seems horrible initially, sometimes when you have these attacks, you wonder what can we do to stop them? If we knew that this policy would stop terrorist attacks, would we go down that road? It’s a worrying thing to wonder for one’s soul. In any case, Trump seems to have disregarded the idea, which I think shows that he can shy away from his most authoritarian ideas, but also that he’s willing to discuss ideas that would be instantly dismissed otherwise.

      This is also my point. The political establishment and various ideologues seem to have a great deal of trouble even suggesting an idea that might be politically incorrect, or considering it objectively. I think one of the place Trump is getting a lot of traction is with people who want to be able to discuss things without being attacked and misconstrued and ostracized every time. And the unwillingness to even talk about things, or to allow others to talk about things, often flies in the face of what self-confessed liberals believe about liberalism and what it stands for, or should stand for.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Also Scott Adams and Bernie Sanders will be on Bill Maher tonight. That should be pretty interesting.


    • Speaking of which, I think Scott Adams seriously knows what he’s talking about here in terms of Hillary’s ads. No doubt, most liberals would call him a “concern troll”. But I think he’s dead on.


      Watch how many times Clinton’s ads ask us to imagine President Trump in office. We remember the visual she asks us to imagine and we forget the criticism that follows. Clinton has no trained persuaders on her staff.

      And this bit:

      Check out the photos chosen for an article in Business Insider today. On the left, we have Clinton in full-scold mode. I’m sure a better Clinton photo exists.

      On the right, we see the best photo of Trump in the past five years. His hair is evolving to something less wild, and less orange. (His campaign is managing his evolving look, I assume.) And even his tan looks better than usual. He has a fun grin too.

      He looks like an aging Elvis in that picture. Who wouldn’t want Aging Elvis as president?


  7. Not gonna lie, I’d give my left nut to watch a Trump / Sanders debate before the Cali primary.


    • I’m sure I’m wrong, but it seems to me that for all the talk of the coming GOP crackup, the left is busy eating itself:

      A woman votes in Missouri, which Hillary Clinton literally won on the strength of her vote among black women. Why would anyone want to invalidate the votes of her community?

      Just wanted to quote that, because I wanted to make sure it was okay to invalidate the votes of white women, or white men, or maybe even black men? Or to ask if maybe DailKos could provide us a list of which communities it should be okay to violate the votes of . . . but running primaries, which used to not involve popular voting at all, by the same rules they’ve been run by (for the most part) for dozens of elections.

      I think the left, and the Democrats, are at a bigger risk of cracking up than the GOP (look, if Rubio is falling in line, even Bill Kristol is going to realize he had better shut up if not actively endorse Trump). And I think this mentality of the “true liberals” that Bernie Sanders, of all people, now represents the scourge of white male privilege is going to actually drive some BernieBros to the more conservative side of the aisle, or at least leave them ripe to be picked up by a conservative populist, or a more populist message from the GOP in 2 years (and then again in 4). My first take was the BernieBros would all vote for Hillary, vote Green or stay home.

      But I know from experience that being alienated from people you considered your fellow travelers tends to make you think more carefully about your positions. And nothing’s more alienating than embracing what you consider to be liberal values and being called a racist and sexist for doing so (or having it strongly implied).

      I’m reminded by Pete Brown’s excellent Minority Party (my review is, I think, the only one for the book on Amazon.com), where he predicted a kind of perpetual minority status for Democrats because of their focus on identity politics. While that didn’t turn out to be the case, he wrote the book before the 1994 takeover of congress, and a lot of his prognostication could be seen to apply to the Tea Party and the 2010 and 2014 elections, as well as Dubya’s victories.

      To be clear, if you are advocating for Bernie’s superdelegate coup, you are not racist. You certainly have an autocratic lack of respect for the will of the voters, but that doesn’t make you racist. But the outcome of that superdelegate coup would absolutely be racist, And sexist.

      That there are people who write that sort of stuff and mean it suggest to me than a strong victory for Trump, no matter what his profound flaws are, might be the best thing in the end. 😉

      Love the comments on the article. The left is eating itself. Just good to keep in mind that ideological self-cannibalism is a slow process . . . we won’t live to see the end of that particular dinner, most likely.

      And I mean the left as a political movement that has to exist and advance within a democracy. Put another way, affluent cultures naturally gravitate towards liberalism (this seems impossible to deny, to me) and thus can be very open to more paternalistic government and greater degrees of socialism and social liberalism. Yet the extremes of liberalism and leftism and identity politics tend to be alienating, eager to eject fellow travelers who don’t pass the test of ideological purity, and thus create a vacuum just waiting for a Donald Trump to fill it up.


    • Second time I’ve seen “Privilege” BS trotted out to bash Sanders in the press. First time was here:

      ““He has manipulated his campaign into something degenerate,” said Autry Harper, a pixie-haired aspiring opera singer from Lake Arrowhead. “He only became a Democrat so he could use our party, and the way he’s attacking Hillary is helping Trump.” Harper believes Sanders’s insistence that he is entitled to have a say in things despite losing the primary is fundamentally sexist. “It’s his male privilege,” she said.”


      I can’t think of a better way to convert “Bernie Bros” to Trump supporters, than to lecture them on that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup. In the strata of younger conservatives there are a lot of former male feminists who were shocked when they found out they could never be feminist enough to make up for their anatomy, or got shouted down as racist because they gently questioned some sacrosanct tenet of dogma in one of those “safe spaces” that always seem to be “safe for me but not for thee”. Purity tests are generally a bad idea inside a party or ideology, at least as part of dogma . . . it’s the problem with political correctness. Eventually the vast majority are guilty of sinning against the One True Faith and so they end up going where their ideas are better tolerated, or at least having dissenting opinions isn’t greeted with immediate excommunication.

        Non-Hispanics who identify as white are 62% of the population as of 2014. Men are like 48% of the population, and while women are more likely to vote it seems, that’s still not enough.

        More telling, 38% of the population identifies as conservative while 34% identify as moderates. That leaves 24% identifying as liberal . . . a number that is up, and one that I suspect in up due to the more hostile (real or perceived) approaches of certain elements on the political right, or the perceived incompetence of Republicans in DC. Iraq war might have something to do with it. Given all that, the number is small and folks on the left would be smart to keep in mind they’ve only got 24% of the population as dedicated my-party-right-or-wrong liberals.



  8. More Scott Adams:

    And their “Love Trumps Hate” slogan is two-thirds “Love Trump.” Any trained persuader knows people put more cognitive weight on the first part of sentences.

    It’s true. And also, it can be interpreted as a command to the voter: “Love Trump’s Hate”

    Bad attempt at a slogan. But “We’re Stronger Together” doesn’t seem much better to me. Compared to “Make America Great Again”, it’s like having an energy drink called: “Replenisher: It is a Potable Liquid” up against “Brawndo! It is the THIRST DESTROYER!”


  9. A quote from my review of Minority Party by Pete Brown (it’s mostly quotes from the book):

    “First, they blame the candidate–a common Democratic practice since 1972. Democratic leaders seem to believe that George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis magically appeared before the country as the Democratic nominees who could not win in November. They never acknowledge that these candidates reflect Democratic primary voters’ out-of-touch views.

    “Secondly, Democrats blame the voters–and have for almost two decades. Shields saw it in 1972 when he was national political director of Ed Muskie’s intially popular campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. After a loss to George Wallace in the Florida primary, Muskie turned to a phalanx of television cameras and blamed his defeat on the voters poor judgement . . .

    “Thirdly, losers look for a gimmick–any gimmick. It is one more instance of the same ample evidence of Democratic self-delusions. They insist that their problems can be papered over . . . the gender gap . . . mobilization theory . . . trying to get state legislatures to change the way their electoral votes were cast . . .

    “Finally, says Shields, comes the overwehleming desire to find a winner, regardless of who the candidate is, whatever his or her message. Dukakis, a bland man whose form of static liberalism satisfied neither Democratic liberals nor moderates, fit that description to perfection. After all, this candidate was cheered by the 1988 Democratic convention when he said the campaign was ‘not about ideology but about competence’.”

    Leaving aside the wisdom of Dukakis trying to compete on competence, doesn’t that all sound familiar? All the pundits during the 2004 election cycle poo-pooed conservatives and moderate commentators who talked about John Kerry as Dukakis redux. Yet isn’t it all awfully familiar?

    Brown writes:

    “But the Democratic problem is not that the overwhelming number of white, middle-class voters don’t undersand what the party is saying. The problem is the voters understand quite clearly. And they don’t agree.”


  10. Just wanted to let you guys know: I spent some time visiting with Sue today. While she actually looks better than when I saw her at Christmas, the pain is getting quite bad and she’s in the process of interviewing hospice companies. She wanted me to say hello to everyone.

    Sigh. Cancer truly sucks.


  11. I was wondering about this: How did transgender shit become the next big issue after gay marriage instead of pot legalization? Many more pot smokers in this country than drag queens. Does the gay lobby control the left?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes there’s just no accounting for the priorities of the left.


      • I was hoping the next cause celebre after gay marriage would be pot legalization (a noble cause that affects a lot of people) as opposed to forcing businesses to genuflect to the transgender lobby (which is about stroking the egos of a miniscule fraction of the population). I guess I am just disappointed..

        Liked by 1 person

        • If Gary Johnson heads the L ticket AND gets into the debates pot legalization will become a major issue.

          The TX AG has manufactured a case against the feds on TGs in school rest rooms. First he went to the Wichita Falls ISD, a big and very conservative north Texas school district and asked them to impose a bathroom gender privacy rule based on the child’s birth certificated sex. WF refused to get involved saying generally that no problem had ever arisen and they would take care of it locally if it ever did. So he got the tiny Harrold ISD to pass his drafted rule and then joined the other states in the lawsuit on behalf of an ISD with fewer than 100 students.

          Both sides have found a problem that has not yet happened to get pissed about, and one that is so potentially small that it is hardly a threat to peace, prosperity, or justice or civil liberties for that matter. I am with the WF ISD on this one.


        • Mark:

          Both sides have found a problem that has not yet happened to get pissed about, and one that is so potentially small that it is hardly a threat to peace, prosperity, or justice or civil liberties for that matter.

          I’m not sure how you can blame “both sides”. Obama has unilaterally attempted to change 40 years of Title IX interpretation and enforcement, in the process threatening to withhold federal funds from schools unless they put in place a radical new policy regarding bathrooms and locker rooms.

          The problem that I see is one of federal encroachment on local authority, and unconstitutional law making on the part of the executive. And that is absolutely a threat to justice and civil liberties. Texas and other states are absolutely justified and correct in objecting to it and taking steps to stop it.


        • You and me both sister. The left consistently disappoints me in this regard, as I have no expectation of conservatives to go long on drug legalization.


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