Archive

October 25th, 2016

Donald Trump's conspiracy theories about voting in Philadelphia are preposterous

    Donald Trump and his campaign surrogates say they believe that a massive conspiracy will be operating in Pennsylvania to "steal this election" for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8. Specifically, they're worried about Philadelphia.

    "We have to make sure the people of Philadelphia are protected that the vote counts are 100 percent," Trump said last week in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. "Everybody wants that, but I hear these horror shows. I hear these horror shows and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us. And everybody knows what I'm talking about." His ally Newt Gingrich was even blunter, saying that "to suggest that you don't have theft in Philadelphia is to deny reality." Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, R, predicted that people would be bused to Philadelphia to vote "four or five times" in place of dead voters on the rolls.

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Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner

    The evidence continues to mount: There is nothing in the world that Donald Trump can’t make worse.

    Our latest example is the Al Smith Dinner, a feel-good annual event at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, in which the political and business elite gather to congratulate themselves for raising money to help poor children. It’s sponsored by the Catholic archdiocese, and in presidential election years it’s a tradition for the candidates to show up and make witty, self-deprecatory speeches in which each can also take gentle gibes at the other.

    The nation is filled with must-show events for politicians. (There was quite a stir in Florida a few years ago when the gubernatorial candidates failed to attend the Wausau Possum Festival.) But few are as high-end and theoretically bipartisan as the Smith dinner. The most important guests are seated in tiers onstage, where hoi polloi can admire their table manners.

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Defeating Trump won't heal America's divisions

    If the polls are to be believed, Donald Trump's chances of winning the election have all but vanished. The last television debate is unlikely to have arrested his downward trajectory. One should never say never (think of the Brexit referendum) but the question now, it seems, is what will follow Hillary Clinton's victory.

    Here's what ought to follow: Relief at a disaster averted, followed by some sober reflection.

    After the election, especially if Clinton wins comfortably, a consensus will form around the idea that Trump was bound to fail. As the past year recedes, and in view of the man's outlandish defects, this theory will be plausible -- yet nonetheless false. The most remarkable and disturbing thing about this election is just how unelectable Trump had to be to lose.

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Bernie Sanders is running a shadow campaign

    In Colorado, Bernie Sanders isn't just acting as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. He's also holding separate events to keep his movement and its issues alive in a state he won handily in the June Democratic primary. Now he is urging his followers to support a ballot measure to establish the nation's first universal health care system. It will probably be defeated, yet his backers, who have settled for a bird in the hand this year, are certain they own the future.

    Changing demographics may be on on their side, and what happens in Colorado could be a model for the rest of the U.S. That doesn't necessarily mean that the European-style changes Sanders has passionately advocated for the U.S. will take place anytime soon.

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American Gut Check

    You can imagine Donald Trump sitting on his golden throne in the Las Vegas hotel he built with all that cheap Chinese steel, imagine him trying to keep every molecule of reality from entering the room. He’s seething, because his numbers are cratering. And yet, in his mind he cannot be losing. So, everything is rigged.

    When he takes the debate stage, he does not smile. The closest thing to it is a sore-loser sneer for failing to get an Emmy out of a reality television show that allowed him to belittle women. He tries to act normal — to hold back the hatred inside him. But this dangerous man is incapable of bottling up his dark self for a full 90 minutes. And in the end, he finally crosses the one political barrier he had yet to fully cross — trashing democracy itself, we the people.

    The best presidents are aspirational, urging us to climb every mountain and ford every stream. Trump has never been able to make it out of the gutter.

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Why Hillary Wins

    Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Hey, that’s what pundits have been saying ever since this endless campaign began. You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the media, over everything from claims of dishonesty (which usually turn out to be based on nothing) to matters of personal style.

    Strange to say, however, Clinton won the Democratic nomination fairly easily, and now, having pummeled her opponent in three successive debates, is an overwhelming favorite to win in November, probably by a wide margin. How is that possible?

    The usual suspects are already coalescing around an answer — namely, that she just got lucky. If only the Republicans hadn’t nominated Donald Trump, the story goes, she’d be losing badly.

    But here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe Clinton is winning because she possesses some fundamental political strengths — strengths that fall into many pundits’ blind spots.

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No candidate in history has used the kind of 'rigging' rhetoric that Trump is using

    Donald Trump has raised alarm over the "rigged election" as the closing argument of his campaign. Of all of the moments that stood out in Wednesday night's final presidential debate, none equaled his refusal to tell moderator Chris Wallace that he would concede if Hillary Clinton is victorious. "I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense," Trump said.

    This is not the first time that Trump has advanced the idea that American elections are rigged. After Mitt Romney lost to President Obama in 2012, Trump went on a Twitter rampage as he warned his followers that the results were unfair: "We should have a revolution in this country!" he wrote. Another tweet read: "We can't let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty." (He deleted most of the tweets.) As a key part of the birther movement in 2011 and 2012, Trump was contesting the legitimacy of the 2008 election by raising doubts about where Obama was born.

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If she were elected, what could Hillary do?

    If the polls are right and they hold up, Hillary Clinton will be the next president. What happens next in economic policy? Conventional wisdom says "nothing," but I disagree, by which I mean even in a hostile Congress, new presidents typically get something they've run on. At least, they get a hearing. So here's my list of things that you could be hearing more about in the relatively near future.

    Infrastructure: Call it wishful thinking, but a deep dive into public infrastructure investment is a distinct possibility. Historically, such investments have received bipartisan support - even tea partyers use roads, bridges, water systems, and so on. I know many Republicans both in politics and business who want this to happen. Clinton has listed all the above targets for a five-year, $250 billion plan, including $25 billion to capitalize an infrastructure bank, where private investors could lend to infrastructure programs that spin off some return on their investment (this implies users fees; it's outside the box, and would probably be a heavier political lift).

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Don't just vote against Trump; vote for Hillary

    Regular readers of this column will remember two recent offerings on this crazy 2016 presidential election: one, a warning not to risk destroying everything we've gained by voting for Donald Trump; two, a plea not to make a mockery of this election by voting for Gary Johnson.

    Here today the important third installment: Making your vote count -- not just by voting against Trump or Johnson -- but by voting for Hillary Clinton.

    For all Democrats, for all Republicans who love their country more than their party, and, yes, for all former Bernie Sanders supporters like me, voting for Hillary Clinton should be an easy, automatic and enthusiastic choice. A no-brainer.

    She is, hands down, as President Obama frequently notes, the most qualified person to run for president -- ever! Yes, we know, experience doesn't always count for everything. But it counts for a lot. And certainly her experience as first lady of Arkansas, first lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state gives her an unparalleled grasp of how government works and how to get things done. There will be no period of on-the-job training needed for Hillary Clinton.

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Clinton's 85 slogans explain 2016 campaign

    "Sloganeer" is a dismissive term, generally used to describe a shallow, insincere huckster. Yet political slogans, as a new WikiLeaks release of stolen, presumably authentic Hillary Clinton campaign e-mails makes clear, are serious business. Top campaign staff and the candidate all weigh in, looking to convey crucial information, a competitive advantage and a thematic point of view in a succinct phrase.

    The Donald Trump campaign may be a daily circus of crass incompetence, but its slogan, "Make America Great Again," was expertly crafted to appeal to his core followers. It conveys nationalism, nostalgia and deep pessimism and insecurity about the nation's current status -- three pillars of Trump's run -- along with the implied agency required to reverse course. You, Disgruntled American Voter, can "make" it happen.

    The contrast with Trump's opponent is also implicit. He'll do what's necessary to return to the great days of yore when white men were on top at home and America dominated the world. Under his opponent, his slogan portends, white men will continue to lose power to racial minorities and women, while the U.S. loses out to foreign nations.

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