Archive

October 27th, 2016

Donald's gift to Hillary

    Two high-profile political events of the last week provided an unintended present from Donald Trump to his rival for the presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton.

    First in their final debate Wednesday in Las Vegas, and then the next night at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York, Trump's behavior gave Clinton venues in which she displayed her superior political skills, knowledge and temperament.

    In the debate, she repeated her ability to goad Trump into excesses of personal invective, misstatements of fact and insensitivity to women. Then, at the officially Democratic but traditionally nonpartisan dinner, she largely maintained a sense decorum fitting the occasion, as he occasionally overstepped the affair's tradition of good-natured ribbing, drawing audible boos from the invited guests.

    In both settings, the Democratic nominee offered a much greater level of comfort and control of the facts expected of a would-be president. In contrast, her Republican opponent in that final debate had gravely wounded himself with his unwillingness to say he would accept the American voters' decision in the election outcome.

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Clinton’s Specter of Illegitimacy

    President Barack Obama is fond of saying that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever seek the presidency. And, if current polls are correct and prove resilient, she will be one of the most qualified people to be elected and ascend to that office.

    But one of the great ironies of this election is that America’s first female president may be viewed by many as the country’s most invalid president, hanging under the specter of suspicion, mistrust and illegitimacy.

    This is partly because her opponents all along the way have complained that the system — from the media to the electoral apparatus — was “rigged” and unfairly tilted in her favor, and it’s partly because of unflattering bits of information that have come to light from an illegal hack.

    During the primaries, Bernie Sanders (who now supports Clinton) made very clear that he thought that both the media and the Democratic Party itself had not been fair to him. As he put it, “We knew we were taking on the establishment.”

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Trump won't inherit the land, so he's sowing it with salt

    When Donald Trump said on Tuesday night that he would leave us in "suspense" come November 9, much of the country let out a gasp and the statement has dominated campaign coverage ever since. I wish this weren't the case, but I was not all that surprised. Not because this wasn't, as Hillary Clinton responded, a "horrifying" statement, not because Trump has been alluding to a "rigged" election for weeks now, not because I've become numb to the non-stop logorrheic rainbow of horror constantly shooting from Trump's mouth, and not even because I was watching with a group of deep-red North Carolina Republicans who seemed to operate in base-12 while I was stuck in conventional old base-10.

    To me, all of this was just one more step in the long, absurdist slog of the Russianization of this campaign. I'm not talking about Paul Manafort, or Trump's real estate investors, or even his open invitation to the Russian intelligence services to hack U.S. computers in search of Clinton's deleted emails. Even the Wikileaks-Trump-Putin triad feels natural at this point.

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The Media’s Moment of Truth

    The media’s responsibility for Donald Trump’s political success will be debated for a good long while, with the network honcho Les Moonves’ words about Trump’s candidacy (“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS”) front and center. But almost from the moment Trump entered the 2016 presidential race, he has been a justifiably huge story. A lead in the polls became a lead in the delegate count and then, surreally, the nomination of the Republican Party.

    Was he ridiculous? Beyond measure. Relevant? Beyond doubt. As long as the reporting about him was skeptical — and, after a certain point, the bulk of it was — there was more reason to train the spotlight on him than to pull it away.

    That’s about to change — bigly. He is bound to lose the election, and we in the media will lose the rationale that his every utterance warrants notice as a glimpse into the character of a person in contention for the most consequential job in the world.

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Contrary to Trump adviser's view, helping people save retirement money isn't like slavery

    While waiting in a bank this month, I happened to overhear a broker from one of the country's largest firms try to explain to his client why the Labor Department's new fiduciary rule was so terrible. It was an unpersuasive exercise in self-interest, and the client was having none of it.

    "Why can't you put my best interests first?," he asked.

    The fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers to place the interests of clients with retirement-saving accounts ahead of their own, will be implemented sometime next year, assuming there are no additional delays. That also assumes that Donald Trump -- now polling on average about 7 percent behind Hillary Clinton -- doesn't win the presidential election.

    But if he does win, one of the voices that might be the loudest in opposition to the fiduciary rule would be that of Anthony Scaramucci, an economic adviser to Trump.

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Can Trump Help Us Bridge the ‘God Gulf’?

    God should sue some of her supposed champions for defamation.

    Some conservative evangelicals malign God by suggesting that Christians should scorn adoring same-sex couples yet vote for a sexual predator. They seem to slip seamlessly from “love thy neighbor” to acquiescing in the Gospel of Donald: Thou shalt “grab them” by the genitals.

    Yet there’s far more to the story, and liberals haven’t given enough credit to the many conservative Christians who have made the wrenching decision to condemn Donald Trump as the antithesis of the values they honor.

    “How could ‘family values voters’ support a man who had, among other things, stated openly that no man’s wife was safe with him in the room?” asked R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in an essay for The Washington Post.

    Marvin Olasky, the editor in chief of World, a conservative Christian magazine, called Trump “unfit for power” in an editorial. Wayne Grudem, an influential evangelical theologian, this month urged Trump to step aside.

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You can't run government like a business

    The third presidential debate included an exchange in which Donald Trump defended his business skills against Hillary Clinton's attacks. "If we could run our country the way I've run my company, we would have a country that you would be so proud of," he said. "You [Clinton] would even be proud of it."

    This was a small moment in the debate (which was already well into "you're a puppet!" territory), but it raises an interesting point. Trump's managerial acumen has been a big part of the case for his election. During the Feb. 25 Republican primary debate, for instance - otherwise mostly notable for "unintelligible yelling" - Trump said that "the wall is $10 billion to $12 billion, if I do it. If these guys do it, it'll end up costing $200 billion."

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Virginia for the Win: Donald Trump tries to rise again in the Old Dominion

    Donald Trump isn't done with Virginia just yet.

    The Republican presidential nominee is scheduled to appear at Regent University Saturday, his first stop in the state since he delivered a surprisingly strong, policy-driven speech to a crowd in Roanoke nearly a month ago.

    In that speech, Trump gave me a momentary glimpse of what his campaign could have done in the campaign's last weeks to bring Republicans back to his banner and perhaps even sway a few undecided voters.

    He talked about the nation's inner cities. He spoke of fighting for minorities, promising to fight for their success and to champion school choice for their kids.

    He sounded, almost, kind of, like the late Jack Kemp.

    But a month is a lifetime in politics. And since his last visit to Virginia, Trump's campaign has sagged under the weight of his own crude remarks and erratic behavior.

    How will he perform at Regent this weekend?

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October 26th

Trump's disqualifying defiance of democracy

    It is tempting to laugh at Donald Trump's eruptions and outrages because he is such a cartoonish buffoon. But he gave chilling evidence Wednesday night of why he poses a grave and urgent threat to our democracy -- and why he must be defeated.

    There have been many bitterly contested elections in our nation's 240-year history, but never has the loser refused to accept the outcome and claimed the presidency was stolen by fraud. Trump threatened, in advance, to do just that. "I will keep you in suspense," he said, proving once again that he cares more about protecting his fragile ego than serving the country he asks to lead.

    Debate moderator Chris Wallace gave Trump two opportunities to say he will accept the people's verdict. Both times he defiantly refused -- and in the process disqualified himself as a candidate for the nation's highest office.

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Trump makes the case ... against himself

    In the early minutes of Wednesday night's final presidential debate, Donald Trump seemed to be taking to heart the advice of insider supporters to tone down his unruly temperament. He pivoted politely to a civil discussion of his differences with rival Hillary Clinton.

    While the two did not shake hands at the outset, they calmly discussed their positions on the Supreme Court, the Second Amendment, abortion, immigration and the economy. So far, so good.

    But then came a question about alleged Russian involvement in the American election, opening the door to Vladimir Putin's praise of Trump. Clinton needled him as a "puppet," and predictably Trump rose to the bait, telling her, "You're the puppet!" In a flash, he was right back to the old Donald of attack, insult and disregard for the whole political process.

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