Archive

August 5th, 2016

Count on Trump to be a sore loser

    Of all the dangerous things that Donald Trump has said, perhaps the most concerning is his assertion that the election might be rigged. This irresponsible, unsupported suggestion augurs poorly for Trump's behavior in the increasingly likely event of his loss.

     "The election is going to be rigged," Trump warned at a rally in Ohio. "I'm telling you, November 8, we'd better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged," he told Fox News' Sean Hannity.

    Those comments set the stage for an explosive outcome the likes of which this country has never seen. It is not far-fetched to imagine Trump inciting his partisans against accepting the verdict of voters, further inflaming an already toxic political climate in Washington.

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Worthy of Our Contempt

    Donald Trump said some more disgusting things over the weekend. If this surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention. Also, don’t be surprised if a majority of Republicans approve of his attack on the parents of a dead war hero. After all, a YouGov survey found that 61 percent of Republicans support his call for Russian hacking of Hillary Clinton.

    But this isn’t a column about Trump and the people who are OK with anything he says or does. It is, instead, about Republicans — probably a minority within the party, but a substantial one — who aren’t like that. These are people who aren’t racists, respect patriots even if they’re Muslim, believe that America should honor its international commitments, and in general sound like normal members of a normal political party.

    Yet the great majority of these not-crazy Republicans are still supporting Trump for president. And we have a right to ask why.

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What we can expect from the Clinton vs. Trump fight

    The two party conventions are over. The first general election debate is in 56 days. The general election is 99 days away. Now, then, seems like a good time to look at what we know about the clash between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

    Here are five things I think I know.

 

    1. There is no Trump 2.0.

    I've been saying this for a while now. There is no pivot. There is no new and improved version. There is just Donald Trump - take him or leave him. Ask yourself this: What successful 70-year-old man - in the immediate aftermath of one of the greatest victories of his life - decides to do things totally differently? The answer is no 70-year-old man, particularly one with the level of supreme confidence displayed by Trump.

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Russian hackers could target voting machines

    Russia was behind the hacks into the Democratic National Committee's computer network that led to the release of thousands of internal emails just before the party's convention began, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded.

    The FBI is investigating. WikiLeaks promises there is more data to come. The political nature of this cyberattack means that Democrats and Republicans are trying to spin this situation as much as possible. Even so, we have to accept that someone is attacking our nation's computer systems in an apparent attempt to influence a presidential election. This kind of cyberattack targets the very core of our democratic process. And it points to the possibility of an even worse problem in November - that our election systems and our voting machines could be vulnerable to a similar attack.

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Off to the Races

    Attending both political parties’ conventions last month, I certainly had some upside-down-world moments.

    The Republican convention featured a sprawling blended family, an LGBT first, and promises of a top-down government fix, while the Democratic convention showcased religiosity, patriotism, militarism, and American exceptionalism.

    The Republican convention pushed radical change while the Democratic one championed the more conservative tenet of unwavering consistency.

    It was enough to make my head spin.

    But beyond the oddity of the incongruities was the production itself. Modern conventions are all about stagecraft and television production. They are multimillion-dollar infomercials for the candidate and the party. There are few surprises and few flashes of unpolished candor. When such flashes do occur, they often come from people who are not practiced politicians.

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History shows Trump's wall won't work

    Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico to block the flow of migrants has been justly criticized on moral, economic and political grounds. But while the Trump Wall (as he has called it) is the most provocative proposal of the election season, it is not particularly original. Over the past five millennia, politicians have repeatedly turned to large walls to solve problems. We should look carefully at the track record of this ancient technology before we invest what some estimates suggest could be $25 billion in construction costs for a 2,000-mile-long wall, plus millions more in annual maintenance.

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Hillary Clinton takes on her own negative image

    Well into her acceptance speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton adroitly put her finger on what may be the major political challenge of her 2016 presidential bid.

    "The truth is," she said after reciting her lifetime in the political arena, "through all these years of public service, the 'service' has always come easier to me than the 'public' part."

    In other words, working in the vineyards of social change for her various constituencies was easier than selling herself to the American multitudes.

    In acknowledgment that polls place her on a low par with Donald Trump on likeability and trustworthiness, Clinton confessed that she hasn't gotten through to the American people, perhaps because she has allowed herself to be seen possibly as a cold policy wonk.

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A tale of three conventions

    The Democratic National Convention here was Broadway to the summer stock production that Republicans put on in Cleveland. The Democrats' show was polished and uplifting, while the grand spectacle Donald Trump had promised to produce was amateurish and angry.

    The chants of "USA! USA!" -- even if they were, at times, a device to drown out protests by Bernie Sanders' supporters -- and the impassioned  waving of flags, were more reminiscent of past Republican gatherings than the typical Democratic convention. You half expected Lee Greenwood, the country star omnipresent on the Republican political circuit, to pop up, joining Katy Perry in a "God Bless the USA" duet.

    Yet this was not simply the tale of two conventions. It was, rather, a tale of three: Republicans versus Clinton Democrats versus the Sanders wing.

    The Clinton team confronted the delicate task of presenting -- or re-presenting, or re-re-presenting -- their nominee to the country as an acceptable, if not exactly cuddly, alternative to the threat of Trump.

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When Women Win, Men Win, Too

    When a woman breaks a glass ceiling and becomes the presidential nominee of a major political party, what should men think?

    Should men applaud that another barrier has fallen so that our world is more fair and equitable? Or should we fret that when women win, we lose — that soon we’ll have to give up grunting and football games for putting down toilet seats and talking about our “feelings”?

    The Democratic National Convention this past week was one long celebration of XX chromosomes and the emancipation of women. A spine-tingling moment came when 102-year-old Geraldine “Jerry” Emmett, born before women could vote in federal elections, announced Arizona’s votes for Hillary Clinton — and then cried.

    Yet Democratic strategists also worry, rightly I think, that the giddy enthusiasm for gender progress may turn off men. Already, Donald Trump has a huge lead among white men with no college degree, and that’s the reason the overall polls are close.

    So let me try to make the case that when women win, we men win, too.

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What Hillary really meant to say on her historic night

    Hillary Clinton steps to the podium, clad in white.

    FINALLY FINALLY [lets out a long breath] EVERYTHING IS PROCEEDING AS I HAVE FORESEEN.

    I MAPPED ALL OF THIS OUT, DOWN TO THE SECOND. GRANTED, WHEN I ENVISIONED THIS MOMENT, IT WAS IN 2008, BUT THIS IS STILL THE PANTSUIT I ENVISIONED WEARING.

    My career in politics began when I was four. I went outside and got bullied about something I was wearing. That, at least, has not changed. I have worn everything from skirts to pantsuits. My hair has been tried at every conceivable length that hair can be worn, other than Lady Godiva and bald. Nothing has stopped the complaints. Maybe it's not me, after all. Maybe it's you.

    I am not an inspiring orator. My idea of a cutting line is to say that "Donald Trump spoke for 70-odd minutes, and I do mean odd." Ha ha ha! My staff begged me to cut that, but it tickled me.

    Too bad. I am what you have instead of the imaginary thing that would be perfect.

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