Glug, Glug, Glug, Or, No, Faustian Bargains Don’t End Well


This morning, 43.3 percent of “likely or registered voters” “approve” Trump, while 52.9 percent “disapprove.” The difference—9.6 percent—is greater than the amount by which the Democrats won the House vote in 2018. (As usual, the percentages of “approvers” and “disapprovers” don’t add to 100; unsurprisingly, at least 3.7 percent of the adult population is just out to lunch.)

Meanwhile, Trump is polling at 41 or 42 percent against the best known Democrats.

In the United States, in view of the quirks of the Electoral College, you can win the presidency with less than 50 percent of the vote, depending on how your votes are distributed. But you need at least about 45 percent to come within spitting distance of winning.

Vox summarizes: The many 2020 polls are telling a pretty clear story.

Trump is still really unpopular. He’s generally quite unpopular in the most important electoral battleground states too. Here are the raw numbers for Trump in the states that are expected to be competitive in the 2020 election, according to the latest Morning Consult data:

New Hampshire: 39 percent approval, 58 percent disapproval

Wisconsin: 42 percent approval, 55 percent disapproval

Michigan: 42 percent approval, 54 percent disapproval

Iowa: 42 percent approval, 54 percent disapproval

Arizona: 45 percent approval, 51 percent disapproval

Pennsylvania 45 percent approval, 52 percent disapproval

Ohio: 46 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval

North Carolina: 46 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval

Florida: 48 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval

Indiana: 49 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval

It’s a grim picture. Wisconsin and Michigan were critical Midwestern pieces of Trump’s Electoral College puzzle, and he is now deeply unpopular in both states. Pennsylvania was maybe his most surprising win in 2016, and now he is 7 points underwater there. Perhaps Trump can take solace in his even job approval rating in Florida, but that is the only swing state where the president looks as strong as he did on Election Day 2016. Everywhere else, his support has deteriorated.

Glug, Glug, Glug

Much has been made of madness will ensue, and what mischief Trump will make, when he fully grasps that he is headed down the drain. And rightly so.

But an equally important question is how Republican elites will react. What post-Trump future will they envision? For those up for reelection, to what lengths will they go to placate the remaining Trump base? For those not up for reelection in 2020, will they continue to act like resident rodents on Trump’s sinking ship?

For the five Federalist Society justices on the Supreme Court, how much political capital will they want to spend to protect Trump’s sorry ass from the legal liability he so richly deserves?

Call me Pollyanna, but I think that—assuming crass, amoral reasoning on the part of the five Federalist justices—the answer will be, not bloody much.


I now have a reader in Iran, as of this morning. Let’s just try to stay out of war, OK?

“Thanks for the Goodies,” Said Dr. Faustus, “But Now I’ll Take My Soul Back, Please”


A deep dive into an issue I have been writing about, by someone who knows much more about the subject that I know: Matt Ford, Does the Federalist Society Still Need Trump? The conservative legal organization got what it wanted from the president. Will more of its members start speaking out against him?

Once Again, I Ask, How’s That Faustian Bargain Workin’ Out for Ya?


The anti-Trump backlash is gathering force. These new polls confirm it:

Three new polls this morning confirm that this anti-Trump backlash is running strong, with less than two months to go until the midterm elections:

  • A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that Democrats have opened up a 14-point lead in the battle for the House, 52-38. Voters want Congress to be more of a check on Trump by 58 percent to 27 percent.
  • A new CNN poll finds that Americans approve of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation by 50-38, a new high in CNN polling. By 61-33, Americans say it is examining a “serious matter that should be fully investigated,” as opposed to the “witch hunt” that Trump rage-tweeted about again this morning.
  • A new NPR-Marist poll finds that Democrats lead by 12 points in the battle for the House, 50-38. Trump’s approval is at 39-52, making this the fifth recent poll to put Trump below 40 percent.

Crucially, these polls all dovetail with the basic story we’ve seen throughout this cycle, which is that Trump has provoked a backlash among minorities, young people and college-educated and suburban whites, especially women — and even seemingly among independents — that has powered Democratic victories in unlikely places. The new polling finds the backlash is running strong among these groups right now:

  • The Quinnipiac poll finds Democrats leading in the generic ballot matchup by 20 points among women, by 15 points among independents, by nine points among college-educated whites (sometimes a Republican leaning group) and by enormous margins among young people, blacks and Hispanics.
  • In the Quinnipiac poll, 62 percent of women want Congress to be a check on Trump, 60 percent of independents want this, and 57 percent of college-educated whites want this.
  • The CNN poll finds that women approve of the Mueller investigation by 10 points, that independents approve of it by 14 points and that college-educated whites approve of it by 23 points.
  • The CNN poll also finds that women think the probe is a serious matter by 67-26, independents think this by 63-29, and college-educated whites think this by 66-31.
  • The Marist poll finds Democrats leading in the generic ballot match-up by 57-29 among women, by 43-36 among independents, and by 57-36 among college educated whites.

Poster Children of the Faustian Bargain

M and P

We have spent the day contrasting McCain’s nobility with Trump’s ignominy. How ironic, then, that it was the noble McCain who invited the skunk into the garden party.

I believe, though of course I can’t prove, that Sarah Palin played John the Baptist to Trump’s Messiah of the Resentful. Once the  masses got a taste of true bullshit on their presidential ticket, they were bound to demand more of the same next time. No more dog whistles. We need trumpets.

I have no doubt that McCain thought that having an ignorant rabble rouser on his ticket was necessary to let him achieve his noble destiny. After all, if the end doesn’t justify the means, then what the hell does justify them?

But the ends justify the means only up to a point. And when history called on the noble McCain to discern the difference between needful but regrettable compromise, on the one hand, and betrayal of ideals, on the other, he did not pass the test.

Those Faustian bargains have a way of going to hell in a handbasket.

Faustus #1

Not from Aardvark, Not from The Onion

From Politico this morning:

Trump goes to war with corporate America:

The president’s widening trade war is pushing longtime GOP allies to the front lines of a fight against the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump is now at full-scale war over trade policy with some of the Republican Party’s staunchest allies in big business, including executives at iconic American brands such as General Motors and Harley-Davidson who previously shied away from criticizing an often irascible president.

Trump’s approach has created a high-stakes showdown without recent political precedent: A Republican president betting that his populist approach to trade will thrill his working-class base and blow away any short-term economic fallout or reduced political support from the nation’s largest business organizations. His message to corporate America so far: I don’t care what you say, my base is with me.

On the other side, corporate titans and market analysts fear Trump is on the cusp of damaging the American economy — and that he will not recognize the failure of his approach until it’s too late.

“With every successive firecracker that Trump sets off, we see corporate leaders and groups emboldened and ready to go on the public stage to take him on,” said Nancy Koehn, a business historian at Harvard. “This isn’t the natural order of history that large business groups oppose a Republican president. Trump has a from-the-gut sense that his base will be with him come hell or high water. But it’s a very big bet with no certainty of success.”


At Least the Plutocrats Are Getting Their Just Deserts

Today’s guest blogger is Jeffrey Sachs. In Trump’s Insane Trade War, Professor Sachs writes,

Maybe Donald Trump really is the Manchurian Candidate, a stooge of some foreign potentate. Much more likely, Trump is just mentally unstable and narcissistic. Whichever it is, Trump is rapidly destroying American global leadership, alliances, and interests. Wednesday’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union is the latest bizarre and self-destructive move. ,,,

Trump’s so-called policies are not really policies. Trade wars are on, off, on hold, on again, within the span of days. Summits are on, canceled, or maybe on. Foreign companies are sanctioned today and rescued the next. He says one day he would like to see overseas troops called home soon, and tells them to stay the next. Global agreements and rules are ripped to shreds. Trump’s garbled syntax and disorganized thoughts are impossible to follow.

The US has probably never before had a delusional President, one who speaks gibberish, insults those around him including his closest associates, and baffles the world. By instinct, we strive to make sense of Trump’s nonsense, implicitly assuming some hidden strategy. There is none. …

Trump creates chaos for no reason other than his own flagrant inability to follow rules or respect the interests of others. His is a psychopath’s trade war. The result will be to undermine the long-term role of the dollar; ratchet up the public debt; and undermine the current expansion through a spiral of protectionist measures and rising uncertainties for business. ,,,

The real answer to Trump’s trade (and other) policies is the 25th Amendment. Trump is unwell and unfit to be President. He is a growing threat to the nation and the world.

Aardvark’s Addition

Then there was the scene last week where he said Kim wrote a very nice letter, but he had not read it.

OK, plutocrats, how’s that Faustian bargain workin’ out for ya?



Faustian Bargains …

female Faust


Sanctions Flap Erupts Into Open Conflict Between Haley and White House

Nikki, Nikki, Nikki, you thought you were smart. You thought you could do business with him.

But you were wrong. You can’t do business with him, because no one can do business with him.

Mephistopheles drives a hard bargain, but at least he keeps his (or her) end of the deal. This guy drives a hard bargain and then doesn’t deliver.

The longer you stay in Trump’s cow pasture, the more brown you get on your shoes.

female Faust 2