Heads We Win, Tails You Lose

heads and tails

Bannon mounts last-ditch effort to save the House for Trump: A new pro-Trump operation will frame the midterms as an up-or-down vote on the president’s impeachment.

Oooooookay. But what if a majority of voters decide that impeachment would be fine and dandy with them?

They have a plan for that!

‘If they take the House, he wins big’: Trump loyalists see upside in impeachment: Why some Trump allies think his path to reelection runs through an effort to kick him out of the Oval Office.

But Seriously, Folks

Many of the talking heads make two assumptions.

A, they assume that Trump, like any other president, wants to see his legislative agenda enacted and, to that end, would prefer to have a majority in the next Congress, or at least to minimize losses.

B, they think that much of Trump’s behavior seems counterproductive in relation to his assumed desiderata.

How to explain this anomaly?

There would seem to be four possibilities.

One, Trump’s poor grasp of reality is such that he does not understand how his behavior is affecting his party’s prospects in the next election. In short, he has a weak understanding of the relation between cause and effect.

Two, Trump does generally understand that his behavior is counterproductive, but is, nevertheless, unable to restrain himself. He is, in other words, in the grip of an irresistible impulse.

Three, contrary to assumption A, supra, Trump does not much care, one way or the other, whether the Republicans retain control of Congress. (If the Democrats control Congress, his vicious tweets will shoe ’em who’s boss.)

Four, contrary to assumption A, supra, Trump affirmatively desires—for whatever reason—that Democrats should retake the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

These four hypotheses are not mutually exclusive, at least not one hundred percent mutually exclusive, given the disorder in Trump’s brain.

All that said, I think there is much to be said for hypothesis four—he’s deliberately sabotaging the Republicans.

Remember Michael Wolff’s thesis, as laid out, for example, in Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President: One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days.

According to Wolff, back in 2016 Trump didn’t want to win. He didn’t want to be the Mad King. He wanted to be King of the Mad.

Having nearly achieved his goal in 2016, Trump may be trying to remedy his tactical errors so that he can, in perpetuity, reign supreme over the gullible 35 percent.

 

 

The Unspeakable in Pursuit of the Inexplicable

unspeakable

The unspeakable Marc Thiessen poses this question: “How can a president as successful as Donald Trump be so unpopular?”

Mr. Thiessen, apparently, is not speaking ironically or with tongue in cheek. For him, the unpopularity of the highly successful Donald Trump is almost an unfathomable mystery.

Almost unfathomable, but not quite.

Thiessen writes,

[U]ltimately, what makes it impossible for many Americans who approve of Trump’s policies to also approve of Trump’s presidency is his failure to definitively reject and ostracize the bigots who inhabit the fever swamps of the alt-right. …

Trump’s failure to reject the bigots of the alt-right not only tars his presidency, it also tars his supporters. The overwhelming majority of people who voted for Trump are not racists. They are good, decent, patriotic Americans who were sick and tired of being ignored by the political establishments of both parties in Washington. They had legitimate grievances that were not being addressed, from the opioid crisis to an economy that was not giving them the chance to work and pursue lives of dignity. Trump’s election finally gave them a voice. But his failure to condemn the alt-right allows his critics to dismiss his supporters’ valid concerns and lump them in with the tiny minority of bigots who have embraced the president.

His failure to condemn the alt-right has also prevented him from expanding his support beyond his core supporters. With his record, he should be winning over millions of Americans who did not vote for him in 2016 but whose circumstances have markedly improved under his presidency. Instead, his support is stagnant and his disapproval numbers are growing. He would gain far more supporters by rejecting alt-right bigots than he would lose.

Thiessen is absolutely wrong in failing to recognize racism as key to Trump support. (And he’s wrong on other things as well.) But he’s absolutely right in recognizing that Trump’s extremism is self-destructive—mainly because it forces people like Thiessen, who would love to look the other way and ignore the overt racists in their party, to risk their place at the country club if they continue to support Trump.

search continues

 

It’s Complicated

Trump laying on

David French, The Great White Culture War, posted at nationalreview.com:

[C]onservative white Americans look at urban multicultural liberalism and notice an important fact: Its white elite remains, and continues to enjoy staggering amounts of power and privilege. So when that same white elite applauds the decline of “white America,” what conservatives often hear isn’t a cheer for racial justice but another salvo in our ongoing cultural grudge match, with the victors seeking to elevate black and brown voices while remaining on top themselves.

Mr. French see a key distinction among separate white cultures as that between evangelicals and secularists. But, in The Church of Trump, Alex Wagner argues that less affluent whites are losing their traditional religion, and substituting a messianic belief in Trumpism.

You could draw a straight line from a disenfranchised, pessimistic, resentful audience to Trump’s brand of fear-driven, divisive politics, but this would leave out an equally important part of the Trump phenomenon, and something critical to its success: the elation. Go to a Trump rally, speak to Trump supporters, and the devotion is nearly evangelical. …

In his research, [W. Bradford] Wilcox noted the particular isolation of the white working class in the institutional church:

Moderately educated Americans may feel less attracted to churches that uphold the bourgeois virtues—delayed gratification, a focus on education, self-control, etc.—that undergird this lifestyle. As importantly, working class whites may also feel uncomfortable socializing with the middle and upper class whites who have increasingly come to dominate the life of religious congregations in the U.S. since the 1970s, especially as they see their own economic fortunes fall.

The declining economic position of white working class Americans may have made the bourgeois moral logic embodied in many churches both less attractive and attainable.

Trumpism proposes a system of worship formed in direct opposition to bourgeois moral logic, with values that are anti-intellectual and anti–politically correct. If mainline Protestantism is a bastion of the educated, upper-middle class, the Church of Trump is a gathering place for its castoffs. Trump’s rhetoric about the “silent majority” is indeed a racial dog whistle, but it is also a call to his supporters to unmask themselves. He offers a public embrace of a worldview that has been, at least until this point, a mark of shame.

You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time

And just how many can you fool? New data provide further insight.

As per the graphic above, a steady 41-42 percent of ‘Mericans, when asked, declare that they “support Trump.” With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at these two posts, which interpret a recent CNN poll probing public attitudes about the Mueller investigation.

CNN poll: Most say Mueller should try to end investigation before Election Day

As Trump keeps raging at Mueller, another poll shows his lies are failing

Great News for Trump!

In June of this year, only 29 percent of Americans said they “approved how President Trump is handling the Russia investigation.” By mid-August, Trump had tweeted himself up another five percent Trump-handling-the-investigation approvers, to bring the number up to 34 percent of our body politic.

Bad News for Trump

Compare that 34 percent figure with the universe of all Trump approvers. After months and months of mendacious witch hunt tweets—and sedulous repetition of the same lies—at least 17 percent of Trump approvers still do NOT “approve of his handling of the Mueller investigation. (7 ÷ 41 = 17 percent.)

And let’s look at another data point. As to Trump’s awareness of his campaign’s various Russian contacts, there is as yet no definitive proof concerning “what did Trump know and when did he know it.” But 57 percent of all ‘Mericans have already concluded that “Trump knew about contacts between his campaign operatives and Russians.” (And that, by the way, is a very reasonable supposition, because Trump his denied knowledge—and, like the proverbial Cretan—Trump never tells the truth.)

Meanwhile, 36 percent of Americans have drunk deeply of the Kool Aid, and have reached the conclusion, on Trump’s say-so alone, that Trump lacked knowledge of Russian contacts.

That leaves at least 12 percent of Trump approvers who either think that Trump is lying through his teeth, or don’t know or don’t care whether Trump is lying through his teeth. (5 ÷ 41 = 12 percent.)

Driving that Wedge

Conclusion: Trump is doing a fabulous job of driving a wedge between a hard core of the most gullible Americans, and everyone else.