The Wall Street Journal Would Like Its Plutocratic Audience to Know that the Jig is Just About Up

Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, The Trump Referendum: He still has no second term message beyond his own grievances:

President Trump may soon need a new nickname for “Sleepy Joe” Biden. How does President-elect sound? On present trend that’s exactly what Mr. Biden will be on Nov. 4, as Mr. Trump heads for what could be an historic repudiation that would take the Republican Senate down with him.

Mr. Trump refuses to acknowledge what every poll now says is true: His approval rating has fallen to the 40% or below that is George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter territory. They’re the last two Presidents to be denied a second term. This isn’t 2017 when Mr. Trump reached similar depths after failing to repeal ObamaCare while blaming Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. He regained support with tax reform and a buoyant economy that really was lifting all incomes.

***

Now the election is four months away, voters know him very well, and Mr. Trump has reverted to his worst form. His record fighting the coronavirus is better than his critics claim after a bad start in late February and March. He mobilized federal resources to help hard-hit states, especially New York.

But he wasted his chance to show leadership by turning his daily pandemic pressers into brawls with the bear-baiting press and any politician who didn’t praise him to the skies. Lately he has all but given up even talking about the pandemic when he might offer realism and hope about the road ahead even as the country reopens. His default now is defensive self-congratulation.

The country also wants firm but empathetic leadership after the death of George Floyd, but Mr. Trump offers combative tweets that inflame. Not long ago Mr. Trump tweeted that a 75-year old man who was pushed by police in Buffalo might be an antifa activist. He offered no evidence.

Americans don’t like racial enmity and they want their President to reduce it. Mr. Trump has preached racial harmony on occasion, but he gives it all back with riffs that misjudge the national moment. His “law and order” message might resonate if disorder and rioting continue through the summer, but only if Mr. Trump is also talking about racial reconciliation and opportunity for all.

Mr. Trump has little time to recover. The President’s advisers say that he trailed Hillary Clinton by this much at this point in 2016, that they haven’t had a chance to define Mr. Biden, and that as the election nears voters will understand the binary choice. Perhaps. But in 2016 Mrs. Clinton was as unpopular as Mr. Trump, while Mr. Biden is not.

Mr. Biden hasn’t even had to campaign to take a large lead. He rarely leaves his Delaware basement, he dodges most issues, and his only real message is that he’s not Donald Trump. He says he’s a uniter, not a divider. He wants racial peace and moderate police reform. He favors protests but opposes riots and violence.

Some Democrats are literally advising Mr. Biden to barely campaign at all. Eliminate the risk of a mental stumble that will raise doubts about his declining capacity that was obvious in the primaries. Let Mr. Trump remind voters each day why they don’t want four more years of tumult and narcissism.

Mr. Trump’s base of 35% or so will never leave, but the swing voters who stood by him for three and a half years have fallen away in the last two months. This includes suburban women, independents, and seniors who took a risk on him in 2016 as an outsider who would shake things up. Now millions of Americans are close to deciding that four more years are more risk than they can stand.

***

As of now Mr. Trump has no second-term agenda, or even a message beyond four more years of himself. His recent events in Tulsa and Arizona were dominated by personal grievances. He resorted to his familiar themes from 2016 like reducing immigration and denouncing the press, but he offered nothing for those who aren’t already persuaded.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have an agenda that would speak to opportunity for Americans of all races—school choice for K-12, vocational education as an alternative to college, expanded health-care choice, building on the opportunity zones in tax reform, and more. The one issue on which voters now give him an edge over Mr. Biden is the economy. An agenda to revive the economy after the pandemic, and restore the gains for workers of his first three years, would appeal to millions.

Perhaps Mr. Trump lacks the self-awareness and discipline to make this case. He may be so thrown off by his falling polls that he simply can’t do it. If that’s true he should understand that he is headed for a defeat that will reward all of those who schemed against him in 2016. Worse, he will have let down the 63 million Americans who sent him to the White House by losing, of all people, to “Sleepy Joe.”

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Would Like You to Know that Orange Man is Debsing the Presidency

great seal

The infamous far left clique that is the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has expressed this collective opinion:

Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him. Mr. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Mr. Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Mr. Scarborough was a GOP Congressman.

“A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday while retweeting a dubious account of the case.

He kept it going Tuesday with new tweets: “The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. . . . So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?” Nasty stuff, and from the Oval Office to more than 80 million Twitter followers.

There’s no evidence of foul play, or an affair with the woman, and the local coroner ruled that the woman fainted from an undiagnosed heart condition and died of head trauma. Some on the web are positing a conspiracy because the coroner had left a previous job under a cloud, but the parents and husband of the young woman accepted the coroner’s findings and want the case to stay closed.

Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear. Mr. Trump rightly denounces the lies spread about him in the Steele dossier, yet here he is trafficking in the same sort of trash.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, had it right when he tweeted on the weekend: “Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.”

We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can’t imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, Which is Infallible, Would Like You to Know that Republicans Hitched Their Wagon to the Wrong Star

My attention has been drawn to a November 6 Wall Street Journal editorial—written after Trump’s Kentucky catastrophe but before his Louisiana debacle. The infallible WSJ Editorial Board concludes,

Senate Republicans know that … their majority is … at risk. They can’t win merely by turning out the Trump base. The GOP needs a strategy and agenda to regain support in the suburbs or they will lose the House, the White House and the Senate in 2020.

Buck up, everybody. No, don’t be complacent. And don’t accuse me of supporting complacency.

Just buck up. And remember the other side isn’t ten feet tall.

We are treated daily to massive gaslighting–making even the strongest minded among us question their hold on reality.

We are treated to a concerted effort to dissolve the boundary between right and wrong.

We are experiencing something analogous to an evil Nazi medical experiment on the body politic.

Science, enlightenment, and expertise are being tested.

But rationality will prevail.

You have it one the authority of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

 

Goblet or Heads?—or, You Can’t Beat Something with Nothing

goblet heads

Many have remarked on how the Republican members of the House Oversight Committee beclowned themselves yesterday.(I am, as always, indebted to a good friend for sending along this highly bemused British take on the clown show.)

Here, I only want to make two points.

First, Cohen was superbly prepared and ready. Obviously, someone—I assume it was Lanny Davis—spent many hours role playing with Cohen, anticipating each and every thing that would be thrown at him, and then practicing over and over again how to respond. Good for Cohen, and good for his lawyer—whoever was or was not paying the lawyer.

Secondly—without taking anything away from the Republican committee members’ own foolishness and bad faith—the primary fault for their execrable performance does not lie with them. Here is why.

Think of a litigable case as a situation where the facts can be viewed in two different ways:

  • Do the facts show us a conspiracy, or do they just show a lot of separate actors?
  • Does this picture show a goblet, or do you see two heads and a white space between them?

In short, a litigable case—as distinguished from a hopeless case—is a case where there are two different explanations for a set of facts, and each explanation is at least semi-plausible.

Even if the House Republicans were not a bunch of incompetent buffoons, they were just not in a position to construct a semi-plausible defense for Donald J. Trump. Ignorant of the facts, and ignorant of what explanation Trump would eventually embrace, they could not, for example, offer an alternative explanation for the $35,000 check he signed. Cohen said it was to reimburse a hush money payment. What was their answer? That the check was actually for some other service rendered? That Cohen had manufactured a bogus document? That Trump did reimburse the hush money payment, but so what?

It was up to Trump’s defense counsel to develop such a case, and it was up to the Republican spokesbots to defend the case. But even the most faithful spokesbot cannot effectively defend a non-existent case.

So, what do we have? Massive malpractice on the part of Trump’s legal team?

Well, yes. But, more importantly, we have a legal team that cannot construct a semi-plausible legal defense because their client won’t let them. And he won’t let them because he still believes he can bullshit and lie his way out of any predicament. That is Trump’s central character flaw, and, as the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board instructs us this morning, character is indeed destiny:

The day was above all a reminder that Americans elected a President in 2016 who had spent decades in the sleazier corners of New York business and tabloid life. He surrounded himself with political rogues like Mr. Stone, legal hustlers like Mr. Cohen, and even brought in a Beltway bandit from central casting, Paul Manafort, as his campaign chairman for a time.

Republicans knew all this when they nominated Mr. Trump, and now he and the GOP will pay a political price as Democrats marinate in that blue past in hearing after hearing. Character does matter, especially in Presidents.