Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekend Political Update: Hillary's Obama Speech and the Trumpery of Today

After her nearly 50 point win in South Carolina Saturday, Hillary Clinton gave a victory speech that set the template for her Super Tuesday speeches beginning Sunday.  It was strategically positive, both in contrast to Trump and Co., and in line with the Democratic party as transformed by President Obama.

I don't know who Hillary's speech writers are these days, but they're getting very adept at sounding like Obama.  There were lines and cadences that were almost identical, with "imagine" a better future substituting for "hope" and "yes, we can."

She has the same unifying call, and has given it her spin with the organizing terminology of breaking barriers (instead of building walls.)  She's well on the way to identifying with the Obama coalition. She will need to inspire Bernie Sanders' supporters, and with a combination of positive themes and proposals, while making sure everyone knows the dangers of a triumphant Trump, she needs to generate voting.  If South Carolina is the template it seems to be, she's making great progress on the coalition, but not yet on the crucial turnout.

As Trump seems more inevitable and continues his act, Republicans are roiling.  The two aspects of Robert Kaplan's piece noted here last week were that Trump is the monster that GOPers created under the banner of conservatism, and that his candidacy was so extreme that it leads to voting for Hillary.

Others have made a similar case to Kaplan's that this is the current GOPer party's chickens coming home to roost.  And there's more talk of turmoil, but even the talk is in turmoil, as in this Washington Post piece which is boldly headlined The Republican party's implosion has arrived.  Within the piece however is evidence of revolt against Trump (and a few suggestions of not voting for him, though none of voting for Hillary) and also evidence of party members coming to terms with his candidacy, and even welcoming it.  Will GOPers unite behind Hillary hatred and lust for the Court?  That is the to be or not to be question.   

Meanwhile the other candidates are staying in at least until their home state primaries come up. (Ted Cruz saying that if Trump runs the table on Super Tuesday he'll be unstoppable probably means that Cruz feels he's got Texas)  Rubio, who now goes after Trump for everything including his orange spray tan, vows he's in it to the convention.

Trump's failure on Sunday to disavow David Duke and the KKK's support was puzzling to some, convincing others it was part of his southern strategy, and causing Jonathan Chiat to wonder if Trump was channeling the Know Nothings deliberately, or "more likely, he is even stupider than anybody previously believed."  But as Chiat writes, the Know Nothings got that name for doing precisely what Trump did Sunday, saying he knows nothing about white supremacists.  So maybe there is a current dog whistle involved.

Update: The New Yorker collects Trump's record of bigotry.

The David Duke story is likely to resonate for awhile (it quickly inspired a political consultant to declare Trump a bigot no one should vote for), but electorally the more significant Trumpism of the past few days was his ramble about a judge who ruled on an aspect of the Trump University debacle:"there’s a hostility toward me by the judge, tremendous hostility, beyond belief––I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine, he’s Hispanic, which is fine, and we haven’t asked for a recusal, which we may do, but we have a judge who’s very hostile.”

Linking that the judge is Hispanic with a possible Trump move for his recusal is the kind of inflammatory statement that got tagged immediately as "racial demagoguery."  But while others forget it in futile attempt to keep up with Trump's daily outrages, many Latinos will remember.  They will remember this slight, along with Trump's habit of referring to one of his Hispanic opponents as "little Rubio."  The Mexican wall etc. are policy matters, but these kinds of slights are more visceral, and they may be enough to motivate Latinos into the voting booths for the general election.

This I believe will survive a possible Trump pivot after the southern primaries are over.  Any prospective candidate looking at the primary season couldn't fail to notice that the momentum towards the nomination could be almost unstoppable if the south were won.  For GOPers this means appealing to their white base of de facto, closet and out racists.  For Dems it meant the African American voters plus enough urban white collar whites to offset the residual white collar GOPers.

Right now it seems to be working for Trump and Clinton.  By Tuesday night, we'll know better how well it's worked.  But even if Trump's tune changes as primaries move north and west, and the American media gets amnesia, it's very unlikely that black voters and particularly Latino voters will forget the Trumpery of today.

No comments: