Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Bigot Who Would Be President

The spectacle of Donald Trump's attempt to become President of the United States continues to boggle the mind as well as chill the blood.

 He now faces an apparently unrelentingly hostile news media, which is not only finally reporting more fully on his incessant river of lies, but is doing so without the traditional patina of respect.

His latest pronouncements on terrorism and immigration have joined nearly all of his recent mouthings in being roundly condemned by Democrats (with President Obama winning particular praise for his latest dismemberment of Trump's positions, without ever naming him) but also Republicans who are actually supporting him for the office he seeks.  It's political surrealism every day.

Recent investigative reporting by the New York Times and USA Today reveal some further dimensions of dishonesty and sleaze in his business dealings, including stiffing small businesses and possibly using real estate projects to pay his personal debts.  Trump responds, not with any factual defense, but by accusing the media outlets and banning them from covering his campaign events.

Trump jumped on the Orlando massacre as an opportunity, plainly saying that his numbers always go up after a terrorist attack.  But this time he appears to have overplayed his hand. "For months, some progressives have worried that a terrorist attack could tip the election to Trump, because he might be seen as an avatar of strength," wrote Benjamin Wallace-Wells in the New Yorker. "That attack came on Sunday, and, after Trump’s scapegoating reply, those worries have eased. A Bloomberg poll released Tuesday showed Clinton leading her Republican rival by twelve percentage points; fifty-five per cent of likely voters polled swore that they would “never” vote for the casino mogul. It’s hard for Trump to be seen as a protector when it isn’t clear whom he would be willing to protect."

The poll he cites was taken half before Orlando and half afterwards.  (Wallace-Wells also makes the point that the killer's motives aren't limited to foreign terrorists. "Mateen’s bigotry, in the descriptions collated in the news reports, belonged to a familiar American strain, sometimes animated by religion but sometimes not."  He appears to have been a bigot, just as Trump expresses his own bigotry.)

A Washington Post poll (taken before Orlando) affirms the disdain with which many many Americans view Trump's candidacy.  "There is no equivalence" as the Plum Line puts it, between Hillary's relatively high negatives and Trump's stratospheric negatives.  Fewer than one-third of all Americans have a favorable view of him.  "Trump is viewed unfavorably by 73 percent of moderates; 77 percent of women; 89 percent of Hispanics; 88 percent of nonwhites; 75 percent of voters under 40; 59 percent of whites; 71 percent of white college graduates, 67 percent of white women, and even 52 percent of white men and 53 percent of non-college whites."  The only group that gives him a slight edge of favor is non-college white men.

Another poll in California suggests that Bernie voters are sufficiently motivated by the rise of Trump to come home to vote for the Democratic nominee, and this is even before Sanders gives his public support.

Yet every day brings news that renews the sentiments of a Jonathan Chiat column headline from way back a week or more ago: A Trump Presidency Just Got a Lot Less Likely — and a Lot More Terrifying.

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