Sunday, July 17, 2016

Trumpence, Conventions and the Rolling Stones

To the strains of the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (and no, I'm not making this up), Donald Trump introduced his vice-presidential running mate, sort of.

In the small scale Saturday event in a New York City hotel, Trump talked for more than 20 minutes about himself, his victories, Hillary etc. before glancing down at the paper he was carrying and saying "back to Mike Pence."  After a few words more Pence came out, they shook hands, Trump left.  Pence talked about himself for 12 minutes.  Then he left for a hastily scheduled and not well attended welcome home rally in Indianapolis.

At least the event changed the subject, from reporting and speculation on Trump's reluctant choice (his first choice of Christie, some said, was vetoed by his daughter, whose father-in-law Christie as a prosecutor had sent to prison.  So, family values) to the most awkward, least organized introduction of a vp candidate anyone could remember.

The only folks happy with the choice apparently are the GOPer establishment, maybe in exchange for helping to quell the anti-Trump rebellion at the convention. Pence is unpopular in his home state, unlikely to have won reelection as governor, unknown nationally and otherwise a divisive figure.  And for the t.p. rabid right, I think Andrew Rosenthal chose the right word in the New Yorker, in his piece titled "Will Mike Pence Satisfy the Insatiable Right?"  Insatiable is the word.  So basically Pence doesn't help and doesn't matter.

Now coverage of the back-to-back conventions begins.  The first impression of the programs (Dems released theirs Saturday) is that the GOPer is mostly negative (Benghazi Night?  Now there's a prom theme) and the Dem's is all positive, thematically anyway. (GOP eventually released their positive themes.)  And the etiquette questions are different.  For instance, at the GOP it's "where can I bring my big guns?"

It's not really that funny, as the NY Times indicated: Police officials are promising there will be no untoward episodes as conventioneers confirm Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. But this seems small comfort in the aftermath of the carnage in Dallas last week caused by a deranged, and reportedly legally armed, rifleman who shot and killed five policemen during a demonstration organized to protest earlier shootings by the police in Falcon Heights, Minn., and Baton Rouge, La.

In the panicking crowds that night in Dallas were 20 to 30 armed individuals legally carrying rifles as self-appointed vigilantes who had vowed to somehow protect the demonstrators. Their presence — some were dressed in macho camouflage gear — greatly confused the police when the sniper started firing and protesters ran for cover. “We don’t know who the ‘good guy’ versus who the ‘bad guy’ is,” the Dallas police chief, David Brown, said.

But beyond such serious dangers, the electoral danger appears to be the current media overkill on how bad the GOP convention is likely to be (to which I gleefully contributed.)  With these expectations for an obvious clown show, anything less will be touted as a surprising success.  For one thing, it's very likely that the GOP convention will get high TV ratings (especially for all the Trumps), as it is the biggest reality show ever.

But with some polls tightening (mostly taken at the FBI moment) the question will be asked: if professional politicos and the media are so unanimous that Trump is doing everything wrong, what does it say about them or this election if on August 1 he is neck-and-neck or leading?

Things are aligning for Clinton to be pretty far ahead then.  Even if Trump's convention isn't a disaster, her convention comes immediately afterwards and it's the last one.  His post-c bump should be obliterated before it starts, while hers can build and linger.

But what if that doesn't happen?  What do the pros say, what does the media do?

Regardless, there is still one compelling argument, and Adam Gopnik makes it:

Hillary Clinton is an ordinary liberal politician. She has her faults, easily described, often documented—though, for the most part, the worst accusations against her have turned out to be fiction. No reasonable person, no matter how opposed to her politics, can believe for a second that Clinton’s accession to power would be a threat to the Constitution or the continuation of American democracy. No reasonable person can believe that Trump’s accession to power would not be.

"No reasonable person" is unfortunately the weak link.  Trump seeks to stir up unreasoning anger.  The rabid right will continue to do so, aided by their underground of Biblical prophets--and they're available to you on YouTube--who tell their followers that God tells them electing a woman President will mean that the United States will be a smoking ruin within months.

Reasonable people however may at worst have to suppress their Hillary distaste and realize that you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.

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