Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Staring into the Trump Abyss

More scare headlines and stories on the Trump campaign Wednesday, but so far no new major GOP defections--and reasons why there may not be any, at least in public.

As for the scare stories, there's Politico:

"Donald Trump is facing a whirlwind of criticism from Republican leaders — including some of his closest allies — as he fends off reports of a staff shake up, another intervention and even rumblings that he could be urged to step aside as the party's nominee."

However, there's not much supporting substance in the story--an account of a stern talking to by Reince, and numerous quotes from Manafort, Trump's campaign head, who at this point can't be believed on anything.  But stories on agitation and despair within the Trump campaign are many, and there have been recent firings.

And the Washington Post:

"The Republican Party was in turmoil again Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increasing alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities."

But there's little here that wasn't in the NYTimes story referenced last night.

Jonathan Chiat at New York has a very good summary of the Trump jump into the abyss over the past several days, but he is among those concluding today that GOPer leaders like Ryan are unlikely to repudiate their support for Trump, for fear of blowing downballot races for Congress.  As I said in a previous post, they would be forced to reevaluate this position when and if polls show that Trump is hurting their Senate and House candidates, which so far polls have not shown.

Frank Rich at New York agrees, and even downplays the significance of GOPer defections so far, as coming from people out of power and with no constituency.  Here I disagree slightly in this regard: I think it is significant that apart from the New York lame duck congressman,  the three highest profile defectors are women: GOP fundraiser and former candidate Meg Whitman, ex-Christie staffer Maria Comella and GOP strategist aligned with Jeb Bush Sally Bradshaw.  One of these women has officially left the GOP, two endorse Hillary and one (Whitman) is using her considerable contacts to raise money for Clinton.  These are powerful signals liberating other educated Republican women to vote against Trump and for Clinton, and even gives them cover and cache to actively work against Trump.

And what would a new day be without another connect-the-dots piece on Trump's ties to Russia, this time a very good one by Jonathan Chiat that begins: From the standpoint of the United States, the prospect that a President Donald Trump would be unduly influenced by Vladimir Putin has paled beside the far more harrowing prospect that he would be Vladimir Putin. Still, Trump’s relationship with Putin is creepy and mysterious.

Today's polling news so far: Fox has Hillary up by 10 points.  An Arizona state poll has the race there statistically tied, though the underlying numbers suggest that Clinton has a shot to be the first Democrat to win the state since another Clinton in 1996.

 However, Trump's July fundraising success from small donors turned some heads in the Republican party, probably contributing to tamping down imminent revolt.

The most significant news so far today is based on Repub talkie Joe Scarborough claiming that in a one-hour national security discussion with an unnamed expert, Trump asked--three separate times--why the US can't use its nuclear weapons.

That little tidbit and its fallout (and just where did we get that term?) merits its own separate post later.

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