Friday, August 19, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Demagoguery Fatigue

Despite shakeups among the Trumpettes (with the second shoe falling today as superceded chair Paul Manafort resigned, just ahead of possible indictment for failing to report millions from Russia) the campaign narrative didn't change this week, because the polls didn't.

The Pew poll, which shows Hillary's lead shrinking since June, suggests the narrative might shift next week. But the fundamentals remain with Clinton: ads, expertise, personnel, ground game; in general, a campaign structure.  The question becomes how big might she win, afffecting Senate and even House majorities.

But that's not to say there weren't revealing moments.  One sits just beneath major notice: the hypocrisy at the heart of the Trump campaign's attacks on Hillary's health.

The background is the rabid right conspiracy theory nonsense about various dark disorders Hillary is supposed to have.  While Trump himself has so far only complained of her low energy (with dog whistle signal referring to the alt-right narrative), his crazy spokesperson Katrina Pierson, who previously asserted that President Obama started the Afghan war (though he was a state senator at the time), went public with one of the alt-right assertions, that Hillary has dysphasia resulting from her concussion, a charge that the WPost decorously calls a "counterfactual."

But the most interesting piece on this topic is by Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek, who not only exposes the Trumpeted lies about Hillary's health but makes a convincing case that the doctor's letter extolling Trump's health is a fake.  That is, it was written by Trump or his campaign, and not the doctor who signed it.  And, as he deconstructs it, the letter isn't a very credible fake at that.

Speaking of which, it's Friday: time for the Guardian's "The lies Trump told this week."  Most of these are lies Trump told about his own past positions.

The "small" lies, the big lies.  The first Trump TV was unveiled, which Greg Sargent at WPost described as "ugly and dishonest," pretty much in the spirit of his primary ads."In one respect, the new ad also goes further in its demagoguery than the original GOP primary ad did — it claims that the border is “open.” Broadly speaking, the new Trump ad echoes some of the ugliest elements of the picture Trump’s convention speech painted of what ails America and what must be done about it — a speech that may have further alienated some of the voter groups he needs to expand his appeal among if he is to turn around his slide."

The current media narrative may have gone about as far as it can go this week, especially with contentions by Michael Moore and others that Trump isn't really trying to win the presidency, and this New Yorker piece, which suggests his goal is actually to create a new cable news network.

If polls tighten even slightly in the next week or so, it will likely be enough to change the narrative, because, well, the same story gets boring and media interest thrives on shifting plots, dramatic developments and suspense.  With its tiny shifts in tone at the end of the week, the Trump campaign may be counting on this sensitivity to a possible new narrative.  We'll see.

Late update: Reuters poll shows Clinton maintaining lead, 8 pts. among likely voters. This comports with the earlier NBC's tracking poll on Thursday that showed Clinton's 9 pt. lead unchanged from the week before.

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