Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Embracing His Inner Bully

It was a busy Wednesday for the Donald.  He made a suddenly announced trip to meet the president of Mexico (and it turns out not to be true that the President of the United States offered Mexico five billion dollars to keep him there) and then he made his big immigration speech in Arizona.

He managed the one-hour visit calmly, though he said he didn't discuss making Mexico pay for The Wall, while the Mexican president said he told him that's never going to happen, hombre.  Then came the speech, a reversion to form according to everyone, though not everyone could agree on just what he meant about deportations.

"Donald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on deporting anyone inside the U.S. illegally if elected president, outlining a militant immigration plan that vanquished swirling questions about whether he would soften his position for a general election audience," said the US News report.

But the NY Times had a different take: "Donald J. Trump made an audacious attempt on Wednesday to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration, shelving his plan to deport 11 million undocumented people and arguing that a Trump administration and Mexico would secure the border together."

NBC however headlined their report: Trump Recommits to Mass Deportation in Fiery Immigration Speech.

The WPost sort of splits the difference and figures Trump isn't still talking about deporting all of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.  Just six million.   Where have we heard that number before?

The contradiction--nicey nice in Mexico, fulminatingly Homegrown Hitler in Arizona-- was handily explained by NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow:

"Donald Trump is the internet troll of presidential politics. When he’s securely removed from the objects of his scorn, he’s tough as nails; when he’s in their presence, he quivers like a bowl of Jell-O. Such is the way of a bully.

Furthermore, when he is surrounded by supporters who cheer his base nature, he amplifies the enmity. When the applause of hostility is out of earshot, he tones down his vitriol to a whimper."

And so on.  The column doesn't relent.  Dana Milbank gives a similarly caustic if intentionally funnier account.

The WPost provides an annotated transcript, and a fact check.  Good luck.

Meanwhile, some polls have tightened, Hillary is as unpopular as ever, and Paul Waldman explains cogently if depressingly why it is unlikely that she will ever have high favorables as President.  The basic melancholy numbers are that while many Presidents before G.W. Bush sometimes got around 40% approval from members of the opposing party, President Obama has never gotten more than 11% from Republicans.  Something else that G.W. ruined.

Poor reporting won't help, though.  Headlines (and the Donald) screamed Tuesday that the FBI found 30 emails about Benghazi that Clinton hadn't turned over to them.  But in their ill-advised, bound-to-be-misunderstood statement, the FBI didn't say that.  They found 30 emails that might have something in them about Benghazi, but they aren't yet sure if they are duplicates of emails they already have--from Clinton.  You'd think they could wait to make sure before they talked about it.

Photo above (from BBC):A version of Trump's wall created by artists David Gleeson and Mary Mihelic next to the US-Mexican border in California

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