Friday, October 21, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: 20 Days to Trumplessness

Donald's disastrous debate Wednesday was expected to be his last big pre-election debacle, because it was his last political opportunity on the national stage.  Nobody was even counting the Al Smith dinner tonight, a bipartisan affair for charity, in which candidates could take humorous digs at each other while affirming a common commitment to truth, justice and the American Way.

And then he blew it up.

Trump's jokes were so tin-eared, his delivery so bad, that after awhile there wasn't even embarrassed laughter.  And he sprinkled in hateful political comments that drove the assembled NYC plutocrats to actual booing.  Somehow Trump managed to humiliate himself even further, by unmasking himself as a tired dark-hearted husk.

Hillary's jokes were a mixed bag, some very sharp, especially on the page, and her delivery wasn't bad.  But her comments at the end of her time speaking were generous, appropriate and presidential--while still making the contrast between herself and the Donald. The Daily Beast covers this.

 When they make the movie of this campaign, this dinner will be what the Army-McCarthy hearing moment was to Joe McCarthy--the moment of revelation to everyone in the room, and everyone watching.  He may have a sad alt.right afterlife, but he's clearly always wanted the respect of people in that room, and he lost it in a particularly obvious way.  His wife's face said it all. Wednesday's debate was the end of Trump for President. This dinner was the end of Trump.

Except of course for the next 19 days until election day.

As for the debate reaction, Thursday morning's was much like Wednesday night's.  The biggest loser, according to GOPers quoted in Politico, were down-ballot Republican candidates.  With his threat to not accept the election results, he gave more voters more reason to repudiate him with one big pull of the lever marked D (so to speak.)  (Trump did walk back his statement a bit on Thursday, however, saying he would accept "a clear result.")

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was getting more praise--especially from and about women.   Melissa Batchelor Warnke in the LATimes was especially eloquent.

Warnke also quotes Clinton from the debate that should be a joke (akin to one President Obama made at the White House Correspondents dinner in 2011), but unfortunately isn't.

“Back in the 1970s, I worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. And I was taking on discrimination against African American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings.

“In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses.

“In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, called her an eating machine.

“And on the day when I was in the Situation Room, monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting the ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

But the most politically interesting situation on Thursday wasn't the presidential race.  It was the Senate race in Florida, and the favored Republican candidate (and former Senator and Prez candidate) Marco Rubio.

Rubio made some mild news in recent days, by pledging to serve his six year term (which means he wouldn't run for Prez again in 2020) and by being just about the only voice to warn fellow Republicans against using Wikileaks material and thereby give political credibility to material stolen and perhaps altered by a foreign power, in this case Russia, in order to influence the elections. “Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us,” he said.

These two statements sound like Rubio's return to a more independent--and sane--approach to issues, and a seemingly new commitment to the Senate.  (He said it might take him more than one term to accomplish his goals.)

But he failed to take the next step, and repudiate his endorsement of Trump.  For that, he took the full rhetorical assault of President Obama during his campaign speech in Miami.

"How can you call him a ‘con artist’ and ‘dangerous’ and object to all the controversial things he says and then say, 'But I'm still gonna vote for him?' C'mon, man!"

“It is the height of cynicism. That's the sign of somebody who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody, just to get elected. And you know what? If you're willing to be anybody just to be somebody, then you don't have the leadership that Florida needs in the United States’ Senate," Obama said before urging the crowd to vote for Rubio’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

This might have taken Rubio by surprise.  There was a story just days ago that the Dems were moving resources previously committed to supporting Murphy to other states, so it seemed they were giving up on the Florida Senate race.  Apparently not.  And chaining Rubio to his tormentor Trump may be the unkindest cut of all. (Below: Obama audience in Miami, a great photo from the NYTimes.)

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