Monday, October 03, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: The Unreality Show is Still On

Two actual stories emerged Monday--two and a half if you include Trump's comments to veterans--but the day also includes trying to figure out what if anything is coming on Tuesday.

The two Trump stories are the state of New York ordering the Trump Foundation to stop taking donations because it isn't registered to do so, which also includes noting violations in the past, and the AP story detailing Trump's relentless "lewd and sexist" comments and behavior as host of The Apprentice "reality show."

The half story is Trump implying that soldiers with PTSD are weaker than those who don't suffer from it.  It's half a story because Trump didn't come out and call such soldiers weak--he was trying to compliment those in the room who haven't suffered it, while making his usual extravagant promises that VA mental health services would improve unbelievably in a Trump regime.  The effect of course is the same--a total misunderstanding of PTSD, and a very Trumpian revival of harmful prejudices we thought were overcome.

But as Chris Cillizza notes, each horrific Trump story seems to crowd out the others, and while any one of them would sink a normal candidate,  the sheer number of them virtually every day has a numbing effect.

New polls however indicate that they are having some cumulative effect, including the latest state polls which show Clinton gaining in major swing states, except Ohio.  National polls also show Clinton gaining, by varying amounts.  CNN has her up 5 against all comers, and up 7 against Trump.

The CNN poll (and all others but daily tracking polls, also trending Clinton) was completed before the Trump tax return revelations.  Notably however the poll did include a question about the obligation to pay taxes (which did come up in the debate.)  The CNN poll found:

"Voters are in near-universal agreement, though, that paying taxes is every American's civic duty. Nearly 9-in-10 feel that way while just 12% say they see taxes as an unnecessary burden to be avoided. Even among Trump backers, 79% see them as a civic duty."

So much for the genius argument.

Everything seems to be going Clinton's way, which is precisely why what may happen tomorrow has Clinton backers anxious.  It started with a tweet by an alt.right Trump backer warning that a wikileaks dump on Tuesday would end Clinton's candidacy by Wednesday.

The story got more complicated throughout the day.  Various stories suggest that the announcement has been cancelled, the announcement has merely moved its venue, it's a bluff, and even that the wikileaks release will also include material on Trump.  But some folks are not going to breathe freely until late tomorrow.

The anxiety is perhaps less about what wikileaks has as it is in how the media will play it.  There's a lot about false equivalence these days--including this interesting post by Jelani Cobb at the New Yorker, wondering why millennials who are so concerned about racism don't see that Clinton and Trump are not exactly equivalent on this issue:

"If not exactly a false equivalency, it is perhaps a false vicinity: the belief that Trump’s unmitigated bigotry is just a few degrees removed from Clinton’s history of establishment ties and nineties-era centrism. Maybe the debate will have shown them that the two candidates could scarcely be farther apart."

While news is news, columnists Paul Krugman and E.J. Dionne in particular are pleading with media to stop treating Trump as a legitimate candidate, instead of a reckless racist and dangerous fool.

 Meanwhile, the infection of the body politic continues, from proudly overt racism (a PA elected official's blatantly ugly racist Facebook posts) to the kind of semi-conscious racism that emerges as attempted humor (a racist depiction of President Obama and a float showing Trump throwing the switch on Hillary in an electric chair, in an Indiana parade.)

With all the meta movement and lasting implications, the election itself is coming down to specifics--namely the battleground states of Pennsylvania (now looming as the most important), North Carolina, Florida.  A Trump victory in those states could indicate ultimate victory.  (It's conceivable that Clinton could win PA without winning Ohio, but if Trump wins PA, he'd pretty certainly win Ohio.) Clinton is ahead in all three, but not comfortably, at least according to these polls which lag behind this news onslaught.  Which is another reason some folks are nervous about tomorrow.

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