Friday, November 04, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: It Can Happen Here

It's Friday morning before election day.  I took a look back at what I was blogging about on the weekend before the 2012 election.  Voter suppression was a big worry.  But by Monday I was also noting what looked like movement over the weekend towards President Obama.

It's true that President Obama was leading by a slim margin in the polls, and that he won more electoral votes that Tuesday than anyone had predicted, outside his own campaign.  Right now the Clinton campaign seems confident, but then, suddenly the Trump campaign has gotten enough of a sense of movement their way that they've actually gotten serious.

Trump is staying on message, and out of the headlines.  He's got TV ads in swing states.  He's employed a British marketing company to target voters.  Suddenly he has surrogates, as Republicans with the taste of blood in their mouths come out for the candidate they didn't want to be caught dead with last week.

The truism of this campaign is that the candidate people are paying attention to is losing.  Comey turned the attention back on Clinton--superficial, negative attention, that is.

So there's a definite level of discomfort as nothing in the news is catching hold, and it's a silent, anxious slog to Tuesday, with Trump seemingly having the momentum.

This reasonably scares the hell out of people.  Not just that Trump might win, which would literally be the end of the world (as soon as he tears apart the Paris climate treaty, if he doesn't nuke somebody first), but that it will be close, and all the forces that seem to be gathering for an angry confrontation are loosed.

That means possible violence on and after election day.  It means today's Republican Party--so changed and extreme that even G.W. Bush and his people don't recognize it--feels confirmed and justified in its scorched earth tactics that things will end up, at best, in ungoverning gridlock.

Now we have the new spectre of a politicized FBI. There are several stories about this today, the most graphic of which is the Guardian's:'The FBI is Trumpland': anti-Clinton atmosphere spurred leaking, sources say: Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election."

So if Trump wasn't enough of a nightmare, it turns out when he goes to create his police state, he's got it already.  That the federal police acting as an independent entity has done more effectively what Russia tried to do in skewing this election--that's the most frightening revelation of this campaign, next to Trump himself.

What's rattling those who feel compelled to write about this today is the silence that has fallen over the walking apocalypse called Donald Trump.  It's if the country has gotten Trump amnesia. Or maybe it's just Trump fatigue.  What counts as unhinged at this point? Amy Davidson asks herself in the New Yorker.  He certainly is lying just as outrageously, plus making sexist suggestions that the military doesn't want to be bossed by a woman.

 But clearly the revelations of Trump's ignorance (the debates) and moral depravity (did that 12th woman accuser even get a headline?) peaked too soon.  Or so it seems... But there are a lot of complaints that some dangerous tendencies--as well as Trump's own volleys of lies--have gotten too normal to notice.

There's the theory that people don't really change their minds this close to the election.  But there are also recent cases in which pollsters detected a swing one way or the other on the last weekend.  I would like to think that American democracy is not so fragile as to depend on this weekend's headlines.  But it might.

If there is panic in the air this morning, it's being led by the editorial boards of the New York Times and Washington Post.

The New York Times:

Donald Trump and other embattled Republican candidates are resorting to a particularly bizarre and dangerous tactic in the closing days of the campaign — warning that they may well seek to impeach Hillary Clinton if she wins, or, short of that, tie her up with endless investigations and other delaying tactics.

Of all the arguments advanced by the Trump forces, this has to be among the most preposterous. In effect, what they’re saying is, Mrs. Clinton won’t be able to govern, because we won’t let her. So don’t waste your vote on her. Vote for us...

The tactic is a rejection of the nation’s need of a functioning government and a tacit concession that Mr. Trump may be losing and that he can be saved only by more scare tactics. Other Republican candidates in tight races have picked up this theme. The G.O.P. phrase du jour is “constitutional crisis,” depicting a hog-tied executive and a Republican Congress obsessed with perpetuating their demonization of Mrs. Clinton."

While it may be evidence that the Trumpers are behind, it seems the Comey letter revived Republican leaders enough to rally around Trump and make the threat explicit to deny President Clinton the ability to govern.

Paul Waldman writes in the Washington Post, in a piece called Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense.:

The election is just five days away, and something truly frightening is happening, something with far-reaching implications for the immediate future of American politics. Republicans, led by Donald Trump but by no means limited to him, are engaging in kind of termite-level assault on American democracy, one that looks on the surface as though it’s just aimed at Hillary Clinton, but in fact is undermining our entire system."

Trump is not the only guilty party.  The Washington Post editorial board: "WHEN THE republic was in danger, where did you stand? History will ask that question of Republican leaders who knew that Donald Trump was unfit to be commander in chief."

These sentiments would seem to apply both if Trump loses or if he wins.  But if he wins, history will have to wait.  They'll be too busy enabling the Trump dictatorship.

Paul Krugman at the NYTimes explains it as blindered thinking, or perhaps it's just thinking for them that pays you:

As far as anyone can tell, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House — and the leader of what’s left of the Republican establishment — isn’t racist or authoritarian. He is, however, doing all he can to make a racist authoritarian the most powerful man in the world. Why? Because then he could privatize Medicare and slash taxes on the wealthy.

And that, in brief, tells you what has happened to the Republican Party, and to America."

Trump truly has revealed what the R party has become.  As Jonathan Chiat observed in his Final Answer: Trump or the Republic column: However low my opinion of the Republican Party, it was not low enough. Mostly they have shuffled along or beavered away on Trump’s behalf as though everything is normal."

On the Bright Side
Put this together with signs that Latino voting is heavier--in some places, much heavier--so far than 2012.  And it tells you why the Clintons and Obamas are ending the campaign together in PA.

BUZZ -- TUESDAY: AN EARLY NIGHT? -- Here’s one theory bouncing around the reporter and political campaign consultant world: Despite the recent tightening of the race, election night could be super boring. If Nevada political guru Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) is right -- and he usually is -- Hillary Clinton has all but won that state. If she takes Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia -- all states where she seems to have a lead, or is building one through early voting -- Donald Trump can win Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire and still lose.
PLUS, if you believe Steve Schale (@steveschale), one of the top Democratic consultants in Florida, he says Democrats are doing well: They have built a 161,000 vote margin in Broward County, and 170,000 more Hispanics voted early as of yesterday than voted early in the entire 2012 election. Schale says 70 percent of the Florida vote will be in by Sunday.
KEY LINE from Alex Burns and JMart’s A1 story: “Robby Mook, told donors on a conference call Thursday that the campaign expected to win Florida and North Carolina in large part because of Hispanic turnout. In Nevada, a third diverse battleground state, Mr. Mook said he no longer saw a path for Mr. Trump to win there.”

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