In Case of Emergency, Break Glass
August 11th, 2016

In which I argue that it’s pretty much time for institutional Republicans and down-ballot candidates to pull the plug on the presidential race.

What I find so interesting about this is that if the nominee was a normal Republican, this wouldn’t be controversial in the least. People within the party would be openly planning the contingencies. Maybe they’d wait four more weeks or so. But if it was a guy that most Republicans liked/quasi-respected, they’d toss him over the side in a heartbeat if they thought it would help them down-ballot. It’s not show-friends, it’s show-business.

But in a weird way–because everything about the 2016 dynamics is weird–people like Ryan and Priebus and Ayotte are more tethered to Trump precisely because they find him so contemptible. They’re worried that cutting bait on him now would make their earlier decision to hold their noses for Trump look foolish, craven, or worse.

Normally, you expect that people who get suckered into throwing good money after bad do so because of sentiment or affection. But in this case, the GOP is doing it out of sheer embarrassment.

Which is fine. Except that it’s going to make it harder to hold the Senate and the House.

Trumpkins spent most of 2015 insisting that their guy was so strong and so amazing that he was going to put Connecticut and New Jersey and New York into play and redraw the map and win in a landslide.

They’re now arguing that if/when Trump loses by 5 million votes, it’ll somehow be the fault of the 200 professional conservatives who refused to get on the train, and that those people will be “responsible for Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court nominees.”

But we’re way past that point of no return. It’s just as fair to say now that anyone who isn’t bailing on Trump is responsible for every Senate and House seat that flips.

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Trump and SCOTUS
August 10th, 2016

Why in the world would you trust Trump to give you a conservative justice?


Scott Adams Says A Lot of Things
August 8th, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I like to keep up with Dilbert creator / proto-Trumpkin Scott Adams.

Adams likes to brag about how awesome his political predictions are because he wishcasted Donald Trump to the Republican nomination early on. And good for him!

But just because you make one correct prediction, you probably shouldn’t go getting chesty all over the internet.

Here, for instance, is another prediction Adams made recently that didn’t work out so great:

“I’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention and wondering if this will be the first time in history that we see a candidate’s poll numbers plunge after a convention.”

Oh? Oh.

See, Adams didn’t learn his lesson about predicting from the Republican convention, when he said that Trump’s convention speech “was an A-” that “on a strategic level” “was a strong performance.” Such a strategically strong performance that Trump became the first candidate to come out of his convention speech with people telling pollsters that they’re less likely to vote for him!

But here’s the thing: Adams doesn’t always get things wrong. Because he likes to cover himself with lots of predictions:

February 22, 2016: “To solve for scary, Trump needs Mark Cuban as his running mate.”

Oh boy. That’s a tall order. Because it turned out that not only did Trump not get Cuban as his running mate–Cuban eventually endorsed Clinton. Not that that mattered, because it turned out that Trump didn’t need Cuban at all . . .

April 26, 2016: “By October you will hear that Trump is “running unopposed” for all practical purposes.”

“Running unopposed”? Wow! I haven’t seen that #hottake yet, but in fairness, it isn’t October yet, either. So Adams kept trucking into:

May 19, 2016: “I’m teeming with confirmation bias, but from my kitchen counter, I don’t see how it can go any direction but a Trump landslide from here. . . .”

“Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, knows how to win. The Clinton campaign doesn’t show the same level of talent, at least in terms of persuasion.”

Got that? Adams “didn’t see how” it could be possible go in any direction other than a Trump landslide–not possible!–because the Clinton campaign team just blows. Well, here we are five weeks later and:

June 28, 2016: “For months I have been saying mostly good things in this blog about Trump’s powers of persuasion, and mostly bad things about how the Clinton campaign does persuasion. And yet Clinton has a solid lead in the polls, assuming the polls are accurate. How can that be? The quick answer is that Clinton’s side is totally winning the persuasion battle.”

But, you see, Adams wasn’t contradicting himself because he was crediting Clinton’s “side” as opposed to her “campaign.” So don’t worry. He’s totally got a handle on the politicky stuff. Nothing he couldn’t master in an hour.

But then he went out with a post on June 28 and dropped a bombshell:

“The Clinton team won the month of June. And unless something changes, Clinton will saunter to an easy victory in November.”

I know what you’re thinking: Wait. What? From Trump “Running unopposed” to I “don’t see how it can go in any direction but a landslide” to “Clinton will saunter to an easy victory in November”? Wtf?

Don’t worry, though. Dilbert’s here to explain: “I now update my prediction of a Trump landslide to say that if he doesn’t give a speech on the topic of racism – to neutralize the crazy racist label – he loses.”

Not confused enough? Adams wasn’t done yet: “If [Trump] makes a case for the value of American diversity – and does it persuasively – he wins in a landslide.”

That’s a . . . lot of predictions. And surely one of them will work out.

Unless, of course, Clinton wins a 4- to 7-point victory because we haven’t had a presidential landslide since 1984–for complicated political and demographic reasons that someone who studied politics for, say, an hour and a half, might understand.

If you ranked all the surprises of 2016, right up near the top would be that the guy who draws Dilbert is a wannabe-PUA herb.


Clinton’s Bounce, Trump’s Crater, Ryan’s Collaboration
August 5th, 2016

A short piece on what the post-convention bounce environment looks like this week. I tentatively believe that the total cratering of Trump late this week–down double digits in several polls–is temporary. He’ll probably close back to within 5 or 6 points, at which point Republican elites will convince themselves that he’s changed, is getting better, etc. It’ll be just close enough to convince people to stay on the roller coaster, even though they know the ride is unsafe and likely to end in disaster.

Though it’s also possible that this is like 1988 and Clinton won’t look back. Because, you know, Trump is patently, and obviously, unfit for the office. And also because there will be more Khan moments. There always are. So I’m open to the idea that we may have passed the tipping point.

The argument in favor of the tipping point view is that there’s a clock here. If Trump doesn’t close back up in the next four weeks, there will be a cascade effect as the money and dries up and down-ballot candidates start running away from him as fast as they can. And if that happens, the recriminations will start within the campaign and the party. Trump will shift from attacking Clinton to blame-casting. It’ll start with RINOs like Ted Cruz and George Will. (And will probably end with The Jews.) It’s entirely possible that the campaign will effectively be finished by September 15.

Also, there’s my piece on the remarkable similarities between Paul Ryan and Marshal Philippe Pétain. It is tragic to understand that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh will probably survive Trump, but Ryan will not. Of all the people who dishonored themselves this year, none was more surprising than Ryan. But when this is over, there will be no place for him in national politics.


Thoughts on the 2016 Conventions
July 31st, 2016

Shorter version: We should have seen the populist wave coming.

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The Ten Stages of Trump Excuse-ism
July 29th, 2016

If Trump loses in November–which isn’t a sure thing, of course–I think it’s pretty clear that we’ll see the following responses, in the following order, from his supporters:

(1) He didn’t lose.

(2) If he lost–and I’m not saying he did–then it was the fault of those cuck-traitor conservatives who aren’t real conservatives.

(3) He lost. It’s the Republican party’s fault. They didn’t do what they should have to support him because they’re a bunch of idiot losers. And now America is screwed.

(4) We always knew he would lose. And it’s a good thing because his candidacy destroyed a useless, feckless GOP. The political system is toast and deserves to get burned to the ground so we can start over.

(5) He meant to lose. He’s a businessman, not a politician, and he didn’t really want to be president anyway. His brand is worth a thousand times more now than it was in 2015. To him, this whole thing was just another amazing business deal.

(6) You think he “lost”? It’s the day after Hillary Clinton’s big “victory” and instead everyone is talking about Trump. He’s a genius.

(7) Trump knows that we’re guaranteed to have another recession and a major terrorist attack during the next four years. Hillary and Dems own that now so when he runs again in 2020, he’s going to take CA, NY, and NJ in a total realigning election. They’re playing checkers; Trump is playing 15-dimensional chess.

(8) Winning the White House was never the point. The point was taking over the Republican party. Trump owns the GOP now and all the people saying the party needs to go back to the Jeb Bush days need to gtfo. Trump is the Republican party from here on out.

(9) MAGA, bitches.

(10) If you think about it, Trump basically won.


Wishcasting the DNC
July 28th, 2016

I thought last night was pretty darn effective–four smart, tactically different speeches all aimed not at Dems, but at R- and D-leaners. Three of the speeches were really, really good. Two of them were great.

Pound for pound, I think that might be the best night of convention speaking I’ve ever watched. In fact, I can’t think of any other single-night line-up that comes close.

Prediction: Dad-Rock Tim Kaine is going to become a hipster icon over the next two months.


As Promised
July 27th, 2016

An instant analysis of Bill Clinton’s speech last night. (Short version: A double, not a home run. And it’s Hillary’s fault.)

And a look at the difference between how Hillary Clinton acted at the close of the 2008 primaries and how Bernie Sanders conducted himself at the end of 2016. (Short version: How Bernie was swamped by his own movement.)