Democrats Putting Together A Plan The GOP's Deep Bench Never Quite Figured Out: How To Stop Trump From Wrecking America
Trump doesn't respect women; we all know that. He's made it clear his entire life and has continued making it clear through his campaign. The video above shows him denigrating Republican governor Susana Martinez Tuesday night. The same day he called Hillary Clinton "a 'low-life' and 'lightweight,' he added that he 'can’t listen' to Clinton’s attacks against him, because 'she screams and drives me crazy.'" Not being able to listen to women has always been a major problem for Trump. So far it hasn't caught up to him. If Hillary is going to win the presidency, she has to make sure it does.
This week, writing for New York, Ed Kilgore predicted that the free ride may be about over for Trump. Crushing a Deep Bench of mental midgets without breaking a sweat made him think he is politically brilliant-- and invincible. Now "when he comes to Washington for meetings with his vanquished intra-party foes, it's with the air of a barbarian chieftain visiting Rome after the Sack... Pollsters are entering his presence with surveys showing he could indeed beat Hillary Clinton (he needs only one every once in a while to support his vainglorious talking points). And he still has his formal coronation as the most unlikely GOP nominee since Wendell Willkie ahead of him before the general-election campaign gets fully underway. For the Donald, life is good, right? Maybe so, but not for long."
Throughout the pre-primary and primary phases of the GOP presidential-nominating process, Trump had a bunch of advantages he will soon lose. He was a novice pol who was regularly defying expectations amidst almost universal predictions of failure. He was the dominant media object in a very crowded field of opponents. He had the strategic flexibility associated with doing relatively well in every region of the country and among every major category of Republican voter. He was independent of any sizable bloc of endorsers, donors, or surrogates, operating from his own tight-knit personal army. He was functioning within a Republican Party dominated by the older white voters that were his principal base, and where the minority voters he so deeply offends were rare and insignificant presences.
Now he is about to become the Titular Head of the Republican Party, with presumed responsibility for a big, divided and (at the moment) fearful coalition of down-ballot candidates and allied constituency and interest groups. Even if he minimizes the value of party support, he'll have to deal with constant advice and admonitions from party officials, many of whom not-so-secretly would prefer that he lose and leave them to inherit the GOP. He's already beginning to hustle money to finance his campaign.
Given the binary nature of general elections, he can no longer count on the kind of huge margins in media coverage he enjoyed when it was 16 Lilliputians trying to overcome the orange-haired Gulliver. For that matter, in Hillary Clinton he will finally face an opponent as well known as he is. He will not be able to run a national campaign that divides and conquers a scattered and regionally dependent opposition. He'll be fighting Clinton one-on-one in the same fixed set of battlefield states. Instead of dealing with an electorate where he can find support all across demographic groups, Trump will be beginning in a deep, deep hole with African-Americans, Latinos, and professional women, with sure support only from groups like non-college-educated conservative white men, which any Republican can and must carry by huge margins.
At key moments in the campaign like the debates, Trump will no longer be addressing an audience that inherently hates "political correctness" and thus has a high tolerance for borderline racist and sexist rhetoric and insult-comedy. And Clinton and her allies will be able deploy their massive oppo-research files on Trump in a consistent, relentless manner very much unlike the occasional, clumsy, and halfhearted Trump-bashing undertaken by his primary opponents and the mainstream media. After all, it's not like Democrats need to treat him with kid gloves because they'll need to appeal to his core supporters down the road.
Most of all, if the worm ever turns on Donald Trump's immensely lucky 2016 campaign, it's likely to turn fast and hard. Much of his party will abandon him in a heartbeat if that's the best way to preserve Republican control of Congress and state governments. The media folk he despises and seeks to threaten and intimidate will be unforgiving if he begins to stumble. It could get very ugly very fast.
And now he's not going to be facing a clod like Jeb Bush or a despised sociopath like Ted Cruz, but a fearless warrior, like Democratic spokesperson Elizabeth Warren, who, as Greg Sargent pointed out yesterday, is setting up the template for how to eviscerate the bewigged, racist bag of hot air. Sargent-- and the rest of the Beltway media-- was all excited about her use of the phrase "small, insecure money-grubber."
Warren isn’t merely dissing Trump’s manhood. Warren-- who went on to note that Trump “roots for people to get thrown out of their house” because he “doesn’t care who gets hurt, as long as he makes a profit”-- is making a broader argument. Trump is not just a small, greedy person, but a cruel one, too.
That theme is also threaded through Warren’s broadside against Trump on taxes. He isn’t just paying as little as possible-- and openly boasting about it-- because he’s greedy. He isn’t just refusing to release his returns because he doesn’t want to reveal he’s not as rich as he claims (another shot at Trump’s self-inflated masculinity). All this, Warren suggests, also reflects a larger moral failing: Trump plays by his own set of rules, engorging himself, while simultaneously heaping explicit scorn on social investments designed to help those who are struggling in the same economy that made him rich. Warren notes that Trump recently likened paying his taxes to “throwing money down the drain”-- i.e., he is reneging on the social contract-- after “inheriting a fortune from his father” and “keeping it going by scamming people.” Thus, Warren is making a broader argument about Trump’s fundamental cruelty.
One lingering question is what kind of affirmative argument Hillary Clinton will make in terms of how she’d be better than Trump on the economy. Trump argues that Clinton belongs to a corrupt elite that has screwed over working people for decades, with bad trade deals that sucked jobs out of the industrial Midwest and lax immigration policies that gave Americans’ livelihoods away to parasites and criminals. The system is failing those people, and he’d snap it over his knee and get it working again.
-Josh Barro: The Brutal Truth
The Clinton response is to cast Trump as a sleazy fraud, to undercut his claims to economic prowess. But it’s also to lay out a programmatic economic agenda: A minimum wage hike; equal pay for women; paid family leave; expanded child care; investments designed to boost American businesses’ ability to compete in a globalizing economy, rather than protectionism that would start destructive trade wars. (Warren laid out a similar slate of policy solutions in her speech’s conclusion.) Clinton strategist Joel Benenson has argued that policies designed to make a concrete difference in people’s lives actually can win the argument against the seemingly seductive, but ultimately empty, story Trump is telling.
It remains to be seen whether that will be enough as an affirmative argument for Clinton. But one thing is now clear: Democrats are honing an attack on Trump that is subtly different from the one on Romney. The challenge in both cases: How to drive home that the GOP nominee isn’t actually on your side. Romney was depicted as a plutocratic, aloof elitist and symbol of the rapacious cruelties of global capitalism: When he did well, people like you got screwed. Trump is not like Romney; he is adeptly posing as the Man in the Street’s Billionaire. But he is personally cruel and rapacious: He, and his presidential candidacy, are directly screwing you.