Quotes of the day

Ohio Gov.John Kasich today would not commit to supporting frontrunner Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, saying that he did not expect the real estate mogul to win.

“I think he’s very divisive and I do not believe he will last,” Kasich said when asked if he would support Trump if he wins the Republican primary…

“Somebody who divides this country, here in the 21st century, who’s calling names of women and Muslims and Hispanics and mocking reporters, and says, ‘I didn’t do it,’ but he did do it, it’s just not going to happen,” said Kasich.


“This is the pattern — the pattern is he says something insulting, offensive, outrageous; the media pays attention, then he claims we all misunderstood him; the media pays attention again,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“This is the pattern perhaps of an entertainer. It’s certainly not the pattern of the leader,” Ms. Fiorina continued. “Apparently Donald Trump only feels big when he’s trying to make everyone else look small. Of course, in the end, he looks the smallest of all.”


Bush, who Trump has repeatedly assailed as being “low-energy,” did praise the Republican front-runner’s media strategy, saying he’s played reporters “like a fiddle…by saying outrageous things and garnering attention.”

The former Florida governor also called Trump “smart” and reiterated his pledge to support the eventual GOP presidential nominee. That said, Bush said he’s confident that Trump will eventually fade.

“Anybody is better than Hillary Clinton. Let me just be clear about that,” Bush said. “But I have great doubts about Donald Trump’s ability to be commander in chief. I really do.”

“I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt to see how the campaign unfolded. But if you listen to him talk, it’s kind of scary to be honest with you, because he’s not a serious candidate,” Bush said. “He doesn’t talk about the issues at hand that are of national security importance for our country. To keep us safe is the first priority of the president. And he’s all over the map, misinformed at best and praying on people’s fears at worst.”


The subject of Trump came up at a recent Beverly Hills lunch hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel.  

Seated around the table in the private dining room of the Hotel Bel-Air were several of the West Coast’s most powerful Republican donors, including Ronald Spogli, the venture capitalist and former ambassador to Italy under President George W. Bush; his business partner Bradford Freeman; and Riordan.  

A story that circulated after the lunch was that the donors engaged in a hypothetical question: “If it was Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?”  

One version has it that most of the Republicans at the table put their hands up for Clinton


A Trump-topped ticket is a mouthwatering prospect for Democrats, especially when it comes to retaking control of the Senate. And if Hillary Clinton can win the presidency, which Democrats seem to believe a Trump nomination would almost guarantee, Democrats would only need to retake four seats, not five, to win control of the Senate. 

“Donald Trump just blows it open for our side,” a national Democrat told me.  “Both because I think you’ll see a lot of people come out to vote against him and also because of the position he’ll put Republican nominees in, which is not a place they want to be.” That “place” is trying to campaign in their home states while Donald Trump is making outrageous headlines across the country every day.  Do they support what he supports?  Will he take them down if they disagree with him?  Are they for the wall?  The database?  Bombing the *&%# out of ISIS?…

“He’s completely radioactive,” Doug Thornell, a veteran of Democratic campaigns, told me.  “If you’re a Republican running for re-election in a state that Obama won, you have to be very, very worried about Trump being the nominee.


Dilbert creator Scott Adams said Friday afternoon that if Donald Trump survives the ongoing controversy about whether he made fun of  New York Times reporter’s disability, he will be a lock to win the presidency.

“If he survives this one, he’s invulnerable,” Adams said.


The story line around Donald Trump’s “rise” has got the narrative wrong. It mistakes the man for the movement. While we do need to reckon with what Trump himself means for U.S. politics, we need to reckon even more urgently with what can now be called the “Trumpists,” a solidly right-wing ethno-nationalist voting bloc that has been growing since the mid-1990s.

What points to this story? The numbers capturing the ebb and flow in the belief that Barack Obama is a Muslim and the crisis over the president’s birth certificate. Those are the ones to watch…

The Trumpists are our equivalent of Britain’s U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and France’s National Front, both anti-immigrant, nationalist parties. For the past five years, Trumpists have clocked in at about 20 percent of the electorate, if one tracks numbers of committed “Obama is a Muslim-ists.” This makes them even more powerful than Britain’s UKIP, which won 12.6 percent of the vote in May’s parliamentary election. These numbers put the Trumpists on par with the National Front in France, which in March elections took 25 percent of the vote to the 32 percent that went to the center-right party of Nicholas Sarkozy…

Predictions for when the country as a whole will become majority minority continually shift, but there is no question that this will happen within the lifetimes of today’s young people, and perhaps even within my own lifetime, if I should be blessed with longevity. It is unsurprising that our clear movement in this direction should provoke resistance from those whose well-being, status and self-esteem are connected to historical privileges of “whiteness.”


The American public no longer adheres to standards of personal decorum or protocol (or common decency) in such a way that would punish Mr Trump’s narcissistic behavior. The irony is that conservatives, ostensibly guardians of traditional values like humility, prudence, and discipline, are the vessel for this post-family values politician.

Today, working-class whites increasingly feel like the American Dream is leaving them behind economically, culturally, and demographically. Liberalism — the election of Barack Obama, the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and our apparent impotence abroad, rioting in the streets and unrest in the cities, and political correctness run amok (on college campuses, and elsewhere) — also contribute to the backlash that is buoying Mr Trump. (If they preach diversity, the logic goes, then we will preach deportations. If they preach political correctness in the form of speech codes, micro-aggressions, and “trigger warnings”, then we shall preach the other extreme —straight talk, with no self-imposed limits.) When we’re frustrated and fed up, we sometimes overreach just to prove a point. Donald Trump is the embodiment of this tantrum…

He is projecting an image of a strongman in a time of weak men. As Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin has said, Mr Trump is adhering to an old Bill Clinton maxim which says “candidates have a better chance to win over voters by being strong and wrong than by being right and weak.”…

Mr Trump knows that if he shows no sign of fear or self-doubt that people will tend to believe what he says. So Mr Trump says outlandish things with so much conviction that people are prepared to put aside their doubts about whether they are true and just believe him. (I’m reminded of Matt Damon’s line in the TV show 30 Rock: “If you walk briskly in a pilot’s uniform, you can go pretty much anywhere.”)


Jacksonians love leaders who mercilessly squash America’s enemies without getting too entangled overseas. One such leader was Ronald Reagan. Taking power after the humiliation of the Iran hostage crisis, Reagan convinced Jacksonians that he had restored American strength and honor by invading Grenada, bombing Libya, and rebuilding the military. But, like them, he had little patience for sending American troops into messy situations abroad. And when hundreds of American Marines died while serving as peacekeepers during Lebanon’s chaotic civil war, Reagan quickly brought the rest home.  Another Jacksonian favorite was Joseph McCarthy, who told Americans that battling the Soviet Union did not require costly foreign deployments or complex international alliances. America could keep itself safe simply by rooting out communists at home.

Trump is now a third. He’s distinguished himself from his establishment GOP rivals by opposing costly interventions in the greater Middle East. He’s said the wars in Iraq, Libya, and even Afghanistan were mistakes. He’s scorned democracy-promotion, saying he prefers dictators like Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad to the chaos that follows. And when Vladimir Putin began bombing Syrian rebels last month, Trump responded, “Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can we be?”

Most importantly, like McCarthy, Trump has responded to Americans’ fear of foreign threats by arguing that the real menace lies within. Since the Paris attacks, while the “serious” GOP contenders have proposed establishing no-fly zones and arming Kurdish rebels in Syria, Trump has focused on registering Muslims and closing mosques in the U.S. while insisting that he “watched … thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrate 9/11. He’s turned the terrorism debate into an extension of the immigration debate that powered his candidacy this summer. And among Jacksonians, his message is resonating for the same reason McCarthy’s did: Because if the core problem is treason at home, not geopolitics abroad, then solving it is cheaper and simpler. Instead of solving the world’s pathologies, you simply expel them from your midst.


Just how does Trump “captivate his audiences”? Hypnosis would explain it to perfection.

Hypnosis has absolutely nothing to do with a swinging pocket watch. The swinging watch is an obsolete device — and cultural cliché — for inducing a hypnotic state. Hypnosis simply involves gently inducing a reverie, a state like a daydream: deep relaxation coupled with heightened alertness, while engaging the faculty of the imagination and softened analytic faculty, coupled with the power of suggestion. First rate politicians routinely employ this technique…

Donald Trump, in his presidential (and perhaps Russ Feingold in his senatorial) race, speaks directly to the voters’ imagination. This is nothing more, or less, than political hypnosis. The “hypnosis hypothesis,” even better than Byron York’s “brief theory of Trump’s outrageousness,” may explain Trump’s persistence as the Republican front runner.


Trump, of course, is the master of such rhetoric, often using explicit references to “winners” and “losers.” Losers comprise not just anyone who’s criticized him or severed business ties with him, though there are plenty of those. There’s also America writ large, today no longer “great,” and constantly being ground down by the P.C. police, foreign economic powers and greedy, murderous immigrants…

Being told we’re losing out can be oddly reassuring, especially if we’re told it’s an unfair fight. Being a victim to some nefarious other “side” grants moral righteousness, perhaps even moral impunity. It also absolves us of responsibility for our own inadequacies.

More important, such messaging can also elevate the status of the messenger, who by convincing the public of its own weakness can position himself or herself as a potential savior, as the only one who can successfully lead the charge against those evil, undeserving victors and bullies on the other side.

Tell everyone to buck up, that their country is already great, that their economy is already improving, that their political mission is already succeeding, and you’ve ceded the premise you need to argue that you and you alone can turn things around.


What many of these liberals need to realize about Trump is how he appeals to a large portion of Americans who believe they no longer have a place in this country, as evidenced by the previously mentioned Reuters/Ipsos poll…

As shown by President Obama’s comments on this constituency opposing his refugee policies, our leaders prefer to dismiss these people as bigots and, according to Oprah Winfrey, hope they die out soon.

While some of our elites might like to reassure themselves that they can defeat Trump with ludicrous accusations of fascism, his populist-nationalist message is resonating with many people who feel that our leaders have abandoned them.

If these scared pundits would like to defuse The Donald’s appeal, it’d be more wise to address the anxieties of the “silent majority” than to affirm Godwin’s law of every Internet discussion eventually leading to Hitler.


What we have seen and heard from Mr. Obama during the Syrian crisis — self-righteousness without self-reflection, taunting, exasperation that others don’t see the world just as he does, the inability to work constructively with his opponents — have been hallmarks of his presidency. The man who promised to strengthen our political culture has further disabled it…

Today our political discourse barely allows us to think clearly about, let alone rise to meet, the enormous challenges we face at home and abroad. Trust in government has reached one of its lowest levels in the past half-century. Americans are deeply cynical about the entire political enterprise; they are losing faith in the normal democratic process.

This creates the conditions for the rise of demagogues, of people who excel at inflaming tensions. Enter Donald J. Trump, who delights in tearing down the last remaining guardrails in our political culture.

Mr. Obama is hardly responsible for Mr. Trump, and it’s up to my fellow Republican primary voters to repudiate his malignant candidacy. Not doing so would be a moral indictment of our party. But in amplifying some of the worst tendencies in our politics, Mr. Obama helped make the rise of Mr. Trump possible.



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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 03, 2022