Trump to Elizabeth Warren: I'll debate you, Pocahontas

A funny bit of red meat to end a long day. Even anti-Trump righties enjoy the “Pocahontas” digs at Warren, but I’m not sure why he’d want to get in a slapfight with the one Democrat many Bernie fans regard more highly than Sanders himself. Trump’s trying to win some of those votes, isn’t he? I know she’s been taking shots at him — lots of shots, at great length as you’ll see in the second clip below — but he’s been shrewd enough to mix his jabs at “Crazy Bernie” with panders that Sanders’s fans can appreciate. For instance, from this same presser:

“We could have a lot of fun with it,” Trump said. “I would love to debate Bernie, actually. I mean the problem with debating Bernie is he’s going to lose [the nomination] because, honestly, his system is rigged just like our system is rigged.”

He and Bernie are allies against the rigged system, however crazy Sanders may be in other respects. You would think he’d pull the same move with “Pocahontas,” trying to pit her against Hillary by mixing the insults with panders about how Warren, at least, is a committed advocate for the working class whereas Hillary’s just a corrupt poseur who’s trying to steal Warren’s agenda. Warren’s against “the system” whereas “Crooked Hillary” is the system. Trump could use that to present himself as a de facto ally of Warren’s, whatever the personal animosity between them. Instead it’s all bile.

If this is his playbook for the general, slugging every Democrat who throws a punch at him, it’s going to make it harder for him to win crossover votes. The left has partisan loyalties of its own, after all. Also, gotta say: I’m surprised at the relish with which Warren has hit Trump so far. She’s an academic by profession and, temperamentally, comes off as the opposite of Trump’s flamboyant aggression. Yet here she is laying into him at a recent event. She seems happy to wage war on him on Twitter too, which few other politicians are. As I write this, the last 14 tweets her Senate account has published over a period of six days have all been about Trump. I’m not sure why. Is she auditioning for VP, showing Hillary that she’s an effective and determined attack dog? Does she dislike Trump just that much?

Either way, Jim Newell’s right that Warren can hit Trump harder than Hillary can because she gets to focus all of her rhetorical effort on one line of criticism, Trump’s supposed championing of the working class, whereas Hillary has to spread things out across his various vulnerabilities. I wonder how long that’ll last, though. Ramesh Ponnuru made the case today that Hillary’s better off sticking to the argument that Trump is intellectually and temperamentally unfit to be president and not worrying much about challenging him on, say, foreign policy. If that’s what she ends up doing, she might farm out more specific critiques of Trump to various prominent surrogates — Warren on economic policy, Obama on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders on Trump’s populist pretensions, and of course Bill Clinton on character. (I kid, I kid.) She’s a terrible messenger herself and is smart enough to know it. Why not let more talented politicians try to drag her across the finish line?

Oh, as for the status of the Trump/Sanders debate, Trump cheekily suggested at this press conference that he’d do it in return for a $10-15 million donation towards “women’s health issues.” Fifteen million dollars is … what? About three hours’ worth of online fundraising by Team Sanders?

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