By James A. Kidney One challenge in this vicious, unsatisfying presidential campaign is for the average voter to separate legitimate worries about either candidate from paranoia. The Trump side of the campaign thus far has had more trouble keeping to boundaries of reason than Clinton supporters. Egged on by Fox News and Trump allies from Breitbart News, as well as the Rasputins of Clinton conspiracies, such as broadcaster Alex Jones, right wing bomb thrower Roger Stone (who, like Trump, learned nastiness from the late Roy Cohn) and David Bossie (author of, among other things, Hillary: The Politics of Personal Destruction), the Trump camp is actively promoting long-time crazy notions such as that Clinton is responsible for the death of Arkansas state troopers and the suicide of White House aide Vince Foster. They also are supplementing the oldies but goodies with newer tropes, such as that Clinton failed to protect U.S. … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Whether you are a reluctant or die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton, or even an increasingly rare “undecided” voter, take the weekend to savor the just-concluded Democratic convention. Enjoy your own post-convention “bounce”. Set aside your serious worries about the Republican candidate, though by-all-means enjoy the dark humor his candidacy has engendered. If you think about presidential politics at all, be sunny. If necessary, suspend your disbelief. The hard and fearful events of the campaign will come again soon, if they have not already begun. Savor the warm recollections of our gorgeous First Lady and her thanks to the American people for providing love and confidence as she, her husband and two beautiful daughters weathered vicious attacks on their Americanism, heritage and hope from politicians and people who have not a flicker of their good spirit. Remember the vice president’s speech. He knows the disappointments of life … Read more of this post . . .
Poor Donald Trump. He appears to have no close friends. That wouldn’t matter to us — except that he has a real shot at becoming our next president. So it does matter — a lot.
Does he have close friends? A Google search suggests not. Take it from folks who call him a friend but, on closer examination, appear to be more in the nature of golfing partners with whom he has a business interest, such as Richard LeFrak, identified by The New York Times as “a fellow real estate tycoon who has known Mr. Trump for more than 40 years” (Trump identified LeFrak to the Times as one of two people, plus his wife and children, he called his best friends. The other one wouldn’t talk to the newspaper.)
“He’s very gregarious and has lots of acquaintances,” LeFrak told The Times. “But people that he’s close to? Not so many.” The Times report concluded that Trump’s “actual social circle has a fairly small diameter — even in his hometown, New York.”
A year or two ago, I whiled away a half hour watching a British comedy series on one of the streaming channels about a fictional prime minister forced to
fornicate with a pig on national television to keep his job. I found the episode too absurd to be funny, and promptly forgot the name of the show. I didn’t watch any more of the series.
This was long before the Republican Party leadership came to embrace Donald Trump.
The mostly forgotten television episode came to mind as I sought to determine what it is that the Republican Party stands for now that it is about to name Trump its presidential nominee, likely with the nearly complete support of both the party leadership and its rank-and-file.
Trump is against much of what the party claims to favor. He is reliably contradictory on other issues the party stands for (try to pin him down on specifics about tax cuts or abortion). He constantly puts party leadership in the position of defending the indefensible or wishing Trump’s juvenile insults would go away even as they are bleated repeatedly on cable TV.
Hillary Clinton (with Bernie Sanders) is right to say that all Americans should be afraid that Trump, with his immaturity, lack of intellect, absence of curiosity, thin skin and ill temper, could be President of the United States. Trump’s candidacy is a threat to the country that goes well beyond party. Yet, the Republicans are falling in line to support him.
This is the same party that nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney. Say whatever you will about those candidates, no one had reason to believe they would behave erratically and irrationally if they achieved the White House. One could disagree with all of the policies they favored and still sleep comfortably, reasonably sure the country was safe and on a steady course, rightward, for sure, but within the norms of rational political dialog.
Not so with Trump. Yet, the Republicans persist in saying he would be a better president than Hillary Clinton, or even the two former governors running as the Libertarian Party candidates. They seem ready to reduce the nation’s leadership to an international laughing stock, electing Milton Berle (I’m old) or Soupy Sales (still too old?) as president.
Exactly what principled purpose cherished by the Republican Party warrants the reckless notion of electing Trump president?
What, in other words, does the GOP stand for? What drives these people?
By James A. Kidney Among many lessons of this miserable 2016 presidential race, at least one is inescapable: Our current system of nominating candidates based on what is essentially a two-party duopoly has failed. We have two major party candidates, each of whom a majority of the voting public dislikes, whether they vote for the candidate or not. Other than the elections of President Obama, it is difficult to find a quadrennial campaign since at least 1992 in which one of the two candidates was barely tolerated by the electorate. Often, it has been both. Around the edge is the Libertarian Party, but history shows conclusively that third parties have not been other than mischievous, pulling votes from one party or the other, sometimes, as in 2000, with a direct impact on results, but usually to no effect whatsoever. Who awarded the Democratic and Republican Parties this plum assignment of … Read more of this post . . .
Clinton and her supporters must avoid a smug confidence of victory, assuming she wins the party nomination. Voters will forget the nominating contests in the three months between conventions and the general election. Clinton has to build trust and prove she is not a handmaiden to multi-national business interests and Wall Street.
By James A. Kidney
This Toles cartoon in the March 4 Washington Post illustrates one of the problems facing the Hillary Clinton campaign for president. Although funny, it misleadingly suggests that the current GOP circus, with candidates tying themselves in knots to “deal” with Donald Trump, gives Clinton a significant head start in the race to the presidency. Sadly, many Clinton supporters believe this is so.
This misconception is paired with a greater threat. Although Clinton has moved slightly left since beginning her campaign — thanks to unexpectedly tough competition from Bernie Sanders — there may be a smug sense among old-line Democrats that her message of “inclusion,” with only tepid references to economic complaints, will be sufficient to win the day. But this campaign will not be lollypops and sundaes about race and gender inclusiveness. In fact, such themes will be poison among some potential Clinton supporters.
Sadly, it is possible that Clinton could lose even to a Trump candidacy.