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Politics

The Case for Trump

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If there is a case to be made for Donald Trump among reasonable Republicans it goes something like this: Yes, of course he is a creep, but as president, he might not be so bad. He will surround himself with smart people and defer to them on major issues. As an outsider, he will break through partisan gridlock and force Congressional Democrats and Republicans to work together. He will be a dealmaker. And most of all, he would be better than that corrupt liar, Hillary Clinton. 

Many Republicans will admit that this rationale relies heavily on speculation and some degree of wishful thinking. But the truth is, Trump has already given us clues as to his actual governing style just from the way he has run his campaign. Speculation isn’t all that difficult when one looks at the evidence already available.

Let’s start with the first assumption: Trump will surround himself with smart people and defer to them on major issues. In a word: wrong. Trump’s campaign management and advisors are, with few exceptions, recruited from the B and C teams of the GOP roster. There are two reasons for this. First, most top Republicans simply don’t want to work with Trump. Personally, they find him repellent, and professionally, they are reluctant to hitch their wagon to his. But part of this is by Trump’s own design. He is not a man who seeks out dissent. He wants advisors who will be “yes” men. His choice of Corey Lewandowski and then Steve Bannon show that he is happy to recruit those who echo his own style–even if that means sometimes recruiting from the paranoid fringes of the party.

But even when Trump manages to hire more competent advisors, like Kellyanne Conway, he frequently ignores their advice. It has become a joke of this campaign that the worst job to have is that of a Trump advisor–because the Donald operates completely on his own impulses, good advice be damned.

The three presidential debates provide a clear window into how Trump might operate in the Oval Office. These were high stakes events for which Trump refused to adequately prepare and seemed incapable of listening to his handlers’ advice or staying on message. He seemed to think he could wing it, and he failed spectacularly. It is not difficult to imagine how this same approach could prove disastrous on the international stage. Just imagine Trump meeting Vladimir Putin for an intense one-on-one negotiation. Would he try to wing it, as he did with Clinton? Just think about how Hillary Clinton was able to exploit Trump’s obvious psychological weaknesses in the debates–his vanity, his thin skin, his short attention span–and use them to her advantage. Surely, Putin would do the same–as would any serious foreign leader. By contrast, when it comes to high pressure diplomatic meetings, can you imagine any U.S. president who would walk into the room better prepared than Hillary Clinton?

But let’s get back to Trump. Read More »

About the tragedy in Connecticut…

 

Maybe it’s being a parent, maybe it’s because this happened a couple towns over from where I grew up, but this one is really making my stomach turn.

Part of this reaction is grief and shock. Part of it, I think, is the hopelessness of it all, the idea that no matter what we do, tragedies like this can always happen. There will always be crazy people who want to kill innocents; sometimes these people will lead nations, sometimes they will attack schools, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, they will succeed in committing evil.

But there is also anger. Anger at what we CAN control but don’t. Anger because, while we are helpless to stop all evil, we are at least capable of shaping our country so that it does not feed the darker forces within it. We can’t eradicate all crazy people, but we can make it easier and cheaper for them to get help. We can’t eliminate all potential weapons, but we can pass gun laws that are tighter and smarter. We can redefine our notion of what is obscene. Why are we more squeamish about seeing naked bodies than casual gun violence? We can think twice about what we glamorize and glorify. We can think twice about our priorities. We can spend more time demonizing hate and less time demonizing those types of love that don’t meet with our approval.

I know you can say this is politicizing a tragedy, but politics is the best mechanism through which we can actually make change. And in our helpless sorrow, it is all we can do to try and make changes, even small incremental ones, that will make similar tragedies less common.

Which Candidate Is the Better Investment?

Dear Disenchanted Voter:

Let’s be honest: Recessions go in cycles. No matter whom you elect, the economy is probably going to improve over the next four years. The 12 million jobs that Mitt Romney is promising are what economists have said we’re going to get no matter who is in office. And as for gas prices, any candidate who promises he can affect the amount you pay at the pump is lying. There are limits to what a president can do. And because this is a campaign between two men who represent the moderate wings of their respective parties, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it doesn’t much matter whether Romney or Obama wins on November 6.

But it matters. It really matters.

For those of you who are attracted to Mitt Romney’s business background, I think it is useful to view the choice between Obama and Romney as a choice between two very different business strategies. Ignoring all the more explosive social issues for a moment (and foreign policy, where their views are largely similar), let’s go issue by issue and ask ourselves:

Which candidate is the better investment?

Read More »

HuffPo#9 – Obama’s Magic Argument

Once again, I assume the political position of armchair quarterback and tell the Democrats how they ought to be playing the game.

Read my latest on the Huffington Post or below:

 

OBAMA’S MAGIC ARGUMENT

Joe Biden’s debate performance was a step in the right direction, but President Obama needs to further sharpen his message if he hopes to seal the deal with voters in these last few weeks. In the past, Team Obama has successfully painted Romney as an out-of-touch, far-right, flip flopping, corporate raider. Good stuff, but it all feels stale now. So what is the proper attack? Romney is looking and sounding awfully polished these days; he is an effective debater, an aggressive critic, and a smooth salesman.

The “magic” attack uses all this against him.

Read More »

HuffPo #8: The Catchphrase Every Democrat Should Be Using

Check out my latest on the Huffington Post where I wax strategic on class warfare–or read it below after the jump.

THE CATCHPHRASE EVERY DEMOCRAT SHOULD BE USING

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