Democratic Mudslinging?

soldiers buried in mud

 

The Democratic presidential primary, at least compared to the Republican one, has always assumed an air of civility. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton conducted their debates on the issues and largely avoided personal attacks. Hillary was a little sharper in her jibes, but Sanders pretty much took things in stride. He also seemingly took the email scandal off the table when he said, “I’m sick and tired of hearing about your damned emails.

With everything on the line for the most powerful job in the world, the morals begin to slip, and the sharp elbows come out.

Yet competition has a way of bringing out the politician in the candidates. With everything on the line for the most powerful job in the world, the morals begin to slip, and the sharp elbows come out.

Now, the two Democratic candidates are calling each other unqualified to be President. Hillary has exposed some lack of knowledge in Bernie’s plan to break up the big banks, and Bernie has replied by saying that anyone who voted for the Iraq War and all those trade deals is unqualified themselves.

The reason for all the contention: Bernie Sanders has won a string of 6 out of 7 of the most recent primaries and caucuses, and Hillary Clinton cannot afford to lose her home state. Doing so, even though it would not affect the delegate math, would torpedo Hillary’s image as a force to be reckoned with.

It remains to be seen if Sanders can do it, as Hillary is returning to upstate New York and the voters who made her a Senator.

Cruz and New York Values

Statue of Liberty and NYC skyline

 

Ted Cruz tried to make an excuse for his anti-semitic comment about New York values yesterday by saying he was only referring to politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Bill DeBlasio, and then he threw in disgraced pols Anthony Wiener and Eliot Spitzer.

Ted Cruz tried to make an excuse for his anti-semitic comment about New York values yesterday …

His attempt to claim he was not referring to New Yorkers in general falls flat because New Yorkers were the ones who elected the above people. In reality, Cruz was initially trying to take advantage of prejudice against New York in order to win the Iowa caucuses.

This tactic suggests Donald Trump was right when he said Ted Cruz would do anything, say anything, to win an election. But now this strategy has come back to bite him. New Yorkers have long memories, and they don’t reward Texans for trashing their state.

When President Ford refused aid to New York City, the banner headlines screamed, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” As a result, Ford narrowly lost New York State and the Presidential election to Jimmy Carter. Ted Cruz deserves to experience a similar dynamic.

It would be even richer if New York ends up supplying the margin of victory for Donald Trump when the primaries are over. That will give Mr. Cruz time to digest the other side of New York values.

After Wisconsin, NY Beckons

I love NY postcard

Trump lost the Wisconsin primary in a resounding manner last night. It seems this larger-than-life personality even knows how to lose big.

Trump needs to pick up his marbles and leave Wisconsin behind, focusing instead on the upcoming delegate-rich state of New York.

Not that it wasn’t expected. The pundits have been opining about Trump’s decline for months now. And it seems no one can survive a multi-million dollar blitz of negative advertising.

Moreover, Trump made a series of unforced errors that played into the burgeoning narrative. Perhaps most damaging was his unfamiliarity with the right-to-life position on abortion, even though his response was the logical one. If abortion really is murder, then, according to the pro-choice camp, it should be punished accordingly.

Of course, the pro-life position, as we all know how, treats the woman as a victim rather than a perpetrator and suggests punishing the doctor instead. But Trump’s attempt to respond to an impromptu series of questions by Chris Matthews put him on the wrong side of the answer.

According to his detractors, this shows Trump has not “thought through” the issues, and his relatively recent conversion to conservative values is a sham.

Trump needs to pick up his marbles and leave Wisconsin behind, focusing instead on the upcoming delegate-rich state of New York. It may take two weeks, however, for the narrative to change, and in that time, it could do incalculable harm.

Wisconsin Nice?

girl wearing wreath

 

Talking heads on the various news shows have opined at length about Donald Trump’s gender gap and how much he has been hurt by various events perceived as anti-woman. These have included his remarks about women being punished for abortions, his defense of his campaign manager after accusations of battery, and his tweeting of an unflattering image of Ted Cruz’s wife juxtaposed with his wife, a former model.

According the article, political professionals will be observing whether Mr. Trump falls below 35 percent.

According to the narrative, Donald Trump may have reached his peak, and his campaign is on the verge of collapse (hear that before?). Other commentators have commented on how “nice” the people of Wisconsin are, and they have been repulsed by Mr. Trump’s rough tactics.

That’s why it was so interesting to read the “Upshot” column in The New York Times this morning. According to the column, peculiar Wisconsin demographics predict Mr. Trump would have trouble winning the state, and, more specifically, he would trail Mr. Cruz by about five percentage points, almost exactly the gap shown by the most recent public opinion polls.

The article notes the high percentage of the people in Wisconsin who are highly educated, living in traditional families, with ancestry in Protestant countries of Northern Europe. According to the article, political professionals will be observing whether Mr. Trump falls below 35 percent. If he does, then a statistically significant event has occurred.

New York Values

new york city buildings

Ted Cruz is about to see how New Yorkers react to someone who tries to caricature them for political gain. He was quick to brand Donald Trump as a person with “New York values” as if that was somehow evil; New Yorkers will not forget his moniker.

Ted Cruz will rue the day he let the phrase “New York values” slip out of his lips.

At the time, Mr. Trump was quick to note the resiliency of New Yorkers and how they rebounded from the attacks of 9-11. As Donald Trump faces a probable defeat in Wisconsin on Tuesday, he will then come home to New York for the next major primary, and it may very well put him over the top.

Ted Cruz will rue the day he let the phrase “New York values” slip out of his lips. Now, he is coming to the state hat in hand and will find the going rather tough as a result. Because even though our region is a melting pot for the world, it doesn’t take kindly to those who criticize it or try to profit at its expense.

The last person to incur such hatred from New York was President Gerald Ford who pledged not to help New York when it was in the throes of possible bankruptcy. The Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” was widely acknowledged to be pivotal when he narrowly lost New York in the general election, and Jimmy Carter was elected instead.

New Yorkers have long memories, Ted.

Majority Rule

collage of flag and Constitution

 

The drafters of the Constitution, and writers of other political documents of the 18th century, did not believe in majority rule. They made every effort to put a brake on the desires of the masses and tried to avoid a “tyranny of the majority.”

Mr. Trump is appealing in his one-man-against-the-system campaign, but unless he reins in some of the excesses, he does not stand a chance against the tight ship run by Hillary.

They feared the deleterious effects of direct democracy so they made a concerted effort to rein it in. Senators were appointed through an indirect vote and given a term of six years so they did not become sensitive to the mob rule sure to consume the House. Protections such as the Bill of Rights also reined in the legislative possibilities for the new government. And a system of checks and balances ensured no part of the government could proceed independently without the consent of at least one other branch.

The effect of unfiltered mob rule can be observed in the rallies of Donald Trump. Anything and everything is proposed for a Trump presidency including the breaking of treaties, disregard for the Geneva Convention and the ability to give unlawful orders to the U.S. military.

Mr. Trump is appealing in his one-man-against-the-system campaign, but unless he reins in some of the excesses, he does not stand a chance against the tight ship run by Hillary. A 70 percent disapproval rating among women is an unsustainable burden for any candidate seeking national election. And without any concrete women-oriented priorities, Mr. Trump faces a long slog AFTER he wins the nomination.

A Zombie Candidate

zombie on the sidewalk

There was an interesting suggestion on Hardball tonight calling Donald Trump a “zombie candidate.” The concept is that his candidacy is dead — he will never win the general election and has been irreparably harmed — but based on the results of previous contests, he is guaranteed to win the Republican nomination.

By demonstrating such a lack of knowledge about the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump has reinforced the argument about his inexperience on many other issues as well.

After the events of this week, and the increase of his unfavorable rating among women of more than 70 percent, Trump indeed is a damaged candidate. One can’t think of any way for him to repair this, just as Mitt Romney was doomed by his 47 percent remark.

The problem goes beyond the admittedly tangential issue of abortion. By demonstrating such a lack of knowledge about the pro-life movement, Mr. Trump has reinforced the argument about his inexperience on many other issues as well. The efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation mandate the prevention of new nations gaining nuclear power, including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

By seeming to propose otherwise, Mr. Trump seems unfamiliar and almost cavalier about nuclear weapons. Like the doctors’ code, “First, do no harm,” we expect the same from our President.

Is Mr. Trump truly a zombie candidate? He seems to have developed an insurmountable lead in the delegate race, but his ability to win the nomination is based on contests already over. The most likely result involves him limping over the finish line. Unless he transforms his attitude towards the race, admittedly a possibility, Mr. Trump will fit the definition of a zombie candidate.

Contested Convention Machinations

convention

 

The Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio, is coming sooner than you might think, and the so-called establishment is already planning the overthrow of Donald J. Trump, its leading candidate.

Whether you are a supporter of the Donald, or not, the discussions currently being held will potentially disenfranchise millions of voters who proclaimed their backing of Mr. Trump at the polls, often waiting in line for hours to do so.

Whether you are a supporter of the Donald, or not, the discussions currently being held will potentially disenfranchise millions of voters who proclaimed their backing of Mr. Trump at the polls, often waiting in line for hours to do so.

Moreover, the Republicans are making plans to cast ALL the candidates as losers since none of them were able to garner a majority of delegates. Watch as they roll out a public relations campaign to justify their actions — Ted Cruz will yell just as loud as Trump when he is denied the imprimatur of nominee as well.

Both candidates will use their delegates as a foil to say and do things they cannot do themselves. And expect the TV networks to interview the loudest and most obnoxious ones.

Of course, the Democrats will benefit greatly as all the machinations are exposed on national TV, and every Congressional race in the country will be newly up for grabs as local candidates try to tie their opponents to the turmoil.

It should make for great TV as well, but it will not serve the long-term interests of the nation.

The Culture of a Campaign

blackboard arrows

 

Political campaigns, especially those for high office, are messy, unruly things. The hours are long; the tasks are menial; and the glamour represents about one percent of what actually happens behind the scenes.

Perhaps, as a result, most of the staff are inexperienced, though highly intelligent workers. No one else would sign up for a temporary position guaranteed to require long hours at low wages with minimal feedback and a grade of 100 percent success or failure on Election Day.

National campaigns are even more amorphous, with little-to-no contact with the candidate. Each state, and each campaign office, develops its own dynamic based on the personalities running it and any local camaraderie. It’s definitely impossible to speak about an overall culture of a campaign based on the candidates at the head of the national ticket.

That’s why any attempt to link Donald Trump with his campaign manager’s actions at a crowded rally are doomed to fail. I think the managers’ actions were reprehensible and deserve to be condemned more dramatically. But his poor decision making and failure of the moment were not the result of some amorphous culture. He had become separated from his boss — I would think a pretty demanding one at that — and this reporter was blocking him out. His solution to this dilemma involved pushing the reporter aside in a rather emphatic, and unforgivable, manner.

It does not reflect in any way on Donald Trump who strikes me as a rather chivalrous, though old fashioned, individual. The establishment is banding together to brand him as unacceptable, but this represents a bridge too far in their efforts to do so.

Trump Tactics on Hillary

blackboard diagram

 

Donald Trump is carefully preparing to win the general election, and his preliminary tactics include silence. Unlike other opponents, he has not pivoted yet and is clearly holding back on his attacks prior to launching a shock-and-awe campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The Clinton campaign should prepare thoroughly for the coming tsunami because it will eclipse Mr. Trump’s former efforts against his Republican rivals.

The sound and fury of what is to come can be discerned by the one time Hillary attacked him for misogyny, and Trump called her husband a sexual abuser in return. She quickly stopped the insult.

Trump will focus all his efforts on the nomination, keeping up the de facto background on the email server scandal. Then, after a barnstorming and triumphant convention — look for Trump to secure about 1,400 delegates for an easy win — he will concentrate his efforts on Hillary like a laser beam.

First, he will give Hillary a nickname, similar to his branding efforts on Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, labelled low energy, Lyin’ Ted and Little Marco respectively. And he will wait for the attacks to come from Hillary, then punch back ferociously. Any nefarious comment by any organization supporting Hillary will be treated as an attack by Hillary herself.

The Clinton campaign should prepare thoroughly for the coming tsunami because it will eclipse Mr. Trump’s former efforts against his Republican rivals.