By Mark Green
With today's RealClearPolitics poll showing Clinton ahead by six points nationally, Lowry/Alter/Green debate if Trump's chances are 40%/20%/or 5% based on his AmericaFirst meta-argument vs. his lunacy (butler, women, wall, muslims, default on debt, John Miller, David Duke...). Can his entertainment skills & one-liners beat a flawed but smart, experienced progressive Democrat after the successful presidencies of Clinton42 and Obama44?
Trump Triumphant? Like Castro swaggering into Havana January 1, 1959, a successful Donald Trump this week came to Washington to consolidate his grip on power. While it appeared that Speaker Paul Ryan has little option, reality also intruded in the form of his long-time racist butler and exposes of his piggish behavior toward women and posing as his publicist to talk about his prowess.
Rich Lowry and Jonathan Alter are amazed and amused by Republicans who previously called Trump a cancer and lying sack of s*** are now rushing to endorse him. Alter sees this as a character test of putting your country before your party. The Host asks Rich - whose National Review adamantly opposed Trump for the nomination -- if he'd become a #NeverTrump in the General Election akin to how his predecessor Bill Buckley once chased the Birchers out of the GOP. "It's another thing, however", he answers, "to chase the Republican party out of the Republican party."
Will Trump's refusal to disclose his taxes or even his tax rates be "disqualifying", as Romney said, or a real political problem? Both assume the latter since, per Occam's Razor, the simplest/likeliest explanation for stiffing a 40 year tradition is that he has something to hide, which plays into Clinton's hands when they try to "Bain" him.
When Alter goes on to say that the Fall contest "will be a lot closer than people think," the Host asks for probabilities. Alter: "Since the country is split 45-45 - and since Latino men who like his macho could boost Trump -- he has a 10% to win." Lowry concludes it's 40% because of Trump's brilliant slogan "Make America Great again" and public disgust at all institutions, as well as his skills at "winning a nomination without polling, a speechwriter, a policy staff or much money." Both agree that he surprised everyone in the primary and could again in the General.
The Host demurs.
*The country is not 45-45 in the past five presidential elections but has a decided Democratic tilt in registration.
*That all mis-underestimated him in the primaries due to an unhinged GOP base doesn't mean we should mis-overestimate him in a General. GOP does not = US.
*He's making the common mistake by assuming that his MO in the Primary - mass rallies, one-sided free tv, bluntness, no analytics - will work miracles in the very different general election. He won 10 million votes so far - where does he pick up the next 50 million to become president?
*With a bitterly divided GOP and steady rise in the economy and Obama's popularity -- plus Trump's historically poor numbers among millennials, minorities and women -- the math shows that Clinton starts out with at least a 13m vote advantage based on 2012 results and polling. Where can he find 13m votes...when Romney already won white men by 30 points?
*By refusing to disclose his taxes or tax rate, not understanding nuclear strategy, and enduring daily exposes like those involving his butler and Trump University, he can't...short of a national calamity.
*Will Hillary stumble? Not very likely given her sure-footedness after two presidential campaigns. But isn't she a poor candidate? She's no Bill or Barack. but then--who is? She managed to tie the charismatic Obama in the popular vote in the 2008 primaries, win two Senate elections, and now is ahead of a $150 million Democratic rival with a great message by 3 million votes.
True, the Clinton people should not accept this analysis and must go full throttle because, as Justice Holmes wrote, "the way the inevitable came to pass was effort." Anything is possible (as I've personally learned) but very, very, very unlikely...unless our two century experiment in democratic progress based on Enlightenment principles surrenders to entertaining authoritarianism.
Clinton v. Sanders, cont'd. We listen to Sanders complain to Andrea Mitchell that she shouldn't feel badly for Hillary Clinton for having to run a two-front war since the odds were so stacked against him from the start. Alter agrees that this is Bernie's grouchy side that's not so appealing and that he'll have little option after the June 7 CA primary but to pull back from active campaigning since she'd then have a majority of delegates (pledged and super-delegates) against the loathed Trump.
Rich wonders though what might be affect of the GOP nominee, perhaps for the first time in history, running to the left of the Democrat on issues of intervention and war "since he now says he's against Iraq and Libya and doesn't even like our allies." Jonathan responds that he can try sound more diplomatic but will have to explain his bromance with Putin, itch to start a trade war, and his ignorance on the nuclear triad as well as giving nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.
^Trans. The panel agrees that the North Carolina law banning transgenders from going to the bathrooms of their chosen identify was foolish...but while Jonathan agrees that it's a civil rights issue because of the word "sex" in the 1964 Act, Rich thinks it wrong for AG Lynch to make a federal case out of it.
^Hiroshima. They agree that Obama should go visit the Hiroshima shrine but not to "apologize"...which Jonathan says won't stop Republicans from making believe that he is apologizing. But a President has to do the right thing even if his opponents mischaracterize it.
^Ben Rhodes in NYT Magazine. Did he admit to lying about the Iran nuclear deal? Alter has lots of inside intel about this issue having Shrine but not in any way an apology for that awful decision..." which interviewed Rhodes often on this and other issues. Spin yes, as all do. Lie, in no way despite the slant of an author who was against the deal but didn't admit that in his slanted piece.