Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Greg's Wife Worries That Trump can Beat Hillary Clinton

He had a some interesting comments on his wife's reaction to the recent mud fight between Hillary and Trump. She worries that Trump actually could best Hillary in a general election. I don't agree, I think that Nate Silver's odds are pretty realistic. I Hillary contest with a generic, typical Republican like Jeb or Rubio would probably be a toss up-about 50-50 depending on the economy. But that a Trump-Clinton race-or for that matter a Trump-Cruz race-is more like a 75-25 advantage for Hillary.

I agree with this. However, I will first look at the arguments that Trump could be a lot more formidable than I and most Clinton supporters assume.

"My wife, who is far from a political junkie but listens to all the mainstream news (and is a quite astute judge of people I must say) just conceded the presidency to Trump."

"She has mostly been laughing at him (not in a point your finger kind of way) and listened to my argument a week ago where I told her I preferred him over every other GOP candidate. She actually nodded in agreement with my argument that Trump was probably less offensive as a potential president than Rubio, Cruz Bush, Paul etc...... given the caveat that he in fact didn't believe his own hype and didn't act like the megalomaniac that he sounds like (which I argued he likely wouldn't)."

That argument I wholeheartedly agree with. A lot of this is simply the point that 'It takes a party.' Any harm that Trump could do in office would be severely limited for the simple fact that he's not a Republican. He would not get anything like the support a real Republican would get in Congress.

This is one reason I'm opposed to Bernie Sanders by the way; Trump isn't a Republican and Bernie is no Democrat. For years he's been a thorn in the party's side and claimed there's no real difference between them. Now he has to run that there is a difference. But he's not fooling anyone. As Michael Tomasky suggests, there is real contempt on the part of the Bernie supporters for the Democratic party and the feeling is mutual.

If you want a preview to how much Dem support Bernie would get in Congress see the whole dustup over Hillary's campaign data last Friday. That's a preview of what you'd see in spades. Mutual mistrust and contempt is not a recipe for success.

I wold also by the way suggest for this very same reason, a Ted Cruz might be better in some respects from say a Rubio or Jeb Administration. Not that Cruz's positions aren't horrible-at least on domestic issues, though on foreign policy he sounds better than W Neoconservatism of Rubio and Jeb-but that he would probably get less cooperation on all sorts of things from his own party. In many ways I think Rubio is the worst precisely because there is such policy uncertainty with him. He rules out nothing at all. His answer on Trump's Muslim ID plan was actually to generalize it beyond Mosques. His immigration is crueler because of its uncertainty.

The worst thing a liberal could do is complacently assume that the 2013 amnesty loving Rubio is the real deal. You have to remember that he ran against it in 2010. If I could somehow game out policy outcomes, I might argue that in terms of the worst policies imaginable on a whole host of issues down the line, Rubio would probably be it. And then there's his position on abortion-he doesn't support exceptions for rape and incest though he misleadingly says he'd be willing to support bills that further tighten restrictions but don't push to end such exceptions.

So Trump is not a Republican. Beyond that, on so many issues he's not at all an ideological conservative-abortion. Social Security, healthcare, even the Iran deal though he keeps saying it's the worse deal in history, he also does say you can't just 'tear it up on day one' as all the real Republicans like Jeb, Rubio, and Scott Walker say-or Walker said before he was mercifully the second man out.

As for megalomania, that is the one thing that I'm less willing to say for sure. I think he is a megalomaniac, However, I've also argued that there are worse things to be than a megalomaniac. That is a True Believer movement conservative type like W was and most Republicans are. The reason the GOP Congress was so dysfunctional during the Obama years was not megalomania but absolute belief in one's own rightness.

Trump's very megalomania makes him opportunistic and therefore a lot more pragmatic. He isn't on a ideological basis married to bad ideas.

Beyond that, Trump's whole megalomaniacal shtick has a purpose as he explains in The Art of the Deal, which if you really want to understand him and what he's up to is a good place to start.

"Here's what Trump wrote in his book, The Art of the Deal, back in 1987:"

"The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular."


"One thing I've learned about the press is they're always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational, the better. It's in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you."

More Trumpian wisdom from his book that you'll undoubtedly recognize is collected here.)

So bravado is not simply a wild, flailing, swinging in the dark-there is a strategy to it. 
Anyway, remember all I'm arguing is he'd be better than a real conservative Republican. By no means is he my choice-though I agree I'd take him over the real Republicans. 
For me, I want a Trump-Clinton race-though I'll take a Clinton-Cruz race, which if anything, could be an even bigger landslide than Trump. Back to Greg:
"Well after the most recent Hillary/Trump exchange (and my wife loves/respects Hillary) my wife fears Trump would end up making Hillary look exactly like her detractors say she is.... untrustworthy/dishonest/bitchy/entitled..... he just is a better arguer. Not in the sense that he makes better arguments cuz he doesn't but study after study has shown that audiences do NOT listen to contents of arguments but react off the optics and Trump will win the optics between him and Hillary. I think she may have a point."

I think that Hillary understands optics very well at this point. You have to remember that Hillary Clinton, more than any other politician can handle being attacked-she and her husband have so much experience at it going back to the Arkansas years. If anyone is battle tested, it's her. Remember too, she knows Trump very well. They 'were friends'-I'm skeptical it's 'were' rather than 'are' but in any case...

Hillary Clinton is hardcore. Milo on Morning Joe today was saying that maybe the Clinton team isn't so confident after seeing what Trump did to Jeb. What Trump did to Jeb has been a master stroke and I give him all the credit in the world for it-I'm grateful. 
But Jeb Bush on his day is not Hillary Clinton or anything close. What all the attempts to draw a parallel between 'the Clinton dynasty and the Bush dynasty' misses is that Jeb is just a prince born into an inbred aristocracy. If you want to call the Clintons a dynasty, it's one they earned by merit-they didn't inherit it, a la Jeb Bush. It's a middle class dynasty. 
Trump was brilliant in how he defined Jeb-low energy. What's amazing is how it stuck-now everyone, including Jeb himself, refers to Jeb's energy level all the time. 
But HRC is different. Remember when there used to be worry that a female President would be tough enough? No one is man enough for Hillary Clinton. 
In the 2000 race for NY Senator-my state, and she got a lot of hell for the sin of 'carpetbagging'-people wondered how'd she'd do in her debate with challenger Rick Lazio. He had attacked her in the usual very personal, visceral ways. Some wondered if she could handle the heat he would bring her. 
She laughed the worry off: Don't worry, I grew up with brothers. You have to remember she grew up a Goldwater girl, to a conservative Republican father. Her dad voted for his first Democrat in 1992. 
So she grew up with a conservative father and conservative brothers. She knows all their tricks. Which is why she drives them crazy-she''s the annoying sister they can never get the better of. They can't shock her. Didn't we see that at the Benghazi hearing? Trump may have defined Jeb as low energy but can anyone buy, after her 11 hour marathon, that she has 'low stamina?'
I submit that if she were to get on a debate stage with Trump, nothing he could throw at her would throw her. 
Trump in a general election could be surprisingly formidable in many ways. He knows to adjust his message. He holds or held many liberal positions and as a New Yorker knows how liberals think. He would talk a little differently in a general election than before his base at a rally. He understands these are very different audiences. 
He does hold some positions liberals find palatable. I agreed with him wholeheartedly when he talked about how that $5 trillion we wasted in Iraq could have been spent on roads, hospitals, and bridges here at home. 
Heck, he even appeals to the Bernie issues in a way-campaign finance. Bernie has been the thundering prophet on this but Trump has ran a very unconventional campaign himself. He has lots of money so it might not be available to other campaigns-though he hasn't had to use it. He's just used media time. 
 Most candidates don't' have his advantages in terms of name recognition, etc. Still, he can run in a general saying he doesn't use a super PAC-he could attack Hillary on that just like Bernie and could also attack her for her vote on the Iraq war!
Still, what he has said about Latinos will sink him. What he has said about Muslims, etc. As popular as he is with the GOP base, he is unpopular with the larger public. He may be able to pull back some of this. I could see him picking up some mainstream support. But at the same time, he'd lose a lot of real conservative Republicans. We have what Glenn Beck said-he can't vote for either Trump or Hillary. 
There are some GOPers who even would vote for Hillary. Overall, he'd gain some mainstream support but he'd lose a lot of conservative support and would get no Latino or black support. Remember, right now he's running in the GOP primary where none of his opponents dare attack him too harshly both because this will upset the base-and quite honestly, a lot of the positions he exposes, are GOP positions-Muslims, immigration, etc. 
So I believe a Hillary-Trump election is tailor made. The Clinton people seem to think so too.
But at worst, I agree with Greg:
"However, a president Trump is still the 2nd best option of the 5."

I think no matter what, this election is going to be earth shattering. The pre Trump world is gone for good-certainly the pre Trump GOP and any number of other things may have totally changed as well.

There's an old Marxist saying-Subjectively innocent but objectively guilty. This means that someone may not believe they are doing evil or wrong and not want to do so, but nevertheless, very much are doing so.

I've argued this fits Jeb Bush on immigration. Subjectively he really would like a more humane immigration policy but because of his lockstep loyalty to his party, he is objectively on the side of Trumpism.

Ironically, it's almost the opposite for Trump. It's as if he's subjectively wrongheaded, but objectively on the side of the good guys. It's as if he wants to do great evil but in effect is doing good. 


  1. I think you are right that there are more ways for Hillary to beat Trump than vice versa. A lot more. I really do want to see a Hillary Trump battle not only cuz I think the Dems would win it also means the repubs lose no matter who wins.

    I do however think that the personal closeness of Hillary and Donald might work against Hillary. Donald knows her well and he knows why certain people (GOP and Independent) hate her. He has the ability to get her to lose her cool, which would not be good. Those guys at the Benghazi hearings were rank amateurs when it comes to finding a way to fluster Hillary. Hell I think after all that stuff was leaked about the politicization of the panel those guys were kind of playing defense. A Senate panel cannot do what a political opponent on the campaign trail can.

    Look, I certainly think that Hillary will be up to the task of fighting Trump but I do however think Trump could get her to make herself look bad. Trump doesn't need to garner very many more votes, he just needs to make Hillary look toxic so enough people stay home cuz they aren't passionate enough for her or against him.

  2. I pretty much agree with everything you say here particularly that either way it went, the Republicans lose.

    I do think though that HRC is about as battle tested as it gets. Just to physically go through that hearing even if the politics had started to favor her was a superhuman testament to her physical and mental, uh, stamina.

    But she lived through the 90s where she and her husband were attacked in the most visceral and dishonest terms every day. She had to be humiliated over her husband's affair publicly while defending him throughout it.

    If there is a politician who'd be up to it, it's her. As for knowing him, I guess it's a double edged sword-he knows her, she knows him.

    My guess is she would be able to anticipate his tricks. Either way, I'm with you-it's the dream matchup. The Republican party will never be the same again which is a very good thing.

    I still have to hand it to him though. I mean you listen to what he was saying about her yesterday with what he's said about her in the past, it shows this guy has a certain gift, I don't mind saying.

    He's the opposite of a True Believer-but it's the TBs who have been the big problem over the last 34 years.

  3. I should add, that Trump is good, but he's not indestructible. He is maybe in the GOP which is a very dysfunctional and wrongheaded party. I mean a Jeb or Kasich can only hit Trump so hard on immigration or Muslims as they are running on the same things. Kasich forgets that he is also for a wall and supported deporting the 11 million back in 2010.

    So there is not much they can really say about Trump substantively. But with Hillary the gloves come off.

    Recall, how Obama put him in his place at that correspondence dinner back in 2012. Trump had to slink out of public life for awhile after that.

    When the Democrats take their gloves off they will get in some real good hits. I have no intention of hitting him too hard until the day he becomes the GOP nominee-not a day before. LOL