Friday, June 17, 2016

Conventional Wisdom is Wrong on Trump and Terrorism

In my last piece we looked at the way in which the same conventional wisdom that was wrong about Trump having no chance in the primary is now wrong in thinking he has a pretty good shot in the general.

Another piece of CV, you heard a lot after Orlando was that Trump can get a bump for his response. That despite all his racist and birther stuff-or because of it?-Americans will credit him with being 'tough.'

Turns out, Americans are less impressed with his response than the media thought they would be:

"After a marathon filibuster last night by Dem Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Republicans have reportedly agreed to votes on two proposals pushed by Dems in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

"It is anyone’s guess whether either proposal will ever become law. But the bigger story here may be this: The widespread assumption that a terror attack would somehow favor Donald Trump politically — or end up forcing the presidential race onto terrain that is favorable to him — may have been very, very wrong."

"Beyond all this, though, what is happening here is that, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, Trump is very much not in control of the terrorism debate. If anything, Trump is moving towards Democrats, rather than the other way around. Trump is reportedly trying to persuade the NRA to adopt some version of the Terrorist Watchlist proposal. Whether or not there is anything to this, he is trying to appear open to the response to terrorism that Democrats are pushing. Meanwhile, the data point that is often cited as evidence that Trump is controlling the post-Orlando debate is mostly nonsense. It has been repeatedly asserted that Clinton caved to Trump by signaling a willingness to use the phrase “radical Islamist,” but this just isn’t true."

"In reality, Clinton has repudiated pretty much everything Trump has been saying about Orlando, calling out his Muslim ban, accusing him of trying to further a narrative in which Islam and the west are at war, and, most important, saying this approach actually plays into ISIS’s hands. And, crucially, there are increasing signs that the American people are rejecting the version of “strength” that Trump has put forth in the wake of the shooting. A CBS poll yesterday showed that only 25 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s response to it, while 51 percent disapprove, while Clinton stood at 36-34 — not great, but better than Trump, even at a moment of very raw public emotions."

The basic dynamic here is that Republican voters support Trump’s approach to terrorism, but the broader electorate appears not to be gravitating helplessly towards Trump’s strongman allure. A Gallup poll this week showed that only 38 percent of Americans believe that a new law barring Muslim immigration would be effective in the fight against terrorism. According to figures sent my way by Gallup, however, 53 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners do think it would be effective.

"Meanwhile, more polling came out today that shows Clinton, not Trump, is favored on terrorism. But that brings us to our next item."

"CLINTON FAVORED ON TERRORISM AND IMMIGRATION: Another new CBS poll finds Clinton leading Trump among registered voters nationally by 43-37. Note that Clinton leads Trump on immigration and terrorism:

"51 percent of voters think Clinton would do a better job on illegal immigration, while 43 percent pick Trump…Clinton (50 percent) leads Trump (43 percent) on handling terrorism and national security, while voters divide on which candidate would do a better job on gun policy — Clinton has 46 percent support, compared to 45 percent for Trump.

Yes, it’s true that other polls have shown Trump with an advantage on terrorism. But today’s CBS poll suggests this debate is anything but a slam dunk for him, and may even be slipping away from him."

All of this is a cause for some optimism about our fellow Americans. They're not as hopeless as the Beltway makes them sound.

They are not swooning before Scott Adams' Master Persuader.

I have to say, Adams, doesn't sound so persuasive here.

"For example, imagine a movie in which the hero saves the world in the third act but in the process is exposed to a poison that will kill him. That’s a typical movie pattern. There has to be ONE MORE UNSOLVABLE problem before the movie ends."

"And we’re seeing that unsolvable problem right now. Trump’s recent dip in the polls, along with his sky-high unfavorable ratings seems to make him unelectable. Even Republicans have a problem with Trump."

"This isn’t the Republican nomination, where Trump could dominate. The general election is a new game. There’s no way for Trump to solve a problem this big, right?"

"That’s what you are supposed to think at this point in the movie."

"Wait for the plot twist this summer. You’re gonna love it."

Part of this, is Adams likes to think Trump is a Master Hypnotist as it validates Adams own sense of himself as a Master Hypnotist. 

But this doesn't sound hypnotic, but more like hope. As I said in the last post:

"This is why, though Adams and I both early on gave Trump a real shot at winning the primary, we don't agree now."

"Our reasoning was different."

1. He thinks Trump is a Master Persuader.

2. I just think the Republican party is a joke. Such a joke that a joke like Donald Trump could take it over.

As for Hillary, one of her more inspired moments was when she hit Trump in that San Diego speech. As Matt Yglesias put it, that was her 70-30 speech-the one that helps her win a landslide and not a 51-49 squeaker. 

She did this by making Trump not just wrong on the issues but unthinkable. Someone that is not a normal candidate but who is an existential threat to the very fabric of our country. 


  1. BTW, this was pretty funny:

  2. O/T: I'm hoping my house is still there when I get home today:
    I'm not too worried (I don't have a house up in the hills like Reagan's ranch ... BTW, the fire is pretty close to Reagan's ranch (it looks like to me)), but I'm on that end of the sub-urban/urban area around here closest to the fire. There's not much between me and the open areas full of fuel (unburned brush) and then just a few miles further is the fire.

    We've been in dire need of rain, and it's been raining the last 24 hours... raining ashes! =(

    1. Mike, I worked on a fire crew one summer when I was in college here... just one fire, but it was exhausting. Same kind of thing: brush fire in the chaparral up in the mountains... about a 60 hour gig.

      I saw in one photo that Reagan's ranch is close to the burn. Imagine the symbolism if that were to burn to the ground. Wow... that would make all the headlines.

      As Chris Hayes has in his show every night: a real Trumpster Fire.

      Trumpster fire burns out of control and Reagan's legacy literally goes up in flames

  3. Mike, check it out: harsh Hillary critic at the WSJ is badgered by delusional Hugh Hewitt into making a "binary choice" between Trump and Hillary (obviously HH picks Trump), and WSJ man responds that in contrast to Trump, Hillary is a "survivable event" (though he'll likely not vote for either). Delusional HH is dumbfounded.

  4. Pro-Hillary bumper stickers for die-hard Republicans who hate Hillary but who aren't delusional about Trump:

    Hillary 2016: Vote for the Survivable Event!

    Or how about:

    Choose survival! Choose Hillary 2016!

    See I think there's plenty for such people to get excited about this election: their survival! What could be more exciting than that? HRC can run on a survival platform in appealing to those on the center right.

    1. Republicans: Hillary is the pro-life candidate: a vote for her is a vote for the continued survival of the Republic and the human race. Why take a chance?

    2. I love it. Vote for the survivable event.

    3. Or as Hillary hater Scott Sumner puts it in the title of his post today: Vote for the lizard, not the wizard. Lol.

  5. Maybe we could explain it to Republicans like this: Did you survive the last eight years? I know we didn't start as many disastrous wars as you would have liked and we didn't cut taxes on the top 0.01% to -50% like you would have done, and we haven't replaced all science books in the country with the King James Bible but those things can still be done in the future if the Republic is still here... think about it.