Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ross Perot Lost and so did Bernie Sanders

This is my response to a TalkingPointsMemo piece by John Judis who think Democrats should actually be worried about Trump's Tuesday night speech.

Many saw it as fairly weak tea. Trump finally agreed to use a teleprompter after mocking Obama's use of one for 5 years. He did avoid discussing the Trump U judge, but that was about it. It's like we're giving him a passing grade for doing his book report or something.

He had a weird comment about African-Americans.

But Judis thinks Dems should be trembling in their boots.

He thinks this for too reasons:

1. Judis saw it as a populist speech

2. Judis likes populist speeches.

*He framed the election in classic populist terms: “I’m going to be America’s champion because you see this election isn’t about Republican or Democrat; it’s about who runs this country – the special interests or the people and I mean the American people.”

*Instead of the usual Republican bromides against government spending, he bemoaned crumbling public infrastructure: “I visited the crumbling cities and the struggling schools. I’ve seen our dilapidated airports, highways, bridges and I’ve compared them to other countries where we see facilities so far superior to ours it’s really not to be believed, hard to imagine what’s happened to our country.”

*He cited the loss of manufacturing jobs: “I’ve visited communities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana and Ohio whose manufacturing jobs, they literally, these jobs have virtually disappeared, an embarrassment to our country and it’s horrible.”

*He used the slogan of “America First” (most Americans are unaware of the slogan’s origins) to highlight his opposition to foreign intervention that wasn’t directly linked to America’s security. Citing Clinton’s intervention in Iraq, Libya and Syria, he described his own foreign policy: “It means on foreign policy we will never enter into any kind conflict unless it makes us safer as a nation. It has to make us safer as a nation.”

*He also used the slogan of “America First” to link his opposition to illegal immigration, but on economic rather than cultural rounds: “America First means protecting the jobs, wages and security of American workers, whether first or tenth generation.” Then he segued to a universal appeal: “No matter who you are, we’re going to protect your job because let me tell you our jobs are being stripped from our country like we’re babies…Every American worker of every background is entitled to the same benefits, protections and rights and privileges; it’s got to be that way.”

*He also used “America First” to explain his opposition to NAFTA and other trade deals. “On trade, America First means the American worker will have his or her job protected from unfair foreign competition.”

*In his repeated promise to create new jobs, he specifically included African Americans with the highest rate of unemployment: “We’re going to put America back to work. We’re going to make our own products. We’re going to put America back to work. We’re going to rebuild our inner cities which are absolutely a shame and so sad. We’re going to take care of our African American people that have been mistreated for so long.”

*Finally, instead of attacking Clinton for her relationship with her husband – and some other sordid irrelevance – he honed in on where Clinton is most vulnerable: “The Clintons have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form for themselves. They’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars selling access, selling favors, selling government contracts, and I mean hundreds of millions of dollars. Secretary Clinton even did all of the work on a totally illegal private server. Something about how she’s getting away with this folks nobody understands.”

"There was some of the usual crap scattered through the speech. Trump recounted how he had “embraced the victims of illegal immigration, moms and dads who have had to bury their own children because of people that shouldn’t have been in the country,” as if there were thousands of these cases. But these were minor notes in a speech that portrayed the candidate as someone who, above all, wanted to make sure Americans were safe, employed and prosperous. That’s the kind of appeal that could win some votes. But too many Americans may already be wise to his bilious and bigoted nature."

My trouble with this is that Judis is speaking as someone who was very critical of Hillary in the primary as well. Most of those warning Democrats now thought Hillary was a weak candidate and that she was inferior goods to Bernie's 'authentic' populism.

But Judis and friends would have to explain why Bernie lost by almost 4 million votes if his message is so irresistible.

As Yglesias says, the advantages that helped Hillary beat Bernie will let her blowout Trump.

"Many of the factors that helped Hillary beat Bernie will let her crush Trump"

"Clinton's much sounder campaign prevailed today against Sanders and is poised to crush Trump."

If Bernie's populist message didn't work then why would Trump's more blatantly racist message work?

Trump is basically running as Ross Perot. Perot was seen as a bit of a kook if not 'crazy.' But was he as crazy as Trump? Perot at least was not a racist. Unlike Trump, he really was a billionaire with $68 billion dollars. For him to talk about self funding had reality behind it.

Trump in truth has about $200 million-what his father gave to him in 1974.

Maybe Judis overestimates the power of populism. As Krugman has pointed out, maybe Americans aren't as angry as the populists think. How else do you explain Obama's rising approval ratings?


  1. "He did avoid discussing the Trump U judge, but that was about it."

    I wonder if he had a shock collar on under his suit, with his staff given instructions to give him a little zap should he wonder off course?

    "It's like we're giving him a passing grade for doing his book report or something."

    At TheResurgent they had an article with the title implying Reince Priebus was praising Trump for his telepromter speech like he'd praise a dog that didn't pee on the rug.