Battlepanda: Thank Goodness for Donald Trump


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Thank Goodness for Donald Trump

My reaction to the Veep debate is basically: Thank goodness for Donald Trump.

No doubt, he is really truly horrible and it boggles the mind that he is the Republican candidate for presidency this year. But at least he is as horrible on the outside as he is on the inside. Now somebody like Mike Pence, somebody who can wrap true horridness in such a reasonable demeanor. Who can put down Tim Kaine with a subtle amused shift of the eyebrows. Who can deny truths not with risible bombast of a Trump but with a soft, dismissive "oh, that's nonsense" while practically reeking of dignified mid-western authenticity. Now there goes a politician who makes my blood run cold.

Luckily for us, the Dems seem to be running an unusually tight and disciplined campaign this year. Despite groaning through his debate performance, I now recognize that Tim Kaine had a mission to accomplish and he did it -- to get as many hits in against Trump as possible that can be packaged in ads later. Pence got the tactical victory -- consensus is that he won the debate handily, to the degree that there is consensus. But the strategic advantage went to the Dems, who were able to put together a killer ad that juxtaposes Pence's genial denials with footage of Trump saying the exact thing. Thank goodness for Donald Trump. Now Pence just made both himself and his candidate look extra despicable. Imagine how bad somebody who found themselves nodding along to Pence in the debate and thinking "maybe Donald isn't so bad" feels right now after seeing that ad. 

To be sure, the fact that Trump was nominated at all is troubling. It signifies that the rightwing reactionary id has gained a tremendous amount of power. Extremists always do well in times of malaise. Just look at the UK where Brexit passed in a referendum AND Corbyn became Labour leader in the same year (WTF?). The time we most need a steady hand is almost always ironically when the center cannot hold. And despite the recovery America still feel topsy turvy to most Americans. It appears that a burgeoning financial sector cannot undo on the way up the damage done by a devastated one on the way down.

Thank goodness for Donald Trump. We really lucked out with him, really. It's sheer dumb luck that he fell into the goldilocks zone of awfulness: the right flank of the America have become unhinged enough to nominate him, but we as a nation are not so far gone as to actually elect him. Hillary doesn't have Obama's advantages of being an inspirational and authentic communicator. We might not have gotten the president that we needed if the Republicans have gone with a less batshit candidate. I would see Donald's stubborn resilience in the polls less as an indication of his popularity and more as the American people's natural inclination to vote for a change of party after eight years. In a widely misinterpreted article about Professor Lichtman's Keys to the White House, Lichtman basically showed that Hillary Clinton would have had an uphill battle against a generic Republican candidate due to structural factors such as succeeding a 2-term president from your own party. I saw that article passed around a lot on Facebook as "OMG Trump could win!" when really the takeaway should be "Anybody but Trump would probably walk away with it. But he is so awful that the professor who correctly predicted every election since 1984 thinks Trump could break his system." 

So no. I don't fear Trump 2016. I don't even fear Mike Pence 2020, as he is now forever tainted by the Donald. I fear somebody-like-Mike 2020. I fear that the Republicans are going to try and truthhole their capitulation to an awful know-nothing bully like Trump and that they might get away with it in four years time. But for now, thanks to Trump, we're in all probability going to get four years of Hillary, plus considerable downticket coattails if it's clear Trump is going to lose. As the Weekly Standard drolly puts it, it's one thing to disgrace oneself for a winner, but not for a clear LOSER