Hillary haters, newspapers, and former Republican Congressmen for Hillary

Seriously.  This is not the least bit normal.  Not just any conservative endorsing Hillary.  We are literally talking about somebody who wrote a Hillary-hating book.  Here you go:

I come before you today, Hillary haters, as one of your standard-bearers. I find her utterly loathsome. I literally wrote a book on her failures — you can buy it for the low, low price of 99 cents on Amazon dot com. I started the first anti-Hillary super PAC of the presidential cycle back in 2013. My bona fides are real.

But here is the painful reality. As truly awful as Hillary Clinton is, Donald Trump is far, FAR worse. It is not even close. Trump is a clear and present danger to our republic. And no matter how deep and abiding your mistrust is of Hillary, you cannot pull the lever for Trump. Let a charter member of the vast, right-wing anti-Clinton conspiracy convince you…

3. Trump Is Not Your Friend, or Anyone’s

Donald Trump has no real-life friends. Literally, zero. Before he ran for president he would eat dinner alone at his resort or in his apartment almost every night. Have you ever seen or heard from a single friend who wasn’t paid by or related to him discussing how great he is? No.

It’s totally rational to be annoyed by PC culture where every perceived slight is an infringement on people’s safe space. The correct response to that is not elevating to the presidency a man who demeans Latinos, women, Muslims, the disabled, soldiers with PTSD, POWs, and parents of dead veterans.

What kind of impact would having a person like that in the White House have on our kids? When you consider the positive qualities you admire in a person — fortitude, humility, sacrifice, quiet confidence, poise, integrity, affability — Trump has the opposite on every count. Try to think of a character trait he has that you would want your child to emulate. I can’t come up with one.

Meanwhile, not even a single of the nation’s hundred largest newspapers (many of which always endorse the Republican) has endorsed Trump:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears likely to garner fewer endorsements from newspaper editorial boards than any other major party nominee in modern history.

Among the nation’s 100 largest newspapers by paid circulation, not a single editorial board has sided with Trump.

Even Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnsonhas earned more support, a new tally shows.

And, finally, former Republican members of Congress— who don’t have to worry about the angry insanity that is the GOP electorate these days– have also come out against Trump:

A group of 30 former GOP lawmakers signed a blistering open letter to Republicans on Thursday, warning that Donald Trump lacks the “intelligence” and temperament to be president and urging the party to reject the Republican presidential nominee at the polls on Nov. 8.

The group includes several former lawmakers who have openly opposed Trump from the start, including former Sen. Gordon Humphrey (N.H.) and former Rep. Vin Weber (Minn.).

But more than half of the former lawmakers on the list are announcing their opposition to Trump for the first time.

The group includes former committee chairmen, lawmakers from swing states with decades of experience on Capitol Hill, one of the first openly gay members of Congress, and one member who led investigations on Capitol Hill into scandals involving the Clintons…

“In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican Party has asked the people of the United States to entrust their future to a man who insults women, mocks the handicapped, urges that dissent be met with violence, seeks to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, and applies a de facto ethnicity test to judges,” the group said.

“He offends our allies and praises dictators. His public statements are peppered with lies. He belittles our heroes and insults the parents of men who have died serving our country. Every day brings a fresh revelation that highlights the unacceptable danger in electing him to lead our nation.”

That Trump is within hailing distance speaks to 1) the incredible power of partisanship in modern America, and 2) the crazy alternative reality in which so many rank-and-file Republicans are living.

Winning the post debate

I’ve always told my classes that what matters is not so much the 90 minutes on stage of a debate, but the media consensus that develops afterwards.  That’s surely especially true in a lesser-watched VP debate.

I’ve seen a number of variations on Pence won the debate, but Kaine won the week, and I think that’s right.  Is anybody still talking about Kaine interrupting too much?  (I suppose Fox News is).  Yet, I’ve seen plenty of ongoing discussions of Trump’s outrageous statements, which Kaine hit again and again, if not particularly artfully, and Pence’s willingness to “throw Trump under the bus.”  As a matter of performance, clearly Pence was better.  But there’s only so long performance will last in a news cycle.  And, of course, there’s more attack fodder for the Clinton campaign.  I don’t exactly expect to see Trump ads arguing that Kaine interrupts to much.

Very smart take from Chait:

One might complain with the voters for prioritizing surface appearance over substance. One might also complain with the news media for internalizing voters’ superficiality and feeding it back to them as theater criticism rather than sorting out the underlying claims. But the fact remains that the rules are the rules, and as they exist, there is usually little penalty for lying incessantly as long as you do it with proper body language and a reassuringly manly baritone.

There is, however, an exception to that rule: You should not lie about things that can be easily disproven with short video clips. So, if Pence had simply insisted that Donald Trump’s tax plan would balance the budget and mostly help the middle class, and that he would allow coal plants to spring up everywhere without impacting the climate, and that his plan would crack down on Wall Street, he’d have walked away the undisputed winner. Instead, Pence claimed over and over again that his running mate had never said the things that Tim Kaine was quoting verbatim. It was all too easy for the Hillary Clinton campaign to respond with this devastating video:

The way debates work is that they play out over time, with an initial impression usually overwhelmed by subsequent messages rippling through the media. In this case, whatever small gains Pence made are likely to be canceled out by days of him looking ridiculous. Lying: It usually works! But not always.


Now, this Post piece reads a little too much like Clinton campaign propaganda for me, yet, I do suspect it is basically right:

Sen. Tim Kaine may have awakened Wednesday to poor reviews after the first and only vice-presidential debate, but his acerbic performance in Farmville, Va., revealed that the Clinton campaign’s strategy for these debates extends far beyond the stage.

Armed with pre-planned Web videos, television ads and tweets, the campaign has used key debate moments this week and last as a cudgel against the Republican ticket, showing a level of discipline and organization largely absent from Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s campaign.

But Clinton and Kaine had a larger goal in mind than winning the debates themselves: to create a series of compelling sound bites that they planned to weaponize for the reminder of the campaign. They logged scores of hours of preparation. They recited laundry lists of Trump’s faults. Their clear objective: to record him and his running mate embracing, denying or evading controversial positions that Trump has taken in recorded speeches.

That pattern is likely to continue Sunday at the next presidential debate, Democrats said.

“[Pence] claimed over and over and over again — he claimed, ‘He never said those things!’ ” exclaimed conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Wednesday. “We’re not living in the 1800s. We can go back to the clips on YouTube.”

And, going back to the presidential debate, a nice piece from John Sides on how negative coverage of Trump has really dominated after the debate:

Despite the consensus that Clinton won the debate, Trump has received nearly three times the coverage that Clinton has received.

But that’s not necessarily good news for Trump or bad news for Clinton. Here is a graph capturing how positive or negative that coverage was:

But because media coverage of debates is crucial in how voters interpret them and whether they help or hurt candidates, this trend also suggests that Clinton will ultimately benefit from her performance on Monday night — at least in the short run.

Now, I don’t expect anything at all so dramatic because of the VP debate.  And sure, there are plenty of “Pence won” stories, but on balance, it strikes me that the marginal long-term impact favors Clinton more than Trump.

How the food gets made/Photo of the day

OMG, this NYT Magazine feature on the scale of modern industrial agriculture featuring photos and videos is just amazing!  The animal photos generally made me sad (and thinking I really need to eat less meat and dairy), so here’s a great shot of carrots:

Product: Carrots
Facility: Grimmway Farms’ Malaga facility
Location: Kern County, Calif.
Output: 25 million pounds of carrots per week

Grimmway is one of the largest carrot growers in the world. In this part of the Malaga facility, whole carrots are washed, sized and cut into two-inch “baby” pieces before passing through color sorters — where 360-degree high-speed cameras and sensors spot defective carrots and air jets push them off the line for use in juices or cattle feed.

2016 = 1984?

I read a number of really good takes on Mike Pence’s denials of so many things that Donald Trump had incontrovertibly actually said.  All I could think of was Orwell’s 1984, where the protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the “Ministry of Truth” constantly re-writing history to serve the ideological needs of the Party.  (I re-read this year and loved it– found it a bit of a slog as a teenager). Now, the Republican Party is not exactly Big Brother, but there is definitely something inimical to a healthy democracy with what’s going on here.

Fabulous piece from Paul Waldman:

To put it simply: There will be no reckoning with what Republicans have done. There will be no accountability, no comeuppance, no penitence, no purges, no grappling with how they sold their souls to the most despicable and dangerous presidential candidate in modern history. Heads will not hang in shame, fingers will not point at the guilty, excuses will be neither demanded nor offered. Once Trump loses, the entire GOP will join hands and wade together into the baptismal waters of a new day and emerge clean and pure, their sins washed away by a collective agreement to pretend the whole thing never happened.

If Trump does lose, we’ve assumed there will have to be some serious soul-searching on the right, and there will be — but it will be circumscribed in this critical way. They’ll wonder and argue about how they can reach out to minority voters, or how they might appeal to the young, or what combination of strategies might put the battleground states they keep losing back in play. But one thing they won’t do is hold themselves to account for standing behind Trump.

They all know who he is — that he’s an ignoramus, that he’s a liar, that he’s a bigot, that he’s a vulgar sexist, that he’s a con man who ropes ordinary people into scams and cheats the small-business people who do work for him, that he has the attention span and impulse control of a toddler, and that making him the most powerful human being on earth is not just a bad idea but outright lunacy. But each for their own reasons, they lined up behind him. His stench will be on all of them, so the best thing for them will be to say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about — I don’t smell anything.”

If Mike Pence can get up in front of 50 million people and deny that Trump ever praised Vladimir Putin or said women should be punished for getting abortions, or even say that Trump isn’t the one running a campaign of insults, how hard will it be for other Republicans to act like there was nothing unusual about their party’s 2016 nominee and nothing they have to distance themselves from?

And Frum:

The Trump candidacy succeeded because of a massive revolt among rank-and-file Republicans against their leaders. Should the Trump candidacy fail, as now seems likely, those leaders stand ready to deny that the revolt ever happened. Instead, they’ll have a story of a more or less normal Republican undone only because (as Pence said last night) “he’s not a polished politician.” The solution for 2020? Bring back the professionals—and return to business as usual.

It’s unlikely to work. But you can understand why it’s an attractive message to a party elite that discovered to its horror that it had lost its base and lost its way.

Now, the term “Orwellian” gets thrown around a little too easily.  But that’s exactly what’s going on here and we need not just the Clinton campaign, but journalists to call out the Republicans for this.


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