The over-riding principle of Donald Trump

Do things that enrich Donald Trump.  Everything else– even xenophobia– is secondary.  Good stuff from Greg Sargent:

we have finally sighted one bedrock principle, one unshakable constant in Trump’s conduct, from which he will never waver.

We’re talking, of course, about Trump’s absolute, unfaltering devotion to using the powers of the presidency to serve his own financial self-interest.

With the G-7 winding down, Trump just disclosed that he’s seriously considering hosting next year’s G-7 gathering at his Doral resort in Florida. Trump extolled his resort for its location (right near the airport!), size (tremendous acreage!) and amenities (great conference rooms!).

Trump gave “a long commercial of sorts for the property,” notes The Post, adding that if he goes through with this plan, he “could personally profit from one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of foreign leaders.”

“Trump appears to consistently use the presidency to advance his businesses — both to publicize them and to directly bring in business — as often as he can,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told me. “This is entirely consistent with what he’s done in the past.”…

Such a move would also intensify the corrosive effects of Trump’s corruption and self-dealing. Consider the example this sets.

“There are a lot of people in the government whose job is to decide on contracts and locations for government events,” Bookbinder told me. “One of the most basic rules of serving in the government is to avoid conflicts of interest.”

“If you’re somebody who makes those decisions, you wouldn’t dream of considering a business you have an interest in,” Bookbinder continued. “The idea that the president is ignoring principles that are basic to every contracting officer throughout the government is amazing.”…

The contempt for basic anti-corruption and governing norms here runs even deeper than this. Since refusing to divest from his businesses, Trump has insisted that he’s not profiting off governing decisions. But this doesn’t address the basic problem here, which is that divestment is needed to remove any appearance of or incentive for such conflicts of interest.

Now Trump appears ready to make a major governing decision that will benefit his businesses — and is flaunting it. He’s unfurling a big middle finger in the face of the underlying reason we have the divestment norm in the first place — so we can be confident the president is making decisions in the public interest, not his own.

And Jon Bernstein piles on (appropriately) in his newsletter:

That Trump is using the presidency for personal gain is bad. That he’s willing to at least encourage the appearance of flat-out bribery – suggesting that he’ll favor those who stay at his hotels and otherwise enrich him – undermines the idea of constitutional government.

Perhaps worse is the blatant lawlessness. Trump’s job, of course, is to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” And yet he proceeds as if the emolument clauses of the Constitution simply don’t exist. For the president to get away with this kind of thing just because he can promotes contempt for the entire concept of the rule of law.

And then there’s the example Trump sets. Why should any other elected official or government employee avoid conflicts of interest when the president flirts with them constantly? It’s not surprising that an unusual number of high-level officials in this administration have left office after scandals. When the president exploits his public position for personal gain so openly, the clear implication is that only a chump would miss a chance to do the same.

Trump, of course, claims that he’s losing money on the presidency. Who knows? That could even be true. But given that he’s the first president since before Richard Nixon to hide his tax returns, there’s little reason to believe him. Even in the unlikely event that the presidency is a net loser for Trump, that still doesn’t excuse the constant advertisements for his personal businesses. And it certainly doesn’t excuse behavior that mocks the rule of law.

Trump is so awful on so many levels and we’re so used to it that this appallingly shameful behavior that is inimical to democracy pretty much just goes ignored by our whole political system.  Sad!!

Who is the economy for?

Good stuff from Tim Wu.  Was going to put this in quick hits, but I’ve been so bad at posting lately, just a quick excerpt of some good stuff:

Europeans often describe the United States as a great place to buy stuff but a terrible place to work. They understand the appeal of our plentiful and affordable consumer goods, but otherwise they just don’t get it: the lack of real vacation, the sending of emails after business hours, the general insensitively to work-life balance.

That may be just a casual observation, but it identifies something deep and problematic about the economy that the United States has built over the past 40 years.

Since the 1980s, American economic policy has insisted on the central importance of two things: cheaper prices for consumers and maximum returns for corporate shareholders. There is some logic to this: We all buy things, after all, and most of us own at least some stock.

But these priorities also generate an internal conflict, for they neglect, repress and even enslave our other selves: our identities as employees, producers, family members, citizens. And in recent years — as jobs become increasingly unpleasant and unstable, as smaller towns and regional economies are gutted, as essential industries like the pharmaceutical and telecommunications sectors engage in outlandish profiteering, and above all, as economic inequality becomes the trademark of our nation — the conflict seems to have reached a breaking point. [emphasis mine]

It wasn’t always this way. For most of American history, it would have been strange to suggest that buying things — as opposed to making them — was deserving of high regard or to suggest that the availability of cheap goods should be a major goal of economic policy. Most Americans were small farmers, craftsmen or merchants, and a person’s economic identity was typically that of a producer or a landowner. Macroeconomic policy, such as it was, consisted of trade policy and the protection of the liberties necessary to do business (such as protections from monopolies).

That changed over the course of the 20th century. Broadly speaking, it was the story of the rise of American consumer culture, the decline of farming, the spread of mass production to household goods and the birth of advertising. But the specific prioritization of consumers and shareholders in economic policy dates from the 1970s and ’80s, in what amounted to a mostly well-intentioned project gone too far.

A nation of immigrants; and those afraid of them

One of the reasons I’ve been behind on blogging is due to my first-ever trip to New York City the weekend before this one to see my little sister get married.  Took along just my intrepid first-born (and trusty reader of this blog) and damn did we see everything we could in 60 hours.  Short version: I love New York.  Among the things I loved was that it is just such an amazing melting pot of culture and people from all over this country and all over the world.  How can you not love that?  Well, I guess you can be a rural conservative who finds all of that off-putting and scary.  I found it exciting, encouraging, and energizing. And here’s my very own photo of the Statue of Liberty taken from the Staten Island ferry (free and fun!).

I cannot believe it took me 47 years to get to NYC– but I will definitely be back in less time.

Anyway, all this thinking about immigration and who we are as a country reminded me of this excellent Will Wilkinson column from earlier this month, “Conservatives Are Hiding Their ‘Loathing’ Behind Our Flag: The molten core of right-wing nationalism is the furious denial of America’s unalterably multiracial, multicultural national character.”

Yet the question of who “we” are as “a people” is the central question on which we’re polarized. High-minded calls to reunite under the flag therefore tend to take a side and amount to little more than a demand for the other side’s unconditional surrender. “Agree with me, and then we won’t disagree” is more a threat than an argument.

The way the nationalist sees it, liberals always throw the first punch by “changing things.”When members of the “Great American Middle” (to use the artfully coded phrase of Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri to refer to nonurban whites) lash out in response to the provocations of progressive social change, they see themselves as patriots defending their America from internal attack.

The attackers — the nature-denying feminists, ungrateful blacks, babbling immigrants, ostentatiously wedded gays — bear full responsibility for any damage wrought by populist backlash, because they incited it by demanding and claiming a measure of equal freedom. But they aren’t entitled to it, because the conservative denizens of the fruited plain are entitled first to a country that feels like home to them. That’s what America is. So the blame for polarizing mutual animosity must always fall on those who fought for, or failed to prevent, the developments that made America into something else — a country “real Americans” find hard to recognize or love.

The practical implication of the nationalist’s entitled perspective is that unifying social reconciliation requires submission to a vision of national identity flatly incompatible with the existence and political equality of America’s urban multicultural majority. [emphases mine] That’s a recipe for civil war, not social cohesion…

Mr. Levin suggested that a genuinely conservative nationalism, in the context of a vast national territory with an immense multiethnic population, would refrain from uprooting these traditions and communities and seek instead to preserve them in a vision of the nation as “the sum of various uneven, ancient, lovable elements,” because we are “prepared for love of country by a love of home.”

But what, today, do Americans call “home”? The next logical step would be to observe that the contemporary sum of rooted, lovable American elements includes the black culture of Compton, the Mexican culture of Albuquerque, the Indian culture of suburban Houston, the Chinese culture of San Francisco, the Orthodox Jewish culture of Brooklyn, the Cuban culture of Miami and the “woke” progressive culture of the college town archipelago, as well as the conservative culture of the white small town. But Mr. Levin, a gifted rhetorician who knew his audience, did not hazard this step…

The molten core of right-wing nationalism is the furious denial of America’s unalterably multiracial, multicultural national character. This denialism is the crux of the new nationalism’s disloyal contempt for the United States of America.

We are a nation of immigrants from all over the damn world of all colors, creeds, and languages.  That only those from long-ago western European, Christian stock are the “real” Americans is as un-American idea as there is.

(Long lost) quick hits

Quick hits are back!

1) When I’ve read/heard of musical intellectual property violations, it’s typically pretty obvious.  Think Vanilla Ice meets Queen/David Bowie.  Or less dramatically, but still obvious, Sam Smith having Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” at half-speed.  I was not aware that these copyright lawsuits were not totally out of hand trying to claim that basic and universal musical features can be copyrighted.  Good stuff on the matter in Vox.

2) Interesting series on sexism in Political Science in the Monkey Cage, including this, “Political science professors assign fewer readings by women than by men. Here’s why that matters.”  Here’s the thing– I literally have no idea what percent of my readings are by men or women.  I pretty much pay no attention at all to the gender of the author except to make sure I write the name down correctly in the on-line reserve system.  Does that make me sexist?  Heck, when I publish articles, I don’t even know the gender at all of a bunch of our citations.

3) Right now there’s still lots of room for laws to regulate guns under the Supreme Court precedent of DC v. Heller.  This Linda Greenhouse column scared me, though.

4) So, this seems kind of nuts.  Apparently, there’s all these great tools to actually defeat ransomware and Europe is great at helping people use them.  But, the U.S.?  Not so much.

5) Queued up before David Koch’s death, the New Yorker on climate change and the Koch brothers in “Kochland”

“Kochland” is important, Davies said, because it makes it clear that “you’d have a carbon tax, or something better, today, if not for the Kochs. They stopped anything from happening back when there was still time.” The book also documents how, in 2010, the company’s lobbyists spent gobs of cash and swarmed Congress as part of a multi-pronged effort to kill the first, and so far the last, serious effort to place a price on carbon pollution—the proposed “cap and trade” bill. Magnifying the Kochs’ power was their network of allied donors, anonymously funded shell groups, think tanks, academic centers, and nonprofit advocacy groups, which Koch insiders referred to as their “echo chamber.” Leonard also reports that the centrist think tank Third Way quietly worked with the Kochs to push back against efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could have affected their business importing oil from Canada. Frequently, and by design, the Koch brothers’ involvement was all but invisible.

Others have chronicled the cap-and-trade fight well, but Leonard penetrates the inner sanctum of the Kochs’ lobbying machine, showing that, from the start, even when other parts of the company could have benefitted from an embrace of alternative energy, Koch Industries regarded any compromise that might reduce fossil-fuel consumption as unacceptable. Protecting its fossil-fuel profits was, and remains, the company’s top political priority. Leonard shows that the Kochs, to achieve this end, worked to hijack the Tea Party movement and, eventually, the Republican Party itself.

6) Nikole Hannah-Jones essay for the 1619 project really is a must read.  Do it.

No one cherishes freedom more than those who have not had it. And to this day, black Americans, more than any other group, embrace the democratic ideals of a common good. We are the most likely to support programs like universal health care and a higher minimum wage, and to oppose programs that harm the most vulnerable. For instance, black Americans suffer the most from violent crime, yet we are the most opposed to capital punishment. Our unemployment rate is nearly twice that of white Americans, yet we are still the most likely of all groups to say this nation should take in refugees.

The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today, it has been borne on the backs of black resistance. Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused, but black people did. As one scholar, Joe R. Feagin, put it, “Enslaved African-Americans have been among the foremost freedom-fighters this country has produced.” For generations, we have believed in this country with a faith it did not deserve. Black people have seen the worst of America, yet, somehow, we still believe in its best.

7) From the, “of course, because Republicans are in charge” files, “Tyson wants fewer government inspectors in one of its beef plants. Food safety advocates are raising alarms. Consumer advocates warn that the changes could threaten food safety by keeping red flags out of the sight of expert inspectors.”

8) Elaina Plott on Ken Cucinelli, the xenophobe now helping run Trump’s immigration policy:

Enter Cuccinelli. The former Virginia attorney general joined the Trump administration in late May. His background includes trying to eliminate birthright citizenship, questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and proposing to make speaking Spanish on the job a fireable offense. Accordingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advised the president against nominating Cuccinelli to any post that required Senate confirmation. To some, Cuccinelli’s arrival meant that Miller had, at long last, found the consummate ideological ally. (A representative for Cuccinelli declined my request for a phone interview with the director.)…

This week, Cuccinelli has gone on a media blitz of sorts to defend the administration’s crackdown on legal immigration. The new public-charge rule specifically allows the government to deny permanent residency to legal immigrants it deems a financial burden, based on an individual’s current or likely reliance on programs such as food stamps or Medicaid. In an interview with NPR yesterday, Cuccinelli went so far as to suggest a rewrite of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. “Would you also agree that … ‘Give me your tired, your poor’ are also part of the American ethos?” the host Rachel Martin asked Cuccinelli. “They certainly are,” he replied. “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge.”

9) Elizabeth Warren remains my favorite Democratic presidential candidate.  But, I wish she’d respect the fact that the Justice Department was pretty clear that Michael Brown was in no way murdered (the same Justice Department that reported on the horrible, systemic racism of the Ferguson PD).

10) Somehow, I never heard of this incident before.  In Republicans’ America where we are free from all those damn burdensome regulations, kids get decapitated on water slides.  Seriously

In 2012, the Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry, together with the senior designer John Schooley, fast-tracked Verrückt’s construction to coincide with an appearance on a reality TV show about amusement parks. (They were also gunning for a Guinness World Record.) Although they had built rides before, neither Henry nor Schooley had a background in mechanical engineering. And according to state law, they didn’t need those credentials to deem their own ride safe. Unlike in the neighboring state of Missouri, water parks in Kansas do not require inspections by a state agency. Still, Henry and Schooley delayed the ride’s opening three times due to safety concerns.

11) To provide a little context for Jeffrey Eptstein’s prison death, Ken White’s, “Thirty-Two Short Stories About Death in Prison” was terrific.  And we should all be horrified at the quotidian inhumanity in our prison system.

12) As you know, I never tire of pointing out that health care producers (doctors and hospitals) are typically the real opponent of meaningful reform, not so much the health insurance companies.  But insurers are not great.  Pro Publica, “Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.”

Williams’ case highlights an unsettling reality about the nation’s health insurance system: It is surprisingly easy for fraudsters to gain entry, and it is shockingly difficult to convince insurance companies to stop them.

Williams’ spree also lays bare the financial incentives that drive the system: Rising health care costs boost insurers’ profits. Policing criminals eats away at them. Ultimately, losses are passed on to their clients through higher premiums and out-of-pocket fees or reduced coverage.

Insurance companies “are more focused on their bottom line than ferreting out bad actors,” said Michael Elliott, former lead attorney for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in North Texas.

13) Nice little Slate feature on how to bond with your teenager. I was pleased to see I already do most of these.  And as damn surly as my 13-year old can be, I really appreciate that he’s still openly affectionate when he’s not busy rolling his eyes at me.

14) Dahlia Lithwick on the utter idiocy of our approach to guns:

Andreychenko didn’t die last week. Instead, officers took the man into custody “without incident.” That’s a tremendous surfeit of good fortune for a man who was apprehended both by an armed bystander and the police. By its very definition, white privilege is the ability to film yourself conducting a “social experiment” with military-grade weapons at the same chain where a mass shooting just happened, without being shot dead in your tracks. Trayvon Martin wasn’t even granted the luxury of being allowed to conduct a “social experiment” with a bag of Skittles.

Instead, Andreychenko was charged with, basically, “scaring the people”—formally with “making a terrorist threat.” Presumably, he and all the other social experimenters will be free to go back to their laboratories of Second Amendment democracy just as soon as this latest mass shooting slips out of our minds. Springfield attorney Scott Pierson even told a local news outlet that Andreychenko might not have been arrested for the incident if it had happened before the shootings last weekend in El Paso and Dayton. “But because of those things [that] happened, a reasonable person would be fearful of an individual walking in with a tactical vest and what looks like an assault rifle,” he said.

By this logic, Andreychenko could have … what? Waited a week and then tried his stunt then? Chosen a Kmart instead of a Walmart? Worn a lab coat? At what point would a reasonable person believe that “an individual walking in with a tactical vest and what looks like an assault rifle” is just there to shop? A few years back, in response to a rise in men claiming First Amendment rights to mass around restaurants armed to the teeth, Christian Turner and I argued that it’s impossible to tell who’s doing performance art and who’s there to kill or terrorize folks. “Given how many people die every year as a result of gun violence, reasonable observers can’t differentiate between the AK-47 being brandished for lethal purposes and the one being brandished to celebrate freedom and self-reliance,” we wrote. “That’s why reasonable observers tend to feel intimidated and call the cops.”

15) Once the Amazon burns it’s not coming back.  This was a horribly depressing article, “The Horrifying Science of the Deforestation Fueling Amazon Fires.”

16) Always listen to Sean Trende, “Yes, the GOP Should Worry About Texas.”

Nationally, the 2016 election can be viewed as a contest that Democrats won in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, but lost in the rural areas.  In the lead-up to that election, prognosticators focused on changes in Democrats’ favor in the urban areas, but forgot just how many people voted in rural areas and small towns in many states. In particular, in states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, the Democrats’ weakness in rural areas and small towns overwhelmed their strong performance in the larger cities. In the Midwest, a near-majority of the votes are still cast in rural areas, small towns and large towns. The notable exceptions are Minnesota, where over 60% of the votes are cast in metropolitan areas, and in Illinois, which is dominated by metro Chicago.  Tellingly, these are the states that Trump failed to flip.

When people think of Texas, they think of rural areas. Cowboys on horseback, cattle roaming the plains, and giant ranches (complete — for people of a certain age — with J.R. Ewing in a Stetson hat). But while the Llano Estacado – what we might call “stereotypical Texas” – does cover a large swath of the state, it is relatively underpopulated.

The nature of rural America changes dramatically when one crosses the 100th meridian. Here, as famously described by John Wesley Powell, rainfall drops beneath levels required for reliable crop growth, so a flourishing rural population never took hold.  Unlike eastern states, states west of this longitude are better thought of as city states: Think of how Denver dominates Colorado, Phoenix dominates Arizona, Salt Lake City dominates Utah, and Las Vegas dominates Nevada.

Texas straddles the 100th meridian. Eastern Texas is actually an extension of the Deep South: It is wooded, humid, has a large number of small towns and cities, and has some rural African American population. The rest of the state, however, is more like New Mexico or western Oklahoma.  Much of the land is given over to ranching, and few votes are cast there.

Instead, votes are cast in the major metropolitan areas. In 2016, the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan areas combined for a majority of the vote in Texas. Donald Trump very nearly lost these areas for the GOP for first time in recent memory, receiving just 48% of the vote there. Despite winning the popular vote nationally by larger margins than Clinton, Barack Obama took just 43% of the vote here in 2012, and 45% during his landslide win in 2008.

17) Interesting analogy– today’s Republicans who know the reality of Trump and are just cowards as compared to Vichy French.

18) In a better world, we would have had more news coverage on curing Ebola.  That’s a big deal!  Nice Wired story on how the new treatments work.

When will Trump supporters have had enough

Work and life have been crazy the past week, so, sorry about the no blogging.  But this Megan McArdle column was too good to let pass by.  McArdle asks, “When will Trump supporters finally say, ‘Okay, this is not normal’?”

Ohhhhh, I think we all know the answer to that.  Anyway…

The left had an easy time settling on its attitude toward President Trump’s supporters: a mixture of horrified outrage and sneering contempt. For many of us on the right, though, it hasn’t been so easy. The president’s boosters aren’t our natural enemies; they’re former and hopefully future allies. For three years, we’ve been struggling to find some way to discuss Trump.

We don’t want to destroy Trump supporters but to convince them — that Trump’s main life achievements before the presidency lay in the fields of getting publicity, cheating people less powerful than himself and having a rich, politically connected father who could grease his way into the real estate business, rather than negotiating, managing or building; that impulsive, thin-skinned and belligerent people might be a great deal of fun to watch on television or Twitter but are rarely much good at their jobs; that Trump’s inexperience and lack of interest in policy have made him remarkably ineffective at pursuing even his stated political goals; and that the cost of his inexperience, his indifference to the day-to-day work of the presidency and his bitterly divisive rhetoric are not worth the transient joy of watching liberals have conniptions.

I wish I could say our attempts at persuasion have worked. Some of our former comrades agree with the indictment but argue that the liberal establishment’s radicalism has left them no choice but to support the race-baiting vulgarian. The religious right, in particular, senses an existential threat from a combination of overweening government and “woke capitalism,” and feels compelled to throw in with anyone who promises to fight on its side. Others simply write off our dismay as Trump Derangement Syndrome, or a desire to finally fit in at the proverbial Georgetown cocktail party.

Many days I wonder if I shouldn’t just concede defeat. And then … Greenland. Once more unto the breach.

This is a president who canceled a state visit because the prime minister of Denmark declined to sell part of Danish territory to the United States. Can you really look at that sort of behavior and think Trump’s critics have the derangement problem?

Support the candidate you like best

This from Paul Waldman is so spot-on and so needed right now:

If you talk to the reporters who are following Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail, they’ll tell you that, while the race is extremely fluid and voters express interest in lots of the candidates, the one generating the most passionate excitement is unquestionably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Yet in most polls she comes in second or third, close to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) but still well behind Joe Biden.

Why? Here’s a New York Times report that summarizes it well:

Few candidates inspire as much enthusiasm as she does among party voters, too, from the thousands who turned out for her speech at the Iowa State Fair last weekend to the supporters in this western Iowa city who repeat her catchphrases, wear her buttons and describe themselves as dazzled by her intellect and liberal ideas. …

These Democrats worry that her uncompromising liberalism would alienate moderates in battleground states who are otherwise willing to oppose the president. Many fear Ms. Warren’s past claims of Native American ancestry would allow Mr. Trump to drown out her policy message with his attacks and slurs against her. They cite her professorial style and Harvard background to argue that she might struggle to connect with voters from more modest circumstances than hers, even though she grew up in a financially strained home in Oklahoma.

And there are Democrats who, chastened by Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, believe that a woman cannot win in 2020.

What follows are a bunch of quotes from voters attesting to how much they love Warren but worry that other people might not like her. [emphasis mine] And so we witness the vicious cycle of ”electability,” one almost immune to facts and experience, in which both savvy journalists and ordinary voters convince themselves that general elections are won by candidates who don’t turn off the mythical average voter, achieving that majority appeal that can be heard when the electorate cries as one, “He’s okay, I guess. I mean, could be worse.”

Like President Mitt Romney. Or President John F. Kerry. Or President Al Gore…

There are a whole set of unspoken assumptions at play when we call a particular candidate “electable.” First, we assume that an electable candidate is one who can reach across the middle to persuade not just independents but people who belong to the other party. That leads journalists and pundits — people who are deeply immersed in politics and have a clear understanding of ideological differences — to conclude that ideological moderation is what makes someone electable, as opposed to charisma or persuasive messaging or anything else.

Next, we assume that to be electable, a candidate will have to appeal to a voter with a particular demographic profile. And who is that voter? After the approximately 12 trillion “In Trump Country, Trump Supporters Support Trump” articles that have been published in major news outlets over the past 2½ years, we’ve come to assume that the voters who matter to electability are middle-aged white men in the Midwest. Appeal to them, and you’re electable; if you’re not the type of candidate we think they’ll be attracted to, you must not be.

What nobody suggests is that electability might be a function of getting your own party’s voters excited and engaged. That’s despite the fact that we’ve seen one election after another in recent decades in which a candidate who excited his party defeated a candidate whose own voters were lukewarm about their nominee. Barack Obama was not electable by any of the standards we’re applying to the 2020 candidates, but he won twice, and by substantial margins. Donald Trump was not remotely electable, but he won, too.

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will be…

Somebody from among Biden, Booker, Harris, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg.  Those are the 6 strongest candidates now among donors (really nice post on the Party not deciding from SMOTUS) and I would be genuinely surprised, though definitely not shocked if the nominee were not from among these six.  And, of these, I personally give Biden, Harris, and Warren the best chance.  I really think Booker’s got a real chance to come on (wishful thinking, maybe) and Buttigieg continues to impress people.  And, actually, I probably should not include Bernie, as I really don’t think he’ll be the nominee, but, there’s a chance.

Anyway, the larger point is that primaries are really so volatile and, largely unlike general elections, the events of the campaign actually matter.  General elections are so shaped by economic factors, presidential approval, and partisanship, that there’s just not much room for much else, other than the occasional, but rare, Comey letter or Access Hollywood tape.  But what these candidates say in debates (as filtered through the media), the things they do that draw themselves attention (or lead to them getting ignored) will matter.

A tweet earlier this week from elections analyst extraordinaire, Sean Trene, really captures it:

Short version, political science tells us that the ultimate nominee is very likely to be from among this current top group, but no real basis to say who it will be.  What these candidates do and say and how the media covers it will play a huge role in who wins this nomination.  Anybody who says, “well, based on x, y, and, z, the nominee will surely be XXX” is full of it.  We just can’t know now.  And that’s the fun of it.  And, if you think back to 2016 there was a whole bunch of stuff that fell just right for Trump in terms of his competitors, how they fared in various states, etc., and it is not hard at all to craft an alternate scenario where he was not the winner.

So, who do I think it will be?  Not Biden.  I think eventually his campaign will fall under the weight of the fact that he’s really just not a good candidate.  I actually think it will be Warren or Harris because they are both good at this.  But Booker’s my dark horse right now to really pick up when Biden fades.  But, I could be totally off.  We’ll see…

 

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