Trump’s vision of the presidency

This is just stunning (and, yet, I cannot say the least bit surprising).  Steve Benen:

And with this in mind, the New York Times’ Robert Draper reports today on an amazing attempt at outreach from Team Trump to the Ohio governor.

One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinating with his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

This reminds me of a story that went largely overlooked a few months ago.

In May, Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, sat down with the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman for a lengthy interview, which touched on the search for a running mate.

“He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do,” Manafort said in reference to Trump. “He sees himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

The similarities between the two reports are striking. Trump, who’s never demonstrated any meaningful knowledge of any area of public policy, or really any interest in how government works at any level, apparently wants to be president.

He does not, however, want to do the things presidents are elected to do. That requires hard work, long hours, and, you know, reading and stuff. Trump can’t be bothered with such unglamorous tasks – he wants to “make America great again” while having others roll up their sleeves.

As his own campaign chairman freely admitted, day-to-day governing and overseeing the executive branch represent the parts of the job “he doesn’t want to do.”

Honestly, the further away a President Trump would be from the levers of power, the better.  But, seriously, what the hell?!  Yeah, Trump can just focus on that whole making America great again and leave everything else up to Pence.  I swear, if this were satire I would think it too ludicrous to be good satire.  The fact that this utter clown is above even 25% in the polls says some really disturbing things about the state of our democracy.

The ugliness

So much interesting stuff being written about the Republican convention worth discussion and analysis.  Alas, I’m actually trying to take a vacation here (I certainly have much better things to do with my time than actually watch any of the convention).  Anyway, Rebecca Traister’s is among the best, so…

What we have seen, this week, is the Republican Party offering its stage and its imprimatur to speakers who have not appeared reluctant or conflicted, but rather buoyed and energized by the way in which Trump’s candidacy has allowed them to come out as inciters of sexist, racist, violent mob action and xenophobic fearmongering. [emphases mine] What’s more, by framing their hateful rhetoric in terms of patriotism, they are reminding us that much of the poison in this country runs deep…

The Republican Party wants to return us to a time in which white male authority and power was absolute, in which punishment could be meted out as the majority desired, quelling the threats of minority upstarts…

Proclaiming that he was hoping to “do something fun tonight,” Christie recited to the crowd a litany of Clinton’s supposed sins. With every offense, he asked them, “Guilty or not guilty?”

Guilty!” they boomed, with increasing vigor. Watching from the press seats, high above the floor, it was possible to see the crowd undulating with excitement, surging toward Christie with their fists in the air, electrified by this call to mob justice.

It was chilling.

I was not the only person in the room to be reminded of 17th-century witch trials, the blustering magistrate and rowdy crowd condemning a woman to death for her crimes, which often, even then, included reports that she had been consorting with a black man. So evocative were the callbacks to some of the worst nightmares of America’s past that it barely came as a surprise when former presidential candidate Ben Carson then directly accused Clinton of familiarity with Lucifer…

Don’t think that Trump is the exception to an American rule; he is the living embodiment of a cruel and unjust strain of our history that has yet to die out completely. Perhaps the most important sentence so far in this grim and angry week was uttered by Giuliani, who darkly warned, “There’s no next election; this is it. There’s no time left for us …” This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival. They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white patriarchal power. 

It’s hot out here!

The latest science news:

The world is on pace to set another high temperature benchmark, with 2016 becoming the third year in a row of record heat.

NASA scientists announced on Tuesday that global temperatures so far this year were much higher than in the first half of 2015.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said that while the first six months of 2015 made it the hottest half-year ever recorded, “2016 really has blown that out of the water.” He said calculations showed there was a 99 percent probability that the full year would be hotter than 2015.

Dr. Schmidt said the world was now “dancing” with the temperature targets set last year in the Paris climate treaty for nations to limit global warming.

On the bright side, the sharpest, most thoughtful minds in the Republican party are currently meeting in Cleveland and I am sure they will have a smart, science-driven policy to address this:-).

UPDATE: And, damn, I wish I had read this incredibly on-point (actually published before the climate news) post from Chait:

Notably, after calling for “hard data” and then dismissing the IPCC — the body accepted by climate scientists as the leading authority — as hopelessly biased, the Republican platform does not specify which scientific authority it would accept.

The 2012 platform called for reining in the Environmental Protection Agency across a range of fronts. The 2016 platform wants to get rid of the agency altogether: “We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission.” The new platform also declares coal, which is far more carbon-intensive than any other source of electric power and also packed with other air pollutants, to be “clean”:…

Of course, since Republicans officially refuse to recognize scientific findings relating carbon emissions to climate change, it’s not clear what “clean” energy even means to them. If coal is clean, isn’t all energy clean?

It’s important to keep in mind that, aside from a handful of areas of special Trumpian interest, like making nice with Vladimir Putin, the Republican platform represents the consensus view of the party apparatus rather than the nominee. It’s concerning that the Republican Party has been overtaken by a dangerous maniac. But climate science is one of the issues where dangerous maniacs have been in control before Trump even came along.

Melania’s plagiarism

Okay, this is mostly just amusing to me at one an amazingly amateurish campaign Trump is running in some ways.  How did somebody they they were going to plagiarize Michelle Obama and get away with it in this day and age?!

Does it matter?  Sure, some.  Party conventions are all about getting your message out by dominating the news for a few days.  Normally, that is a positive message for the campaign.  When the news is all about the plagiarized speech of the candidate’s wife– not so great.  And it’s not that people will now not vote for Trump because of this, the problem for Trump is that it takes the place of what for him should be, hopefully, positive coverage coming out of the convention.  To the degree that this is a one-day story and blows over, this is pretty minimal, but the longer people keep talking about it during the convention, the less they are talking about the presumably pro-Trump (realistically, far more anti-Clinton) messages the campaign wants to get out.

Who needs a “qualified” president?

Greg Sargent points out a finding in a recent poll that way more Americans see Hillary Clinton as actually qualified to be president:


Would love to know what non-trivial percentage of voters are choosing the not qualified candidate over the one they think is actually qualified.  Then again, if you think she has greater skills to ruin our country, there’s that.  Of course, perhaps the biggest problem is that even 37% see Trump as qualified.  Trump makes Sarah Palin look like George Washington.

White people and the future of the Republican Party

Great piece by Clare Malone at 538.  She combines polling data with lots of interviews to take a thorough look at today’s amazingly white-based Republican party and where it may be headed in the future.  You should read it.  Here’s a quote that I think really sums up the difficulties ahead:

“This isn’t the most artful way to say it, but it’s like, where do you go when the only people who seem to agree with you on taxes hate black people?” [emphasis mine] [ Conservative blogger, Ben] Howe laughed ruefully. “I think what you do is you say, ‘Well, I may lose but I can’t align myself with them.’

But instead, Howe said, he made moral compromises he regrets.

“There are some things that I don’t have core values about, that I can be negotiable on, compromise on. But then there are other things that I can’t budge on,” he said. “I think I thought I had to budge on some things: ‘Yeah, this guy talking to me right now just said he agrees with my taxes and also we need to get that Kenyan out of office.’ Why did I stand there and say, ‘Yeah’? You know? I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve said, ‘Wait, what? No, that’s stupid. You’re stupid. Don’t be stupid.’”

Yeah.  Not nearly enough “don’t be stupid” going on.  Probably because there’s far too much white ethnocentrism going on (as the article makes clear).

The polls

Kevin Drum takes Nate Cohn’s analysis and adds some of his own:

As I mentioned last night, Hillary Clinton really is significantly ahead of Donald Trump in the national polls. She’s ahead by about four points, and that’s a pretty normal winning margin in a presidential election with no incumbent running. In the New York Times, Nate Cohn says the same thing but with a lovely little graphic to make his point:

Her lead is smaller than it was last month….But she retains an advantage — perhaps by 4 percentage points nationwide, and a similar margin in the battleground states that are likely to award the electoral votes needed to win the presidency. This straightforward story can get lost in the headlines, which tend to give the most attention to the most surprising results — whether it’s a predicted Clinton landslide or a narrow lead for Mr. Trump in key states.

The truth is probably somewhere between those extremes. Pollsters aren’t joking about the “margin of error”: the inevitable random variance in polls that exists simply by chance. If Mrs. Clinton leads by 4 points, you should expect polls that show her with a big lead or locked in a tight race, with others clustered around the average. That’s more or less what we saw this past week.

As Cohn says, individual polls are likely to fall on a bell curve. I’ve recreated his chart below, with actual recent polls in red. As you can see, it’s all perfectly normal (pun intended).

And, yeah, she’s come down to about 69%, but the money is still on Clinton.


Went back and read Cohn more closely after posting this.  And a couple points I wanted to add:

While the occasional poll has looked good for Mr. Trump, it has been two months since he led a national survey that included voters without a landline telephone. Mrs. Clinton has led dozens.

Whoa!  Sure, landline polls do what they can to statistically account for this, but there’s only so much you can do.  For now, I stubbornly remain one of those landline people.


In general, the polls are far more predictive of the final results a few weeks after the conventions than they are immediately before. No modern presidential candidate who trailed in the polls several weeks after the convention has come back to win the popular vote. This isn’t to say it couldn’t happen, especially if the post-convention polls were fairly close. There have been instances in which the polls have moved considerably after the conventions, even if they didn’t contradict the result of the popular vote (as in 1976 and 1980).

But it does indicate that a post-convention lead is quite meaningful, even with weeks or months to go until the election. By that time, both candidates will have had many and fairly equal opportunities to unify their parties and make their cases to the broader electorate. If a candidate holds a clear lead at that point, it means a lot.
Yeah, so like I’ve been saying.  Patience, young grasshopper.

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