The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the Republican Party and its President-elect Donald Trump.

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Am Not Afraid of "President Trump"

The cancer that was the 2016 presidential election is finally over. Hillary Clinton was dealt a devastating defeat. Donald Trump defied conventional wisdom on every conceivable level and will soon occupy the Oval Office for at least the next four years. Republicans are euphoric. Democrats are stunned, depressed and feeling despair. There's panic and protest in the streets.

While I joined half the country last Wednesday morning in wishing it was all just a bad dream, I believe the zombie-apocalypse-like Trump presidency that Democrats viscerally fear may never materialize. In fact, I suspect the left may ultimately end up pleasantly surprised and appreciably happier with Trump than the almost 60-million mostly angry white conservatives who voted for him.

To understand what a Trump presidency might be like is to take a deep breath, strip away the anger and emotion and truly understand the man himself. What motivates him. What he craves. But more so, what's in his heart (yes, even Trump has a heart) and how his core values (or lack thereof) will dictate the direction in which he takes the country.

To be sure, I remain as disgusted with Trump's unprecedented insolence as any of my fellow Democrats. I loathe his bombast and bullying. I deplore his sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist comments. I cringed at his incendiary rhetoric and ridicule of POW's, the disabled, the media and the principles of the U.S. Constitution, to name a few of his targets. Which is why my 12-year-old daughter and I were front and center in Saturday's massive protest outside Trump Tower.

I am mystified that his voters could not see through his incessant, audacious lying. That evangelicals supported someone who violated every principle they stand for. I feel physically ill that our president-elect boasted of sexually assaulting women because his power and celebrity gave him that 'right.' I'm unnerved and appalled that we wouldn't want to leave our 16-year-old daughters alone with the President of the United States. I mourn for the office, and that we've lost such a precious role model for our children in Barack Obama.

It's shocking that Trump was able to win without releasing his tax returns, that he faces imminent trial for fraud, that he bankrupted multiple businesses, that he's found bromance with brutal dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Hun Sen and Robert Mugabe. It's unsettling that he never served a day in office or the military, got trounced in the debates by a Clinton hat-trick, and is woefully deficient in not just experience, but intellectual curiosity and a sophisticated world view. But all of that is irrelevant at this point. The bigger question is, what happens now?

Will Trump cause the destruction of American civilization as we know it? Hardly. I am not ready to accept that this lifelong pro-choice, pro-gay marriage New York social liberal and fiscal conservative has suddenly morphed into Attila the Hun or David Duke-on-steroids just because his narcissistic personality disorder drove him to do and say anything to get elected, no matter how irresponsible or reprehensible.

Throughout his career Trump's been consumed by an insatiable hunger for attention that he obsessively feeds regardless of the personal, business or political cost. He lacks impulse control and has a childlike attention span, resulting in missives that are less attributable to any great conviction over a particular subject, like healthcare or immigration, than they are to bluster, braggadocio and a pathological need for acceptance.

I don't accept that Trump truly believes most of the outrageous positions on which he's aggressively campaigned. Rather, unlike his former opponent Sen. Ted Cruz or his vice presidential running mate Gov. Mike Pence who are unapologetic ideologues, Trump is simply addicted to the love in whatever room he happens to be playing. His "fans" wanted the hockey fight, not the actual game, and Trump was all too happy to oblige. ("And who's gonna pay for that wall!?")

But these misguided supporters will soon find out that it's one thing for Trump to declare for example that 'We're gonna bring back the coal, steel and manufacturing industries and create so many new jobs your heads will spin' and another for him to actually execute.

Trump's already reneging on his promise to immediately repeal Obamacare, and it appears he's also planning to dial back his vows to "jail" Hillary; "tear up the Iran deal;" move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; and build that "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall." And he's not even President-elect for a week yet. 

Trump will ultimately deliver a crushing blow to those who put their hearts and souls into his campaign because he was going to improve their economic standing and make their America "great" again. Imagine their disappointment and anger when the factory jobs don't magically reappear. When the rich, not the poor and middle classes, receive the tax cuts. When the little guy doesn't get his minimum wage increase because Trump thinks it's too much. When Trump abandons them and leaves them scratching their heads wondering how the heck they could've been so duped by a Manhattan playboy billionaire who lives in a gold-covered mansion in the sky, travels on private jumbo jets and limos, and who convinced them that because he so masterfully gamed the "rigged" system he's best suited to fix it.

Let's face it, when the ugly outer layer is stripped away, Trump does not support the KKK. He will not ban Muslims. There will not be a Mexican wall. He won't be killing the families of terrorists. The U.S. will not abandon NATO. NAFTA's not going away. There will be no immediate repeal and replacement of Obamacare. He will not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton. Women won't be "punished" for abortions. And he will not appoint ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices, especially those who will overturn Roe v Wade.

So what will we see from President Trump? To be sure, we'll continue to witness erratic, petulant, bullying behavior from the most thin-skinned president in history. The Tweets will continue (read: impulse control problem and the hunger for attention) as will his blatant, unethical self-enrichment. The only wall he's going to be building is the one around his business and finances, which will be managed in a laughable albeit contemptuous "blind trust" by his children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr.

Bolstered by a Republican-controlled Congress, we'll experience a shift back to conservatism relating to foreign policy, the economy, the environment and education. We'll likely see, for example, a repeal of Dodd-Frank. Big tax breaks for the wealthy, and an easing of corporate taxes and regulation; changes to the estate tax; a passage of the Keystone Pipeline; a scrapping of the Paris Agreement on climate change; a neutering of the EPA; the institution of school vouchers.  But these changes are rooted in classic Republican policy ideals, not a tectonic shift to the alt-right, despite his appointment Sunday of Breitbart's Steve Bannon as senior strategist (who's likely to become a pariah in the West Wing, on Capitol Hill and among the media). The more telling appointment is that of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff. It'll ultimately be his administration not Bannon's.

Donald Trump is indeed a bully, but like all bullies he's also a coward. We've seen how the impersonal and seductive perch of Twitter empowers him; how safe and easy his 3am penthouse attacks can be. We know he's most comfortable spewing hateful tough-guy rhetoric to thousands of love-struck fans at his rallies, but when face-to-face with his adversaries he folds like a $2 lawn chair (see: Mexican President Pena Nieto and Carly Fiorina). This is the Trump we'll likely see in the Oval Office. When confronted with vehement opposition, as we've already started to witness, he flips like an insecure Russian acrobat.

I believe the real Donald Trump is not the rabble-rouser who deceptively fed blood-dripping sexist, racist red meat to his rapacious base. Instead, he's more likely the Trump who surprised his base, and Democrats, by saying transgender people should be able to "use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate." Once the shock of the election wears off and the proverbial dust settles and the overpowering sense of fear subsides, Democrats may just realize that it is the right who should've feared "President Trump" the most.

Friday, October 14, 2016

They Never Cringed: Republicans, PussyGate & the October Non-Surprise

With just 25 days left before the presidential election, it appears that the candidacy of Republican nominee Donald Trump is in utter freefall...driven off a cliff in no small part by the "Access Hollywood" bus. But why did it take so long for Republicans to be "outraged?"

They didn't cringe when Trump delegitimized President Obama w/birtherism.

They didn't cringe when Trump called Mexicans Rapists.

They didn't cringe when Trump said Sen. John McCain wasn't a war hero.

They didn't cringe when Trump mocked a disabled reporter.

They didn't cringe when Trump said he'd ban Muslims from America.

They didn't cringe when Trump said Megyn Kelly was bleeding "from wherever..."

They didn't cringe when Trump attacked Carly Fiorina's looks.

They didn't cringe when Trump attacked Heidi Cruz's wife.

They didn't cringe when Trump called women "pigs," "dogs," "slobs," "disgusting."

They didn't cringe when Trump said flat-chested women can't be "`10's."

They didn't cringe when Trump said he'd date Ivanka if she wasn't his daughter.

They didn't cringe when he bragged about his penis size.

They didn't cringe when Trump agreed that Ivanka is a "piece of ass."

They didn't cringe when Trump was previously accused of rape(s) and sexual assaults.

They didn't cringe when Trump said women should be punished for abortions.

They didn't cringe when Trump re-Tweeted white supremacy groups.

They didn't cringe when Trump re-Tweeted anti-Semitic symbols. 

They didn't cringe when Trump said he was a 'good negotiator' like Jews.

They didn't cringe when Trump refused to disavow David Duke & the KKK.

They didn't cringe when Trump said "Look at my African American over here!"

They didn't cringe when Trump said blacks are "living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?"

They didn't cringe when Trump linked Ted Cruz's father to JFK's assassination. 

They didn't cringe when Trump called for killing terrorists' families.

They didn't cringe when Trump defended and praised Vladimir Putin.

They didn't cringe when Trump asked Russia to hack our State Department.

They didn't cringe when Trump attacked the Pope.

They didn't cringe when Trump incited violence at his rallies.

They didn't cringe when Trump said enemies like N. Korea should get nukes.

They didn't cringe when Trump attacked the judge with Mexican heritage.

They didn't cringe when Trump attacked the Gold Star Khan family.

They didn't cringe when Trump stiffed veterans out of the $5-million he promised.

They didn't cringe when Trump said he knows "more about ISIS than the generals."

They didn't cringe when Trump suggested gun owners assassinate Hillary Clinton.

They didn't cringe when Trump called Obama/Hillary Clinton "the founders of ISIS."

They didn't cringe when Trump reneged on the Mexican wall.

They didn't cringe when Trump reneged on the Muslim ban.

They didn't cringe when Trump reneged on his "self-funding" promise.

They didn't cringe at all the lies.

And then that now-infamous 2005 video tape burst onto the public stage last Friday in which Trump bragged to the most pathetic Bush since George W--Billy, a former "Access Hollywood" host--that he uses his celebrity and power to sexually assault women. That he could even "grab them by the pussy"  and they let him because he was a "star."

And suddenly everyone cringed.  The "October surprise" had arrived, right on schedule.

But was it really a surprise? Had the last 40+ years of Donald Trump's behavior really caught anyone off-guard?

So why is PussyGate the tipping point? Why is this particular offense the one that appears to finally be bringing down the most controversial, most reprehensible candidate in American presidential history? It's a question that political science professors will be studying for the next 1000 years.

And so they finally cringed. But they still supported.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Donald Trump's 2050 Wikipedia Page

Here's what Donald Trump's Wikipedia bio might look like in 2050:

Donald Trump lost the bizarre 2016 presidential election to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in the biggest landslide in American political history. Clinton won all 538 electoral college votes in an incredible political accomplishment, besting Ronald Reagan, who crushed Walter Mondale in 1984 with 525 electoral votes. Clinton won with 87% of the popular vote, also a record.

The election was looking bleak for Trump prior to the public release of his now-infamous vagina monologues, the vulgar statements made on that fateful 2005 "Access Hollywood" bus ride with Billy Bush in which he admitted to sexually assaulting women. But his  polling and support plummeted even more in the ensuing days. Further, his campaign manager Kellyann Conway was fired. His running-mate Mike Pence left the ticket. But Trump himself refused to quit, insisting on continuing the race with Ted Cruz as his new running mate. They campaigned over the final three weeks under the slogan, Trump/Cruz: Bloated & Promoted.

Two days before the election Julian Assange WikiLeaked Trump's much sought-after tax returns, which dealt a devastating final blow to an already-dead campaign. The returns showed that Trump paid zero income taxes for 20 years; had average personal income of just $250,000 from 2003-2015; was partners in several questionable businesses with Russian President Vladimir Putin; made just $20,000 per year in charitable contributions; donated to the political campaigns of liberals Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders and Barney Frank; contributed to progressive causes including Planned Parenthood, Gay Men's Health Crisis and the National Abortion Federation; and made multiple donations to Islamic Relief USA. Even his most rabidly loyal supporters abandoned him in the campaign's final days.

One month after the election Trump's wife Melania announced their separation and that she had filed for divorce. She apparently was extremely upset that Trump and his minty-fresh Tic Tac breath wanted to kiss another woman while she was pregnant with their son Barron. It was a bitter legal battle resulting in a one-time payment of $250-million and $500,000 per month in child support. Melania went on to create her own fashion line which, like many of her ex-husband's businesses, ultimately failed. She married media magnate and Democratic supporter Summer Redstone, 96, three years later. Their daughter Viacoma was born later that year.

The fallout from Trump's sexist, racist behavior throughout the campaign also led to humiliating financial hardship following the election. The Trump Organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018 due to staggering losses from a boycott of his hotels and an abandonment of licensing deals using the tarnished Trump brand.

The business's failure took a huge toll on Trump's children, who were forced to go out in the world and attempt to make it on their own. Don Jr. and Eric started and folded several unsuccessful businesses, including a hair-gel company (Trump Pomade). Don Jr. ran for Mayor of New York City in 2030 and lost to Dante de Blasio, former Mayor Bill de Blasio's son. He retired soon after, living off Social Security and some income that trickled in from his book "Why Did Dad Have to Be Such a Douche and Screw Up a Really Good Thing?"Eric became a manager of a Walmart store in upstate New York. Ivanka chose to be a stay-at-home mom raising her eleven children with Jared Kushner.

Tiffany, who was raised in California by her mother, Trump's second wife Marla Maples, spent years as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles before her election to Congress in 2036 as a Democrat from California's 34th District. Barron, just 10 at the time of the presidential election, was so embarrassed by his father's behavior that he changed his last name to Redstone in 2019 and disowned Trump. He became an independent filmmaker (financed by his stepfather). His first two films,"Daddy Dearest" and a remake of "Lies My Father Told Me," won back-to-back Best Picture Oscars in 2033 and 2034.

As for Donald Trump himself, he lived to be 100 years old, dying in 2046 of natural causes. Following the election he spent his remaining years a virtual pariah. A broken man socially, emotionally and financially. Alone and alienated from family and the few friends he had. And, he never apologized...for anything.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assessing the Donald Trump Debate Implosion

It was a beautiful thing to watch. There's nothing sweeter than witnessing a Donald Trump implosion in front of 100-million people. I suspect the first presidential debate will likely go down as the modern-day Kennedy-Nixon contest for its ultimate impact on the election.   

The debate could be summed up against a singular backdrop: the candidates each had one critical mission to accomplish. Trump needed to demonstrate a temperament that's presidential. Clinton needed to be likeable. That's it. Because when it comes to substance and policy, there's no contest. So what happened?

Trump showed up as he always does: cocky, brash and, unfortunately for him, winging it. And to borrow from Trump and his surrogates, she came "over-prepared." By the end of the night Trump appeared scared, ensnared and woefully unprepared...while Clinton was composed, disciplined, engaging, endearing and affable (as an aside, I don't think Team-Trump will be accusing her of "not smiling enough" anymore). And while she took the high road, he snaked along the curb.

The big question leading up to Monday's debate was "which Trump will show up?" Would it be boring Trump? Toned-down Trump? Old Trump? New Trump? But it was much simpler than that. Just Trump showed up. The one and only Trump. The same smug, belittling, thin-skinned egomaniacal Trump the world has known since his rich pappy gave him that "small" $1-million loan and put him on the New York real estate map.

The Trump we saw was the familiar bloviating empty-suited bully. He was loud, angry, belligerent, combative, nasty, demeaning, dismissive, disrespectful and dishonest. He sighed, sniffled repeatedly, nervously guzzled water, made juvenile mocking faces, interrupted Clinton 30 times and was disrespectful to the moderator Lester Holt. It was not pretty. Like Nixon's performanace in 1960 against the calm, cool, polished, telegenic John F. Kennedy, it was awkward and unattractive. The only thing missing was Nixon's sweaty 5 o'clock shadow and dark-circled darting eyes.   

I'm not going to get into the weeds of Trump's pathology except to say that his lying, narcissism, sexism and racism took center stage. He was consistently offensive when the subjects were the birther movement, black communities, Clinton's appearance and health,  women and his "deserved" attacks on Rosie O'donnell. He justified his racial discrimination charges from the 1970's by saying other real estate developers had also been sued by the Justice Department. In Trump's convoluted world, every despicable act is justified if someone else has also done it...or done it first.

Yes, Just Trump showed up alright, and voters got a solid glimpse of the man who insisted he has the right temperament to be president even as he made that claim while seeming totally unhinged.

Trump appeared to admit that he pays zero federal income taxes ("Because I'm smart") . He seemed to admit that he could release his tax returns at any time (said he'd do it, despite his lawyers' counsel, if Clinton releases "the 33,000 emails.").

One of the most bizarre moments came during the subject of cyber attacks and hacking, and whether the United States government is being targeted by Russia. He defended Russia, his praise of Vladimir Putin, and his challenge for the former Soviet Union to "find the missing emails," claiming that it could be anyone doing the hacking, including China or "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds." Give him credit. Just when you think he can't offend any other voter group he goes ahead and loses the overweight block.

But the knockout punch of the debate came when Trump suggested Clinton was 'over-prepared.'

"I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing."

The argument can be made that Trump's decision to forego the typical debate prep in and of itself is a unequivocal disqualifier. That if he doesn't think the job requires an investment in time and preparedness, then he's not fit for office. To be sure, for ninety minutes Monday night Trump drove that point home masterfully.

It's the temperament, stupid...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Donald Trump's Confusion Over the Media's Role in the Election

The bedrock of a Democracy is free speech and an open, independent, free press. The media's fundamental role in a free society is to (a) report, analyze and investigate the news in a timely, factual and objective manner; (b) hold government leaders accountable to its citizens; (c) educate and inform relating to key issues and news; and (d) connect citizens with each other. In doing so, it is supposed to have unfettered access to those people and situations on which it reports.

But Donald Trump, his campaign officials and surrogates appear to have a different definition of the media's role not just in a Democracy like America, but within his very campaign. To Team Trump, the media is an extension of the campaign itself, much in the same way that publicists and surrogates function.

To understand Trump's relationship with the media is to start with his basic disdain for journalists. He sees them as the enemy. He neither understands their role in American society or appreciates the critical fact that without them we'd live in a fascist dictatorship (though the latter appears increasingly more attractive to him). With his incredibly thin-skin, Trump views challenges from the media as "vicious" criticism. An attack. A "ganging up" on him for which he responds, as a self-described "counter-puncher," with often ruthless, incendiary return-fire, public insults and/or, as in the case of the Washington Post, a ban from campaign events and rallies.

As a self-consumed, self-aggrandizing narcissist, Trump believes everyone else in the world exists to serve him. Even as he runs for president of the Unites States, Trump fails to understand and accept journalists' role, especially on the campaign trail. The press is viewed as an extension of his promotion, marketing and PR team. Rather than respect the media's watchdog role, Trump genuinely expects them to reinforce and help spread his message, and gets deeply shocked and offended when they don't. And when they don't they're mocked, ridiculed, called "disgusting" and accused of "rigging" the system.

When Trump makes ignorant, inflammatory, sexist, racist and ill-advised comments, he gets mad at the press for covering it as news. And when his unconscionable behavior impacts his campaign -- miring it in controversy and sagging polls, for example -- he then blames the media for his misfortunes. He's living the old Tina Fey parody of Sarah Palin: "I hope the lamestream media won't twist my words by repeatin' 'em verbatim!"

It's an incredibly dangerous state of being when a candidate for the highest office in the freest nation on the planet loathes and impedes its free press because of personal animus. This Constitutionally-bankrupt behavior on Trump's part should be an automatic disqualifier in the race. But bankruptcy seems to be a calling-card in this unprecedentedly bizarre election.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Donald Trump's Problem with "The Blacks"

Donald Trump has a major problem with African American voters. The latest national polls show him with just 1% support among blacks. That's virtually zero. Think about that for a second. A 2016 presidential nominee has zero support within a community that represents 14% of the total U.S. population, or about 46-million voters. Even the utterly elitist, tone-deaf Mitt Romney received 6% of the black vote in 2012.

To achieve this astounding near-zero standing, Trump's campaign appears to have masterfully executed a unique 3-point plan: (1) disengagement (absolutely no outreach to blacks); (2) indifference (no substantive policy proposals to help blacks on any socio-economic level); and (3) insults (a consistent pattern of making outrageously offensive, racist statements).

Trump's racist campaign began in 2011 when he led a racially-charged Birther movement designed to delegitimize Barack Obama's presidency (although many would argue that it started about 45 years ago when the U.S. Justice Department sued Trump twice for refusing to rent apartments to blacks). He's also reportedly claimed that blacks are "lazy." There are accusations that black workers were routinely removed from the floor of his Atlantic City casinos before his arrival. And he's been criticized for stoking the flames of bigotry in 1989 with his media campaign against the Central Park Five; black youths accused, convicted and ultimately exonerated in the brutal rape attack of a female jogger.

Since officially becoming a candidate for president in June 2015, Trump has ratcheted up his racist behavior to unthinkable levels. He refers to African-Americans as "the blacks." Asked "Where's my African American?" at a rally. Encouraged violence against a black protestor at another rally. Offered to pay legal expenses for a white supporter who sucker-punched a black protestor. Lied about knowing the KKK's David Duke and refused to disavow the racist organization or its former Grand Wizard. And frequently re-Tweeted white supremacy

The black community doesn't exist in Trump's elitist, billionaire purview. Blacks are not his equals and aren't worthy of his time. He's refused to attend the annual NAACP convention and turned down countless other invites to meet with black voters in their neighborhoods, at churches, at historically black colleges and universities or at scheduled town halls where he can address their comments, complaints and questions face-to-face. 

Trump's insensitivity towards the black community was on full display yet again during a rally Friday in Dimondale, Michigan, a predominantly white suburb of Lansing. Speaking before a typically all-white audience, Trump urged blacks to vote for him:

"You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed -- what the hell do you have to lose?"

Trump's latest comment is outrageously offensive for a couple of reasons. He provided no substantive basis for blacks to vote for him, offering no economic, education, health or environmental policy proposals. And more so, his remarks encapsulate his overall view of blacks as poor, unemployed, violent 'hood-living idiots who'd believe that their lives are so dreary that they can't possibly do any worse with him as president. It proved yet again that when it comes to understanding African-Americans, Trump is utterly tone-deaf and out of touch. 

Whenever Trump speaks of blacks it's limited to those afflicted by poverty and the judicial system. The struggling underclass (in Trumpspeak, that means 'lazy, shiftless, welfare criminals'). In his speech Friday he didn't speak to the systemic, institutional racism that affects blacks from all walks of life. He didn't acknowledge the challenges faced by black students applying to Ivy League universities. Or those faced by black lawyers trying to get hired by or make partner at the country's most prestigious law firms. He didn't offer any solutions for fighting discrimination against blacks seeking to buy homes in elite white neighborhoods. Nor did he lament that no African-American has been nominated for an Academy Award in two years.

To be sure, there's no 'America' to Trump. There's white America and black America. And black America is clearly something he knows nothing about, and appears to care about even less. Which is why he can lump an entire race of people into one sorry-ass stereotypical bucket and then claim they "have nothing to lose" by voting for him. It's precisely this ignorant, myopic view of African-Americans that's responsible for his staggering, unprecedented unpopularity among them. The truth is, he'd do better with blacks if he simply stopped talking about them.

Trump's overall "Make America Great Again" message appears to only be resonating with voters who long for the good old days when white men controlled America's wealth and power. His core support comes exclusively from angry old white blue-collar males. Trump can't win in November with just this narrow group of uneducated, disaffected, bigoted voters. And while the candidate himself knows it, he can't control his worst impulses, which keep pushing the Oval Office further and further away. Lately, Trump appears exhausted, frustrated and desperate, which is why this week he made his third leadership change in the past sixty days and only gives interviews to Fox News "surrogates" like Sean Hannity.

This week's major shake-up saw campaign manager Paul Manafort replaced by consultant and pollster Kellyann Conway (Manafort took the new title of campaign "chair," but resigned a day later). Machiavellian bully Stephen Bannon, head of hyper-conservative Breitbart News, was brought in as campaign "CEO." The Trump "pivot" was promised, and it appeared for a day that maybe it had finally arrived. But then Trump once again went off script in Michigan and did what he does best: insult people.

Conway certainly has her hands full. She's a woman co-captaining a sinking ship with a bunch of sexists (including Fox News' former Sexual-Harasser-in-Chief Roger Ailes) who likely respect her opinions as much as they do those of any other female. And with Trump she has the unenviable task of trying to reverse decades of colossal douchebaggery. I don't think at this point in the campaign homestretch that anyone believes anymore that "Let Trump Be Trump" is a winning strategy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Here's Why You Can Stick a Fork in Trump. It's Over.

Donald Trump's unprecedented, bizarre candidacy appears to have finally driven off the proverbial cliff. And it's only August. Now before folks remind me that I've been wrong about him in the past--naively predicting his political demise countless times--let me assure you, this time it's different.

For starters, there's a major distinction between the realities of the Republican primaries, through which only about 16% of Americans vote, and the general election. Yes, I was wrong about Trump. Many times. Shame on me. I gave Republicans way too much credit than they deserved. Turns out they were way more ignorant and racist than I could ever imagine. But that was then. This is now.

Since last June, Trump's consistently defied conventional wisdom by re-writing the How-to-Win-a-Nomination playbook and getting much further than anyone (except maybe MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) ever imagined, especially the candidate himself. If there was a book titled "100 Things Never, Ever to Do or Say When Running for President," he'd be guilty of committing every single sin. And he gives no indication of ever changing, even when implored to by the Republican establishment, big donors, his advisors and after being subjected to a rumored 'intervention' by his family. The biggest proponent of "Let Trump Be Trump" is the man himself. His much anticipated, sorely needed 'pivot' has yet to arrive and likely never will.  

If Trump is to win the presidency, he needs to be expanding his base. He cannot and will not win with just angry blue-collar white men. His support among women, blacks, Hispanics and the college educated is almost non-existent. His latest gaffes over the Gold Star Khan family, his "2nd Amendment people" threat, and claiming President Obama is the "founder of Isis" appear to have crossed a very critical non-partisan line, offending not just liberals and Democrats, but military families, patriots and decent people of both parties. In short, at this late stage in the race, he's doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing.

Despite the enthusiastic cable-news spin coming from advisors and surrogates, the campaign is clearly in a state of chaos. Trump's been dropping precipitously in the polls (double-digits). He's trailing Hillary Clinton badly in many key battleground states (leads that will be hard to reverse). He's being abandoned by moderate, mainstream, influential Republicans (including 50 major national security experts). He's doing poorly with independent voters (who prefer substantive policy over whining about the media). His staff's in turmoil (they can't control their candidate, and he's blaming them for his misgivings). He lacks a meaningful ground game (impossible to win without one). And he can't stay on message (wasting time counter-punching every perceived slight).

But what's most telling is that Trump himself appears to be throwing in the towel, an ominous sign from a normally carnival-barking, poll-obsessed, self-aggrandizing, narcissistic "winner." He's all but conceded the key state of Pennsylvania, claiming it will be "rigged" for Clinton: "The only way we can lose, in my if cheating goes on." And he's acknowledged a big problem in the heavily Mormon, red state of Utah:  "I'm having a tremendous problem in Utah."

According to a scathing front page inside account of Trump's campaign in Sunday's NY Times, he's become "exhausted, frustrated and still bewildered by fine points of the political process and why his incendiary approach seems to be sputtering." 

And as reported in Politico on Monday, no presidential candidate since 1952 in Trump’s low polling position at this stage of the campaign has won the popular vote.

To be sure, Trump's demeanor is changing, demonstrating behavior of a loser-in-waiting, apparently setting himself up for a face-saving exit from the most outlandish, unconventional, mean-spirited, divisive presidential election in American history.

"At the end, it's either going to work or I'm going to have a very, very nice long vacation," Trump said last week. Adding, "You know, I go back to a very good way of life."