Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mike Pence Makes the Case

Last night Mike Pence made the case. He made the case against the Obama administration. He made the case against Hillary Clinton. He made the case for the Republican Party.

But, he did not really make the case for Donald Trump.

Faced with a serial interrupter, Pence stayed calm and substantive. He was in control of the material and in control of himself. He appealed to our rational faculties. Some will agree with him. Some will disagree. This is what happens when you stop trying to manipulate people and start appealing to them as rational beings.

Pence made clear that he was part of the Trump-Pence ticket, but he rarely attempted to defend Trump’s more outrageous comments. How could he have done so? By his demeanor, by his composure, by the depth of his understanding of the issues, he was highlighting Trump’s failings. The better Pence looked the more people were thinking that we live in an upside/down world and that it would be a better place if Pence were heading the Republican ticket.

Last week, Trump lost a debate decisively to Hillary Clinton. He lost because he did not know enough or have enough to say to fill 45 minutes. For reasons that escape me, people had been lulled into believing that Trump’s performance during the presidential primary showed him to be a great debater. In fact, he spoke for no more than 8 or so minutes and filled up most of it with repulsive insults directed against his opponents.

When he found himself standing alone with Hillary Clinton the Donald simply ran out of material. Since he is an amateur and has never spent very much time studying and working on the issues, he was clearly out of his depth.

Obviously, preparation would have helped enormously, but he was too arrogant to do so. He decided to go with his gut. He had written in his book on the art of the deal that one should always negotiate with one’s gut. He was wrong about that and paid for it last week.

And the material he did present during the first half hour, about trade policy, was oversimplified and economically dubious. Implying that he would start a trade war will not win him very many votes among those who understand the cost of trade wars.

And then he allowed himself to be baited by Hillary Clinton. She threw out the chum and he gleefully chomped away at it. He had to know it was coming and he fell for it anyway. He could not help himself. He showed a lack of discipline and a lack of self-control. He showed weak character. When he got into a Twitter war over a former  Miss USA, Trump showed the world that he was not in command, that Hillary had made him into her puppet.

Keep in mind you cannot command other people if you are not in command of yourself. You cannot control a group of people if you show yourself to be out of control.

Anyone who thought that Trump was a tough guy and a great debater should think again. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Polls taken after the debate showed that Hillary had won it by a wide margin. Later polls showed that Trump’s chances were sinking fast. Can he rescue his candidacy with a boffo performance next week? I do not know. I suspect that the impression of a tired, outclassed, manipulated Trump is baked into the minds of the voters by now.

Even with Mike Pence doing a great job at making the case last night, the truth is, he merely made Trump look bad by comparison.

As for Tim Kaine, he simply embarrassed himself. I suspect that he has had a lot of experience with coitus interruptus. Kaine sounded like a troll, someone who had been wound up with prepackaged talking points and insults, all of which were an effort to bait Pence and to throw him off his game.

It did not work. Pence’s calm demeanor made most of the audience side with Pence. Even people who did not agree with Pence saw him as winning the debate.

It ought to be obvious that Kaine is not an amateur. He is a lifetime professional politician. He certainly knows his brief. Yet, he spend most of the time attacking Trump the man, on bizarre grounds… i.e. Trump’s presumably not having paid taxes was bad because Trump did not contribute to help those who were hurt by 9/11.

So, Kaine was coming out against tax deductions and was assuming that the Times conjecture—which was decidedly not a fact—was true. Kaine did not compliment George W. Bush for having instantly offered New York City all the help it needed and he did not mention that it was Chuck Schumer, not Hillary Clinton who was most involved in the discussion.

There is much to attack in Donald Trump’s many statements. Mike Pence wisely decided not to defend them. When Kaine kept harping on them he ended up drawing attention to his own poor character. He was obviously trying to push buttons that would send different groups scurrying to the polls. His was a get-out-the-vote drive, not really a debate.

Has Kaine been hanging out with Hillary Clinton too long? She certainly did not bring out the best in him.

If Trump appears not to be up to the job and if Julian Assange goes back on his word again, we can expect that the Hillary era will usher in an unprecedented level of animosity between men and women. Considering that the Obama era has aggravated racial animosity, the Hillary era will probably do the same for men and women.

One notes that whereas a Margaret Thatcher surrounded herself with men, Hillary Clinton surrounds herself with women. Her inner circle and her closest advisers are invariably female. No one talks about it. No one seems to think it matters. I am persuaded that it does.

If Kaine and Bill Clinton are exemplary Hillary does not bring out the best in men. She didn’t bring out the best in Sidney Blumenthal, Webster Hubbell or Vince Foster. And let’s not overlook the less than salutary effect that marriage to Hillary’s BFF has had on one Anthony Weiner.

And, Hillary did not bring out the best in Donald Trump. Standing on the stage next to her, Donald Trump was defenseless. He relied on his gut and his gut let him down… big time. He thought that he could do as he had done with Republican presidential candidates. He failed to see that Hillary is not one of the guys and that her tactic was quite different.

If he wants to counter her negative vibe next time he should bring along some garlic.

Of course, he could have done as Mike Pence did. He did not know enough to do so. If he had done so he would also have overcome the notion, promulgated by lightweight cartoonist Scott Adams, that its all about manipulating irrational emotions.

Perhaps I am overly optimistic, but even if resorting to emotion seems to work in an unreal concatenation of vain candidates, it has a very short shelf-life. In the end a candidate has to provide a rationale for his candidacy. He has to make the case for himself and against his opponent. As of now, Trump has not done so. And his poll numbers are showing it.

Mike Pence did a very good job last night—especially given the material he had to work with—but he is not going, on his own, to save the Trump candidacy. In fact, he might do just the opposite.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

There is a part of all this that deserves consideration...

If elected, Trump will likely be a weak president. This has tremendous advantages for the sake of our republic.

Most importantly, it means that Congress will be able to reassert itself as the centerpiece of American government. Congress is outlined in Article I of the Constitution for a reason. The institution has been diminished over the last few decades because we've had an imperial presidency -- caused mostly by the Cold War, the age of television, the War on Terror, etc. Obama has been the greatest example of imperiousness, but George W. Bush didn't work much with Congress, either, albeit with a different attitude about Congress' function and place. I would like to see Congress take a greater role and do its job: pass necessary laws, create a budget, have solid departmental oversight, etc. The greatest reform would be to rein-in these administrative departments and their endless, unchecked rule-making. The behavior of Obama's DOJ, EPA and IRS is a disgrace. The Federal Register is out of hand. I believe Trump understands this, and would work with Congress on reform. He likes to make deals. We've had a president the last 8 years who claims to have "a phone and a pen," yet dos not constructively interact with Congress, brazenly bypassing the legislature extralegally. I'm confident Trump would choose a different path because he wouldn't have a popular mandate to act this way, and the press would expose every move. This is NOT a bad thing.

Also important, Trump has a strong list of candidates he would nominate for the Supreme Court. Their common trait is restraint. We need the Supreme Court to have greater deference to laws passed by legislatures, and not use penumbras and made-up nonsense to reach their subjective, arbitrary conclusions of how American life should be. We have gone through periods in our nation's history when SCOTUS was assertive, and other times where it was more reserved. I'd like to see them become more reserved, and allow the will of the people, through their elected representatives, to have primacy (or at least the benefit of the doubt). I see little but juridical arrogance on the part of the Court's left-wing justices, led by Justice Ginsburg. This is no longer a body of unelected, lifetime judges reviewing law -- they are making law outside of their Constitutional mandate. Only in egregious cases should they use judicial review to overturn legislative decisions. We've gone from judicial review to judicial fiat. I believe Trump would challenge Supreme Court overreach, and work with Congress to take back some of SCOTUS' power grab that has gone unchecked for over 50 years. Thankfully, Trump is not a lawyer, and I suspect that he recognizes the law as a tool to serve society, not the other way around.

Most of all, what is increasingly obvious in our government and politics is that it is okay to lie, and lie with impunity. This kind of lawlessness must end. We are a republic -- the citizens are sovereign. Being a United States citizen used to mean something, in a number of different ways. It's time our elected leaders had our interests in mind, recognizing we are a sovereign nation, not just one polity in an imagined "global community." Let's restore our government to function as the Framers intended. The presidency and Supreme Court are way out of scope. If Trump is a guy who likes to make deals and get stuff done, perhaps that energy can be harnessed for good. This has no chance of happening if his opponent wins.

Brookside said...

The fact that Mike Pence was picked for V.P. shows Trump's good judgement. That is how he manages his businesses.
Trump does not run his life like a professional politician. Everything politicians say and do is calculated for public consumption and they spend years practicing self censorship.
Trump's charm is his willingness to open up and talk like a regular person. When there is a headline about a so called terrible statement he just made I look it up. Often he didn't say it at all. Just words the media twisted. The few things he has said that might be considered outrageous are usually because he was thinking out loud. Working out an idea in his head. Probably not the best way to run for office.

With Hillary everything about her is secretive, slick and calculated. It doesn't matter to her supporters as long as she keeps the myth alive that they deserve something because they were short changed by someone else. The most disturbing part is the willingness of the media and public to know she is dishonest about everything and still support her. She is being judged as a better person because she lies the best. I feel such a foreboding about Hillary and cannot understand how anyone could support her.

Webutante said...

I agree totally with you Stuart. Mike Pence did his job and more last night. But he alone can't save Trump from himself. Only Trump can and it's awfully late in the game for that. I am still not optimistic.

Dennis said...

Just to add to your analysis. I do find it interesting to see this in the "Weekly Standard?"
I suspect that Pence will have a much larger role at first and if anything is like his dominance over Kaine it will aid in what Trump needs to make that transition from businessman to politician sans the distrust and disrespect of the average American.
As Brookside states "The fact that Mike Pence was picked for V.P. shows Trump's good judgement."

Trigger Warning said...

My first impression of Tim Kaine, imprinted within the first 60 seconds of his opening comments, was "This guy is a silly prig." His subsequent behavior simply amplified that initial impression. I suppose that makes him the perfect running mate for a woman with delusions of being named after Sir Edmund Hillary.

Another irritating aspect of Kaine's performance was the Chatty Cathy Syndrome. For those old enough to remember, Chatty Cathy was a "talking" doll sold in the early 60's. The doll had a limited set of a dozen or so utterances emitted "randomly", independent of context with flat affect, when a child pulled a string. Chatty actally had a wider repertoire of canned sentences than Kaine. Chatty Tim must have been a victim of the Clinton re-programming laboratory, because it's simply not believable that he could have been elected governor of Virginia if last night was a typical performance.

I thought Mike Pence, to the extent he was able given the constant interruptions by Kaine and the moderator, did a very creditable job of making a case against Clinton. He had the empirical results on his side, so it probably wasn't too taxing [no pun intended].

If Trump is a guy who likes to make deals and get stuff done, perhaps that energy can be harnessed for good...

Perhaps. And perhaps not. The current regime has done very well embedding its political appointees behind a wall of union and civil service rules. "[Jason Chaffetz, R-UT] sent letters to 23 of the 24 executive branch agencies Wednesday asking about their use of 'burrowing', the bureaucratic practice of converting political appointees whose jobs can expire at a moment’s notice to become senior-level career civil servants who are almost impossible to remove from the government." Yes, it's all well and good to gaze abroad and conclude that foreign relations are important, but our most dire and immediate threats are not from abroad. Ask Peter Theil...

Or Yahoo:

As I see it, the only hope is to elect the Clinton Machine and help them Detroitize America. Then, perhaps, Americans will follow the advice they've been given for years: "Sir, please be noting that the step to be taken at the first is a most careful unplugging and plugging in of the device." To my point, please note that in 2007, prior to the passing of the Porkulus Stimulus bill, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that it would cost $9.4 billion to repair all the faulty bridges in America.

Instead, we spent hundreds of billions on turtle tunnels, bike paths, and temporary school aides. It reminds me of the old drunk who was a millionaire and went broke; when asked how he spent all that money, he said "Well, most of it was on whores and liquor - I guess I just wasted the rest." And Democrats are still staggering about and demanding moremoremore infrastructure "investment" spending. If Barack Obama were an investment advisor, he'd be having lunch with Bernie Madoff today.

Ares Olympus said...

Yes, Mike Pence did a great job last night. Tim Kaine was clearly commanded to stay on target and highlight Trump's outrageous statements, and Pence was to degrees able to deflect them or sidestep, without any problem.

And Pence clearly proved he was a good listener, not relying on talking points, but he heard and understand each charge that Kaine brought forth, and he was able to classify them on the fly, and explain his reasoning, even if he never tried to defend the undefendable that is Trump.

We might add that Mike Pence originally endorsed Ted Cruz, and would have had a much better time as Ted's VP, where there is wide agreements where actual knowledge and positions exist. Perhaps the only thing Pence and Trump have in common conviction is they both don't drink alcohol.

I read that Pence voted for Carter in 1980 (at age 21), but then moved towards Reagan's revolution. We might imagine after the Nixon's disgrace, that Pence's religious convictions made Carter's call for a renewed integrity to the White House, despite the difficulties of the higher moral path. And we can imagine a President Pence himself would put his religious convictions first, even if a position was unpopular with the majority. Pence would know what he wants to do, and could explain why he's doing it, whatever the costs.

For the last few weeks I was feeling positive about McCain and Romney, and even Bush W (minus his VP Cheney), and almost any republican candidate would be preferable to Donald Trump. And last night Pence's success added to the gnashing of teeth for anyone who needs a viable opposition party to the Democrats.

So I continue to think the GOP's best plan, if somehow they pull out this election is to give Trump just enough rope to hang himself, and then call for his impeachment, and the democrats won't stop them, and then Mike Pence will back his way into the presidency, whatever the costs.

The main "dirt" on Pence is he seems a bit too enthusiastic about "Intelligent Design" and calling evolution "just a theory" and you have to consider the distinct possibility he really is okay with the idea that the earth might be only 6000 years old, and all that biblical literalism. Here's Phil Plait's reflections on Pence's science-confusion:
And referencing: 2002 House floor speech: Mike Pence Criticizes Theory Of Evolution

Incidentally I see 538 has Hillary up to a 75% chance of winning, and surely one VP debate isn't going to change that, except to help real conservatives know they have their #2 in place for the impeachment.

Maybe WikiLeaks really can sink Hillary, and of course we all prefer this to be done before election day, especially if the leak can send Bill and Hillary to Prison, like the Right keeps promising, and failing to deliver.

And perhaps grandpa Biden can still step in and save the day for the Democrats? At least Paul Wellstone's death proved an elderly statesman can step into a 10 day campaign, so let's get Hillary out ASAP!

AesopFan said...

TW, this is for you:

AesopFan said...

But to be serious about TW's comment:
"As I see it, the only hope is to elect the Clinton Machine and help them Detroitize America. Then, perhaps, Americans will follow the advice they've been given for years:"

Detroit has not yet figured out what is wrong with their city and this is after decades of destruction by the Democrats; I don't want to go through that with the entire country. People who read the tea leaves left Detroit while they could; I don't see any better option than America even WITH Detroitization.

Dennis said...


I love the idea of "hitting the mule in the head with a board," so to speak, but some mules are so dense that there is no hope of that happening. Especially if one takes into account the indoctrination many people are subjected through the education system. Or as Iowahawk likes to say, “College: an oasis of totalitarianism in a desert of freedom.” Also when people get addicted to other people's money it takes a while to wean them from that drug.
The problem is that I have grown children, grandchildren and family plus large numbers of people in the military, retired or associated with that I do not want to subject to this train of thought. Far too many young men and women have died or will suffer the rest of their lives and they don't deserve this fate.
There is a part of me though that really likes the idea. A "You made your bed and now you need to sleep in it."

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

AesopFan @October 5, 2016 at 9:15 PM:

"Detroit has not yet figured out what is wrong with their city and this is after decades of destruction by the Democrats..."

I live in Metro Detroit. We know what happened in our city. It's two things: (a) modern America, and (b) do-gooders ruining things to serve their own idealistic ends.

The fall of Detroit largely occurred in three phases:
(1) Modernity: Suburbanization and the creation of major interstate highways and sophisticated infrastructure in the outlying areas. Lots of Detroiters moved out to the suburbs for the same reasons people did in other cities: bigger parcels, larger/new homes, etc.
(2) Riots: The 1967 riots were significant, and highlighted safety issues. More Detroiters left for the suburbs.
(3) Busing: The death blow was forced busing, and the "regional" scheme that was ultimately defeated in Milliken v. Bradley (1974), which was a 5-4 SCOTUS decision. As busing was threatened within the City of Detroit, more people left. Then the state proposed a "regional" busing model, where kids would be bused between urban and suburban public school districts. More people left, and when the busing failed, more people left to get away and get their kids in suburban school districts.

This left Detroit with a largely black population, and black Mayor Coleman A. Young ruled with an iron fist from 1974 to 1994. Blacks vote 90%+ Democrat, so it was carte blanche for Democratic rule and patronage. The city declined through this time, but Young continued to blame whites for abandoning the city. Detroit became a ghetto, full of arson, out-of-wedlock births, murder and unemployment.

What is happening now in Downtown and Midtown Detroit is truly extraordinary. Young people -- white and black -- are moving into the city. There is all kinds of construction going on. The housing occupancy rate in this area is in excess of 95%. Yet things continue to go badly in the neighborhoods, where the same social problems, crime and poverty loom large. Detroit is 142 square miles... you can fit Manhattan, San Francisco and Boston (in their entirety) inside the Detroit borders with room to spare. It is enormous, which makes the problems enormous. Economies of scale do not work when you don't have a vibrant economy.

Going back up to the reasons Detroit declined, here is how it would go in Hillary's America:
(1) Modernity: Hillary would initiate efforts to stop "suburban sprawl" through environmental regulation and concern about Climate Change
(2) Riots: Hillary would support black rioting, because "Black Lives Matter" and "No justice, no peace"
(3) Busing: Hillary would nominate liberals to the Supreme Court to remake America in the Leftist image, which would allow idealistic schemes like "regional" busing and all other manners and forms of "social justice" to take hold. Keep in mind Clintons and Obamas sent/send their children to the Sidwell Friends School, so public schools are great for everyone else, just not the anointed. They would destroy public education in order to save it.

So yes, President Hillary would be the next step in creating "Detroitification" on a national scale. But believe me when I tell you most of us in Metro Detroit know exactly what went wrong with our city, and what Lefties have in store for us if their power grows. The goal of Democrats is to prevent people from having choices, except to abort children. If Hillary wins, the game keeps going in a 3rd Obama term. Clinton and Obama may disagree on foreign policy, but they are in lock-step on domestic policy. The Democrat goal is to federalize and nationalize the urban hell they've created on their own, so that there will be no escape this time.

If you think you can avoid it, think again:

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Dennis @October 5, 2016 at 7:58 AM:

Sorry for the delay in responding to the Weekly Standard piece you offered. I'm glad I got to it. It's excellent. Given Bill Kristol's heretofore intransigence, his printing it is perhaps indicative of an emerging realization: Trump is who we have. It's Trump vs. Clinton. That's the race. It may not be ideal, but it's never ideal. No one gets the candidate they want. But we have to choose.

There were a number of great ideas in the piece, but one that I love most: "... the elites don't give a damn about the people in the heartland."

It's true. There is something wrong in America, deeply wrong. The people at the bar in Latrobe capture the mood accurately. There is a large contingent of wealthy, highly-educated people in this country who have contempt for 95% of their fellow citizens. I do not have contempt for Hillary Clinton, I just think she is wrong (and quite self-righteous in her errors). But she is wrong, not bad. She is not a bad, wicked, horrible person. Neither is Obama. But I will bet dollars to doughnuts that she thinks me bad, wicked and horrible. She has characterized me as "deplorable," worthy of carriage in a basket. She characterized 40% of her fellow citizens this way. That wasn't "red meat" for an adoring crowd, that is a powerful statement about how she sees the real world, a world she has not lived in for more than 25 years. In this way, she is no different than Obama. It's always someone else's fault. Someone is always in their way, ruining their grand plans that are so great that they require the government to take all your other choices away!

Our politics has become so personalized and simultaneously depersonalized because we have wealthy, uber-educated idealists whose worlds are cast in theory, not reality. There's no standard by which to admonish their actions or contain their ambitions. The cry is always the same: MORE. Anything is possible! That is why Climate Change is their centerpiece issue right now, and captures the imagination of the "ruling political, academic, and media class" the writer mentions. It's pure fantasy. It's climate models, marketed with horrific threats of armageddon. But we'd be wise to examine the remedies these environmental advocates recommend. They are old hat, and always the same: centralized control of resources, more "experts" to tell us how to lead our lives, fewer human beings, more taxes, more government control, all the while characterizing their opponents as "extreme." It's the old playbook. There's nothing new. It's the same stuff Progressives always sell.

Most of our political "leaders" today prey on people's worst fears and turn citizens into categorized victim groups, and that has allowed them -- the ruling class -- to consolidate power. Yet as they spew hatred about "the rich," they themselves are rich, or setting their careers up to be rich, all funded at the public teat, while building little of lasting value. It's not "public service," it's graft. These grifters assume a posture of moral magnificence in order to obtain power over others simply because they believe they are better than those others. Well, those "others" are their fellow citizens.

The line I love most in the article is his quote of Lincoln on Grant: "I can't spare this man; he fights." No more McClellans, indeed.

Someone has to be an adult. We may not like the world as it is, but it's certainly not someone else's job to make it better for us! And the ruling class says they can make everything better for us all the time, but they don't deliver. They make things worse, while using your hard-earned money to make things better for themselves and their friends. To finish with Chesterton, “This is the age in which thin and theoretic minorities can cover and conquer unconscious and untheoretic majorities.”


Trigger Warning said...

Tnx. I love it. And I love the show. I do have a broad streak of juvenile IT nerdiness.