Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Suspense Is Almost Over

The only suspense remaining after last night’s presidential debate is the margin of the Hillary victory. As Nate Silver put it: Trump was down ten and just threw a pick-six.

Silver meant that Trump the quarterback just threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Of course, it’s not over until her corpulence sings, but it’s not too late to point out that Trump is losing because of unforced errors and not, dare I say, because the media have conspired to do him in. This is not to say that the media have not been biased beyond anything we have seen, but the American people, in their wisdom, know media bias when they see it. They might be influenced, but they are not persuaded by a biased media.

Amusingly, at a time when no one reads newspapers anymore and when people spend more time oversharing on Facebook than they do studying election issues, we are now being told that the vast media conspiracy has done in Trump.

And we have it on the authority of he of the ever-cloudier crystal ball. That would be “mighty prophet” and “seer blest” Scott Adams, cartoonist recycled into a soothsayer. See also this.

A few days ago Adams wrote:

Here I pause to remind new readers of this blog that I’m a trained hypnotist and a student of persuasion in all its forms. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to learn the tricks for discerning illusion from reality. And I’m here to tell you that if you are afraid that Donald Trump is a racist/sexist clown with a dangerous temperament, you have been brainwashed by the best group of brainwashers in the business right now: Team Clinton.

Happily, Adams is always ready to remind us of his credentials as a soothsayer. Unfortunately, he is wrong. Not because the Clinton team has not been trying its darndest to define the Donald as some kind of bigot. But because that is not the salient point. It’s not about what they have been saying about Trump, but about Trump’s failure to make the case for his candidacy. And about his covering up the failure by chomping on whatever chum the Clintons have thrown in the water.

The American people are not morons. If Trump loses the election, the reason will not be because he is a sexist pig. The reason will lie in the fact that he demonstrated in the first presidential debate that he is unprepared to assume the office of the presidency. Hillary’s remark about preparation was the coup de grace for the Trump campaign.

Trump did not know enough to make the case for himself or against Hillary. So in the days after the debate he pivoted to the question of his dispute about a former Miss Universe. The less he talked about issues the more the nation concluded that he was not prepared.

Even when he showed in the second debate that he had boned up on some of his material, he used the aftermath to harp on the charges that different women were bringing against him. The truth is, even if those charges were all false, Trump’s statement to Billy Bush was on video tape. When he asserted last night, for the umpteenth time, that he respects women more than anyone else his protestation rang hollow.

Rather than listen the dubious messages coming from his gut, he would have done better to have read some Shakespeare. He would have understood the meaning of the phrase: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

In truth, Trump could not let it go. He was sinking his own campaign, and refusing to listen even to Roger Ailes. Thus, Ailes let Trump go. The only real chance he had at rehabilitating his campaign went off to his country place. And Trump was done.

He was done for being incapable of taking advice, even from the best people. Why hire the best people when you are unable to listen to them? Did Trump, by failing to follow advice that had been given by the best people, announce to the world that if he were the president he would ignore the best people and let his gut do the talking.

The charge of bigotry stuck because Trump would not talk about anything else. The problem was not that he was being tarred by the Clintons. The problem was that by taking the bait, he was showing that he had paper-thin skin and was unprepared to make the case against the Clintons, to make the case against Obama, and to present himself as someone who was ready to take on the job.

It was not so much that Trump got slandered. It was that his constantly harping on those issues made him look like a reality show impresario and not a presidential candidate.

Scott Adams should stop trying to hypnotize the nation and to show the American people a little respect.

For the most part Trump did not do a terrible job last night. For the most part Hillary sounded shrill and mean-spirited. But, as he is wont to do, Trump saved her when he fell into conspiracy-theory mode and announced that he would not commit to accepting the results of the election.  He said he wanted to keep everyone in suspense.

One notes that every other senior Republican, from Mike Pence on down, has said the opposite. One notes that the last time a Republican really was robbed of an election—Richard Nixon’s loss in Illinois in 1960—the sainted Nixon chose not to fight the results because he did not want to destroy the people’s faith in the democratic process.

Anyway, this morning everyone is saying that Trump threw it away with his remark about keeping people in suspense. In so doing he repudiated his political party and was effectively standing alone—perhaps as a martyr to his own cause, perhaps as a leader who no longer had any followers. At the least, it was an unforced error, one that gave weight to the slanders that had been directed against him.

This morning The Wall Street Journal editorialized about the debate. No friend of Trump, the Journal editorial page has certainly not been a Hillary supporter:

Mr. Trump’s biggest mistake was his refusal to say he would accept the election results if he loses. “I will look at it at the time,” Mr. Trump said in reply to Mr. Wallace. Asked again by Fox News’ Mr. Wallace—by far the best moderator of this election year with his focus on substance—Mr. Trump made it worse by saying “I will keep you in suspense, okay?”

That again is Mr. Trump’s ego talking, a man who doesn’t like to lose refusing to take responsibility for his campaign. Voters on the right and left want to have faith in the electoral system. Mr. Trump’s statement makes us wonder if Mr. Trump and adviser Steve Bannon are planning to blame everyone else if he does lose. It’s true that Al Gore tried to steal the 2000 election from George W. Bush until the Supreme Court finally intervened, but that is not an example any Republican should want to follow.

The hard reality of this campaign is that it was set up for a Republican victory. A divided and unhappy country wants to move in a new direction. Even Mr. Trump, after all his mistakes, had essentially tied the race before the first debate. Win or lose in three weeks, the result will be one that he has earned.

Humility, in a leader, involves being able to take responsibility for defeat. Trump is more of an entertainer than a leader.

For those who would like more detail, Holman Jenkins provides it in a column on the same page:

Mr. Trump lacks message discipline. Instead of scattershot claims that the race is being manipulated, wild conspiracy theories about ballot box-stuffing, which both parties and Americans of decency and goodwill strongly refute, he might be focusing laser-like on the “rigged” argument that nobody can confidently refute.

That’s the argument that Hillary Clinton is her party’s nominee and on her way to the White House only because the Obama administration decided to waive the law on handling classified material—and the FBI went along—in order to assure that its designated heiress would succeed to the presidency.

I will tell you one other reason why he said it. He must have thought that it had entertainment value. He must have thought that it would keep his name in the papers. After all, the Donald thinks that he is the king of all media and that his judgment are infallible. And he thinks that all publicity is good publicity.

For lack of message discipline and for lack of the ability to set out the details, Trump has missed an opportunity to attack the true Clinton scandal. With a new Wikileaks revelation every day Trump could have spent his time on the campaign trail or in television interviews exposing the perfidy of the Obama administration and the Clinton team. He preferred to talk about women’s bodies. Roger Ailes was so exasperated that he quit. And Roger Ailes, as you know, was not a saint.

Jenkins continued:

The appeal of “rigged” is obvious. It’s an argument that can continue to be prosecuted on-air after Election Day. Mr. Trump need not, as losing candidates do, concede defeat and disappear. His son-in-law, we’re told by the Financial Times this week, has already reached out to an investment banker about starting a Trump TV network after the election.

America, you’ve been played.

If today’s Democratic campaign were being fought against a generic Republican without Mr. Trump’s distinct qualities and history, here’s what would dominate the news:

Mrs. Clinton was verbally convicted by the FBI chief for mishandling classified information yet somehow not formally charged.

Her aides were allowed to cut curious deals with FBI investigators that effectively swept under the rug any possible charges against them for obstruction or evidence tampering.

Those same aides have been revealed, through email leaks, to have freely mixed public and private interests, including their own and Clinton private interests, in the performance of jobs that, in some cases, saw them receiving salaries from the Clinton Foundation or the Clinton family even as they also worked for the taxpayer at the State Department.

The State Department itself, during Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary, operated as an extension of the Clinton Foundation when it came to handling the requests and advancing the interests of important Clinton Foundation donors, some of which were foreign governments.

The latest email leak, likely at the hands of Russian hackers, shows the State Department negotiating with the FBI over the classification status of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails in search of reducing her legal jeopardy.

The flaw in the Trump campaign was simply that the candidate went with his gut. He did not take advice. He did not prepare. He did not look presidential. He did not control his temper. He let fly. Look where it has gotten him. Look where it has gotten the Republican Party.

When he wrote his book about the art of the deal, Trump advised people to make deals based on their gut instincts. It was bad advice then. It is destroying his candidacy now.

Many a time have I, for one, advised people that going with your gut is pure folly. It is one of those dumb ideas—like leaning in—that comes to be accepted as a higher truth, as an infallible pathway to success. It isn’t. Time to get over it and to get over oneself.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Great. Let's elect Hillary.

Trigger Warning said...

Ahhhh. The Insufficiency of Humility meme.

Schneiderman, you've joined a distinguished chorus, indeed (G Will, H Jenkins, J McCain, M Romney, etc.). Yes, the process is rigged, from the depredations of a corrupt IRS, to the "bank settlement" kickbacks to left-wing "nonprofits", to outright voter fraud:

[T]he one thing I have thought of in that space is that if you show up on Election Day with a drivers license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in Federal elections.
--- John Podesta

* Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
* More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
* Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

--- Pew, 2012

Every American should be concerned about Russia doing anything to try to tilt and influence our election. Voters should be concerned about this...
--- Hillary Clinton

Imagine! Donald Trump, that egomaniac, brought this up in a way contrary to the sage advice of the Half-Vast Blight-Wing Political Commissars, a group whose influence has been tested by fire in national elections since 1992.

I daresay that Donald J Trump would be a poorer man today if he followed the expert advice of the financial pundits at WSJ, FT, Bloomberg, CNBC, and The Economist. I know I would.

Expertise is overvalued, Stuart. Just ask the millions of health insurance customers who have suffered at the hands of expert MIT health care economists with fancy computers n' stuff.

Trump may lose. Even after my change of heart. :-)

If he does, I trust that the pundits and their acolytes will suffer the decline basking in the warm glow of humble schadenfreude that they were right all along about Trump's ego. They are not thin-skinned. Perish the thought.

Dennis said...

It does seem to me that most people see what they want to see based on their particular agendas. Of the many reviews I have read I have yet, except for media, democrats and establishment so called republicans, to find too many people who actually have a clue. Either Trump won, Hillary won or it was a tie. Much of the comments are exactly as one would think given before debate. If Trump moved around the stage he was stalking Hillary. Then if he stayed in one spot he was arrogant. It seems to me this howling bunch of establishment gate keepers would have panned anything that Trump stated.
He nay contest the election. Al Gore anyone?
If you enjoy BLM and all the race hustling vote for Hillary with the added touch of gender hustling.
If you enjoy being pigeoned holed into smaller tribal groups fighting for the scraps that the government hands out vote for Hillary.
If you enjoy more crime and recrimination for this country vote Hillary.
If you enjoy having government agencies run your life and healthcare vote for Hillary.
If you want to see the Constitution shredded vote for Hillary.
If you want to see unbridled immigration vote for Hillary.
If you want to see terrorism become a real existential threat to this country vote Hillary.
If you want to see corruption on a grand scale vote for Hillary.
I could go on and on, but why bother with people who seemed to be more interested in soap opera innuendo vice their own freedoms.
Generally what we see is the establishment teaching the citizen's their place and watching supposed intelligent people following along like Pavlov's dogs. It ain't the fat lady who is going to sing if Hillary wins, but the nasty old woman who holds this country and its people in contempt. The nasty old lady it would seem might be right to hold the people of this country in contempt for they surely have allowed themselves to be used, abused and lied to with such easy.

Anonymous said...

I surfed everywhere. Left, Right, and Center (tho Center was notable by absence).

It's unanimous. The augurs have spoken. Clinton ahead by furlongs.

(The vitriol, hysteria, hatred more intense.)

But ... several polls on Drudge count ties, or Mr T a few points ahead.

V confusing. If you judge a man by his enemies ... wait, all T has ARE enemies.

Except for those pesky polls. Que sera sera, sweetheart (Bogart lisp). -- Rich Lara

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

People say "Trump is a jerk," as though Hillary is a kind, sweet, wholesome grandmother.

So what is this "rigged" accusation anyway? It's the truth.

Lefties say we need to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine" for broadcast media. The FEC should have oversight of websites like the Drudge Report. Citizens United must be overturned to get the horrid corporate money out of our politics. Campuses should be safe, "trigger-free" zones.

What I've seen in this election is that the Democrats and Left OWN big broadcast media. They run the indoctrination centers that pose as our schools and universities. Then add the advocacy non-profits. Then the professional associations. Then add the federal bureaucracy. They own all of it. There's nothing fair or balanced, there's no effort at objective reporting. When you suggest it, they laugh. These people all think, act and believe the same way.

So we're told today's "conservative media" has to be torn down, or curated by some new Obama czar (another "common sense reform," no doubt). But they'll leave all the rest of the status quo big media alone because that's somehow fair and free. The media consolidation has been amazing... there's no one left to balance the analysis. When people like David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan are considered "conservative voices," one has to wonder what planet these people are living on.

Liberals laugh at the notion that "money is speech." Money is what you need to get your message out. But you also need a broadcast platform to get it out. What, like Facebook or Google? They've gone hard-Left and corrupt. Newspapers? Ha! Broadcast television? Editors are "fact-checking" the stuff they don't agree with. What is free speech and expression then? Being the town crier? My goodness, pretty soon you'll have to get a permit to speak in the center of town, or a professional license. Or you'll be arrested for ripping apart someone's sensitive sensibilities by using "hate speech." You can't just crank on a Heidelberg press in your basement. Well, maybe you can, but if you try to be a Tea Party voice, you'll get scrutinized by the IRS. The Democrats might send a rent-a-mob to protest outside your home. Loretta Lynch's DOJ might not prosecute the people who hack your computer, because you weren't supposed to have that stuff anyway. Maybe you could go to an ancient movable-type press, but then OSHA and DEA would send in a hazmat team because of the lead characters.

This trend toward demanding radical "niceness" in our politics is absurd. The Left is controlling speech, and it is embarrassingly one-sided. In this, the system is rigged. We have activists posing as journalists, pretending to be on the side of the poor, disenfranchised, voiceless minorities who are fighting corporate plutocracy. Instead, we have the activists siding with a kleptocracy in D.C. It's an organized crime enterprise posing as the watchdog. They're wolves.

And finally, we get snickers when we talk about election fraud. These are the same people who say "injustice anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere." Well, then we should take election fraud seriously. The idea that an illegal alien can vote in this election, much less get a driver's license or be welcomed into a sanctuary city, is the greatest threat to electoral democracy I can think of.

They're sending a very clear message to the citizenry in fly-over country: "Shut up, or you're next!"

Trigger Warning said...

"It ain't the fat lady who is going to sing if Hillary wins, but the nasty old woman who holds this country and its people in contempt."

And her flying monkeys in the media.

Dennis said...

Lickspittles, for they are obsequious to those in power, vice gate keepers.

Trigger Warning said...

I anticipate the emergence of American samizdat in the next couple of decades.

Trigger Warning said...


But, but, but Donald Trump goes on gut instincts! :-O

He should listen to, I dunno, David "Razorcrease" Brooks!

Leo G said...

In my business, this is called "assuming the sale". You go into the meeting and project that you have already signed the contract. This is what is happening right now in your election. Too many of the MSM are trying to assume the victory. But if you look a bit closer at the more independent polls, Trump is still in this thing, and leading in a few well respected ones - IBD/TIPP by 1, (which was right on the button for 2012) and +3 on Rasmussen.

His latest tack to the right of centre, has in my opinion, resonated with a lot of independents, and the Chinese water torture of Wkileaks is cutting Hillary up slowly.

I now predict Trump will be your new President in 2017.

David Foster said...

Stuart, I'm not sure what's on your FB feed, but on mine, a very high % of the political posts are not original writing by the person posting, but are sharing of a meme that originally came from the traditional media or from an often-biased 'fact checking' site.

Sam L. said...

From a blog in the wilds of the west:

"Final Presidential Debate: It was a lively and fiery debate in Las Vegas. I thought moderator Chris Wallace threw tough questions at both candidates. He grilled Hillary on corruption. Trump muttered that Hillary is "a nasty woman" and suggested that she return Clinton Foundation 'donations' from those countries - Qatar and the like - that abuse women and kill gays.

When asked if he would accept the election outcome, Trump wouldn't commit. "I'll keep you in suspense," he said. Who can blame him based on the shenanigans revealed by Wikileaks and Project Veritas? Hillary, her liberal press friends, some political pundits and the usual bunch of Never-Trumpers expressed shock and outrage, calling Trump un-American. Gee, I don't remember these same people calling Al Gore un-American when he conceded and then unconcealed the 2000 election. Nor did they call Bill Clinton un-American when he urged Gore not to accept the election results.

Overall, I'm not sure that the debate moved the needles much either way. People who are pro-Trump or leaning toward Trump will remain so. Same for Hillary supporters.

I have no idea what the alleged 'undecideds' will make of the debate. Did those people actually watch the debate? Or are most a bunch of low-information voters who will decide on a whim at the last minute? Or not vote at all? Who knows?

I thought Donald and Hillary both gave as good as they got. But, in my opinion, Trump won. The Drudge Poll gave Trump the win by a large majority. Frank Luntz's focus group also declared Trump the winner. But the only poll that counts is the one on November 8th.

Let's make America great again. Vote Trump!"

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The problem was that by taking the bait, he was showing that he had paper-thin skin and was unprepared to make the case against the Clintons, to make the case against Obama, and to present himself as someone who was ready to take on the job.

This seems to be a wide consensus. Being baited and taking the bait makes you a fish on someone else's line, and that's never good, and as much as I'm unsure if I agree that the American people are not morons, but overall most people surely could see Trump's inability to stay focused on the task at hand whenever his ego was threatened is a scary trait for president. And you can just imagine how many mind games the KGB could play on him to help turn world opinion against the U.S.

And for example Maureen Dowd tells us, if anyone missed the lesson:
When Clinton called Trump a Putin puppet, he unraveled, once more proving how malleable he is with anyone from Vladimir Putin to Clinton, who either praises him or pokes him.

“No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet,’’ he said, going into what the former Obama chief speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted was “a full Baldwin.’’

SNL has given us a new noun.

I myself hope the election outcome is settled by Trump's empty suit, but I'm with Michael Moore, better to assume the worst or everyone will stay home as if their vote doesn't matter. The 50% who don't bother to vote can change the election, or at least in states with same-day registration, if only something could get them to pay attention and "send a message."

My original prediction was a 272-268 squeaker win for Hillary, if she lost all the swing states, but now Trump might have trouble breaking 200 electoral votes, especially with loopy Johnson and international mystery man McMullin both having a chance to split the non-Hillary votes wider.

I'm reminded Bill Clinton only got 43% in 1992 in a 3-way race, but 370 to 168 elector blowout with protest votes for Perot. So there's still a chance for an outcome like that.,_1992

Finally I know Republicans can take heart in the fact that they control the vast majority of state governments, and will easily hold onto the U.S. House, no matter how poor Trump does, and that's where Johnson and McMullin do their heavy-lifting - convincing anti-trump voters that its worth coming out to vote.

So Hillary will beat Bill's 43% of the popular vote, but she'll be facing unlimited U.S. Senate filibusters, and a do-nothing congress that relishes their ability to blame the president for all the consequences.

And although Mitch McConnell's promise to make Obama a one-term president failed, Hillary's going to have more than Obama's weak recovery to run on. She's going to have a near-guaranteed recession on her shoulders.

So the GOP can have a cake walk in 2018 to take back the senate, and if the they can pick a half-competent candidate for president in 2020, establishment or not, they can win the whole board game, as if they had nothing to do with where we are now.

If it wasn't for the Supreme Court, I expect the GOP is largely happy with the loyal opposition in the white house, to justify why they get nothing done.

Trigger Warning said...

I see you've taken up the Clever Rooskies refrain. Sad to be bearer of bad news, but the KGB doesn't exist anymore, Ares. Update your contacts, Comrade.

Maybe you and Hill are thinking of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. :-D

However, the Rooskies are sailing a double-secret carrier-led naval deployment through the English Channel. Very subtle, eh?

You're triggering me. I'm very ticklish.

Anonymous said...

Your wrong Stuart. You've been brainwashed. Trump will win. whatever you consider good info is wrong.

Ares Olympus said...

Trigger Warning said... Sad to be bearer of bad news, but the KGB doesn't exist anymore, Ares.

Hey, thanks for the update in Russian acronyms. I did intend it as any general representative boogieman organization capable of manipulating Trump, but given Putin was an officer in the KGB, I'd imagine they're still doing their good work, even if under different titles.
Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 1991 to enter politics in his native Saint Petersburg.

Anonymous said...

I love Democrat worry that the Bear is back.

So many Soviet sympathizers for so long, with genuine KGB infiltration of movements like SDS and other Lefty causes.

Denied, of course. Now Russia serves as a "boogieman" monster, and an excellent distraction for Hillary.

Hilarious. Maybe the Dems will push for SDI.

Her comments on the deficit last night were classic political B.S. And we hear Trump doesn't know anything about policy?

Hillary gets a pass because she is so brilliant and likable.

Trigger Warning said...

Note to Hillary, Ares:

"The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years."
--- First Barack President, Evah (2012)

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. my general picture of a GOP cakewalk back to a Senate Majority in 2018 and a presidency in 2020 may be flawed for the fact that the GOP is apparently no longer a single party, so perhaps the Democrats don't need to fight the GOP, but just get out of the way?
I’ll give you three theories for that, none of them mutually exclusive. One: The GOP’s base isn’t nearly as “conservatarian” as movement conservatives would like. Ted Cruz learned that the hard way in the primaries, right? Much of the base is populist first and foremost, and that populism trends strongly towards nationalist/reactionary politics, not classical liberalism. Republican voters, especially Trump’s white working-class fans, care little for conservative economics as practiced by Randians like Ryan. They’re Republican chiefly because that party is their best vehicle for white identity politics and culture war waged against left-wing political correctness.

Two: It’s immigration, stupid. As America’s demographics have continued to change, the right has become more sensitive to that change accelerating by importing millions of workers from Mexico, Asia, and so on. ...

Three: This isn’t about policy, it’s about rank tribalism. A presidential election is political war and Trump, not Ryan, is the general right now. It doesn’t matter which policies Trump and Ryan do and don’t agree on. The hard fact of the matter for many Republicans is that Ryan fragged Trump the day after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out; asking them now who better represents their politics is like asking them if they prefer their commanding officer to the insubordinate who tried to murder him. However, once Trump’s no longer in command, that preference might shift.

“What is clear in these data is that a large segment of Trump supporters are all-in with the candidate. They see him as capable of delivering on the promise of a greater nation. That said, just 38 percent of them say they will stay loyal and follow his future endeavors if he does not win,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey ahead of the final debate Wednesday. “If he were to lose, our data suggest his standing would diminish.”

Thirty-eight percent ain’t peanuts but Trump’s support within the party is soft enough that he finished second, not first, in Bloomberg’s poll when Republicans were asked who the leader of the party will be if Trump goes on to lose the election. Mike Pence finished on top with 27 percent. Trump was second at 24 percent, then Ted Cruz at 19, then Ryan at 15.

So if this 38% wants a fight, that's a large enough base they could start their own party, perhaps going back to 1800, and they could be called The Whigs, under the leadership of Trump, or whomever joins the bandwagon.

Perhaps all you need is one state party to fracture, and clearly define the battle lines, and other states will follow.

I know some states have majority requirements for winners, and a December runoff among the top two in the general. States like that can afford a factured majority which can still be reunited in the runoff, or abandoned, if the party-of-crazy rises to #2, while the Democrats can still look like respectable leaders.

And maybe the Democrats have their own fractures coming with corporate Hillary in the Captain's chair. Perhaps its smooth sailing for no one with the coming local and global crises and loss in confidence in modern neoliberal economics.